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Are the Disney Springs Boat Rides Free?

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Heading over to Disney Springs? This article will give you all the information you need about getting to and from Disney Springs including all the Disney transportation options, tour boats at Disney Springs whether the Disney Spring Boat Rides are free and lots more information and tips!

Short answer is: there are two types of boat rides at Disney Springs. One is a paid for tour in an amphicar in the style of a 1950s vintage car. They fit 3-4 people and it’s about $125 for a 20ish minute excursion in the bay. The other option for boats at Disney Springs, is the free Disney transportation.

DIsney Springs dock

Where do the boats drop off at Disney Springs?

The free boat transportation at Disney Springs only sails from The Landing near the Boathouse restaurant, or the Marketplace to either Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Disney’s Old Key West Resort or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort (Riverside and French Quarter). Westside Dock is the free water taxi to the docks at the Landing or the Marketplace.

All strollers must be folded and stowed out of the aisle.  If you are arriving to Disney Springs by bus, you’ll be dropped off by Town Center

For more information about both these Disney Spring Boats rides, read on for tips!

mini train at DISNEY SPRINGS
Mini Train at Disney Springs

What Attractions are at Disney Springs?

To understand the boat rides at Disney Springs, first let’s get to the magic of Disney Springs. Disney Springs is what was originally known as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village which opened in 1975  just a few years after the Magic Kingdom opened.

It then became Walt Disney World Village in 1977, followed by Disney Village Marketplace in 1989, and Downtown Disney in 1997.

According to Wikipedia, in 2013 three-year plans were introduced to expand Downtown Disney and only 2 short years later, in 2015 ahead of schedule, the Disney Springs expansion was complete and open to the public.

It is a 120 acre stretch of land on the south east side of the Disney property that is defined by four distinct areas; the Marketplace where most of the shops are located along with a handful of the restaurants; the Landing, which consists of the fictional town’s marina and transportation hub; Town Center, which features the man made spring of Disney Springs; and the West Side depicting the town’s Exposition Center that houses the movie theater, the M&M Store, and the now defunct NBA experience which will hopefully be renovated into something new soon.

Disney Springs as a whole, is filled with retail stores (most of which feature Disney exclusive merchandise), restaurants and bars, a small outdoor theater space where mainly musicians and dancers perform, a movie theater, a small splash pad, and plenty of greenery. 

In my own opinion, Disney Springs is a nice place to spend the afternoon when you need a break from the crowds in the park. In visiting, you get the magic of Disney due to the amazing customer service for which Disney has become internationally known, cleanliness of not only the outdoor spaces but indoor and restrooms as well, and overall ‘most magical place on earth’ feeling, but it is free to get in and you don’t need a reservation to enjoy it.

There is the World of Disney store, which carries all of the same merchandise as the parks and then some, but there are also some exclusive stores like Coach, Ugg, Lilly Pulitzer, Pandora, the Coca Cola Store, and many many more that carry their own products as well as Disney specific items that cannot be found elsewhere.

Between pin trading, relaxing with a Dole Whip or a smoothie, or even creating your own LEGO person in the LEGO store, it is pretty difficult to get bored. Plus, when you get hungry, there are some world renowned restaurants (like the Boathouse, WolfGang Puck Bar and Grill, House of Blues, etc…) and cafes (like Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, Joffery’s Coffee and Tea Company, etc…) to grab a full meal or just a bite to eat. 

There are a few free things to do in Disney Springs for families too, including the splash pad, T-Rex cafe dinosaur dig, Hidden Mickey hunt, and a princess parade from Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique. (Temporarily unavailable.)

Disney Springs is accessible by car (both to park or from a taxi/Uber/Lyft), Disney bus, and Disney boat.

There are three parking garages and four surface parking lots, all of which have free parking and are all mainly named after citrus fruits given that Florida is the citrus capital— the covered garages are Orange, Lime, and Grapefruit.

The surface parking lots are Lemon, Mango, Strawberry and Watermelon. Every visitor is welcome to drive themselves to the various Disney parks and resorts and most people do. Some parking lots, like the ones connected to the four Disney Theme Parks, cost money in which to park. Some, like the ones connected to the resorts, are closed to anyone not staying or visiting that specific resort with a dining reservation.

In order to easily get around without constantly pulling out your wallet or potentially being turned away, there are two other options. The first option is to take a Disney bus. Buses take visitors for free between all the Disney properties, including the resorts, the theme parks, and Disney Springs. For those who may want to look at alternative modes of transportation, the Disney boats are the way to go. 

Disney Springs Boat Rides: The Vintage Amphicar Ride

As mentioned above, there are two forms of boats within Disney Springs; one is strictly a paid for ride in the lake (with a twist as you’ll read later) connected to the Disney Springs property. The other is part of the free Disney Transportation system.

The former, named the Amphicar, is accessible directly next to the Boathouse, can take up to four adult passengers, and costs $125 per car. It is a Captain guided, 20 minute boat ride AND car tour (yes, you read that correctly, hence the twist) of the landmarks in and around Disney Springs.

Disney Springs Boat Rides: Disney Water Taxi

The latter, known as a water taxi, takes you to areas of Disney that are connected by, you guessed it, water. The first stops are all around Disney Springs; the Marketplace, the West Side, and the Landing.

The Water taxis also go to Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- Riverside, and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- French Quarter.

  • Disney’s Old Key West and Saratoga Springs resort: your water taxi will arrive at The Landing
  • Port Orleans guests will be dropped off and picked up from the boat dock at The Marketplace.
  • West Side dock is for getting around the 3 dock locations by free water taxi only and makes a great free activity to do at Disney Springs.
  • From each of these locations, passengers can then transfer to another boat, a bus, or even the Sky Liner to then connect to other Disney resort properties or directly to one of the four parks.

All of these transportation options are free and do not require a ticket or a reservation. The usual hours of operation are 10:30am-1:30am.

Typically, the boats run every 15 minutes until 4:30pm and then every 10 minutes thereafter until closing. It usually takes about 15 minutes to get from one location to the next but be aware, that according to the Disney website, hours of operation could vary due to weather and water conditions and at any time could interrupt the water taxi schedule.

As with any mode of public transportation, allow extra time if you are relying on getting to a dinner reservation or something similar by a specific time. There is no luggage nor alcohol allowed on any watercraft taxi and all boats are handicapped accessible, however strollers do need to be folded and stowed out of the aisles while on board. 

Grand Floridian Tip

The Grand Floridian has a variety of transport options, including the free Disney transportation water launch (also known as water taxi) to Magic Kingdom. Like all of the resorts, buses are available from the resort to Disney Springs.

One of the secrets we discovered by living in the area is that The Grand Floridian has a pottery painting session open to anyone on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12pm-2pm. It costs $20 for each piece to be painted, which means as a family, you can paint one piece together or each member of your family can purchase a pottery piece to paint individually.

Now, the catch is that unless you are an overnight guest at the Grand Floridian or have a dining reservation, you may not park there. One place to park would be at the Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail over to the Grand Floridian but unless you have an annual pass, you will have to pay for parking.

The best option is to park at Disney Springs and then take a bus directly from Disney Springs to the Grand Floridian for the two hour painting session. When completed, head back over to Disney Springs either by bus for an early dinner or a mid afternoon treat and some shopping and you have an enjoyable day of Disney without the price tag that often comes with visiting the parks themselves.

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