One does not need to rent a car when staying on Walt Disney World property and flying into Orlando International Airport . Magical Express will take you to your resort from the airport and even collect your luggage from baggage claim for you. Magical Express will take you back to the airport at the end of your trip. During your trip, there are boats, buses, and monorails to take you to all the theme parks, water parks, and Downtown Disney. BUT, I rent a car every time I go, so rather than or telling you if you should or shouldn’t rent a car, I’m just going to share why I choose to rent one and let you make the decision for yourself.
It is generally quicker and more convenient to get around property. At my resort, I can go right to my car instead of waiting for the next bus, monorail, or boat, which do run regularly, but can still be 10-15 minutes. Using my resort parking pass, I can park at any of the parks for free. Taking a tram to or from the parking lot is not always easier than the other transportation, but at some of the parks like Epcot, it’s often just as easy to walk to my car, especially when people are leaving en masse after the nighttime shows. I also found this more convenient when my son was small. The buses and monorails get crowded and it’s not easy to balance a sleeping toddler on your shoulder while standing in a moving vehicle. While I may have to wait for a tram, I know I will be sitting and it’s a short distance. Once I arrived at my vehicle, I was able to strap him in to his car seat and go back to my resort comfortably.
It is easier to travel to other Disney resorts or places on Disney property. I like to go see the other resorts. I greatly enjoy dining at the other resorts. Some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World are in the resorts, not in the parks. While getting to California Grill at the Contemporary is relatively easy using the monorail, getting to Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge is not. It is also not easy to get to Fort Wilderness to enjoy a trail ride or Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long. The only way to travel to many of the resorts from another resort is to travel to a park and then travel to a resort. There is no direct transportation and it can easily take over an hour to travel each way, eating up a lot of vacation fun time simply sitting in a bus. By having a car, I can also avoid a cab if we decide to go to a golf course or try some fast cars at the Richard Petty Driving Experience or Exotic Driving Experience.
I can visit other theme parks and destinations. While I do enjoy Disney, I also enjoy Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld, Legoland Orlando, and we sometimes head to Tampa for Busch Gardens, Cape Canaveral or the beach. Without a car, I feel “stuck” at Disney and while there are ways to get these other places, the truth is I don’t go unless I have a car.
I am able to spend less on dining. As I already mentioned, I love the restaurants at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, unless I am able to get a deal on a dining plan, it is generally more expensive to eat on property than it is off property. With a car, I can leave the “tourist” areas of Orlando to find fabulous, less expensive restaurants. In addition, I can also go to a grocery store to pick up things like cereal and milk or bottled water to stock my room, paying grocery store instead of resort prices.
I feel better prepared in case of a minor emergency. My family has some health issues from asthma to allergies to recurrent ear and throat infections. I try to pack a small pharmacy, but there are times I’ve forgotten something or over-the-counter medication isn’t enough. At times like that, I am so glad we have a car to get us to an urgent care, a pharmacy, or both.
So, while I don’t need to rent a car when I visit Walt Disney World, I nearly always do. If any of the reasons I’ve given resonate with you, you may want to consider it for your next trip as well.