Walt Disney World property covers almost 25,000 acres, has four theme parks, two water parks, many resorts, and might seem like a spot that you need to rent a car at. But, that’s not always the case. In this article we’ll outline when you should rent a car, and what costs may come with it.
The first thing to factor into your decision is parking costs at resorts and Walt Disney World parks. We’ve outlined parking costs in the graphic below, but to sum it up for a standard guest (no AP or DVC):
- Staying onsite will have an overnight fee, but the theme park parking is free
- Staying offsite theme park parking is $25 per day
For guests staying onsite, meaning at a Walt Disney World resort, we do not recommend renting a car. Walt Disney World transportation is excellent, with each resort offering bus transportation to all four theme parks. Some resorts offer the Skyliner, boats, and the monorail to certain parks. Regardless of what transportation you take, Disney transportation is excellent and you do not need a rental car if you are on property.
A few things to note about Disney transportation include:
- Drop-off location
Disney bus transportation requires guests to fold up strollers before boarding. The monorail and Skyliner allow strollers to stay open with children in them. In this case, renting a car may be more convenient for families with small kids.
Buses come fairly frequently, but can be very crowded in mornings and after fireworks at park closure. This may mean lines up-to 30 minutes long.
Something excellent about the buses is that they drop off at Magic Kingdom, rather than the Transportation and Ticket Center. The Epcot buses and Animal Kingdom buses drop off close to the gates, but do require a bit of walking. The new bus drop off at Hollywood Studios is the furthest, and makes for a bit of a walk.
Until December 31st, 2021, Disney will offer the Magical Express for onsite guests, included in the cost of their hotel stay. However, starting January 1st, 2022, the Magical Express service will be suspended. A paid service by Mears will likely become available almost immediately, however it should be noted that service will be paid.
In the future, a train will connect to MCO and to Disney Springs – more information on the Disney specifics when they become available!
For guests staying offsite, we recommend pricing out the difference between renting a car and Ubering. A few standard prices for Ubers from a nearby offsite resort include:
- To the parks: $10-$15
- From the airport: $35
A rental car can vary in price depending on length of stay and who you book with. Our preferred rental agency is Hertz. We have Hertz Gold, which allows us to add multiple drivers with no fees, and in the past years was useful because it waived the under-25 driving fees. There are many rental car agencies out there, so definitely check multiple. As a reference point, our rental car for our 5 day trip (on Labor Day Weekend) was $271. For a 3 day trip before Covid-19, it was $109.
Pros & Cons of Ubers
Ubers/Lyfts are a great alternative to renting a car. Some pros of using an Uber include:
- Frequency – there are many around Walt Disney World, which keeps cost low and reduces waiting periods.
- Cost – Ubers around Orlando are very inexpensive compared to a city like Boston or New York and avoid parking fees at Disney
- Low hassle – no stress about picking up the rental car or returning it, getting gas, or driving in unfamiliar places
However, there are some downsides to Ubers/Lyfts. Some cons include:
- Inconvenience – at the end of the day, sometimes it’s nice to get in your own car on your own schedule
- Limited passengers – if you require a larger car, the cost will go up and there maybe less available
- Walking distance – the Uber pickup at Magic Kingdom is at the Transportation and Ticket Center, and at Hollywood Studios a bit of a walk
Our Preference Staying Offsite
Our preference staying offsite is definitely recommending a car. We prefer the convenience of leaving whenever we want, and on the last day of our trip it’s easier to not use a luggage/bag check at the hotel. However, we do have free parking as annual passholders, which is a big help.