Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unfolding a Disney Vacation, Part V - To Rent a Car or Not

Happy Easter, everybody!  While I am waiting for my potatoes to bake in the oven so that I can make twice baked potatoes, I thought I'd get back to blogging about making travel plans for Disney.  Once you arrive at the airport you have two main choices, as I see it.  You can rent a car or you can rely on Disney's Magical Express.  The first time we went, we rented a car; the second time we drove our own minivan the whole way down.  This time we will use Disney transportation.  At least 10 days before your flight, ( recommends at least six weeks before your flight), contact Disney at 407-W-DISNEY and inform them of the name of your airline, your flight number, and your arrival time into Orlando.  You can also let them know your departure information.  You will receive special luggage tags in the mail that you place on each of your bags so that the Disney staff will know which bags to take from the baggage claim area once you arrive in Orlando.  This means YOU get to bypass baggage claim and go straight to the Disney Airport Welcome Center where you will board a motor coach which will take you to your resort.  Disney staff (cast members) will then deliver your luggage to your room for you.  If your flight arrives after 10 p.m., however, you will need to gather your own luggage.  This way you will have immediate access to it once you reach your resort.

If you choose not to rent a car during your stay, you can use Disney transportation to get from your resort to the parks and back, your resort to another resort and back, and even to Downtown Disney.  Depending on where you choose to stay, you may have the option of using a boat, monorail, and/or the bus.  If you are depending on Disney transportation, like we are this time, you can still easily rent a car for one or two days if you want to venture away from the parks.  You may want to visit Universal Studios, Sea World, or even Kennedy Space Center. has a great web page that details options for renting a car once you've arrived at WDW.

Have you opted to rent a car so that you don't have to depend on the bus or the monorail?  You will feel a bit freer to plan your days, but you will have that added expense (which is why we are choosing to forgo the car this year).  Located in terminals A and B of the Orlando International Airport are the major car rental companies.  There is no need to have a shuttle transport you to any of these.  Some of the companies are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.  (We rented from Thrifty when we went to Disneyland in California last year and were very happy with that experience.)

The size of the vehicle you rent and how long you will be using it will determine your cost.  Most companies have specials listed on their websites.  You can also sign up to receive emails about specials they may be running.  Some, like National, have huge discounts if your trip is within just a couple of weeks of the special they're offering.  Some also have free membership programs that can fetch you a deal.  You can also find coupons in various places such as the Entertainment Book.  Whatever you do, DON'T PAY FULL PRICE FOR A RENTAL!!  There are so many companies vying for your business that you really can get a great rate if you are willing to shop around and watch for the latest specials.

We got an added bonus when we went to California last year.  I got the best rate on a vehicle I could find.  When we got there, the Thrifty employee asked us if we'd be willing to drive a Ford Edge with Arizona plates on it since we were planning on flying home from Arizona.  The edge was an upgrade and would have been a lot more expensive, but he was willing to give it to us for the same price.  Would we mind?  Of course not!  It was a nice surprise.  I almost didn't believe him.  I figured there had to be some catch, but there wasn't.  We were just doing them a favor.

So, it's up to you.  If you are a planner and don't deal well with things out of your control, like how long it may take to get back to your resort after a long, hot day at the park, rent a car.  If you are willing to be completely laid back and don't care how long anything might take, forgo the car and use Disney transportation.  If you plan to go when the parks are not crowded, Disney transportation may be a breeze.  It all works together.  Make sure you plan what will be best for you and your family.

1 comment:

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