Experiences flying to Tampa, Driving to WDW


Mar 13, 2001
We've got an upcoming trip in October and are thinking of flying into Tampa instead of Orlando. Looking for people's experiences on that drive...

According to Mapquest, its about 1 1/2 hour drive from TPA to Disney - does that sound about right?

Our flight times are nice, and should give us plenty of drive time - arrive TPA at 5:30 pm, and depart TPA at 11:30 am. So, I'm thinking we should easily be getting checked in by 8 pm and should probably leave the hotel at 8:30 am - does that seem like enough time?

TIA, Jeff
We involuntarily were bumped last year (last flight of the night), but got them to put us on a flight to TPA and pay for the cab to WDW.

It was about a 75 minutes drive to WDW (Beach Club), but there was absolutely no traffic--it was after midnight when we arrived.

So 1 1/2 hours during evening rush taht's probably about right.

Just beware of HEAVY am traffic for your return and plan accordingly. I think you're pushing it to leave at 8:30 am, espeically if you have to return a rental car.

I have done the drive several times and it is usually about a 90 minute drive. However, that section of I-4 is heavily traveled and really not "big enough" I would probably leave a little earlier for your trip back to the airport since you are traveling during rush hour (and yes, people do commute between these two cities!)
Hi we have done this trip and its not bad at all.. rented a car from Alamo - off site - caught the shuttle got the car and off we went with printed directions from the car rental company strait to disney !! it took us about an hour and 15 minutes and its mostly highway .. i would do it again.. michelle
Thanks for all the replies.

One thing I forgot to mention... Our return is on a Sunday. Should I still expect heavy morning traffic? Maybe I should check the NFL schedule and see if the Bucs are at home or away...

TIA, Jeff
We did this last November. We were thrilled with the Tampa airport! We flew in late at night and spent the night in Tampa. We left really early the next morning and arrived at WDW in just under an hour! We timed it! The speed limit on that stretch of I4 is 70 miles an hour. It is an easy drive and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. We were also very happy we chose Tampa airport because it is smaller and we were traveling around the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

Iwould do it again in a moment!
We did this last March. Our return flight was on a Sunday around 1 pm. We got there 2 1/2 hours before our flight and almost missed the plane. This seems to be the day the cruise ships dock and everyone is trying to get on planes to go home. Other than that, the ride from Tampa to Kissimmee is a breeze.
Hi Jjohns! Funny you should ask about TPA, we are leaving today 8/10 & flying into TPA & driving to Orlando. I chose to fly into TPA because it was cheaper than MCO. By about, $50 per person when I booked. We have made the drive before due to we have family in Clearwater. As stated previously, it is all highway. We also are returning on a Sunday, so I will let you know how traffic was when we return. We have an 11:20am flight. Kathy :wave:
We've driven I-4 from Tampa towards WDW on a Sunday morning. I remembering commenting to my wife that there was an awful lot of traffic for a Sunday morning (we were nervous about getting to Port Canaveral on time). The highway is only 2 lanes in each direction for most of the way.

Also, remember if you are flying Delta (as well as some other airlines) into TPA, once you've gone downstairs to get your luggage, you have to go back upstairs and cross over to the other side of the terminal, then back downstairs to get to the rental cars. We once spent a very frustrating 45 minutes trying to get from baggage claim to National EA at TPA!

Have a fun trip!
Hi everyone. My wife and I just recently booked tickets on Southwest flying into Tampa from PVD for December, because it was soooo much cheaper.(205 bucks, both of us, roundtrip, including taxes!!) From there we plan on renting a car and driving to Disney. We are coming in around 5pm Saturday afternoon, and leaving Saturday morning around 11. Any idea what kind of traffic I can expect? I'm not that concerned with Saturday afternoon/evening traffic because we don't have any plans that night, but I'd definetly like to get some kind of an idea regarding Saturday morning, as we will have to return the rental car as well.

Thanks in advance for any help!! :)

jjohns..have you thought about spending the night in Tampa before your departure? When you think about it , all you are going to do is go to bed, wake up and leave, so why not go to bed in Tampa and have a little more of a relaxed morning.
We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Tampa on the night of our arrival for a small amount of $$, just a few minutes from the airport. We got it through Priceline. If you are not familiar with priceline, you may want to start at http://www.biddingfortravel.com to gain some prior knowledge and know how. :)
Denise and others,

The night before would be our Fantasmic night @ Disney, so unless it was necessary our plan would be to stay in Disney area for that last night.

Besides, our flight out isn't until 11:30, so I'm not sure it would really be necessary to be at the airport that early. Even allow 2 1/2 hours for driving, its still not going to be rushed for us in the morning.

As for the Tampa airport... I saw the post about the 2 1/2 hours before departure. Is there something about that airport that just makes it slow? Most airports are back to the normal 'check in 1 hour before departure' for domestic flights.

We depart on Sunday... Is that a busy day for flights there?

TIA, Jeff
I think the 2 1/2 hours was last year because travel was just after 9-11 ( all the airports said to check\in 2 hours before scheduled)I think they are all back to the 1 hour ( someone correct if i am wrong ) I don't think you will have any problem at all , Michelle


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