To Rent or Not To Rent: Do You Need A Car At Walt Disney World?
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If you are staying offsite at a non-Disney World hotel, the answer to this question is a bit easier. Renting a car makes sense, especially if the shuttles from your hotel are not at convenient times, you're at a condo and want to head to the grocery store, or you want to visit more places than the hotel shuttle offers, such as local restaurants, shopping and theme parks. Make sure to ask your off-site hotel about their shuttle service before deciding. Also, most off-site hotels do not provide transportation from the airport, so a rental car is an easy selection.
The dilemma in choosing comes when you are staying onsite at Walt Disney World because they provide a free Disney's Magical Express shuttle service to your hotel, as well as free transportation to all of their parks, resorts and Downtown Disney.
First, let's talk about who you are. Are you not into riding a bus with the crowds? Are you coming from far away and want to make a grocery stop for snacks and diapers? Answer yes to either of these questions and Disney's Magic Express may not be for you. You may want to consider renting a car or hiring a car service, at least to get to your hotel.
Most car services will give you a free, 30-minute grocery stop. It's like playing that game show Supermarket Sweep, so get your list ready! Those of you who answered positive to the need for a grocery stop may want to also consider having the groceries delivered. I'm a fan of not paying for car services, not dealing with my luggage, and not worrying about yelling at my husband about his sub-par driving techniques. Therefore it's Magical Express for my family!
Walt Disney World - driving to Disney
My husband Mark in the driving seat of a rental car, ready to head out of the airport. - photo by chezp
But what about once you get to the hotel? Is Disney transportation quick and easy or slow and frustrating? The truth is, it just depends. It seems the worse my mood, the hotter I am, or if a kid is asleep in my arms, Disney transportation is slow. If we are in a great mood, chatting with fellow vacationers, sipping a coffee, the transportation is perfect. So the moral of transportation is - take it easy and keep your expectations low and it is well worth not having the aggravation, extra cost, and parking hassles of renting a car. If you're antsy and impatient, renting a car may be worth it.
The last thing to consider when making your decision is where you are staying and where you are going. If you are staying at a monorail resort you probably don't need a rental car. Planning a trip over to SeaWorld, a rental car may be a necessary investment. Left up to me, I've always opted for Disney transportation. I take it slow and make sure to plan lots of time to get to my destination. Disney World is more than 40 square miles. Plan at least 45 minutes to get from one place to another. And remember, sit back and enjoy the ride, its Disney after all!
Tip: Record the Rental Car
When you get your rental car, take a picture of the license plate with your camera or camera phone. So many rental cars look the same, and this way you will always have the license place number with you. - tip contributed by Kalli
Save This Tip
Orlando International Airport - signs
The way back for those with car rentals is clearly signposted. - photo by chezp
About the Author: Justine, the author of PassPorter's Disney Speed Planner: The Easy Ten-Step Program, works in education in Connecticut. She is also the host of Travel Girl's(TM) Tips for Disney World podcasts.
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Updated 11/15/2010 - Article #103
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