'; Should you rent a car at Walt Disney World? - WDW Hints
Tuesday 25 June 2024
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Should you rent a car at Walt Disney World?

Every time I have visited Walt Disney World I have relied on Disney transportation.  And I said I would never do anything else.  We always chose hotels based on their locations so we could at least walk (or take the Monorail) to one of the parks.  However, this last trip, my family and I decided to stay at the new Art of Animation resort which is a “buses only” resort.  So, we broke with tradition and rented a car.  I have to admit, it was fantastic!

(This would have been a great rental car!)

I do see plusses and minuses of renting a car and using Disney transportation.  Here are reasons for and against each option.

Arriving and Departing

There is something very nice about showing up in the Orlando airport and hopping onto the Magical Express buses to get to Walt Disney World.  Disney gets your bags for you, so all you have to do is hop on board and your bags show up at your room a few hours later.  There is no need to worry about directions or tolls.  My kids love the Disney video that they show on the buses as well.  It really feels like your vacation has begun as soon as you arrive at the airport.

That being said, there may be lines to wait in before you can get on a bus and you could be stopping at a number of different resorts before arriving at your home for your trip.  It’s not necessarily the fastest way to get to Walt Disney World.

Renting a car certainly isn’t as fun as the Magical Express.  You have to wait on line to get your car and then figure out how to actually get to Walt Disney World.  You do get to go right to your resort, however.  We found it much faster than taking the Magical Express.

On the way back to the airport, we were able to leave whenever we were ready.  The Magical Express is likely to pick you up three hours before your flight.  With our car, we left two hours early and had an extra hour to play in the parks.  This may not seem like a lot, but to me, it was huge to be able to stay in the parks longer.

Traveling around Walt Disney World

(photo courtesy of “Mouse”cation)

There are buses galore at Walt Disney World, ready to take you from your resort to the parks.  Bus stops are convenient and easy to find at each resort.  It’s nice to climb on a bus and relax until you arrive at your destination.  I have to be honest – I also love talking to people on Disney buses.  I always find there is a different atmosphere at Disney and people love to chat with strangers about their trips.

Of course, there are issues with buses.

  • You never know when the next one will arrive, so I find that we always end up running to a bus stop so we don’t miss a bus. 
  • Buses can be crowded and you may not get a seat.
  • Your bus may stop at other parks or resorts before getting to your stop, making a trip much longer.
  • Buses don’t go everywhere!  You need to transfer from one bus to another if you’re going from resort to resort.  (Again, this adds time)
  • When traveling with a stroller, a bus can be difficult.  Everyone and everything has to come out of the stroller and the stroller has to be folded before anyone can board.  That’s fun with a sleeping child.

We had the complete opposite feeling with our car.  We didn’t have to be on anyone else’s schedule with our travels and we could go anywhere at any time.  I especially loved that we could leave the stroller and any items we wanted in the car overnight.  Sunglasses and sweatshirts stayed in the car until they were needed, which meant less schlepping at the resort.

With a car, you have to be prepared to walk further when exiting parks (and taking a monorail or ferry at the Magic Kingdom) to get to your car.  You also have to be prepared to figure out where in the “World” you are going, while you drive.  And, when you’re totally exhausted at the end of the day, you need to wake up to drive.

The verdict

I wasn’t sure how I would feel having a car at Walt Disney World.  I did miss the “Disney atmosphere” of the buses and excitement of the Magical Express, but I LOVED having a car.  I must have said it every time we got into the car.  I loved being on our own schedule and not having to bring everything into the hotel each night.  We had no problems finding our way around Walt Disney World, since everything was so well marked.

I will definitley be getting a car on our next trip.  What about you?  Do you prefer to rent a car at Walt Disney World?


Amy is a Disney loving mom of two Disney loving boys. She loves planning for Disney trips, reading about Walt Disney World and most of all, going to World Disney World!