Disney World provides transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, and from each resort to each park and Downtown Disney through mostly the use of buses and also monorails and boats. This service is included in the price of your vacation package. Even so, plenty of guests decide to rent a car instead of utilizing the provided transportation methods, or use a combination of both. When planning a Disney World vacation, one of the decisions you will be making is whether to rent a car or use the Disney-provided transportation. This is a recommendation that can't be a solid yes or no. It depends on your personal style, time of year, ability to be comfortable on a public transport setting and the cost of a rental car in relation to your budget. Each party and each trip has it's own needs and allowances. Even the same party going different times of the year may come up with a different decision on renting a car. (We do!) Here is a list of pros and cons for using Disney provided transportation or renting a car at Walt Disney World so you can decide for yourself which is a better option.
Using Disney Transportation Pros:
- Free. (Or rather- included in the cost of your room.)
- Don't have to navigate.
- They will retrieve your luggage from the airline and drop it off in your room.
- Magic Kingdom bus stop is closer than ticket and transportation center parking.
- Downtown Disney bus is much easier than parking during Disney Springs construction.
- Bus stops are generally closer than parking- at the end of a long day it's a little relief.
- Using the monorail is generally pretty fun and will quickly get you to Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
- The Epcot monorail goes through the park before stopping and is a fun start to the day.
Using Disney Transportation Cons:
- Buses get very crowded, particularly during busy times.
- You have to wait a long time for some buses.
- Lines can get long during busy push times (like after the fireworks.)
- You have to account for more time if using Disney buses.
- There is no resort to resort and very very limited park to park transportation. (You can transfer monorails between Epcot and Magic Kingdom.)
Renting a Car Pros:
- Free parking at the theme parks if you're an onsite guest.
- Can plan for less commute time since you don't have to wait for buses.
- Easy resort to resort transportation.
- Can leave things in the car you might need during the day and pick them up later. (Like an extra change of clothes.)
- There is an Alamo rental car location on Disney property if you want to rent a car for only a portion of the trip.
Renting a Car Cons:
- You have to navigate on your own. If you have a GPS or maps on your smart phone it generally isn't an issue, but if you're not great with direction it can be stressful.
- Picking up and dropping off a rental car at the airport can be more of a hassle than just jumping on a Disney bus. You also have to get your own luggage from baggage claim.
- Cost of rental cars can be significant depending on when you go and the length of your stay.
- Parking can be stressful during busy times of the year, just like the transportation can.
Personally, I've used both options on different trips based on cost of rental car at that time. My take away is that having a ride everywhere was nice. Not having to worry about where to drive and where to park was convenient. Particularly the ease of using the Magical Express to and from the airport and the handling of your luggage. However, the buses to and from the parks can be crowded and slow and a hassle. But the convenience of having a rental car doesn't always outweigh the cost. I honestly much prefer to have a rental car, but during certain busy times- paying $300 for an economy car for five days doesn't really make sense. I'd much rather save that for a nice character breakfast and souvenirs.
There is also the option of using cabs (more recently- Ubers have become an option as well.) This can be a good option for a portion of your trip- like making an early reservation or catching a ride to park hop. On a recent one night stay prior to a cruise, we used the Mears taxi service to get from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Beach Club Resort to catch our breakfast reservation at Cape May Cafe before our Disney Cruise Line transportation arrived. It cost about $30 for two people round trip including tip, but was much much easier and less time consuming than catching a bus to a park then catching another bus from the park to the Beach Club. This will of course add up if you use it for every transport need, but if you use it only when you particularly need it, it can be cheaper than renting a car for the duration of your trip. I wouldn't recommend using a cab to and from the airport unless you absolutely have to- that's very expensive and Disney's Magical Express is perfectly efficient in this manner. But when you have an 8:05 AM reservation for a park that opens at 9:00 AM, it's your best bet!
Do you have any transportation tips or experiences? Please share in the comments!