Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Walt Disney World Resort is HUGE and needs some form of transportation to get around it all. So should you use Disney's complimentary transportation or should you hire a car?
Today I will break down the pros and cons of both to help you decide which would be the best option for your trip!
The Benefits Of Using Disney Transportation
Disney Transport is great for people staying at a Disney World Resort and who don't want to drive or don't want to pay to hire a car during their trip.
Disney Resort Guests can get to all the Disney Parks and Disney Springs via the free transport Disney provides.
All resorts have buses to the parks and Disney Springs and many resorts also have a secondary mode of transportation such as the Skyliner, monorail or Disney boats!
Having so many different modes of transport makes it very easy to get around the whole of Walt Disney World.
Disney also offer the Magical Express, a free coach that takes you from the airport to your Disney Resort, until end of this year. From 2022 this service will become a paid for service run by Mears but means you will still easily be able to get to and from the airport easily.
The Downsides Of Disney Transportation
The downsides to Disney's free transport can be that you may have long waits to get on buses, particularly at popular times of the day and busy times of the year, as buses may be full and you have to wait for the next one.
As a rule of thumb leave your resort an hour and a half before you want to arrive at your destination to take into account waiting for transport, delays and travel time.
On rare occasions, the Disney transport may go down. If one of the modes of transport stops operating this can cause delays to your journey. It will also make other modes of transport busier and people will need to rely on these. Luckily this isn't a common problem!
The Benefits of Car Hire
Hiring a car can be a great option as it gives you the freedom to travel on your own schedule. You have the flexibility to come and go as you like and more free time as you don't need to factor in as much time for travelling.
If staying at a Disney World Resort it takes no longer than 20 minutes to drive anywhere on property, which is a much shorter travel time than using Disney transportation. This is a big benefit as you can spend less time travelling and more time in the parks!
Having a car makes it super easy to visit the Disney Resorts which means you can dine in the amazing restaurants there! With your own car you don't have to plan ahead for full buses or transportation delays and know you can be at any resort within 20 minutes. You may even have the chance to go back to your resort if you would like to change your outfit before dine as having a car gives you the freedom to easily do this!
Having your own car also makes it easy to explore all the Orlando theme parks, take day trips to other destinations and easily visit supermarkets and malls. If your Orlando trip includes lots of destinations other than Disney World car hire can be a great option!
Another benefit to car hire is you can stay in a cheaper hotel off of Disney property and drive to the parks. This can give you big savings!
It is also great for larger groups as they can hire a villa, which can work out much cheaper than paying for multiple hotel rooms. Villas are usually in residential or holiday rental areas so a car is needed. Many of these will be not far from the parks so you can still easily get to them without a long commute.
The Downsides of Car Hire
The downsides to car hire is that it can be expensive. It is a good idea to shop around with a few different car rental companies, airlines that offer fly-drives, travel agencies that include car hire in your holiday package or specialist companies such as Florida Discount Car Hire, to get the best price.
You also need to factor in the costs for any top up insurances you may need or accessories such as GPS or car seats.
If you are staying at a Disney World Resort you do have to pay to park. It costs $15 a night at a value resort, $20 a night at a moderate resort and $25 a night at a deluxe resort. The good news is you do get free park parking! Park parking costs $25 a day so if you are staying at a value or moderate resort you can save money this way!
What If You Are Not Staying At A Disney World Resort?
If you aren't staying in a Disney World Resort you may be able to get a shuttle bus provided by your hotel to the Orlando theme parks. Some hotels offer this for free and others offer a paid for service. Be sure to check if this is something your hotel offers before booking.
If your hotel doesn't offer this service so you would need to consider whether to use taxi services or hire a car to get around Orlando.
Many hotels offer free car parking so this is a big bonus if you do hire a car. Be sure to check if your hotel offers this as this can save you a lot of money! You will need to pay to park at the Orlando theme parks so having to also pay to park at your hotel would push the costs up significantly. Luckily most Orlando hotels do offer free parking so just be sure to check with your hotel to see if this is something they include.
If you are staying in a villa in Orlando then car hire would be the easiest way to get around. If you are travelling in a larger group car hire could also work out cheapest. If you were to hire a taxi you may need a minivan, which may cost more, or multiple taxis, so the costs can add up quickly.
If you are staying at a Universal Hotel you can get free buses to the Universal Parks, with many of the Universal Hotels also within walking distance or offering a free water taxi service. To get to Disney World you would need to use a taxi or hire a car as there are no shuttles between Universal Orlando and Disney World.
To Hire Or Not To Hire?
Whether you use Disney's free transportation or hire a car often comes down to where you are staying and personal preference.
If you are staying at a Disney World Resort you could easily use their complimentary transport to get everywhere on Disney property. This will save you the cost of hiring a car and parking charges.
This is also a fantastic choice for people who don't drive. If you stay at a Disney Resort you will be able to visit Disney easily and for free. If you are planning to spend the majority of your time in Disney World this is the best option. You would only need to pay for a taxi for the days you were visiting other Orlando theme parks, malls or attractions.
If you are staying off-site car hire may be the easiest option to travel to the theme parks as your only other option is to pay for taxis. Over the course of your trip this could become expensive.
The great thing about car hire is the ability to be on your own schedule. You have total flexibility for your day and don't need to factor in the hour and a half travel time between locations such as when you use Disney transport.
Car hire is also fantastic if you are planning to visit multiple attractions in Orlando and Florida. You can easily visit these places without having to worry about shuttles or taxis and can travel further afield to attractions such as Kennedy Space Center and Busch Gardens.