Tips for Driving at Walt Disney World

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Features

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Published on February 18, 2016 at 3:00 am with No Comments

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a brat when it comes to transportation at Walt Disney World. While the transportation options are typically more than adequate, I tend to want to stick to my own schedule and much prefer to have my own wheels at the World. Here are a few things to note if you’re chauffeuring your party around Disney World.

When to Drive

As I mentioned, Disney World transportation is plentiful with the resort offering buses, monorail and watercraft transportation throughout. However, when staying at the moderate and value level resorts, as well as Animal Kingdom Lodge, a bus is your only option when it’s time to hit the parks. This is where I much, much prefer to have a car. The buses, while perfectly suited to their purpose, are definitely a subject of guest frustration and contention, and we tend to avoid it all together.

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If you’re planning to visit other Orlando area attractions, it’s a great idea to have your own transportation, especially with a larger group, to avoid paying for shuttles or taxi service. I often have guests who are able to get a one-day rental for less than the cost of a shuttle for the family. They’re also able to stop to and from for meals off-site to get a little relief from on-property prices.

Finally, I suggest your own transportation when traveling with guests who may require a little more flexibility whether it be a baby, a traveler with health issues or a guest with special needs. During my time in special education, Disney often popped up as a favorite destination for students and their families because of the great accommodations and experiences, but many families discussed the need for their own vehicle in case a speedy exit needed to be made, a Target run had to be done or excitement of large group transportation got to be too much.

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Getting a Car

Obviously this isn’t a question if you’re driving yourself to Disney World, but for guests flying into the Orlando area, there are several rental options. Our family typically hops aboard Disney’s Magical Express at Orlando International then we settle in at our resort. Alamo has several on site locations, so that’s typically our choice. They even have a complimentary shuttle to and from your resort and the Car Care Center near Magic Kingdom. National also operates from this location. Dollar, Avis and Budget also have rental locations at three of the Disney Springs area (non-Disney owned and operated) hotels. Of course, if you’re looking to rent at the airport, your options are a little wider.

• Get Park Wise: Be sure to check for discount codes online, as well as perks from frequent flyer programs, bulk stores, memberships, etc. We’ve never paid full price for car rentals and never intend to do so!

Parking

Disney resort guests can park at no charge at their resorts. Although we’ve run into occasional testing of different methods, guests will typically receive a parking pass from the gate attendant if arriving by car. If you don’t, these can be requested at check-in or anytime at the front desk. Parking at the parks is also complimentary for Disney resort guests and annual passholders.
If you are not a Disney resort guests, you can expect to shell out $20 for self-parking at the parks. If you plan to park hop, save your receipt, as you’ll only need to pay once a day. Valet parking is also available at the deluxe resorts for $20 a day. This is the only Disney-sanctioned option for parking at a resort where you’re not a guest and hitting the parks. All other methods are at your own risk.

Trams pick up and drop off driving guests in the parking lot every few minutes.

Trams pick up and drop off driving guests in the parking lot every few minutes.

A Few More Tips

  • Believe it or not, in our experience, the cheapest gas was offered on Walt Disney World property.
  • Newsflash: Florida is HOT! And cars can get extremely HOT! Don’t leave anything that wouldn’t fare well in 9,000 degree heat in the car: crayons, kids, grandma, perishable food, dairy products, etc.
  • While we’re on it, take a minute to cool the car off before piling in. I know it’s rough outside, but it’s way worse inside, and those metal buckles KILL!!
  • When parking at the parks, snap a picture of your row so you’re not that guy wandering around the lot trying to set off his alarm to find his ride.

Are you a driver or do you rely on Disney transportation? Why?

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About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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