The guests settled comfortably into their seats for the newest Disney ride. They didn’t even have to tug on the yellow strap.
The riders included a Riverside man wearing a retro Mousketeers cap and Mickey Mouse T-shirt who goes to the Magic Kingdom three times per week, and a plainly dressed Riverside woman who hadn’t been in years.
The ride, fortunately, did not spin or drop or get attacked by a giant snake or get anyone wet.
Still, the guests were thrilled with the ride, especially when the Riverside Transit Agency Express Route 200 bus dropped them off in front of the Disneyland Resort terminal on the daily route’s first day of service Sunday, Jan. 14.
“I can’t even tell you how long it took because we were talking the whole time,” said Wanda Demby of Bloomington, who along with friend Pauline Martinez of Riverside caught the third bus of the day.
“It’s much better than the commute,” said Martinez, who buys an annual pass every few years.
They boarded at the La Sierra train station in Riverside, one of seven stops in San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and Anaheim. The cost is $3 each way for general boarding, and $2 for seniors, veterans and disabled people.
The trips are scheduled to take between 100 and 115 minutes, depending on the day and time. The buses can accommodate 40 to 50 people, if some stand. They have Wi-Fi and charging portals for cellphones but no bathrooms.
Mario Tovar of Riverside knows all the bus routes and can tell you how to ride to Las Vegas for just a buck. He rode the Disney bus Sunday, decked out in hat and T-shirt, to write about the service for a Facebook group he belongs to, Disney Fans & Annual Passholders.
He likes the direct service but wishes there weren’t so many stops. Tovar also said the last return bus leaves so early (9:09 p.m. on weekends, 9:29 p.m. on weekdays) that he will miss the 9:30 p.m. fireworks.
Tovar is a frequent Disney guest. “It brings back childhood nostalgia,” he said.
Some riders were creating their nostalgia Sunday.
Kirk Gutierrez, 17, and Marykate Nieto, 16, both of San Bernardino, were celebrating the second anniversary of their first date. Neither drives, so they were thrilled for the cheap ride.
“It’s exciting,” Nieto said.
“It’s a special day,” Gutierrez said.
Annual passholder and “Disney enthusiast” Wynona Duvall of Calimesa rode the bus wearing a lanyard with multi-colored Mickey heads.
The retiree from IBM was glad for a way to avoid paying for gas or the $20 Disney garage parking fee.
“The cost for a retiree is phenomenal,” Duvall said of the bus.
Swati Bhattacharyya of Riverside last went to Disneyland “many, many years back.” She rode Sunday with friend Angela Lee of Riverside, who likes to take buses and trains to tourist attractions because of the ease of the trip.
“You don’t have to drive, you don’t have to worry,” Bhattacharyya said.
The day’s second bus arrived at the resort with about 35 people on board, including two cast members (what Disney calls its employees) and about a dozen RTA employees, board members and families. When the day’s third bus arrived, six people stepped off.
Officials expect ridership to increase as people learn about the new route.
Riders also don’t have to be going to Disneyland to take the bus, which drops people off on Harbor Boulevard in front of the resort bus terminal.
Why the route has returned
RTA operated a route from San Bernardino to Disneyland from 1989 to 1994 that was paid for by several agencies. But when that funding was reduced, the route was limited from Riverside to Orange, RTA spokesman Brad Weaver said.
The route’s return was influenced by a couple of factors, Weaver said. One, there is now Metrolink service to the San Bernardino Transit Center, the first stop where parkgoers can board the train to Disneyland. Second, the opening of carpool lanes on the 215 and 91 freeways, and the extension of the toll lanes to Corona, made true express bus service possible, Weaver said.
“The bus to Disneyland, it’s part of our natural evolution and we think it’s time to make this leap,” he said.
Weaver would not say exactly what assistance Disney provided, but he said that after RTA officials consulted Disney, RTA became convinced the route would be successful.
“We know that there are Disneyland passholders living in our service area. We also know there are Disneyland employees living in our service area,” Weaver said. “We know this is going to be a popular route.”
Key things to know:
Stops: The new express route has seven:
- San Bernardino Downtown Transit Center
- Downtown Riverside at Lemon & University
- Downtown Riverside Metrolink Station
Riverside Galleria at Tyler
- La Sierra (Riverside) Metrolink Station
- The Village at Orange
- Disneyland (on Harbor Blvd. near East Shuttle Way)
Times: On weekdays, there are 17 trips per day; westbound trips leave from San Bernardino between 3:42 a.m. and 7:10 p.m. while eastbound trips leave from Anaheim between 6:02 a.m. and 9:29 p.m. On weekends, there are nine trips per day; westbound trips leave between 6 a.m. and 6:55 p.m. while eastbound trips leave between 8:17 a.m. and 9:09 p.m. See the full timetables here.
Cost per trip: $3 for general boarding, $2 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. Tickets can be purchased on the bus. Students whose schools participate in U-Pass or Go-Pass programs can ride for free with their college IDs. City of Riverside employees also ride free.
Longer passes: A day pass for unlimited trips is $7 general, $5 for senior/disabled/veterans. A 30-day pass is $75 general, $50 for seniors/disabled/veterans.These passes may be purchased on the bus or at RTA outlets.
More information: Go to the RTA website or call the customer information center at 951-565-5002.