Hitting the Trail: Taking on the Disney World Walking Paths

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I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone want to take a walking path when it seems like all you do at Walt Disney World is walk? Well, just hear me out, I do have a few good reasons! You see, walking paths allow you two big luxuries that are hard to come by at Disney World: no lines or crowds and the ability to make your own time.

Hollywood Studios Walking Path
Hollywood Studios Walking Path to the BoardWalk

Nobody likes fighting the long lines for buses, boats, and monorails, especially at closing time. It’s not unusual to have to wait for several of your own resort buses to fill up before you can board yourself following Magic Kingdom’s Wishes, which is hard to bear when your feet hurt and the kids are crying, right? Although, there can be lines or standing room only on buses, boats, and Monorail during the day too. However, the walking paths are never crowded, offering you and yours a reprieve from the shuffling lines and seas of strollers. Also, many are in open, beautiful settings that are well-lit, paved, and serve as great decompression zones from all the hustle and bustle.

But the lack of chaos isn’t the only reason to take on a walking path. Guests who have visited Disney World before know that getting from one place to another can be time consuming! Disney even recommends those with dining reservations to allow at least an hour for transportation time. Why? Well, for example, if you were to have a reservation at one of Epcot’s World Showcase restaurants, a lot of time can be wasted in waiting for transportation, actual travel time, going through security and the turnstiles, and then actually walking across the park to your restaurant. Whew! That can really take awhile and there are a lot of variables to contend with! That’s why, when I can, I prefer to take a walking path so that I can make my own time without checking my watch in nervous frustration for the umpteenth time at a resort bus stop.

Tower of Terror from Walking Path
View of Tower of Terror from Walking Path

So if you can relate to my complaints and if I have piqued your interest, you should know that there are several paths around the Disney World Resort, but one that I use often when on property is the path from Hollywood Studios to the BoardWalk Inn Resort. It can be hard to find, but all you have to do is follow the sidewalk running parallel to the Hollywood Studios bus stops along the water. The sidewalk will branch off (as pictured above) and then all you have to do is follow it straight to the BoardWalk or the Swan and Dolphin. This path is .9 miles to the BoardWalk Inn Resort and typically takes around 15 to 20 minutes to walk, but it’s well lit and you may just catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife, plus a unique view of the Tower of Terror!

Another one of my favorite walking paths can be found between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. This particular path will make you forget that you’re in Central Florida with all of the pine trees and thick foliage. I’ve even seen a deer or two and some wild turkeys here in the past! Walking this shady path usually takes about twenty minutes, is 0.75 of a mile, and is truly a great way to escape for awhile. Plus, the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Resort is truly incredible and Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness is one of my favorite places for a home-cooked style meal, both of which are worth walking a ways for.

Resort Walking Path
View of the Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain from Walking Path

Looking to do a little resort hopping? If so, there’s a great path connecting the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Polynesian Resort to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa! The path will take you through the Polynesian’s lush, tropical grounds, next to the sandy beaches on Seven Seas Lagoon, and right in front of the Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion and Franck’s Bridal Studio Plus, as you walk, you can catch views of the other resorts and the Magic Kingdom across the water. The path is exactly a mile each way and the walk itself is smooth and even, great for a relaxing stroll.

During my last trip, I discovered the walking path between Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Downtown Disney. Congress Park is the section of Saratoga Springs that’s closest to Downtown Disney and it has a path that takes you right to the Marketplace. I personally used the path in the morning for a Starbucks fix. It was a great way to start the day and the path only took a few minutes to walk!

Epcot’s International Gateway

If you happen to stay at the Contemporary Resort, you will want to know about this next path. As the Contemporary Resort is right next door to the Magic Kingdom, many of the resort’s rooms offer Magic Kingdom views. Guests can reach the park via Monorail, which happens to run straight through the resort; however, if the Monorail is down or the line is too long, you can take a short walking path that follows the Monorail line right to the entrance of the park within minutes. The path is even, mostly shady, and is only .45 of a mile. Talk about a huge perk for resort guests.

My favorite Disney World walking path has to be the International Gateway situated between Epcot’s United Kingdom and France pavilions. Most guests don’t realize this space is even there; but if you head down this path, you will find the World Traveler shop, turnstiles, and the Friendship Boat Dock. The path continues up a hill and then branches off to either the Yacht and Beach Club or the BoardWalk Inn, and a little more walking takes you to the Swan and Dolphin Resort! In regards to distance, you’re looking at .24 or so of a mile between the International Gateway and the Yacht and Beach Club Resort. This path is obviously a huge perk for guests staying at these resorts, especially since the walk itself only takes about five minutes; but do be aware that the hill is relatively steep and could be a hindrance to some. You can also view the Illuminations fireworks from the path too!

Other Disney World Walking Paths:

Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter are sister resorts and are actually connected by an shaded 1.7 mile walking path along the picturesque Sassagoula River.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort has a new neighbor, the Art of Animation Resort! You can enjoy the paths around Hourglass Lake, which can be found between them, to visit the other to get in a morning jog. The path is about 1.38 mile and offers relatively even, albeit sunny, terrain.

Caribbean Beach offers a 1.2 mile walk around its tropical-inspired Barefoot Bay; and the path around Coronado Springs’ Lago Dorado is also a little over a mile.

Tip: Pick up a walking/jogging map at your Disney resort front desk which offers distances and more info!

So those are some of Disney World’s walking paths. Have I won you over yet? Will you take on a walking path during your next trip to Disney World?

 

Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

8 thoughts on “Hitting the Trail: Taking on the Disney World Walking Paths

  • August 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm
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    The Contemporary to Magic Kingdom path is the reason we like to stay there! I’ve done Wilderness Lodge to the Campground in a surrey and it was a fun ride, with pony rides for the kids on the other side. And when we couldn’t get a room at French Quarter, we asked to be in the closest building to in in Port Orleans and my husband was able to run over at night for fresh bengiets! The walking paths can be a great little vacation secret.

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  • August 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm
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    There is also the Pedestrian Nature Trail at Ft. Wilderness by the Settlement Trading Post which loops out and back.

  • August 13, 2014 at 3:48 pm
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    There is a walking path that leads to a sidewalk to get from Coronado Springs Resort to Blizzard Beach and Winter/Summer Land Mini Golf. It’s about a mile.

    • August 14, 2014 at 9:29 am
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      Thanks for that tip! I’ll be staying at CSR next month and this will be really helpful!

  • August 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm
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    We have frequently walked between Hollywood Studios and Epcot. We almost always beat the boat there.

  • August 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm
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    Thanks for this article! My husband and I are runners/walkers and are headed back in November (without the kids!!!) and can’t wait to try some of these ‘trails’ to take in the sights we wouldn’t be able to see with the little ones!

  • August 14, 2014 at 12:58 am
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    Lovely article. Jogged between Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness many times and it is wonderful.
    Also walked to Downtown Disney from Old Key West along the river. It’s just under a mile.

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