Disney’s Minnie Vans Get Pricier: Move to Distance-Based Pricing
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Minnie Vans burst onto the scene at Disney World with an announcement in 2017. With a splash of whimsy, Disney World took the idea of a private car service and turned it into something special. Red vehicles adorned with white spots carried the Minnie Van theme forward. Hand-selected Disney cast member drivers with impeccable customer service and Disney World knowledge complemented the clean cars with working car seats for families with small children.
The service initially launched at a small number of Disney World Resorts. The popularity enforced Disney’s idea that they could improve on traditional taxi or ride-sharing services that you’ll find everywhere at Disney World. Within a few months, Minnie Vans quickly expanded to cover the entire Disney World Resort.
When the service launched, Minnie Vans were available for a flat $20 fee to travel anywhere within the confines of Disney World. That rate eventually went up to a $25 flat fee and expanded to include airport transfers at a rate of $150. TPG Family Travel Editor Summer Hull test drove the airport service a few months ago. There may not be a better way to travel between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Disney World, but there are many, many less expensive ways to travel between Disney World and MCO.
The New Distance-Based Pricing Model
After hearing a few rumors, we can now confirm that Minnie Vans have moved from their most recent flat-fee pricing model of $25 per ride within Disney World Resort to a distance-based pricing model. Minnie Vans are booked through the popular Lyft ride-sharing app. When you select the Minnie Van option in the Lyft app, you’ll be prompted for your origin and destination and an estimated fee is displayed. The new fee structure includes a base charge of $15 plus a fee for the distance traveled. While Disney World doesn’t disclose the price per mile that you’ll pay, we have four examples from our recent crazy Disney World “ride all the rides” challenge that paint a (more expensive) picture.
Trip 1: From Caribbean Beach Resort to Magic Kingdom. 6.51 miles for a total of $33.22 before tip.
Trip 2: From Hollywood Studios to Animal Kingdom. 4.72 miles for a total of $29.47 before tip.
Trip 3: From Animal Kingdom to EPCOT. 5.32 miles for a total of $34.39 before tip.
Trip 4: From Magic Kingdom to McDonald’s after 16 crazy hours of Disney for “comfort food,” then on to the Caribbean Beach Resort to sleep. 10.84 miles for a total of $44.80*
*This trip looked a bit different from the others. We had a message stating, “Since your ride exceeded the initial fare calculation, your final fare reflects actual time and distance.” We didn’t pay any extra time charges, even though it was a long ride with the McDonald’s stop.
Before the recent pricing change, these rides would have all been less expensive at a flat $25 per ride. I’m sure there are examples of extremely short trips where Minnie Vans are now less expensive, but we went 0/4 in scoring a trip less than $25.
Are Minnie Vans Worth the Price?
The $25 flat fee pricing at Disney World may have felt a bit pricy, especially considering the robust transportation network of buses, monorails and boats that Disney deploys for free. As you can see with the new pricing, even our shortest trip ended up costing a few dollars more than the previous $25 flat price. Is the new pricing too high? In the world of travel, we can comfortably say your mileage may vary.
On our most recent trip, we took the monorail from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom (and thus didn’t have to clear security a second time.) But, one of the key benefits of Minnie Vans is the reality that they are extremely handy when making memories at the Magic Kingdom.
Picture your family leaving the Magic Kingdom after a long day (and night) in the park, perhaps even enjoying the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Let’s just say you’re staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort, so you don’t have the good fortune of taking short monorail ride to your hotel.
Your kids are tired and everyone else is leaving the park at the same time as you. Buses are likely crammed and you don’t know when the next one is showing up. The ferryboat is packed to get to Ticketing & Transportation, where a taxi cab or Lyft/Uber could fetch you for your ride back to your hotel. These options may be what sends your family over the age and ends a magical day on a decidedly un-magical note.
Instead, you could hit the Lyft button and select a Minnie Van. Minnie Vans are the only private transportation option for your family that can pickup and drop-off in the bus loop at Magic Kingdom, on demand. This can save a bunch of time when kids (and parents) are at the height of tired. Is that worth the roughly $35 we spent to go from the Caribbean Beach Resort to the Magic Kingdom? We think so, but obviously we liked the service even better at a flat $25.
Minnie Van costs can definitely add up quickly on a Disney World vacation. But, in a world where theme park tickets are more than $100 a day, and you want to get the most out of your time creating memories, a Minnie Van can be a magical solution — just be sure and pay with a card that will earn you bonus points on all that magic.
Featured image by Summer Hull, The Points Guy.
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