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How to Use Minnie Van Lyft Service (Updated 5/10/18)
The Disney Parks in Florida recently launched a pilot program aimed at enhancing the guest transportation experience. We tried it out on our last trip to Disney. Keep reading to learn how to use Disney’s Minnie Van Lyft Service and if we would recommend it!
There is really only one reason that I’m glad the holidays are over: I can finally post a whole new batch of Disney tips, tricks and reviews! We had a great trip to Disney in November and absolutely loved our first stay at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. We returned right as deal/holiday shopping season was gearing up, so I decided to wait until the New Year to add to my Disney collection. We usually head to Disney ready to try rides, restaurants, even resorts, that we have never experienced. This trip was no exception! We had reservations at 2 or 3 restaurants that we had never eaten at, we were staying at the Fort for the first time and of course, we were excited to check out Pandora in Animal Kingdom!
One thing that we had NO intention of trying was the Minnie Van Lyft Service that Disney was piloting at select (deluxe) resorts.
How did we hear about the Minnie Van Lyft Service?
We happened to be in Disney World with several family friends. Our stay overlapped the vacations of THREE other families who we are good friends with. We all had various plans to meet up here and there over the 3 or 4 days that our trips shared. It was during one of those meet-ups that friends were telling us about using the Minnie Van service. I remembered reading something about this test program that Disney was experimenting with. Apparently the service uses the Lyft platform (similar to Uber). You can use the Lyft app on your phone to request a ride from the “Minnie Vans” in place of the standard transportation options that get you around the Parks (buses, monorail, boat, etc).
What size cars are the Minnie Vans?
Disney is currently using the Chevy Traverse for their Lyft service. These cars fit up to 6 guests (in addition to the driver).
How much does the Minnie Van Lyft Service Cost?
The Minnie Van Lyft service costs $25 flat per ride from one location in Disney Parks to another, including resorts.
How do you get a Minnie Van Lyft code?
UPDATED 5/10/18: The Minnie Van service has officially rolled out at every Disney World Resort, including Dolphin, Swan and Four Seasons Orlando. Upon check-in at your resort, you should get a push notification through the My Disney Experience app with a link that will add this service to your Lyft app. If you do not receive the notification, ask the front desk to push one to you.
What costs more – Minnie Van Lyft or Uber/regular Lyft?
Minnie Van will cost you more than the other ride services. Before we knew what the heck we were doing, we actually requested a Lyft ride that was NOT the Minnie Van (see below for more details on how that happened). Our ride from Epcot to the front gate of Fort Wilderness cost $8.29 plus we tipped the gal a couple bucks. Minnie Vans cost $20 flat every time. It says drivers do not accept tips, but ours did.
What makes the Minnie Van Lyft different than a traditional taxi/Uber/Lyft ride?
Minnie Van drivers are employed by Disney Parks. They undergo extensive background checks including driving records. They possess an in-depth knowledge of the roads, resorts and various parking areas inside Disney Parks.
Every Minnie Van is equipped with TWO car seats – an infant seat and a convertible seat. The driver knows how to install the seats and you are on your way within minutes.
Minnie Vans have special access to certain guest areas that taxis, Uber or regular Lyft drivers do not. Two of these spots are inside Fort Wilderness: Minnie Vans can drop guests off RIGHT AT THEIR CAMPSITE (no other transportation service is allowed to do this). The vans can also drive right up to Pioneer Hall, so if you have, say, reservations for the Hoop Dee Doo Review dinner show, the van can drop you off very close to the building. (Otherwise you’re stuck taking an internal bus from the main gate to Pioneer Hall.)
Lyft Referral Code
While it won’t get you a Minnie Van, you can use code DEVON70897 to save a couple bucks on your next REGULAR non-Minnie Van Lyft ride.
What was our experience with the Minnie Van Lyft Service? (Note: Our experience was BEFORE the Minnie Van service was rolled out to ALL Disney Resorts! This situation would probably not happen now.)
Well, it was definitely interesting. We tried this service November 2017, before it was rolled out to all of the WDW Resorts.
It all started when we talked to two friends who had both used the service that weekend and really liked it. One family was at the Beach Club and the other was staying at the Swan. Both families used the service to pick them up from Fort Wilderness after we all went to dinner at Hoop Dee Doo Review. Both friends raved about how easy it was to use and they both said they recommended it.
So that sealed the deal – we definitely wanted to try it.
The next day we were at Epcot. It was hot and very very crowded (Food and Wine Festival). We had a good time, used up our Fast Passes, and then decided to call it a day and head back to the Fort to let the kids swim. We agreed that it was a great time to try out a Minnie Van. There was just one problem. I didn’t realize you needed special access to get the Minnie Van. Nope, unfortunately I had totally missed that precious bit of info. I didn’t realize that this service was, as of yet, only available to select resort guests. I had never used Uber or Lyft, so the entire process was new to me.
I downloaded the Lyft app and didn’t see anything denoting a “Minnie Van” so I just selected a 4-person vehicle and figured a Minnie Van would show up. Nope. No Minnie Van showed up. A gal named Michelle in a Nissan Sentra showed up. She was a regular Lyft driver and on that day, Disney had recently changed Lyft/Uber pickup rules and she wasn’t even allowed to drive into the taxi pickup area. We had to schlep to the parking lot, out beyond the monorail steps, to find her car. Michelle was nice and friendly but when we arrived at Fort Wilderness she was not permitted to drive us past the main entrance. A Minnie Van would have been permitted to drop us off back at the Marina where we had parked our golf cart earlier in the day.
Without access to the Minnie Van Service via Lyft, you cannot summon a van. You can only get the service if you are staying at a deluxe resort. OR CAN YOU?
The next day, after texting my friend about our Nissan Sentra ride, I learned the error of our ways. I learned that you need to get the service pushed to you. Typically this happens automatically when you check-in at one of the included resorts. So we made it our mission to try to gain access to the Minnie Vans. We asked at the Fort Wilderness front desk and were told, “No. Fort Wilderness guests don’t have access to that service yet.” After dinner that day at Ohana we asked the staff at the Polynesian Resort if we could get a code and they said, “No. There is no code. It is pushed to you on the app at check-in.” No Minnie Van for us that day!
On our last full day in Disney, we had reservations at the Whispering Canyon Cafe for breakfast. We got up and out early, parking our golf cart at the Marina and taking the water taxi to Wilderness Lodge. We ate a delicious breakfast (OMG, that all-you-can-eat SKILLET!!) and got ready to head back out for the day. I decided to take my chances before we left Wilderness Lodge and try one more time for a Minnie Van. I found the front desk and very politely asked if there was any way to get access to a Minnie Van. I explained that it was our last day in the Parks and we had to return our golf cart. We had evening Fast Passes at Pandora and were looking at a late night back to the Fort. Was there any chance I could get access to the Minnie Van to transport us to and from Animal Kingdom that night? And then it happened. We were pixie dusted. The amazing amazing lovely lady at the Wilderness Lodge desk gave me access to the Minnie Van service. YIPPEE!!!!
I had to laugh when I opened up the Lyft app after she pushed the service to my account – there was an option for a Minnie Van that was almost impossible to miss. Had that service been on my Lyft app from the get-go, there’s no way I would have received Michelle-in-the-Nissan-Sentra for a ride. Live and learn!
How was our actual Minnie Van ride?
We ended up using the Minnie Van twice that night. First, we got a pickup at Fort Wilderness and were dropped off at Animal Kingdom. We waited less than 10 minutes for our van to arrive and pick us up.
We were a little surprised to discover that the Minnie Vans drop guests off at Animal Kingdom on the OTHER side of the buses from the main entrance. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the park entrance from the Minnie Van dropoff location. It’s a shorter walk than to the parking lot, but not by much if you’re parked semi-close to the entrance.
Our second ride was later that night to go from AK back to the Fort. We did have to wait a bit for the late night ride to show up and the service timed out a few times before an available Minnie Van showed up on the app. My guess is that this will be less of an issue if/when more vans are added to the fleet (which as of our stay was only comprised of 20 vehicles).
We used a convertible car seat for Landon both times. Our drivers were friendly and personable. They were knowledgeable with the car seats, both offering them to us and happy to install them when we said yes. I loved the universal phone charger and used it both times!
Was it worth $25 per ride? I think this is a really personal decision based on many factors. We loathe the Disney buses (some of you know the story, but let’s just say the last time we were on a Disney bus, we were thrown up on. And one of us then came down with the stomach bug of all stomach bugs during our drive home to Pennsylvania. The rest of the family caught the bug within days. We are very scarred when it comes to Disney buses and make no apologies. LOL). Monorail, water ferry, both fine but very time consuming.
We were going to Animal Kingdom from Fort Wilderness. We had 3 options for transportation: drive our car, take a bus (NOPE) or use Uber/Lyft/Taxi. We thought the Minnie Van service was well worth the cost when traveling to a further-from-us Park such as Animal Kingdom. Would we take it to Magic Kingdom from the Fort? Probably not.
We loved the fact that they had car seats and that they could pickup/drop off right at our campsite.
This is not a ride sharing program. There are no stops to pick up more passengers. You request your van and it picks up only your party and drives you to your destination before picking up someone else.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the Minnie Van Lyft Service. Will Disney expand its coverage to all resorts or keep it as a deluxe-resort perk? Will Disney eventually restrict traditional Uber and Lyft (non Minnie Van) drivers from their Parks, forcing users into the Minnie Van service? Only time will tell.
For this family of 4, a couple of rides at the end of a long week of a whole lot of Disney were well worth it. While we would not use this service for every day Disney-ing, it was a great option for a once-in-awhile ride.
One more piece of advice – I always recommend taking a rapid phone charger when you head to Disney. But if you are planning to use this Minnie Van service, it’s an absolute MUST. You will need enough battery left on your phone to be able to open the app and request the van. Make sure you have a charger and charging cord on you at all times!
Have you tried the Minnie Van Lyft Service? What did you think? If you haven’t tried it, would you?