Your trip is booked. Now you are faced with the decision on the “how” to actually travel to Walt Disney World.
Just thinking about the travel logistics in actually getting your family to Disney World can seen like reason enough to not even attempt the trip. Drive or Fly? Which airport should I fly into? which has the best rates? What should I do to my vehicle to get it long haul-drive ready? Rent or Uber? Are we going to do a MinnieVan from the airport? How will I keep my kids from boredom or starvation? How will I survive!?
Am I right?
Let’s start with the basics. This article is really devoted to those who live in what I consider to be the “gray area” of “not too far” to drive but “do you really want to?” (speaking honestly here…). This will be the beginning of an on-going series about the trip planning process.
First, let me say… YOU CAN DO IT! And you can minimize the trip planning stress fairly easily by just thinking about what you know best… YOUR FAMILY. Think about your personalities, stressors, etc.
How does everyone do in long car rides? Think about the furthest you have ever driven with your family. What happened? Anything major? What would you have done differently? Don’t expect your family to behave differently because your destination is different. A car ride is still a car ride and some handle the journey better than others.
What will it cost you to get your vehicle “road ready” for a long trip? Do you need new tires? An alignment? Oil change? Think about your overall costs that you may have been delaying but will absolutely need to do in the event you drive the distance.
Gas – This could also be said for your rental as you usually have to pay for refuel before you return or are charged by the company upon the return.
Tolls — Orlando has many! The route you take down may also include many more. Be sure to consider this in your roundtrip costs.
If Driving, how many stops will you need to make? You will need to consider the cost and where you plan to stop for overnight rest if your drive is lengthy and you are planning to drive over a few days.
Do you have flyer miles you can use on some of the trip? Maybe your dates are flexible and you evaluate ticket pricing, there are several ways to ninja flights, but this is something you’d need to consider. When planning to travel to WDW, you can elect to fly into Sanford or MCO. However, Magical Express (Disney Transportation that is included in your trip package) is only available at MCO.
Weigh the cost of a rental if you plan to rent or also the additional cost of an rideshare (Uber/Lyft, MinnieVan) since you will be without your own transportation.
How valuable is your time? How would you like to spend your time? Is your family adventurous and you have plenty of fun stops planned along the way? Are you a drive all night type? If you fly, will you arrive earlier and have more time in a park, at Disney Springs or enjoying your accommodations? Again, this goes back to knowing your family! Think about if the travel time is well spent or eating into precious time (only so many days off to be together, maximizing the most of your vacation time, etc.) If you will feel like your time is being wasted and you aren’t enjoying the time the way you’d like, that’s fair! You should consider that into your decision.
Activities and Snacks to keep everyone entertained Regardless of your method of travel, you will want snacks and activities to keep everyone entertained. This can be inexpensive. Think Dollar Store items, loading movies to you electronic devices and bags of pretzels. This is one of the cheapest of all considerations and necessary for all travel!
Ultimately, the way you choose to travel is more than a financial decision. Sure finances are the number one reason we usually decide to do something over another. However, at the end of the day when you are breaking it down and it looks like either option is viable, you must realize it’s all about what’s best for your group/family. What feels most comfortable and yields the best value and enjoyment. Vacations are not one-size-fits-all!
**Note: Regardless of whether you drive or fly and rent a car, Disney will charge you a parking fee per day to park at the parks and/or at your resort. If you are a resort guest , you will not be charged a parking fee at a theme park.
The only way to avoid parking fees (resort or theme park) is to take the Magical Express and use the Disney Bus, Monorail and Skyliner systems around the Disney properties. Parking fees are $20-30 a day at the time of this post.