We made it out to the parks today to check out Disney’s new Uber-like service, Minnie Van. We’ve been quite intrigued by this project since we first spotted a polka-dotted car under wraps at Test Track hours before their official announcement. The service is currently in a “soft-opening” as Cast Members make final adjustments before the service is officially launched on July 26th.
Here’s an overview with quick Q&A on our ride to Magic Kingdom.
So what were our thoughts? We loved it! The only complaint that we’ve heard through our social media channels was the price. At $20 per trip, it can be considered expensive when compared to services like Lyft or Uber. I don’t think the services can be compared. Here’s why.
Throughout our time covering Walt Disney World, we’ve found that what makes Disney so magical is the Cast Members. Where the Cast Members really shine is in small groups. Whether it’s a specialty tour group or even an extended one-on-one interaction, the Disney Difference can be truly enjoyed when the conversation extends past “how many in your party?”. Minnie Van is one of those extended, and wonderful, interactions. We had the pleasure of speaking with two different Cast Members on our rides and each had a depth of knowledge that allowed them to assist with any question we threw at them. This is just simply something that you won’t get with Uber or Lyft.
We also found that Minnie Van has some special access areas that you won’t get with other services. With Minnie Vans, you will receive direct transportation to your specific “campus style” hotel building (think Art of Animation, Pop Century, Coronado Springs, etc.), where other services are forced to drop you off at the main lobby. Another area is a direct drop off at Magic Kingdom bus stop 11, skipping the TTC completely. Even direct transport to Pioneer Hall for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is possible with Minnie Van.
Each Minnie Van has two car seats and the Cast Members driving have been trained on how to safely install the car seats for both children under 2 years old, and over 2 years old. Earlier we talked about guest concerns over the $20 price tag. It’s worth noting that should you need a child seat with an Uber, there is a $10 surcharge to your total. With Minnie Vans the child seat is included. Pretty much a wash as far as price, with the scales tipping heavily towards Minnie Vans for the service.
Another point of difference between Uber/Lyft and Minnie Van is that Cast Members are not allowed to accept tips. It’s all built into the $20 flat rate.
The vehicle is a Chevy Traverse and can accommodate up to 6 guests. The rear seats have full control over the rear air conditioning, a nice touch for the summer heat.
Overall, we loved our Minnie Van experience! As another option to existing Disney and non-Disney transportation, it will be a consistent and welcomed service. You’ll have Cast Members who know and love Disney inside and out (shout out to Debbie and Bob!), and will receive the type of friendly service that you’ve come to expect from Disney. We can definitely see value in being able to skip the long monorail lines after fireworks, private transportation around the resorts, or even hailing a Minnie Van for your Disney date or family dinners.
UPDATE: We were interested in a direct comparison between Minnie Vans and Uber. We found that Minnie Vans were unbelievably competitive when you consider the size of the vehicles and amenities offered. We used the Boardwalk to Magic Kingdom route, the same as when we tested the service. These Uber comparison prices are not surge prices. Under surge (or high demand) pricing conditions, Uber’s prices will go up. Minnie Vans flat rate of $20 is not affected by demand, according to Cast Members.
Keep in mind that Uber is forced to drop you off at the TTC. Only Minnie Vans and buses are able to take you directly to Magic Kingdom. This also applies to “campus style” resorts, where Uber and Lyft are directed to the main lobby, but Minnie Vans can take you to your specific building.
First, let’s take a look at the UberXL, which seats up to 6 people, the same as Minnie Vans. The price came out to $13.62, before tip. Add a tip of a few dollars, and you start to approach the same price as Disney’s $20 flat rate.
Now let’s add a car seat. Here’s where the value becomes evident. With Minnie Vans, two car seats come standard with every ride. Should you choose an UberXL with car seats, you’ll incur a surcharge of roughly $8, in our example. Add a tip and all of a sudden Uber is the more expensive (and less convenient) option.