Disney World vacations are unquestionably magical, but figuring out how to get there can feel like the total opposite. Next to booking lodging, transporting yourself to your vacation destination becomes quite an expense. So, do you drive there or should you fly?
Driving to Disney World is typically much cheaper than flying, so you may want to consider road travel if you want to save more money. Your car will also help you avoid the countless stops that come with the Disney shuttle. However, driving means an inevitable longer commute and traffic jams.
The main thing your choice boils down to is how long you can tolerate being in a car and the distance you need to go. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of driving to Disney World.
The Pros of Driving To Disney World
Whether you’re driving with your family or you’re taking a friends’ trip, there are plenty of good reasons to choose driving to WDW. Driving, as opposed to flying, means you will have familiar transportation at your fingertips. It also means you can pack more without worrying about extra baggage fees.
Let’s break down some of the benefits of driving to Disney World. Who knows, I may convince you never to take a plane again (well, for domestic travel at least).
You Can Save Money on Gas, Food, and Hotel
By far, the biggest pro to driving to WDW is its cost-effectiveness. Plane tickets are not cheap, and if you are traveling with a group of people, those ticket prices add up quickly. However, driving in a vehicle requires a few gas refills and will usually total out to a single airline ticket price.
Along with that, you aren’t limited to the theme park/resort dining options if you drive. These can get pricey, so having the ability to drive off-resort/park gives you endless possibilities in the Orlando area. Related to this, you can choose to stay at a non-resort hotel which saves you more.
You Can Drive Anywhere and Anytime You Want
Having your own car may seem silly to think about, but this gives you so much more freedom to explore. You won’t have to rely on Uber, Lyft, or Disney-sponsored transportation to get you where you need to go. Using your car also allows you to explore outside the Disney parks as you please, so you aren’t tied down to Disney.
Even if you want to spend the entire time in the Disney bubble, you can use your car to hop between each park. Doing so will save time and stress by eliminating possibly long wait times at bus stops, stopping multiple times, and being crowded with other guests. However, it’s important to note that there is a parking fee for theme park parking.
You Do Not Need To Worry About Luggage Issues
Have you ever had to wait for your luggage to roll by you at the airport? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stressed out about whether or not my luggage got lost, stolen, or broken. Rather than panicking at the airport, you can avoid that stress altogether by driving.
Driving also allows you to pack more without worrying about added baggage fees or TSA security lines. That means no more worrying about the weight of your toothpaste! You can also pack your own food (back to our first pro: saving money) in a separate bag.
Day Parking Is Free at Each Resort
Day parking is free at any Disney Resort as long as that’s where you’re staying. If driving is your choice, but the theme park parking fees are putting you off, you can keep your car parked at the resort and take the Disney shuttle service to the park you want to visit that day.
Driving Is Less Stressful With Young Kids
For families with young kids, driving has less stress added to it. Of course, it is a longer commute, but the worry of bothering strangers in a cramped airplane with a crying toddler is non-existent. You can also pack more activities for your kids to do in the car than you would be able to on the airplane.
The Cons of Driving To Disney World
While the pros I mentioned are convincing, driving to Walt Disney World may not be the best option for everyone. Here are some things to keep in mind before deciding on your transportation plans:
Orlando Traffic Can Be Stressful
Like traffic in any major city, Orlando driving can prove to be stressful. The general annoyance of traffic and a long commute will bring out the road rage in even the best people.
Even for those who stay off-resort or a few towns away to save money, driving into Orlando each day can get annoying. Imagine running an hour late on your schedule only to find you’re stuck in traffic for another hour. Traffic problems may even mess with any reservations made for rides or restaurants at the parks.
You Will Have To Deal With Toll Roads
Toll roads are pretty much unavoidable in Orlando. While these won’t break your bank, they do only accept cash at the booths. If you don’t typically carry cash with you, this annoyance can set you back and ruin your mood. To avoid this, I recommend purchasing an EZ Pass before your trip.
Driving Can Take Multiple Days
A flight may only take a few hours, but driving can take multiple days depending on where you’re starting from and how many stops you make. If you choose to drive to WDW, it’s important to make sure you’re committed to a possible multiple-day venture. Gauge how much driving you can handle at a time and see if the longer commute is worth it.
You Have To Deal With Parking Fees
It is undeniable that driving saves you money on your transportation budget. However, the parking fees can add up depending on how many days you stay at the parks. While day parking is free at the resort you book, you still have to pay for overnight parking. Parking at the Disney parks also comes with a fee.
Resort Parking Fees
- Disney Value Resorts: $15/night
- Disney Moderate Resorts: $20/night
- Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $25/night
Theme Park Parking Fees
- Preferred Parking: $45-$50/day
- Standard Parking: $25/day
- Oversized Vehicle Parking: $30/day
Some People Don’t Feel Comfortable on Six-Lane Highways
If you’re an anxious driver, the six-lane highway system can be pretty intimidating. There’s a learning curve, so if you aren’t familiar with how they look, then you’re more likely to miss an exit and get lost. For anyone who experiences anxiety on the road, a consultation with your doctor before your trip may be beneficial.
Alternatively, you can get someone else to drive for you as long as you don’t mind other people driving your car. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling with friends or family.
Driving can help you save money, especially if you’re on a low budget or simply like to save money. You don’t need to rely on other transportation with a car, worry about luggage issues, or your kids making a scene on the plane.
However, driving takes more time, and the Orlando traffic can be a nightmare. Plus, you’ll have to deal with toll roads. And if you’re not comfortable driving on six-lane highways, driving to Disney World may be a challenge. If you’d rather fly, here are a few tips on how to save money on flights.