Should You Rent a Car for Your Next Walt Disney World Vacation?

Ready to plan your next Walt Disney World vacation? There is a lot that goes into planning a trip to “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” and one of those considerations is going to be whether or not to rent a car for your vacation.

While many Guests do visit Walt Disney World without their own vehicles, the end of Disney’s Magical Express service earlier this year has certainly shifted more Guests over to renting their own cars (though alternatives to Magical Express do exist.)

There are pros and cons to renting a car at Walt Disney World, and there isn’t a right answer for everyone, but these tips should help you decide what will work best for you.

Where are you staying?


Credit: Disney

If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks, as well as Disney Springs, and Disney’s water parks is available. This transportation can be in the form of buses, monorails, boats, or the Disney Skyliner, and while it is usually timely, it can be subject to schedules and wait times depending on crowd levels and the time of year that you visit.

Select non-Disney resort hotels located on Disney property, such as the Disney Springs area hotels, Shades of Green, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort just to name a few, also include complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks.

Credit: Disney

Outside of Walt Disney World, transportation options vary by resort, and the hotels that do have theme park transportation included may operate at schedules that are not continual throughout the day, making it difficult to plan your trips to the park.

Even if you are only visiting Walt Disney World during your trip to Orlando, if your hotel does not include transportation to the parks or if the transportation operates as odd schedules, you may find it more convenient to rent a car.

Are you visiting other theme parks?

Disney’s complimentary transportation only covers Disney theme parks. Even if you stay at a Disney resort and are able to take full advantage of buses, monorails, boats, or the Disney Skyliner, you would be on your own if you are planning a trip to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, or other attractions around the Orlando area.

What about grocery stores?

Some Guests like to stock their hotel rooms with groceries, especially if they are staying at a Disney Vacation Club resort with a full kitchen or apartment/house rentals off property. While you can get groceries delivered, having the ability to run to the store and pick out your own items is important to some, and if this is the case for you having a rental car would be very useful.

Bringing young children?

All of Disney’s transportation options are fully accessible, whether you have young kids, are traveling in a wheelchair or ECV, or simply need some extra time boarding. Still, Guests with young children sometimes prefer to have a rental car for the ease of coming and going as they please without relying on waiting for a bus (and having to fold up a stroller).

If you think it might be easier for you and your children to have your own vehicle to go back to, renting a car could be a great decision for your next trip.

How are you departing from the airport?

Credit: Disney

One of the most important considerations when deciding to rent a car at Walt Disney World comes with the loss of Disney’s Magical Express. When service between Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World Resorts was complimentary, it was easier to justify not spending the extra cash on renting a car.

Without Disney’s Magical Express, however, you will need to pay for transportation to and from the airport. And while renting a car could cost more than the alternatives to Disney’s Magical Express, it could be a greater value if it makes your trip that much easier.

How should you rent a car?

Car rentals are available at the Orlando International Airport (be sure to make a reservation in advance) if you are looking to pick up a car and drive yourself to your resort.

If you do not want to rent a car for your entire trip, another great option would be to rent from the Enterprise location that is on Walt Disney World property as they can drop off the car at your resort for you so you only have a vehicle the days you need it.

What else should we know?

Rental Car Orlando International Airport

Credit: Orlando International Airport

Walt Disney World Resort hotels do charge parking fees that run $15 per night for value resorts, $20 for moderate resorts, and $25 for deluxe resorts.

There are also parking fees to visit each of the four Disney Parks, however, standard theme park parking is included for Disney resort Guests and Annual Passholders, so these fees will only apply if you stay off property. Theme park parking fees run $45-50 per day for preferred parking and $25 per day for standard parking.

Rental car prices also vary based on the time of year, demand, and availability of cars, so you may find that renting a car is worthwhile during some trips and not worth the cost at other times.

Will you be renting a car on your next Disney vacation? Take this tips with you as you plan to make the most of getting around the Walt Disney World Resort.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."