If you are staying off site, there are not many options for transportation. You will need to rent a car. Some hotels offer free transportation to the parks, but I would not put to much faith in this. Each hotel has it’s own policy, but most have one bus and it stops at each park once in the morning and once at night. If you have special plans or want to switch parks it could be tough to do. Also, you will need to get from the Airport to your hotel. Without a car, you can get a ride from one of the bus services, like Mears, or take a taxi.
If you are staying on site, there are a couple of options. The first concern is getting from the airport to your hotel. If you are staying On-Site, then use the currently free Disney’s Magical Express service. This is a bus service that gets you to your hotel. Also included with the service is free luggage handling. What that means is that once you say goodbye to your luggage in your departure city, the next time you see it will be in your Disney hotel room. No waiting for the luggage to come off the plane in Orlando. Just find your way to the bus and relax. The same for the trip back to the airport. The only down-side is not knowing when you will get your bag. They say up to three hours and if you get in very late, maybe the next day. So if you have medications or plan on swimming you might need to pack a carry-on for the plane. Here is a link to MouseSavers.com where they discuss the pros and cons of the service. We used it and had no issues. All Good. It was amazing at how happy the bus ride from the airport was at the begining of the week. Wow was it depressing on the ride back.
Once you get to your hotel, there are three main types of transportation to get you to the parks and around WDW. The first are the buses. I found that the buses were pretty reliable. On our last trip of six days, I would say we waited for more than 10 minutes twice out of about 16 or so bus trips. Not bad. I would not rely on them for very early character breakfasts in the park though. Too risky. Maybe a taxi. Buses are great, usually clean and just recently have begun to give an information spiel as you ride. Similar to the Monorail announcements. For more specific information check out MousePlanet.com where they have pretty comprehensive schedules and routes for the buses. Look for the links toward the bottom of the page. Bus Tip: If you stay late at a park for the fireworks, expect the lines and waits for the buses and boats to be a extended. Although, we have met the most amazing people standing in line for the bus.
The second type of transportation are the boats. There are a couple different boats that you can use to get you places. The smaller transports which holds about 25 will take you from the Magic Kingdom hotels to the Magic Kingdom.
There is a second bigger type boat that will take you from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and from the Epcot hotels to the World Showcase entrance of Epcot. The third boat is the huge ferry boats that take you from the Ticket and Transportation Center(T&TC) to the Magic Kingdom and back again. Now I've talked about Buses and Boats, what is left? The Monorail. The transporation system of tomorrow is a ride as much as it is a conveyance. The monorail circles Bay Lake and stops at the Polynesian Hotel, the Grand Floridian, the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary and then the T&TC. That's the local route, there also is an express from the T&TC to the Magic Kingdom. When you park at the Magic Kingdom, you take the tram to the T&TC and then the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. The Monorail route was also extended to Epcot. This is becoming out traditional first ride for each visit. We take the monorail to Epcot and then back. The track goes into Future World at Epcot. It's a nice tease if you do not have time to waste a ticket on your first day. Here is some good information on the Monorail including a track map. One last tip for the Monorail, make sure you ask to sit with the driver. It is a great experience that I would consider a must do.
So, as you see there are many of ways to get around the world. A couple of hints. You can ask any bus driver to find out where the bus you need is and when it will get to your bus stop. When we stayed at the Polynesian we found that the boat was the fastest way to the Magic Kingdom and we would walk to the T&TC to go to Epcot. We took buses to the other two parks and DownTown Disney. When we stayed at Fort Wilderness, we took the boat to the Magic Kingdom and then a Bus to any parks. You can put your faith in the Disney Transportation Network and remember that if you are at the parks when it is crowded all things slow down. So plan accordingly.