Uber It to Disney World

This Mickey balloon experienced the joy of Uber travel from the Magic Kingdom back to our hotel room. How unusual is that?

This Mickey balloon experienced the joy of Uber travel from the Magic Kingdom back to our hotel room. How unusual is that?

Look, I know I’m probably the last to the party when it comes to realizing how disruptive Uber has become. Yes, I’ve recently discovered that it’s amazingly convenient and less expensive than traditional taxis or car services.

And yes, I love using the app… Tracking my Uber car on its way and having the driver’s phone number to confirm my pickup location.

Uber has quickly become another indispensable tech tool in our busy lives. But what does it say when other (competitive) industries still pretend to ignore its very existence…?

Mission 1 to Disney World
I just got back from a weekend family vacation to Walt Disney World.
I know… two days isn’t a whole lot of time to make a serious dent in exploring the Disney universe, not to mention all the other Orlando attractions. But it’s a beginning, and my son isn’t even six yet.

Honestly, I didn’t know what his experience would be like…
When he asked me if Disney World was located on another world other than Earth, I realized I was starting with a blank slate. I think that’s partly because he doesn’t currently have a strong connection to the original characters, although he does love “Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates” on Disney Junior.

So I thought of this trip as reconnaissance and research for future exhibitions…

Disney Can Be Scary
And as it turned out, many of the attractions at both Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (our two choices for this first mission) were actually a wee bit scary and intense for him.

I had forgotten that early in the first act of many Disney stories is the introduction of the band of ‘bad or evil’ characters. They can certainly look intimidating on TV or an iPad, but onsite at Disney World… the intensity is magnified by infinity and beyond.

Why do it “big,” when you can do it Disney big?!

That usually involves lots of darkness, 3D glasses, water spritzing, wind effects, shaking, high-decibel crunching and crashing sound effects.

Even the pop-up, happy Magic Kingdom mash-up musical at Cinderella’s castle includes the spectacular introduction of the evil queen from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” complete with green and yellow pyrotechnic explosions and accompanying booms.
(That wicked queen really knows how to make an entrance!)

But my son was out of there faster than you can say Grumpy, Bashful, and Sneezy!  He grabbed my wife’s hand and made a beeline through Main Street to safety faster than Elvis ever left the building…!

(Now, I’m sure some five year olds can handle this kind of visual and visceral blitz. All kids mature at different rates in their capacity to handle jarring stimuli, influenced in part, I think, by their cumulative multimedia ingestion.)

We regrouped by a smiling street vendor and picked up some floating Mickey Mouse balloon ears encased by a larger clear balloon like… magic.

All was good again.

As it was with the less intense experiences provided by other rides and shows such as the wonderful Kilimanjaro Safaris, Peter Pan’s Flight, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and the Tomorrowland Speedway.

But I digress…

The Price for the Last Five Miles to Disney
Since I didn’t rent a car on this trip, one question I immediately had for the concierge desk at our big-chain hotel was how to actually get to Disney World.

Was there a free shuttle bus?
(What was I thinking?)
That kind of convenience is usually baked into a more inclusive Disney package.

My choices were taking a cab it or paying for a shuttle bus service that the hotel contracts with.

The cost?

  • $20 per person to take the shuttle-bus round trip.
    That would make it $60 for the three of us.
  • As for a cab, the concierge told me that would range between $25-$35.
    Let’s average that to $60 round trip.

Either way, you’ve got to hand over three Jacksons for a family of three to make it to Disney and back.

Or do you…?

Why Not Uber?
A friend of mine had recently mentioned that she used Uber the last time she went to Disney with her family and highly recommended I try it.

So I asked the concierge. But as soon as those two syllables came out of my mouth, his face froze.

He said that Uber wasn’t a recognized business partner of the hotel, and he couldn’t comment on it.


So I walked away and made my decision.

The next morning, I summoned an uberX. The friendly driver greeted us a few minutes later, and we were quickly on our way. He drove us right to the regular cab drop-off location in front of Animal Kingdom, and our day at Disney effortlessly began.

The Uber cost?
(Wait for it.)


The Math Doesn’t Lie
The following morning, the ride cost even less- $8.55.
(That said, the rest of the trips hovered closer to $12.)

So let’s average it at $11.
That’s makes it $22 round trip.

…Verses $60 round trip.

That’s such a dramatic difference!!
Who can possibly make an argument against picking Uber?

Dinosaur Fascination
That said, all is not always perfect with Uber…

On the first return trip from Animal Kingdom, I opened up the app and requested my Uber for four… my wife, me, our boy… and his new dinosaur hand puppet. (T-Rex)

By the way, the otherwise amazing Dinosaur ride at DinoLand U.S.A. in Animal Kingdom was definitely too scary for him.
(Actually, I think it would be wise for adults to stretch a bit before going through that time tunnel. Otherwise you might pull a muscle during the frequent ‘turbulence.’)

All this said, my five year old was almost giddy afterwards, talking about the scariest parts….
(During the moments his eyes were actually open.)
I think he’s just on the cusp of understanding the equation of how something scary in an entertainment-based, safe environment can also be fun.

But I digress again…

Uber, We Have a Problem
So I’ve got my Uber car booked, and I’m tracking it in real time on the Uber map.
(Always so cool)

Suddenly, the little car icon moves in the wrong direction. And the wait time increases by four minutes.

That’s not good.
So I click on the driver info and call him up.

He answers. I confirm that he’s on his way to Animal Kingdom.

He asks if I’m Brandon.

Uh oh.

After 30 seconds, we agree we’re not destined to meet.

So I cancel the Uber request, and immediately try again. This time there’s no problem.

I ask the next Uber driver about the glitch, and he admits that occasionally the app messes up.

Well, that’s not so great, is it?

But as I usually like to call the Uber driver to confirm my exact pickup location anyway, I don’t see it as such an obstacle. If there’s a problem, I’ll pick it up immediately.
(And that was the only time this particular Uber flat tire happened to me.)

Get with the Times!
So, I’ve taken my family to Disney World.
(Now, I can check that off my bucket list…)

But of course we’ll be back… there’s so much more for my son to see.
(Plus, I must master my FastPass+ technique!)

I have to admit I was in my own little Magic Kingdom zipping around using Uber.

And remember, this is not Tomorrowland. It’s not Fantasyland.

How can some hotels not acknowledge this new reality?
(Trying to protect the bottom line today by sticking with old school transportation models has got to be short sighted.)

They’d better get with the times, or they might soon find themselves as a brand new attraction… at DinoLand!