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We call shotgun! Today we’re discussing whether to rent a car at Disney World or not. You’ve booked your ideal Disney Resort, plane tickets are set, and now the big question: do you need a car? It’s not as simple of a question as you may think. Just like deciding whether to stay on Disney property or not, renting a car may or may not be the right option for you. Buckle-up, the engine is warm and we’re ready to cruise down World Drive to Walt Disney World.

Alternative to renting a car at Disney is Disney's Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express

Traveling to Your Resort

Before your flight lands in Orlando you’ll have to decide on how you want to roll up to your resort. Arriving at Orlando International Airport you’ll have a plethora of options, from the old school taxi, to the modern day rideshare, and of course Disney’s Magical Express. But we’te not here to review these options, we’re here to discuss whether or not to rent a car at Disney World. Right?

Passholder Insights: Orlando has two airports, Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport (one word makes all the difference). Please note if you’re arriving at Orlando Sanford International Airport Disney’s Magical Express would not be an option.

Alternative to rent a car at Disney is using a rideshare service
Disney Mini Van Rideshare

Reviewing the Cost

In the DVC Duo house, it’s all about the money and where we choose to spend it. Every option has a cost associated to it. Renting a car will vary depending on the length of your trip, the type of car you choose, and time of year. The part that will not change are the parking fees at the Disney Resorts. Each resort category has a different daily rate to park a car (both self park, and valet). Below are the current rates at the time of writing this article:

  • Value Resorts – $13 per night
  • Moderate Resorts – $19 per night
  • Deluxe Resorts – $24 per night

On the average 5 day trip to Walt Disney World it would be anywhere from $65 to $120 additional (depending on which resort you’re at) if you rent a car and plan to park at Disney World. When staying at a Walt Disney World Resort parking at the theme parks is included at no additional cost.

Looking at our other options, a one way trip via taxi will usually run you about $70 to $80. Where as a rideshare service is usually half the cost around $40 each way. The most cost effective way from Orlando International Airport to a Disney resort is the Magical Express, as it’s free. Once at the resort you would use Disney Transportation to move about.

Passholder Insights: For Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, parking is free only if you’re staying on points. If you’re paying “cash” for a room, you would also pay for the parking.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Valet Parking
Valet Parking at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Value of Renting a Car

Everything has a benefit and there are definitely reasons to rent a car at Disney World. Walt Disney World Transportation works well, and will definitely get you from point to point in due time. It may just take a little longer than you may expect, as Disney World recommends budgeting 75 to 90 mins to go point to point (ie park to park). From a Disney resort to a park, it’s recommended to estimate around 40 minutes. In our experience, majority of the time it’s less, but there are definitely occasions when the estimates are accurate.

A car gives you the flexibility to travel around Walt Disney World and beyond (non Disney parks, grocery store, etc.) very easily and quickly. When you’re ready to head to the park, you don’t have to wait for a bus or boat. The same goes when returning from the parks. The biggest benefits comes when you’re looking to go from resort to resort. With Disney Transportation you would need to head to a theme park then change buses/boat to head to another resort.

Passholder Insights: We recommend not driving to the Magic Kingdom, as you’ll have to park on the other side of Seven Seas Lagoon at the Ticket and Transportation then take either a monorail or boat to the park. Disney Transportation drops you off at the entrance to the park.

Animal Kingdom Lounge, Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls Lounge

Downside of Renting a Car

Outside the cost savings, there are other benefits to not rent a car at Disney World. One of the big benefits of not having a car is the flexibility to move about without having that thought of “I have to go move the car”. As we shared in our article about moving about Disney, there are many ways to go between parks without driving. In some cases you’ll save time as well.

Additional benefits including not having to worry about driving while on vacation. You know how we enjoy our lounges like Crew’s Cup for our adult timeouts. No need to put yourself in a precarious position, let Disney do the driving, so you can focus on the important things, vacation!

Passholder Insights: If you stay in the Epcot resort area, you’re able to walk to two parks (Epcot and Hollywood Studios) in less than 20 mins. It’s why we like the Boardwalk Resort so much.

Our Thoughts

For us, we usually do not rent a car at Disney World. We take Disney’s Magical Express to our resort then use Disney Transportation to move about. If we’re looking to go beyond Disney, like to the parks up the street we use a rideshare ($22 each way). We have also used rideshare to get us from resort to resort in a hurry (opp, we lost track of time, our Jiko reservation is in 90 minutes and we’re at the Magic Kingdom and still need to change our outfit!) We find it a lot easier to have someone else drive for those few occasions where a car would benefit us.

We’d rather save our money for a nice dinner at Le Cellier or another Disney Signature Restaurant. If you’re someone like us then we would say it may be worthwhile to forgo the car and use the free transportation and rideshare options when needed. If you get a car just remember we’ve called shotgun!