View Full Version : The other side: Why rent a car instead of using Disney transportation?

12-15-2006, 10:13 AM
Inspired by AngelEyes' thread Why do people choose to rely on Disney transportation? (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1299549), I thought we could list the other side of the equation and state our reasons for renting a car when there is a perfectly good - and better yet, FREE - system of public transportation in place at WDW, including airport transfers.

Note: the other thread is currently at 4 pages and so far has had no arguments, name-calling, or Disney transportation bashing. Let's try to keep this thread similarly civil, and if you want to tell us why you DON'T rent a car, please do so in the other thread! This thread is for those who DO rent a car!

I'll start with my own reasons:
1) Flexibility! With a rental car, I can go anywhere that has a road, without waiting for busses, planning transfers, or trying to figure anything out - all I need to do is get in the car and GO. I can eat off-site, shop off-site, and visit Universal, and best of all I never have to worry about re-booking other transportation options if I change my plans at the last minute.

2) Time - Lots of people don't mind waiting for busses, boats, or monorails, and even I can wait for the monorail or the boat once in a while. But my vacation time is always severely limited, and even though I prefer to do the Lazy-Butt touring style (as opposed to the Commando style), I don't want to spend too much time waiting for busses.

Example - on my last trip I arrived at the Pop Century bus stops at 8:30pm, waited 20 mins for the bus to arrive, and stepped off the bus at Pleasure Island at 9:20. That's 50 minutes door-to-door for a trip that would have taken me 15 by car (but I was planning on having a Kungaloosh so I did the responsible thing and took the bus).

3) Other People - a bus carries lots of people. At WDW, the busses all carry LOTS of people (to the point of actually being dangerous IMHO, but that's a subject for its own thread). Sure, when I come out of a park in hot weather my car is hotter than the tenth level of Hell and takes several minutes to cool down enough to drive, but when I leave the park after a long, hot day, I don't want to spend the next 40-50 minutes standing up on a dangerously full bus with 100 hot, sweaty, stinky, noisy strangers. And by the way, those nice air-conditioned busses aren't all that cool when they're full to the gills with people - but my rental car cools off after a few minutes, and I ALWAYS get a seat immediately.

4A) Inbound Storage - Since I drive myself to and from the airport, I have a secure place to keep my luggage if my room is not ready that is easy to access. I can get into my suitcase to pull out my utility belt and park touring gear, change from travelling clothes to park touring clothes, and most importantly, store my laptop and camera bag in a place that nobody can access but me. My laptop/camera bag is one of my carry-ons for a good reason - NOBODY handles my expensive and fragile electronics but me, either at the airports or at WDW.

Also, with the recent liquids/gels ban, all of my toiletries go into my checked bag, and since I can access that bag easily in the trunk of the rental car, I can brush my teeth, freshen my deodorant, or clean my contact lenses if needed, and I don't have to worry about the "moving target" of constantly changing TSA regulations regarding stuff in your carry-ons.

4B) Return storage - on my return travel day, after I've checked out of my resort, I like to do some last-minute park touring and shopping, and since my suitcase is in the back of the car, I can easily pack some of those last-minute purchases in it instead of in my carry-ons. I can also wear my park touring clothes and gear till the last minute, change into travelling clothes in a bathroom somewhere just before going to the airport, and pack that stuff in the suitcase.

Those are my reasons for renting a car. YMMV.

12-15-2006, 12:08 PM
Well, I've pretty much stated my reasons in the other thread, but I'll respond here too.

I like being in control. Not only when I drive, but I like knowing I can go anywhere at any time for any reason. Also, out of all the times we've been to Disney, we've only stayed on property twice. The other times were spent at Orangle Lake. So, we HAD to have a car, to make trips to the grocery store and to get to the parks. Yeah, they had a shuttle service, but I felt like I could get there faster. So, it was being put into the situation of HAVING to drive myself that got me used to driving in that area.

We've used certain kinds of Disney transport. The Monorail, obviously, to both MK and back and forth between EPCOT and MK. We've used the boat to get over to MK and we've used the boats at the Boardwalk, where we stayed one year, to go to MGM. We probably could've gotten to MGM quicker had we driven, but we wanted to ride the boat instead, since we had never done it. We've never ridden a bus. Like I've said, we will drive on future trips down there because it saves a ton of money as opposed to getting 4 airline tickets and renting a car. We're very lucky that we're only 10 hours away. The drive is all highway, most of it on I-95.

12-15-2006, 12:14 PM
my own reasons:
1) Flexibility!
2) Time
3) Other People
4A) Inbound Storage
4B) Return storage
5) earn miles on the rental car
6) I can get a car for free or almost free most trips due to my high airline and rental car mileage for work

12-15-2006, 12:26 PM
I'll add...

7) Toddler/baby naps - DS will always conk out in the car for a nap, so if he's wound up and won't crash in the stroller then we know it is time to hit the car and drive back to our resort.

8) The Cost is a wash - aside from Magical Express, I can usually get a rental car for the week for about the same price as I'd pay for ground transportation to WDW anyway.

12-15-2006, 12:28 PM
I couldn't agree more with all of the points mentioned! I like to go when I'm ready to go. I love just walking to the car and being on the road. I like being able to change where I'm going when I'm already en route if I want to. I also like to be able to make a quick run off property if need be. Last trip, for example, my DSis needed some medication for her DS that wasn't available in the gift shop. So, no problem, quick trip to Goodings (or wherever I went, I forget) and problem is solved. I also like stopping on the way from MCO to WDW to pick up some snacks and drinks for the room. There are probably more reasons that I'll think of as the thread continues.

12-15-2006, 12:30 PM
I'll agree with your first reason. I'll always rent a car if I'm staying offsite, planning to visit off site attractions or want to shop/eat offsite.

The ability to rent a car (age, ability/willingness to drive in a strange area) makes it possible to consider flying into other airports such as Sanford and Tampa.

Thieves have been known to steal from the trunk of rental cars. I'd never use the trunk for storage of anything valuable.

Disney buses work great for the MK and are decent for the other theme parks. I'll agree that Disney bus service is not good for going to DTD, a car is better but a bus is better after a PI evening.

12-15-2006, 12:33 PM
The beach. I don't do Florida without being able to put my toes in the ocean at least once. For that to be practical I need my own wheels.

12-15-2006, 02:51 PM
We have always used a rental car and Disney's tranportation. We like the flexibility of having a car to go out and eat or shop. We usually take the car to Downtown Disney rather than wait on the bus. For me, the price of the rental car plus the airfare price that I get have always made going to Disney easier on the pocketbook. Plus, as a previous poster mentioned, we have usually flown into Tampa and fly out of Orlando due to better prices and flight times, so using DME is not an option. The drive on I-4 is not bad, usually about an hour leaving the airport.

12-15-2006, 06:40 PM
My mom lives an hour east of WDW, so I usually rent a car at the airport, drive to her house for a day or two, then drive myself to WDW and drop-off the rental car at the Dolphin. Once I'm at WDW I use their transportation. I usually stay at the Swan or Dolphin and would prefer not to pay $8/day to park a rental car that rarely gets used.

12-15-2006, 06:51 PM
I always rent a car.

Flexibility, getting to and from the parks and resorts fast, not waiting, going to the grocery store, going to property control, going to CM friends house, not using public transportation on vacaton since I use public transportation everyday I work for a daily 4 hour round trip. Storing my luggage when room is not ready or changing resort. Always having a seat. Having a private conversation with my family. Having a cooler of cold drinks waiting for me. Having a quick way back to my resort if I'm not feeling well. Spending a longer amount of time on my last day at the resorts and parks because it only takes us 30 minutes to get to the airport. Taking less than 15 minutes to get from my resort to another resort to dine.

12-15-2006, 07:01 PM
For me, one reason: Barnes and Noble on Sand Lake Road!

I love to read almost as much as I love the world, go through a book a day if I am getting any pool time in, and the resort/MGM bookstore selections are ok for a day or two but not for a long trip. And the amount of books I read creates a pile too heavy to pack in...So a car means I am 15 minutes away from a new book anytime I want. I still take the bus to MK, and PI--I don't not drink at PI--but drive everywhere else...

12-15-2006, 08:31 PM
We like to be in control. We like to eat and shop offsite. We usually split a trip to WDW between OKW and Vero. Sometimes even Hilton Head DVC. We ride the buses to the MK to do the HDDR :woohoo: :drinking1 That's about it.

12-15-2006, 08:39 PM
We've always rented a car but unfortunately it's getting very expensive. :( On our May trip,we will have a limo service take us to BWV and we'll call a taxi on the mornings that we go to the AK and MK parks. We can walk to MGM and Epcot. It will be cheaper and I won't have to drive.

12-15-2006, 09:01 PM
We never rent a car when we fly down. When we drive down we never took the car anywhere. It just sat in the parking lot at the resort. Disney transportation was fine and we stay at the Poly so the monorails are great. Fast forward to now renting an ECV for my mom. We hate, hate, hate, waiting for a bus and then getting dirty looks and rude comments about an ECV. Of course I shoot back my own nasty reply but there are still too many ignorant visitors to WDW and we don't want to deal with them. My mom gets very embarrassed when someone says something or gives her a dirty look when it is time to board a bus. So now when we drive we take the ECV apart and have valet place it in my SUV. This is great when going to the non MK parks. It is also nice not having to wait for a bus at the end of the night. Since my mom has a HC tag we get to park right up front and it is a short walk to the entrances. So having a car is great when we drive down. When we fly we just put up with the rude people.

12-15-2006, 09:17 PM
In additional to what's been said above, I like a car "just in case" the unexpected problem arises ...medical emergency, forgotten some important item that should have been packed, etc.

IN august, I paid $77/week for a fullsize rental (plus fees). Cheap for my piece of mind.

We ended up using the car a daily since Pop transpo was so crowded. Wasted a lot of time waiting for buses.

Normallly, we like taking bus to parks.

12-15-2006, 09:47 PM
For me, one reason: Barnes and Noble on Sand Lake Road!

I love to read almost as much as I love the world, go through a book a day if I am getting any pool time in, and the resort/MGM bookstore selections are ok for a day or two but not for a long trip. And the amount of books I read creates a pile too heavy to pack.

:love: I think that I just found my soulmate....... :teeth:

TDC Nala
12-15-2006, 10:08 PM
can get into my suitcase to pull out my utility belt and park touring gear,

I knew it...he's Batman.

I'll go back to the other thread because I am too cheap to rent a car.

12-15-2006, 10:41 PM
Renting a car is soooo much easier to move around the World if you have little ones! We like to bring our full size comfy stroller with the nice size storage basket and cup holders and is easy for baby to sleep in. It is much easier to put it in the back of a rented mini-van than to lug it on the bus. Also with little ones when it is time to leave the park I like to get going and not have to wait around for the bus as they are sleeping or melting down etc..
We do every now and then ride a bus just b/c the kids enjoy the ride but everytime we do I feel like we waste so much time waiting around for it and then the time it takes to do all its stops like around the Epcot Resorts etc...

We also go off-site to go grocery shopping and sometimes to eat out also. Even on-site it is so much easier to get to places like Downtown Disney, HDDR, golf courses, resort restaurant reservations with a rental car.

12-16-2006, 01:09 PM
I'm going to chime in and agree with Lewis. NEVER leave any valuable luggage items (laptops, for example) in the trunk of your car. Too easy to steal, not to mention that they shouldn't be left in extreme heat. Leave them with Bell Services at your resort when you check in or check out; they will lock them up securely.

You can even leave valuables with bell services at another hotel other than the one you are staying at, if it is too far to go back to -- ask and tip nicely and they will almost always be happy to lock up your item.

12-16-2006, 04:14 PM
I can't imagine NOT renting a car! We are so accustomed to being able to go where we want, when we want. The few times I have had to rely on Disney Transportation I've been a bit disappointed, like trying to get from WL to CR for Chef Mickey's dinner reservations. HELLOOO! They are right next to one another yet the boats were full and no one was budging! We ended up taking a $5.25 taxi ride ($5 on the way back) that night and rented a car the next morning. Never looked back.

Our vacation time is valuable. We already have to wait in lines at the park... why would we want to wait in lines just to get there?

Other than Downtown Disney on a weekend, WDW has virtually unlimited parking spaces in every park. I have never not been able to secure a parking spot. I know those who rely on Disney transportation often say they don't want to have to walk to a car in the evening when they leave, but they spend the same (or more) amount of time waiting for a bus. Standing tires me more than walking to my car.

I love the flexibility of being able to hop from park to park and resort to resort. That's just how we tour at WDW. Often times we will think of what we want to do next while we're in one park. Having a rental car allows us to do that without wasting time. We don't have to plan an hour's worth of time to make an ADR in another park or resort... .and we can load the trunk with extra sunscreen, bottled water, etc.

Last May when my DD12 got sick at 4 am, I opted to forego visiting any park that day and instead we drove to Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Center. Her tummy was able to recover and we still made it back that evening for our Ohana ADR. Having a car really saved that day for us.

We usually rent at Budget in the airport.. Before our bags are off the carousel I have the keys in hand and we are ready to go. I Use discount codes and usually end up pay about $17 total for a midsize. YMMV.


12-16-2006, 06:58 PM
We ALWAYS rent a car at WDW. I do not want to wait for a bus while on vacation - ever!

Chester's Mum
12-17-2006, 09:36 AM
Although we do use disney transportation most of the time, we always rent a car for 3-4 days in the middle of vacation. There's so much to do in Orlando in addition to Disney, and its kind of hard to get off property without a car. We sometimes go to Seaworld, or Univeral, or just shopping (factory outlets, and florida mall) and dining off site. Its sort of a decompression time. I know we could take cabs, but the flexibility of having the car for at least a few days, works out well for us.

Brian Noble
12-17-2006, 12:21 PM
I'm just one of those people who'd rather not be sitting around wondering when the next bus will come, and whether my kids are going to have to sit in my lap or not. Even when the car isn't faster (and it never is to/from MK, and sometimes isn't to other destinations) it is just "more pleasant" to have the *illusion* of control. ;)

That's just me, though.

12-17-2006, 12:23 PM
I just like to relax and unwind on my trip back from the park--not stand under someone's smelly armpit on a bus 3x too crowded trying to hang on while a driver goes 35 mph around a sharp curve.

12-17-2006, 01:06 PM
We always have a car whether we drive our own or fly/rental car. I started this habit when dd1 was a baby. By the time I noticed she needed a nap, it still seemed to take forever to get her back to the room with us driving. I can't imagine trying to keep her overtired little self calm on a crowded bus.

Also we like to do one character breakfast each trip, and it's easier to figure out how much time we need to get there when we're driving, rather than guesstimating bus transport.

Finally, I like the flexibility to go offsite for dinner, go to Sea World, or to the outlets. At home we live in a very rural county, so we don't go out to dinner or shopping much. Being able to do this on vacation is a real treat.

12-17-2006, 01:37 PM
We had always used Disney transportation when travelling to the world, even on Connor's first trip at 20 months. It was a bit of a pain with his stroller and all his stuff, but we were travelling with my parents and my sister, so there was always lots of spare hands to help. On our trip in April this year, we had to rent a car because we were joining the rest of my family in Daytona after a few days in the World and they didn't have room in their car for all of us. I think it spoiled us. We'll probably get a car from now on!

I really liked the flexibility of having a car, especially for getting water/snacks at the grocery store, and shopping off site (Disney outlet! and Walmart/Target). I also really liked going at our pace and not having to factor in bus wait times. Connor is a really busy boy and doesn't have a lot of patience to wait in line so the less waiting the better.

We also really like eating at resorts (Boma, Chef Mickey's!) and it is soooo much easier to drive than take the bus.

The only time we take the bus is when we are heading to the MK for our nighttime activities and planning to stay till close. I read a tip somewhere that closing time is busier to get back to the parking lot to a car and then your resort than it is to take the bus, even if it's packed or you have to wait more than one bus. We have found this to be true, and the munchkins will usually sleep on the bus ride back anyways. Plus Connor loves busses, so we have to have at least one ride on a Mickey bus each trip!! :rotfl:

This last trip, just dh and I, we stayed at OKW, renting points from a member. I was really glad we had a car because our studio was in a building far from the main bldg and pool area. It would have been a pain to have to wait for a bus just to get up to the pool/shops.

Next 2 trips we will need the rental car to travel to the beach/port, so I think it will be some time before we rely solely on Disney transport again.

12-17-2006, 01:45 PM
For several trips we used WDW Transportation which is great, but has some limitations for us. Since 2000 we have been renting and like it for all the reasons posted above. Both have their plus and minus, for now its renting.

Here's to looking for some good rental deals. :thumbsup2


12-18-2006, 07:00 AM
Here's our typical first day at WDW (with a car, of course):
Check in at OKW. Lunch at the Sand Trap. Mini Golf game at either Fantasia or Winter/Summerland. Short trip to DD to check out the Disney Store there. Back to OKW for a quick dip in the pool.Then dinner at a Signature restaurant at one of the resort hotels.
Just try that using WDW transportation!!!

Buzz's Buddy
12-18-2006, 10:12 AM
I usually rent a car for the freedom it gives us to leave the world. For our upcoming trip (in only 3 more days!!), we're renting a car for the grocery store, christmas shopping, off-site restaurants, etc.

However, I do use Disney Transporation to get us to and from the parks. I've never had such a bad experience that made me want to drive to the parks.

12-18-2006, 11:36 AM
We always rent a car when we go to WDW too :) I can usually find good deals. Honestly I just like being in control and not having to wait around. Another plus for me is we can take a quick ride to a grocery store or Walgreens if need be. A meal or two off site is another plus :)

12-18-2006, 12:28 PM
I could post to both of these threads because I always rent a car AND use the WDW buses.

I am a control freak and like to control my own transportation to and from the airport. Although a great service to offer, I could never see myself using DME. I like having the car to get groceries (I'm a DVC member so I usually have a kitchen), to go play golf on/off site, go to other resorts for meals (especially Ft. Wilderness), and to go to other off-site attractions.

However, I ALWAYS use the buses/boats to go to and from the parks, and sometimes to other resort for meals if convienient. The time and hassle it takes to get to the car, drive, park, and walk to the gate is more than the 0-30 minute wait for the bus. Busy periods make for a more crowded bus and wait, but self-parking/traffic gets worse too. Also, count me as one who like the anticipation you feel in the bus with other park-goers. And I have met and had conversations with intersting people from all over the world during those bus rides.

12-21-2006, 10:51 PM
For me, one reason: Barnes and Noble on Sand Lake Road!

I love to read almost as much as I love the world, go through a book a day if I am getting any pool time in, and the resort/MGM bookstore selections are ok for a day or two but not for a long trip. And the amount of books I read creates a pile too heavy to pack in...So a car means I am 15 minutes away from a new book anytime I want. I still take the bus to MK, and PI--I don't not drink at PI--but drive everywhere else...

Celebration now has a book store in Town and it's a little closer then Sand Lake. So c'mon over. :wave: