The Walt Disney World monorail system connects Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort with each other and the Magic Kingdom Resort. These are three Disney Deluxe resorts definitely worth seeing; each has their own unique style. What better way to see them than to eat and drink your way around the Disney World monorail route?
Just when the kids have done all the exploring they are going to do at one place, it’s time to hop on the monorail and go somewhere new! Exploring the Disney World hotels on monorail is the perfect way to get into the Disney spirit without using a park ticket. This experience is great for your first evening at Walt Disney World, or anytime you want to cut a park day short but don’t want to be too far away from the party.
There is not guaranteed parking at Disney resorts for non-guests, and even if there are spots, parking fees are high. To begin the loop, we highly recommend taking a taxi/Uber directly to the Grand Floridian or the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). From the TTC, take the monorail to the Grand Floridian. If you are staying at another Walt Disney World hotel property, you can either take Disney World Transportation buses or a Minnie Van.
Good to know: There are actually two monorail lines. The one we will cover in this guide and the Epcot Monorail line which connects the Magic Kingdom with Epcot.
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First Stop: The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Start your monorail tour at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Its Victorian lobby is the backdrop for the quietest and most upscale atmosphere of the three resorts. On most afternoons, Cinderella and Prince Charming dance across the floor at 3:00 pm. This is the sweetest way to kick off the loop! Plus, it’s a perfect time of day for drinks and snacks. After the dance, relax in Mizner’s Lounge with a cocktail and a great view of the Seven Seas Lagoon. The resident jazz band provides a lovely ambiance.
Kids are welcome to join you in the lounge, but it’s also quite easy to send preteens and teens off to explore the vast, ornate lobby on their own. (If you stand just outside Mizner’s, you can see most of the lobby down below). Have them report back on what characters they found in the floor mosaics and make a few pressed pennies. Don’t forget to have them search for Hidden Mickeys! Either way, the beauty and tranquility of this hotel will start everyone off with a happy, peaceful glow.
Holidays at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
If you happen to be visiting the Disney World hotels on the monorail during the holidays, you are in for a treat. There is a life-size gingerbread house in the Grand Lobby every year. It takes six people almost 10 days to create and is made with 800 lbs of flour, 140 pints of eggs, and 35 lbs of spices!
There is also a 40 foot Christmas tree in the lobby decorated in a Victorian theme. Mickey and Minnie are often in front, dressed in holiday attire, waiting to take pictures with guests.
During the weeks leading up to Easter, giant, hand-painted Easter eggs can be discovered. The feature scenes from classic Disney movies which are all created using modeling chocolate, royal icing, and fondant.
Read reviews of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Heading to these theme parks for the first time. Check out 15 Know-Before-You-Go Tips for your Disney Vacation.
Second Stop: The Contemporary Resort
Get ready to zoom directly into the A-frame tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort! The monorail lets you off inside the main building of the resort. Modern, with straight lines and primary colors, this hotel is more casual than the Grand Floridian and bustling with activity. Take your time to look around and enjoy the decorative details that Disney does so well, including a 90 ft. mural depicting cultural elements of the American Southwest.
There are two places to enjoy a drink with kids at the Contemporary Resort. The first is the Outer Rim, on the main floor and looking out over Bay Lake. It can be loud here due to Chef Mickey’s right next door, but it’s a nice central location where you can sit and the kids can wander around. Plus, the Blue “Glowtini” is pretty fun. Skip this stop though if you want to keep your tour on the shorter side, and head directly upstairs to The California Grill instead.
The California Grill can only be accessed by elevator, so you need to check in with the host downstairs and they will guide you upstairs. Once you get up there, you will be blown away by the view of the Magic Kingdom! The California Grill is one of the very best restaurants on Disney property. It can be hard to get a reservation and very expensive for a family dinner. However, at this time of day (roughly 4-5 pm), we have found that you can walk in and find a seat in the lounge. Service is great and the menu is the same as the main dining room. Sample some sushi, it is perfection!
Holidays at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
During the holidays at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Christmas Tree is outside the front of the resort, but there is still something special awaiting guests inside- a gingerbread Cinderella’s Castle is on the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse! This behemoth takes over a week for 20 people to assemble. It is made of 1400 gingerbread bricks and an absurd amount of baking ingredients (62lbs of gingerbread spice alone!).
Read reviews of Disney’s Contemporary Resort from families that have been there.
Last Stop: The Polynesian Village Resort
Time to let it all hang loose at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort! The gorgeously themed Polynesian is overflowing with odes to the Pacific, from lush landscaping to tiki torches and totem poles around every corner. Your first mission: head straight to the Pineapple Lanai to get the kids a Dole Whip. This is the only place to get one outside of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
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Once that’s accomplished, parents can easily order a cocktail anytime at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. By the time you arrive at the Polynesian, it is likely that the resort’s nightly activities have commenced. Whether it’s an outdoor movie, a dance party, or story time around the fire – join in on the fun! As an added bonus, if you stay late enough, watching the electrical water pageant and Magic Kingdom fireworks show from the Polynesian Village Resort beach is the ultimate way to end your tour of the monorail loop.
Read reviews on what it is like to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
Who knew hotel surfing could be this much fun for the whole family? These resorts are a destination in themselves, but you don’t have to stay at one of them to get a taste. Doing the Disney World monorail loop is a fun, more affordable way to enjoy a little slice of each one. From refined, Victorian grandeur to an all-out Polynesian party, there is something for everyone along the way.