Do You Need a Car while at Walt Disney World?

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Walt Disney World Transportation
Walt Disney World Transportation

A Chip & Co. reader recently asked: Do you need a car while at Walt Disney World Resort? The short answer is no.

My family and I vacationed at Walt Disney World Resort not long ago, and while I’d love to be there still, my feet are overjoyed not to be walking miles and miles a day. There’s one aspect of a Walt Disney World vacation that just can’t be beat: the transportation system.

Guests bound for Disney-owned Resort hotels via commercial flights to Orlando International Airport experience VIP treatment before they ever enter the Parks. Guests can arrange prior to their arrival to be treated like royalty with Disney’s Magical Express system. Special luggage tags allow vacationers to check their bags at departure and not have to worry about them again. Guests can bypass baggage claim, enjoy a complimentary ride aboard comfy motor coaches to their Resort, and find their bags magically awaiting them in their Guestroom. And, of course, when it’s time to leave the Kingdom, Guests again check their luggage and board motor coaches for complimentary transportation back to the airport. It’s all available at no extra charge no matter where you stay on Property.

Magical Express
Magical Express

Once onsite, Guests have many modes of travel to choose from within the Walt Disney World Transportation System. We drove our own vehicle to get there, but once it was parked, it stayed parked. Most convenient is the bus service. More than 300 buses driven by 1,100 full-time and 400 part-time drivers track 20 million miles per year toting Guests to and from the Parks, Resorts, and onsite attractions. The buses go just about everywhere on Disney Property. However, they do not transport Guests from Resort to Resort. To get from one hotel to another, Guests must take a bus to one of the Parks or Downtown Disney and transfer to another bus. Always allow extra time to get where you need to go.

While each Park has its own unique representative attraction, the monorail is Walt Disney World’s wienie. One line services the transportation center, Magic Kingdom, and the Resorts surrounding Seven Seas Lagoon, and a second line runs between Magic Kingdom and Epcot. According to Lou Mongello’s The Walt Disney World Trivia Book Volume Two, if you were to add up all the trips these German engineered trains have made over the 14.7 mile track since 1971, the mileage logged would equate to more than 25 round trips to the moon!

Yellow Monorail

Ferry boats (or fairy boats?) provide one more option. Since they are limited to waterways, they do not offer access to all entertainment or Resort areas. Guests can, however, take in some scenic relaxation while en route to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, and select Resorts. Boats launch about every 15-30 minutes, but I’ve found them to be one of the quickest rides to catch.

Perhaps the best part of Walt Disney World Transporation is that it’s all available at no extra charge no matter where you stay on Property. Segway tours, horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, surrey bikes, canoes, yachts, and golf carts are some fee-based options offered at various locations around Walt Disney World Resort.

So, do you need a car at Walt Disney World? Four out of the five times my family has vacationed there, we have driven our own car. We’ve used it onsite once! I would say that if you have a restaurant reservation outside of the Parks, say at ‘Ohana or Whispering Canyon, since buses do not run between Resort hotels, it may be quicker and easier to take your own vehicle. If I remember correctly, the one time we drove our car it was to Downtown Disney in the pouring rain when our youngest was an infant. That worked out well for us, but for most other instances, Disney’s taken good care of us.

A previous version of this article originally appeared at Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, where Disney IS school.

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Do You Need a Car while at Walt Disney World?

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9 thoughts on “Do You Need a Car while at Walt Disney World?

  1. Excellent advice! I agree, especially for the first visit, let Disney take you where you need to go until you have a good feel for the place. We’ve been 5 times so far and still get lost sometimes when we try to drive ourselves 😉

  2. How exciting! If you are staying on Disney property and are flying into MCO airport, you don’t have to rent a car unless you feel you need to. Disney’s Magical Express can take you and your luggage directly to your resort (your travel agent or Disney Travel will need your flight info). Once onsite, WDW Transportation can take you pretty much anywhere you want to go on property. The thing to remember is that you cannot go from resort to resort aboard WDW Transportation, but buses DO run from all Parks and Downtown Disney to and from all resorts. The monorail only runs between Magic Kingdom and Epcot OR Magic Kingdom and its surrounding resorts and the transportation & ticket center.

    If you still desire to rent a car, you will be given a parking voucher to place on your dashboard that gives you free parking at the Parks. Some people prefer to drive their own vehicle, especially if they have a lot to carry with them, like strollers, wheelchairs, baggage, etc. Although, WDW Transportation is very accommodating and caters to those with such needs. Some people simply prefer the comfort of their own vehicle. If you decide to drive on property, do keep the map handy and follow the signs to your destination. And above everything else, have a great time!!!

  3. Been to WDW 16 times. We have both rented a car and totally relied on Disney. It depends where you are staying and your Disney experience. Newbie… rely on Disney its too complicated. Once you become seasoned and have focused plans, a car may not be a bad idea. Parking is not that difficult if you know what you are doing. For instance, plan to self park at the Yacht and Beach Club go into the hotel, grab a bite to eat/shop and then enjoy Epcot or MGM!

  4. So this is all for if you are staying at a Disney Resort?
    We are going in May for the first time and I’m overwhelmed and confused with all that I need to understand. Flying to Orlando and renting a car.
    Any help would be appreciated?

  5. Considering where you’re staying, you’ll probably get to Animal Kingdom quickly either way! It’s probably somewhat faster to drive, but you will have to navigate your way around, park in large lots, and either take a tram or walk in to whatever Park you go to. Buses will have multiple stops along the way, and sometimes there are long waits, especially if it’s a high crowd day. For my family, we prefer the convenience of the buses/monorail/boats. It removes us from the outside world and keeps us in the magic, you know?

  6. We almost always drive to get there, and then our car stays parked. It’s nice to have it IF we needed it, but we’re like you. Disney Transportation is part of the experience and it’s always worked out well for us.

  7. We drive to WDW and the car doesn’t move again until we go home. To us, riding the various forms of Disney transportation is part of the Disney experience. However, my brother-in-law’s family always drives — and then rents a car while they are there because they don’t want to use Disney transportation! To each his own.

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