Thinking of Driving to Disney? Since we are big on saving money where we can, we decided to put this to the test and see if it’s actually cheaper. Are there cases when bringing a car to Walt Disney World is best? We’re going to break down 5 reasons we think that Driving to Disney may just be a good idea after all.
When Does it Make Sense to Drive to Walt Disney World?
Whether you’re trying to avoid the airport, or just need to stay extra safe while traveling, anytime is a good time for driving to Disney. Here are our 5 Reasons you may want to Drive to Walt Disney World.
You’re on a Tight Schedule
If there is one thing we know from experience, and that we’ve also witnessed among other Disney travelers, is that it is easy to overbook yourself. Like really easy. Like so easy, that even with us going multiple times a year, we still make that mistake. Being on an overbooked or very tight schedule is stressful enough; having to wait for Disney transportation when it’s running late is even worse.
We always plan about an hour to go anywhere on property if solely relying on Disney transportation. And there are times that has just not been enough. We have actually almost missed flights! So trust us when we say, yes the transportation is FREE, and yes it can be great sometimes. But like anything, it can also be totally unreliable. If you’re worried about missing reservations, tours or your flight, the cost of parking at the resorts and the parks will be cheaper than the psychiatrist helping you regain your sanity, once you get back home.
You’re Sensitive to the Weather
Hello Florida weather. From 105 degree heat indexes and crazy humidity to hurricane season or 35-degree Decembers, Florida is pretty moody. As a result, we actually joke about how many times we have to change our clothes to match the weather. But can we talk about HOW COLD it gets in the winter? Let us start by saying, we are from Ohio. We are queens of extreme and unpredictable weather. But Disney cold is not like Ohio cold, or any cold we’ve ever felt. It’s wet and will get you to the bone. These aren’t even our words- its what the locals tell us!
If you’re sensitive to extreme heat or if the cold of an Orlando December means you have to ward off hypothermia, you’ll be grateful you have a car to get out of the weather. We’ve had to wait for buses (or monorails!) in heat indexes that make you physically sick. Alternatively, standing in freezing wet weather just makes you feel like dying would be easier. Having your own vehicle allows you to leave when you need to. Without all the extra sweating, shivering or listening to complaints from other Walt Disney World guests who wish they had brought a car.
You’re Not Staying That Long
You can read every Disney blog on the planet and they will all happily tell you their “minimum” recommendation of how long your trip should be. Ours is 5 days absolutely minimum, if you need to know. But in reality, we know that sometimes you can only manage a long Disney weekend. We always recommend staying in the Boardwalk area for short Walt Disney World trips because you can walk to two parks, and transportation is not as much of an issue. Whether you have to cut your trip short due to work or school schedules, cost or another vacation, you have options. And a shorter vacation means you may not have as much time to get everything done. If this is the case, don’t spend it waiting on Disney transportation, just bring your own.
You Want More Freedom and Flexibility
While needing more flexibility in your Disney vacation is totally a preference, you should consider it. Do you mind standing in line for an hour waiting for a bus? So you can stand for another 40 minutes on the bus because there are no more seats? This will happen often throughout your vacation. If you’re toting a stroller for the kiddies, have small children that need loads of attention or want a day at the beach, having a car may be best. Monorails break (a lot actually), buses get stuck in traffic and the boats are nice, but pretty slow. Sure there are Minnie Vans now, but let’s be honest, with the 40+ price tag for a trip it makes you reconsider the practicality of taking one every time you feel like you just can’t wait for Disney transportation.
You’re Visiting During the Holidays
While it is true the “busy times” happen at various throughout the year, the holidays are by far the worst when it comes to crowds. Add in runDisney event weekends, the random Cheer competition, or festival opening weekends, and you can plan on crowds. When it’s peak time, it is BUSY. Like close the gates, you’re not allowed in kind of busy. This year there were several times we read about Walt Disney World turning away guests because they had hit maximum capacity. So if you can’t handle crowds or refuse to wait more than an hour to get on Disney transportation, just bring the car.
How Much Are Disney World Parking Fees?
Disney parking prices vary throughout the year, as noted by the pricing range shared below. Be sure to always check up-to-date pricing on Disney’s Parking page. Standard and Preferred Parking Fees are for a regular car or motorcycle. An Oversized Vehicle is considered one of the following: Shuttle, Limo, Camper Trailer, RV, Bus, or Tractor Trailer. Note that parking for guests with disabilities requires a valid disability parking permit and all standard parking rates below apply.
Parking Fees at Walt Disney World
- Preferred parking: $45-$50 per day
- Standard parking: $25 per day
- Oversized Vehicle Parking: $30 per day
Do you have to Pay to Park at Disney Springs?
No! Parking at Disney Springs is FREE. If you choose you can secure Valet Parking for $20 dollars a day.
Do you have to Pay for Parking at ESPN Wide World of Sports?
No. Parking is complimentary at ESPN for all guests.
Do you have to pay to park at the Water Parks?
No. Parking is complimentary for all guests.
Tips to Avoid Disney Parking Fees
If you’ve thought it through and decided that bringing a car to Walt Disney World may just be your best bet, then here are a few things to know!
- You only pay theme park parking fees at Disney World ONCE Per Day. So you can park hop without paying additional times.
- Disney Resort Guests can park for FREE at Disney Theme Parks and Disney Resorts. This is why we always recommend Staying on Property at Walt Disney World.
- Disney Annual Passholders get FREE Standard Parking at Theme Parks
Bringing a Car to Walt Disney World
Hopefully, this post has clarified a few reasons you may benefit from relying on yourself when it comes to transportation. We love Disney Transportation and are so grateful for the complimentary service they provide. Because frankly, we love being able to just roll out of bed and head to the bus stop without having to worry about driving, parking, paying, etc. But, if any of these reasons resonate with you, take note. Having a car at Walt Disney World will get you to the Parks faster (most of the time) and you won’t have to deal with the frustration of missing out on things because of the high levels of crowds.
Sure, some people look at the Disney bus experience as part of their Walt Disney World vacation, but it doesn’t really have to be. With Minnie Van prices increasing and Uber having some tricky stipulations on Walt Disney World property, sometimes having a car at Walt Disney World is really your best bet to beat the crowds, and save time and your sanity. And to us, that’s priceless.
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .