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Should You Rent a Car in Orlando?

by FrogBlog on February 5, 2013

By guest blogger Cheryl Leung of Kids On A Plane

In my last post, I shared how to plan an affordable Disney World family trip.

After you’ve booked your flights and made your decision about accommodations, it’s time to consider renting a car. (Undercover Tourist now offers discounts on car rentals when packaged with tickets, in case you decide you do want to rent.)  Before making a decision, here are a few things to consider:

1. How far away will you be staying from the theme parks?

Many off-site hotels offer shuttles to the parks, however, you are tied down to their schedule. Most off-site hotels do not provide airport transfers, and a rental vehicle costs a lot less than a transfer service.

2. How flexible is your schedule?

If you're visiting during the holidays or peak season, wait times for Disney transportation can be insanely long. Buses get full quickly and you may have to wait for two or three buses before being able to board one. Long waits in Florida heat with young children can turn into a very stressful situation! Having a rental car gives you the convenience of going anywhere at any time.Disney’s Magical Express® Transportation Check-in

3. When do you need to be at the airport?

If you're staying at a Disney resort and are on an international flight going home and relying on Disney’s Magical Express® Transportation, I have to warn you that they will pick your family up at least three hours before departure. On our last trip, we were picked up at 3:00 a.m. for an 8:00 a.m. flight!

With a rental car, we all could have all slept a little longer. Extra hours of sleep or extra hours at the park are benefits of having a car. Extra time with Mickey and Minnie is a VERY BIG deal when traveling with children (and even some adults!).

Boat to Magic Kingdom® Park4. How tight is your budget?

If you plan to stay in one park and need to pinch a few extra pennies, using park transportation could be a good option.  For example, Disney Transportation uses motorcoaches, buses, boats and the monorail to take you everywhere and anywhere within Disney World property -- parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, all of the Disney-owned resorts and even the airport.

5. How patient is your group?

Bus TransportationWhile park transportation may not be the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B (some trips require transferring from bus to bus or boat or monorail), it gets the job done. However, a trip from A to B can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes.

The Final Decision

If you are staying off-site, I would say 100% yes. Rent a car. If your family is staying at a Disney-owned property, it just really depends on your family's travel style and budget.

These are the questions my family discusses when deciding whether to rent a car.  What else should we consider?  How does your group make travel decisions?

Looking for more vacation planning tips and advice? Head over to the planning page. Add car rental to your ticket purchase and save today!

Kids On A PlaneCheryl, her husband and their 2 kids live in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Never one to pay full price, Cheryl spends her free time scouring the internet for discount codes or promotions for family friendly vacation packages or family entertainment deals. Yes, she probably needs to find another hobby. Her family can be found on a plane at least once a year and 90% of the time you can bet that their plane is headed to Orlando, Florida. Check out Cheryl’s blog Kids On A Plane (no, she’s never seen the movie Snakes On A Plane so there’s no need to ask her what her favorite part was) or chat with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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Grover Feb 5, 2013 at 7 p.m.

"Many off-site hotels offer shuttles to the parks, however, you are tied down to their schedule."

This can not be overstated! Almost any orlando hotel will claim a shuttle service to the parks, but more often than not they operate on wildly erratic schedule to a degree that they are entirely useless. I spent hours sitting around waiting for late shuttles that may or may not ever show up. If you're staying off-campus, rent a car.

Michelle G Jul 26, 2013 at 6:16 a.m.

Here are some tips that really helped our family this past trip. We usually rent a mini-van (we are a family of 6) but prices were sky-high this summer. So first, we rented offsite, not directly at the airport. You save at least $50 in fees that are charged at the onsite car rental companies. Yes, an iffy proposition, but we were lucky and the bus was right there when we got our luggage.

Secondly, instead of a mini-van, we rented 2 sedans. I wasn't thrilled about this at first but I was so glad we did it. What freedom! When our 3 yr. old got tired, one of us could take her to our rental home (another blog topic for sure) while the other could stay with the older kids and do the things that the 3 yr. old had no interest in. It was great! Some people are morning people, so that car would leave first thing, and some are night-owls, so they stayed later and closed the park down. And the best part, besides all that flexibility, was that we saved over $100 renting 2 cars!! We have annual passes, so the $14 parking fee/day at Disney was not an issue since we got free parking. So if you are a big family, keep these tips in mind. It really made our trip nice and relaxing.

trudy Apr 8, 2015 at 12:49 p.m.

what is the cost of parking at Universal? I haven't found it yet and we are doing the 2+1 day tickets.

FrogBlog Apr 8, 2015 at 9:10 a.m.

Hi Trudy,

As of this writing, regular parking is $17 per day.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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