Do you really want to visit Walt Disney World but can’t justify the cost of a park ticket? Need to give Disney World a trial run first to see if it’s worth the money? As those Disney park tickets keep going up, we totally understand! But, did you know there are other ways you can experience some amazing things at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida? Without buying a Disney theme park ticket? Yep! That’s right. No park ticket or reservation is required to visit Disney Resorts or the Walt Disney World Monorail. So whether you’re looking for a Walt Disney World Hotel with Monorail access, or just some Disney without a park ticket, here’s everything you need to know about the Disney Monorail Resorts.
Monorail at Disney World
Let’s start by getting clear about the Disney World Monorail and what it is. Part of Disney World Transportation, the monorail is complimentary. The monorail at Disney World is a mode of transportation that loops on a raised track, connecting three Disney Resorts, the Transportation and Ticket Center ( TTC), and Magic Kingdom Park. You can ride the Disney Monorail without a Park Ticket, it is Free and a great activity for your non-park day at Walt Disney World.
Can you just ride the Monorail at Disney World?
Yes, absolutely! You are welcome to board the Disney monorail at any stop and ride as long as you like. Of course, we recommend taking a look at the resorts along the monorail line to enjoy some extra Disney exploring. You can also do the same thing at the Disney Skyliner Resorts, which are all similarly connected by the Disney Skyliner.
Is the Disney Monorail Free?
Yes. The Disney Monorail is Free to ride, and anyone can ride the monorail. Riding the monorail allows you to visit the three Disney Monorail Resorts; Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
How to Ride the Monorail at Walt Disney World?
Just drive over to the TTC ( Transportation and Ticket Center) and park, then board the Resort Monorail at the station. You can also choose to visit any of the Disney Resorts on the Monorail line and park. BUT, know that you often need an active Dining Reservation to park at a Disney Resort. As such, you get parking privileges for 3 hours from the time you park. If you plan on spending the day at the Disney Monorail Resorts, we recommend parking at the TTC.
What Parks does the Disney Monorail Go to?
The Disney Monorail is connected to two parks; Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Park. If you’re looking to spend time at the Monorail Resorts, you will be on the part of the monorail line that includes the Magic Kingdom entrance gate. In order to access EPCOT Park via monorail you would have to transfer to the EPCOT Monorail at the Transportation and Ticket Center ( TTC).
Disney Monorail Resorts Stops
We love visiting the Resorts at Walt Disney World. And while we’ve visited most of them we’ve only stayed at several. The Monorail Resorts at Disney World are simply resorts that are accessible via the WDW Monorail. For many, the monorail resorts are highly coveted because they allow guests the opportunity to literally walk out of their resort, hop on the monorail and arrive at Magic Kingdom. So how does this help you? Well, the monorail also connects some of the best resorts at Walt Disney World, each with a unique feel, dining, gift shops, and even sometimes entertainment. You get tons of Disney experiences without the Disney price tag.
Why should you spend a day at the Disney Monorail Resorts?
Each Walt Disney World Hotel with Monorail access is different. With it’s own theme, restaurants, atmosphere, shops and more. We consider monorail resort days the official opportunity for a Free Day at Disney. And while it’s true you don’t enter the parks on your resort day, there is oh so much more Disney than just to be found in the parks. In fact for the weary families who hesitate to spend the money on park tickets, this is a perfect way to get into the “feeling” of Disney. Truthfully, any resort experience will do, but let’s start here. The Disney Monorail Resorts on the Monorail are The Contemporary, The Polynesian, and The Grand Floridian.
What Disney World Resorts are on the Monorail?
The Disney World Monorail includes three resorts; Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
What are the Disney Monorail Stops?
The Disney World Resort Monorail Line which loops around the Seven Seas Lagoon, includes 5 stops and runs clockwise.
- Stop 1 Disney’s Contemporary and Bay Lake Towers
- Stop 2 The TTC ( Transportation and Ticket Center)
- Stop 3 Polynesian Resort Village Resort
- Stop 4 Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Stop 5 Magic Kingdom Park
Disney Monorail Resorts Hopping
We love adding Disney Resort Hopping to our Disney Free Day. Here’s the breakdown of what you can do at each resort on the monorail and other options for more days at Disney World without Park Tickets.
Disney Resorts on the Disney World Monorail
Monorail Resorts at Disney are higher-end, house some of the best restaurants and gift shops, and are open to the public without needing a Disney Park Ticket. They also have beaches and boat access, as well as a variety of activities and resort-specific specialties that are worth the visit.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort & Bay Lake Towers
The Contemporary is the closest resort to Magic Kingdom and as a Walt Disney World Hotel with Monorail access easy to get to. Guests can walk to the main gates of Magic Kingdom in about 15 minutes and have the luxury of not waiting for buses in the evenings. Disney’s Contemporary Resort Monorail is on the second floor of the resort. If you’re just resort hopping here, there are a few things you can enjoy without being a guest. The lobby, courtyards, restaurants, and shops are all open to the public. This means you can have Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, Lunch at the Contempo Cafe, and if you’re feeling a little fancy, Steakhouse 71 for dinner. You’ll be able to get your fill of fancy cupcakes, usually at Contempo Cafe, and coffees at the Joffrey’s in the registration lobby.
The shopping at The Contemporary is also quite impressive. A larger gift shop than many resorts boasts a full kitchen section, clothes, Dooney and Bourke bags, and a kids section. You can also see the Grand Canyon Mural here which covers all four sides of the center column. And if the hustle and bustle of the monorail concourse is not your style you can meander out to Bay Lake to have a lakeside lunch, stop by the bar or watch the electric water parade in Seven Seas Lagoon. Even more, if you’re visiting during the holidays, you can see the Disney Christmas Decorations in the resort lobby.
Chef Mickey’s Restaurant
By far one of the most sought-after restaurants at Walt Disney World, Chef Mickey’s Character Breakfast features Mickey and Friends and a buffet-style breakfast spread. While we don’t think this restaurant offers food quality worth the hype of the Hard To Get Disney Dining Reservations, it is a good option if you have younger children and won’t be visiting the parks for better Disney Character Dining.
One of the Best quick-service Restaurants at Disney resorts, the Contempo Cafe offers up flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, and seasonal snacks. It also has plenty of seating with views of the monorail and a refillable Resort Mug Station.
One of our favorite Budget-Friendly Disney Restaurants, Steakhouse 71 not only offers a beautiful Mid-Century Modern atmosphere, featuring classic photographs from the Walt Disney Archives, but it also offers amazing food. A 15-layer whiskey-infused cake, a variety of steaks, and an elevated breakfast make this a great place to stop for any meal.
This restaurant is one of the fanciest restaurants at Walt Disney World. California Grill features rooftop dining with views of the Magic Kingdom and is one of the best places to plan a meal if you want to see the Magic Kingdom from the balcony of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It is a little pricey, but the California Grill Brunch is considered well worth the cost and experience.
The TTC: The Transportation and Ticket Center Monorail Stop
By far one of the most confusing parts of visiting Disney World, is the Magic Kingdom Parking lot. Which is no where near Magic Kingdom. And instead at Walt Disney World’s Main Parking Lot is called the Transportation and Ticket Center, or the TTC. So, unless you’ve parked your car at the TTC, or are transferring to the EPCOT monorail line, you don’t need to get off the monorail here. Just ride the rail to the next resort. For awareness, you would only transfer to the EPCOT monorail line if you had a park ticket, as there are no resorts on the Epcot monorail line.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Villas
Another favorite Walt Disney World Hotel with Monorail access is the Polynesian Resort. Apart from the gorgeous scenery, island atmosphere, and connecting walkway to the Grand Floridian, there’s one big reason people visit the Polynesian. Dole Whip. It’s true. You don’t have to be in the parks to get this magical dessert. The monorail will let you out on the second floor of the Polynesian. If you go downstairs and head outside towards the pool, you’ll see Pineapple Lanai, offering dole whips and dole whip floats.
Another excellent shopping experience, the Polynesian has the merchandise you can’t find in other shops around Disney. They also carry the painted “Greetings from Walt Disney World” coconut you can mail to your family (or home). However, if you’re more into just relaxing and living like a local, grab a dole whip and a beach chair. Any reason to get your feet in the sand is a good one.
The Polynesian Resort is home to the Kona Cafe, home of Tonga Toast at breakfast. We love Kona Cafe for decent mochas and budget-friendly dinners. Reservations are not difficult to get, but the food is always good! Definitely, a nice place to eat, and a great Disney Restaurant for Picky Eaters!
By far one of the best restaurants at Disney World, Ohana is home to the famed Pineapple Coconut Bread Pudding. Serving traditional Hawaiian food, family-style, Ohana is a restaurant experience complete with music at dinner and Lilo and Stitch at breakfast. Reservations are very hard to get, but completely worth it at least once.
Another amazing quick-service restaurant at Disney World is Captain Cooks. Featuring a place to refill your refillable mug, and both indoor and outdoor seating. They serve noodle bowls, Moana cupcakes, and loads of food options with south pacific flair.
Trader Sam Tiki Terrace
We love the Lounges at Disney World and Trader Sams is a fan favorite. Featuring a tiki bar atmosphere inside and an outdoor seating area with live music, Trader Sams at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a great place to relax during your Disney Monorail Resort Day at Disney.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Next on our Disney Monorail stop is The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Can anyone say super fancy? We love going to the Grand Floridian. The Grand Floridian houses quite a few restaurants, some fancy, some casual so whatever you’re mood they’ll have something you love. We personally love the shopping at the Grand Floridian. They have lots of DVC merch, beachy Florida wear, and Disney shops with fancier things than other resorts. This resort is also covered in Hidden Mickeys and other characters you’re sure to recognize, so look up and down. Be sure to download the hidden Mickeys app on your phone for extra fun. It is for a price, but in our experience totally worth it, because you can never, ever find them all! So it’s always a treat to stop. And since this Walt Disney World Hotel with Monorail access is right next to Magic Kingdom, it’s easy to add to your Disney Day Plans.
1900 Park Fare Restaurant
A Disney Character breakfast at the Grand Floridian Resort is always a treat. Hosting Alice, the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins, this one gives a nod to the UK characters we love best. And Dinner at 1900 Park Fare features the Evil Stepmother and stepsisters, Cinderella and Prince Charming. Served buffet style, this is a nice meal with characters you won’t see anywhere else.
Grand Floridian Cafe
Or if you’re looking for something relaxing you can grab Breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe. With views of the courtyard, the Grand Floridian Cafe is perfect for any elegant meal. We love it as part of a Girl’s Trip to Disney World, or Mother and Daughter Brunch at the Grand Floridian.
Garden View Tea Room
One of the BEST things to do on any Disney World trip is to have tea at the Garden View Tea Room. Tea service includes a pot of tea, and tiny sandwiches both savory and sweet. Grown-ups can even order champagne. Such a treat in a beautiful setting overlooking the courtyard.
A favorite among Disney Adults, the Citricos Lounge offers unique zero-proof drinks, and cocktails, alongside wonderful appetizers. We love that they have a great lineup of plant-based options, and non-alcoholic drinks too. Recently renovated to Mary Poppins Returns, this restaurant has British elements throughout honoring the Mary Poppins story.
Enchanted Rose Lounge
Absolutely one of our favorite lounges at Walt Disney World, the Enchanted Rose Lounge is themed to Beauty and the Beast. Featuring three rooms, this lounge includes a library, a ballroom, and a garden room. All beautiful, this lounge serves some of the best drinks and appetizers.
Magic Kingdom Park Monorail Stop
Our Monorail Resort Hopping ends at the Magic Kingdom entrance. If you’re ending your night here, stand outside the gates to watch and listen to Disney’s Happily Ever After Fireworks Show. The fireworks show usually starts around 9 p.m. However, if fireworks are your aim, watch it from the balconies of Disney’s Contemporary Resort instead.
We also like hopping off at the Magic Kingdom stop to catch the ferry boat over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. Another free excursion with great restaurants, a gift shop, and a large lobby to cozy up by the fire. If you’re into the wilderness and want to immerse yourself you can take the ferry a little further to the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground. And since it’s free to visit all the Disney Resorts, no ticket is required.
More Ways to Enjoy Walt Disney World for Free
We love the Disney Monorail Resorts as a way to get in some Disney magic without having to step foot into the parks during busy times. If you’re looking for more free fun, there is probably more than you realize! You can visit any of the Disney resorts to just look around, dine or shop. Even Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter share a ferry boat that can bring you to and from Disney Springs. Fitting in a beignet run to those resorts when next you’re at Disney Springs will make you feel like you’re in the middle of the magic. And we haven’t even covered everything you can do at the Disney Boardwalk! Another amazing place to experience fun activities, dining, and shopping. And all you need to do is drive up and park there.
Hopefully, this has given you a little glimpse of all the amazing fun you can have without purchasing the 100+ dollar Disney Park tickets. So many experiences are available at Walt Disney World for free! Why pay? No matter how you spend it, enjoy your free Disney day.
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.