Pros and cons of renting a car in Disney World

For those flying in to Disney World, the "to rent a car or not to rent a car" debate is played out many a time.

Pros and Cons of Renting a Car in Disney WorldPros and Cons of Renting a Car in Disney World

Staying Off Property
If you're flying into Orlando and staying in a resort or vacation home off Disney World property, a rental car is almost a must. It can save a huge amount of time getting to and from Disney World property. There is no Disney's Magical Express available to you, and while free Disney transportation is available to you on property as long as you have a park ticket, you have to get there first. So, if staying off property, we highly recommend renting a car.

Staying On Property
But for those staying on Disney World property, it's not so cut and dry.

We've put together a list of pros and cons for renting a car at Disney World when you're staying "on-site."

- Time Savings: While the Disney Transport via bus, boat or monorail can be useful, it can sometimes take a long time to get from Point A to Point B. And if your "commute" from resort to resort has more than one leg, it can often take an hour or more when a rental car would get you there in 10 minutes or less.

- Convenience: At many WDW resorts, you can park quite close to your room, eliminating the need for long slogs to the bus stop.

In addition, if you've ever tried to take a bus to your resort right after park closing, you know that you may have to wait for up to an hour, then take a crowded bus back to your hotel. With a rental car, by that time you're already in bed asleep.

- No confusion: If you're not well-versed on Disney Transport, it's quite easy to catch the wrong bus, miss the bus and have to wait, or catch a boat that you think goes one place, but actually goes to another. With a rental car, it's fairly easy to navigate WDW with the well-marked signage.

- Cost: Adding up rental cost, taxes, parking fees and gas can get quite expensive. If you're traveling on a budget, a rental car is not for you.

- Relaxation Factor: If you're traveling via Disney Transport, there's no worries about who's navigating, and once boarded, you can kick back and relax until you get to your destination. Although some people do find that loss of control a bit jarring.

- Not Using Services You've Already Paid For: When renting a car, you're rejecting the free airport shuttle transport and on-property transportation that is available to you, which are essentially built into the cost of your stay.

With all that said, the decision is ultimately up to you and your family's preference. If you decide to rent a car, here are some resources:

- has updated information on a lot of rental car discounts.
- Dollar Rental Car and Enterprise Rental Car often have great deals on cars in Orlando.

What's your opinion on renting a car while staying on Disney World property? Do you like to be in charge of your own transportation, or use the free Disney Transport? Leave a comment below!

DVCTiff wrote on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 15:27:

DVCTiff's picture

For the longest time, we rented a car but ever since they introduced Magical Express we've used that option and gone carless.

The control thing was VERY hard for me to give up. Then again, we'd messed up a couple of times with the car at resorts where parking required further transportation (MK, for example) and were late for reservations so that made the bus a better option.

If we were staying at the Beach Club or Boardwalk resorts, we might rent a car again only because that bus makes so many stops, but anywhere else I think we'd stay carless and enjoy the extra savings. We can always rent a car for the day if we needed one. (If it's not just the two of us, family members with kids still rent a minivan but that might change when they're older.)

Mase wrote on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 16:52:

Mase's picture

We always use Disney Magical Express. Our luggage is taken from Ohio to our room and we don't touch it otherwise. Same going home. All we do is take our luggage to the counter and it magically appears at our final final destination! Love it!

We just use the Disney bus system when were there. Can't beat it at all.

Scary Dave wrote on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 17:06:

Scary Dave's picture

Personally, I like "splitting the difference". This past Halloween, my wife & I rented a car on Disney property for part of the week and planned our trip according to when we would have a car. Visiting friends in Winter Park and going to Universal are obvious, but even our plans for in the park were made with the car as a factor.

With this in mind, we did use the Magical Express, Monorail, and rode as many boats as we had excuse to since we find there to be a bit of the magic & romance of WDW lost if you don't.

Melinda Gregory wrote on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 19:22:

Melinda Gregory's picture

On our trip to WDW this past October, we drove from New York to Orlando (can you say crazy?!), so we had our minivan with us for our whole stay. We drove it everywhere (loved the no-fees aspect of it!) and it worked out brilliantly for us. Our twins (four at the time) would fall asleep in the stroller near the end of the day at the park, and we'd just wheel them straight to the car. We did use the monorail and boats to hop around between the parks, too, but didn't set foot on any bus.

gaylin wrote on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 19:53:

gaylin's picture

For me part of relaxing on vacation is not driving. I would much rather stand in the occasional line for an air-conditioned bus then walk and walk to find the car and then try to get in it when it is over 100 degrees!

My only suggestion with the bus is to understand ahead of time that there will be a line-up (especially for the value resorts) and the closing of the parks. We usually walk slowly out of the park and maybe shop or people watch instead of getting in a big crush of a line-up.

JoAnn wrote on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 00:36:

JoAnn's picture

I loved taking advantage of Disney transportation. I stayed at Pop Century so I didn't have to share the bus with other resorts. I never had to wait more than 20 minutes.

Although I suspect that will change with the opening of Art of Animation. Based on the close proximately of the two resorts, I wouldn't be surprised if they share buses.

JeffC wrote on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 01:51:

I have the patience of a 2 years old at best. The first time we went, we did the Disney transportation thing. One experience of taking an hour to get somewhere I know is 5 minutes away by car was enough for me - we rented a car every time since.

Now we are close enough to drive, so we have the car anyways.

worldfanatic wrote on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 01:01:

worldfanatic's picture

Disney Transportation is part of the Magic for me.
Buses, Boats, Monorails!!!! I love 'em!!
And they provide awesome people watching opportunities while waiting and riding.

I wouldn't dream of renting a car at Disney World.
Actually, I did it on my first trip twenty years ago..........never since, and never again.

Randy Vaughan wrote on Mon, 09/23/2013 - 14:08:

Randy Vaughan's picture

Disney Transportation is great and for our family it is part of the adventure of the park. As noted in the article waiting occurs but for us it's just a different type of a line with one big difference... I'm not driving! Which means I'm not stressing, navigation and traffic is not my concern allowing me to further enjoy the family the magic of Disney.

Stephie Smith wrote on Wed, 05/20/2015 - 14:00:

Stephie Smith's picture

I have been to Disneyland many times but I haven't been to Walt Disney World yet. I appreciate you posting this article because it helped me to weigh the benefits of renting vs not, and I'm going to rent a van. I've got a group I'm going with, so we'll need all the space we can get, not to mention the time saved. Thanks for sharing.

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