Minnie Vans Are Back!
Everything in life comes down to timing.
In the case of one amenity returning to Walt Disney World this summer, the timing seems atrocious.
I suspect everyone reading this will be VERY happy, anyway.
Yes, Minnie Vans are back at Disney. Here’s what we know.
(Spoiler: Not much.)
Return of the Polka Dots
Disney introduced Minnie Vans in 2017, where the new, private rideshare service instantly became an overnight sensation.
Disney trained cast members as drivers for an internal rideshare service.
Workers fought hard to win these hotly contested positions while consumers appreciated the value.
During the early months of Minnie Vans, you could ride anywhere on Disney property for a reasonable $20.
In February of 2018, Disney decided its profit margin wasn’t high enough and raised the price to $25.
All along, there were some hidden constraints.
The Disney drivers would only take you to Disney locations. You couldn’t visit third party locations even if they were on the official Disney campus.
Also, Disney raised the price twice in just over a year.
By September of 2018, people were paying a $15 base for each Minnie Van ride plus $2.75 per mile.
So, the price started at $20 and was averaging $30 to $40 by the following September.
Disney officials almost had cartoonish dollar signs in their eyes as they quickly appreciated the profit potential.
The company soon added Minnie Van service to or from Orlando International Airport.
The cost was $155 one-way, not including tip. By this point, a fleet of red polka-dot SUVs seemed ubiquitous on the Disney World campus.
Disney didn’t even build its own rideshare app. Instead, it used Lyft’s smart device infrastructure, which might explain why prices kept going up.
Licensing someone else’s tech is rarely cheap.
Fans still happily paid the price because the rides were so dang cute. Also, unlike regular rideshares in Orlando, the drivers had trained in Disney customer service.
They were an absolute delight and justified the extra cost.
When the pandemic occurred, Disney didn’t feel comfortable operating Minnie Vans due to the underlying problems with social distancing.
Sadly, Minnie Vans closed with the rest of Walt Disney World and haven’t returned yet.
People had speculated whether they would ever come back, as a viral photo showed a Minnie Van for sale at a local car dealership.
Then, at the start of 2022, Disney infamously ended Magical Express, effectively telling guests to fend for themselves with regards to airport transportation.
People couldn’t help but wonder if the writing was on the wall regarding Minnie Vans.
On top of these concerns, an international crisis developed that has impacted the price of gas.
If you’ve been to the pump lately, I don’t need to tell you that gas prices have approached historic highs, and that’s causing many rideshare drivers to reassess their jobs.
Suddenly, it seems like a horrible time for Minnie Vans to return due to the added fuel expense for Disney.
However, the situation may be as simple as Disney realizing guests would grow even grumpier if they’re waiting an extended period for an Uber/Lyft ride.
Whatever the explanation, Minnie Vans will return this summer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re back by Memorial Day weekend.
Realistically, you should fully expect a higher price than in 2020.
My speculation – and that’s all this is – is that Disney leaves the base at its 2020 level of $15 but increases the per-mile fee to something like $3.50.
Then again, based on Disney’s actions over the past year, the base fee may go up to $20 as well.
Still, the most kawaii form of transportation at Walt Disney World is coming back soon.
Here’s the equally adorable way Disney announced the wonderful news:
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