How to Use Boats at Disney World – What are Disney Ferries, Boat Launches, and Friendship Launches?

Convenient, relaxing, and serving more resorts and locations than the Monorail, Disney’s water transportation options are worth understanding. So, where can the boats get you around Walt Disney World?

A brief note about Disney speak: as with most things at Walt Disney World, a certain vernacular is used to refer to otherwise familiar things. For example, Disney uses the word “launch” to refer to where there docks are located. Disney also has different names for certain launches–specifically, Water Launches, Friendship Launches, and Boat Launches. While initially confusing, understanding the differences between the types of launches can be helpful when planning your trip. Just know that no matter the name of the option below, it is a type of boat transportation.

Ferries. As mentioned in my Transportation and Ticket Center post, ferries are a convenient way to get to the Magic Kingdom. The ferries only go between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center. The ferries provide a unique, relaxing trip across Seven Seas Lagoon, especially when the lines for the Monorail are long. So how to get there? When you get to the Transportation and Ticket Center, head left away from the Monorail line entrances. Follow the signs for the ferry and wait your turn to load on the dock. From the Magic Kingdom, simply look for the ferry signs. The ferries have two levels and ample seating and standing areas.

Water Launch. These are much smaller boats, often interchangeably referred to as Water Taxis, that take guests between certain resorts and the Magic Kingdom. The Water Launches/Taxis travel across both Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Those resorts are the three located on the Monorail line–Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort–and both Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. (Note that Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, which are different resorts, are considered Magic Kingdom area resorts due to their proximity to the park, but they are not serviced by the Monorail.) These are very convenient, less crowded options for guests staying at those resorts. Water Launches/Taxis run on several different routes, distinguished by different colored flags. While you can study the different Water Launches/Taxis on Disney’s website, I broke them down for you here:

  • Blue Flag. This route travels between Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge, and Bay Lake Tower.
  • Green Flag. This route travels between Fort Wilderness and the Magic Kingdom.
  • Red Flag. This route travels between Wilderness Lodge and the Magic Kingdom.
  • Gold Flag. This route takes guests across Seven Seas Lagoon between the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian resorts and the Magic Kingdom.

Friendship Launch. These long, distinctly shaped boats service EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and several surrounding resorts. There are two bodies of water in this area that the boats travel on: Crescent Lake, which sits in front of the BoardWalk Inn, Yacht Club, Beach Club, and The Swan and Dolphin Resorts (all of which are in walking distance to one another) and World Showcase Lagoon (which is surrounded by the World Showcase in EPCOT). Here is my breakdown of the the Friendship Boats:

  • EPCOT Resort Area: Swan and Dolphin Hotels, Yacht & Beach Club resorts, and the BoardWalk Inn.
  • EPCOT Friendship Launches. One Friendship Launch is located at the EPCOT International Gateway, a second entrance to EPCOT that is within walking distance to EPCOT resorts. The other Friendship Launches are located in front of actual World Showcase Pavilions (the themed areas representing countries)–specifically, these are located in front of Canada, Germany, Mexico, and Morocco.
  • Hollywood Studios Resort Area: one Friendship Launch drops you off right in front of the entrance to Hollywood Studios.

Boat Launch. These boats are a mode of transportation known mostly by Disney World pros. The boats travel between certain resorts and Disney Springs–Disney’s shopping and entertainment center. These are great options for guests looking to avoid crowds, cars, or buses, especially on “resort days”–those days where guests decide to not visit the parks.

The Boat Launches are located at the following Disney resorts:

  • Old Key West Resort
  • Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Saratoga Springs Resort
  • Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs.

The Boat Launches are located at the following Disney Springs areas:

  • Marketplace
  • The Landing.

That was a lot of nautical information! Now that you know all about water transportation at Walt Disney World, are you planning your stay around any of the launches? Let me know!

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