Disney World without a car?
That would be madness?
Plus wanting to visit all the parks then surely you must have a car?
Read our guide as we explore this common Orlando Myth.
Well, actually, in my opinion, you don’t and on our last few trips to Orlando, we have managed without a car just fine. Orlando without a car is not practical in all situations e.g. if you are staying in a local villa or a local hotel without shuttle transportation. However; if you are staying at a Disney World Resort or a nearby hotel which provides park shuttles you will be fine. Our guide provides tips on navigating Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Orlando and getting to your resort from the airport.
Disney Resort Parking Charge
Previously guests staying at Walt Disney World properties enjoyed free resort parking. However, this recently changed and guests now pay up to $24 a night to park. We anticipate many more guests will now be considering whether hiring a car in Orlando is an unnecessary expense.
Airports to Disney World Without a Car
Getting from Orlando International Airport without a car to Disney World Resorts is a breeze.
Once you are through immigration and baggage claim follow the signs to Disney’s Magical Express which is located on Side B Level 1. You will need to quickly register at the check-in desk(you can do this in advance and if you already have your MagicBand just tap the post on arrival) and you will then be transported; usually after a short wait; to your Disney Resort. This will be a shared ride so the might be drop-offs at other hotels first.
Between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm domestic arrivals & those International arrivals who check luggage in with Disney Staff can have their luggage directly delivered to their hotel room. Alternatively; you can transfer your own luggage with you on the Magical Express.
If you are returning to Orlando International Airport at the end of your vacation the day before check-out a Transportation Notice will be delivered to your room. You will need to bring with you this notice to board your coach.
Disney’s Magical Express really is a good service even if it is not quite “magical”.
If you are arriving at Orlando Sanford airport things are not so easy. There is no Magical Express at Sanford. Your options are taxi or shuttle but they are not cheap. Expect to pay up to $150 for a taxi.
Airports to Universal Resort Orlando Without a Car
Universal Orlando does not include a free shuttle but those with a Universal Package can pay for transportation. The current cost of this is $36 an adult & $26 a child for a round trip. This is not a cheap option if there are more than 3 of you.
There are various shuttle/limo services you can book in advance.
However, Taxis are the most obvious choice for most guests. Expect to pay $50 between Orlando International & Universal Hotels. Remember children 5 and under need a child car seat when in Florida and you might wait longer for a taxi if you need this.
Walt Disney World Without a Car
Getting around Disney World without a car is easy. Disney has its own fantastic internal travel network. From buses, monorail & ferries you will be transported across Disney World for free from your resort. Services are regular and reliable. However; it does take a little longer than driving so remember to leave in plenty of time if you have made dining reservations etc.
It is also worth remembering that direct routes are not available to all locations. To travel to another resort you will usually have to change at either a Theme Park or Disney Springs.
Staying outside of Disney World
It is possible to manage without a car if not staying in a Disney World Resort. However, many guests will find a car easier. Most hotels do provide shuttles to all main theme parks but their definition of theme park sometimes differs. At most parks, you will not be dropped off as close as you will with Disney Transportation. Some resorts will only drop you off at the Transportation and Ticket Center & from there will have to navigate your onwards journey.
If you are staying in an Orlando Villa having a car is really the only option. Whilst you might manage using taxis this will soon add up.
Disney World to Universal Resort Orlando or Elsewhere
Disney World & Universal do not run transport to each other’s parks. However; it is not difficult to get between Universal and Disney.
Your options really depend on how many of you there are. The easiest option is to get a taxi from outside your hotel. Expect to pay $50-$60 each way.
Perhaps not quite as easy but cheaper is catching an Uber or Lyft. My first version of this article failed to mention Uber or Lyft but over the last couple of years, these services have grown considerably with a loyal user base. However, a quick look at the web will find many reports of negative customer experiences. Our own experience to date has been very positive.
Uber & Lyft are both cashless taxi services. You order your taxi from an App and your payment is taken from a pre-registered card.
Prior to your driver arriving you will receive details of the driver, previous reviews, the car being driven and expected cost of your journey. We have never waited longer than a few minutes for an Uber. Both these services in our opinion is a game changer and work out far cheaper than regular taxis. With a full audit trail, it also feels a lot safer. The only negative is you must have access to either 3G/4G or WiFi to order a taxi.
An alternative option to get between Universal and Disney is a shared bus. Mears provide a service which we have used before. Hotel staff; depending on how helpful they are; will arrange this for you. From our experience, if there are more than 3 of you getting a taxi or Uber works out cheaper. However, for couples, it is an option worth considering. Your bus will also make multiple stops for pickups and drop-offs so it will take longer to get to your destination than a taxi.
Why Not Stay in More than 1 Hotel?
If you are planning to spend more than 1 day at Universal or Seaworld it is worth considering staying in more than 1 hotel. Often it will work out cheaper moving to another hotel than paying for multiple transfers.
Walt Disney World & Universal Orlando Resorts are not cheap and if you are visiting other attractions you lose some of the home resort benefits.
Minnie Van Service
Minnie Van is a new service offered at select Walt Disney World Resorts. Disney had obviously spotted the opportunities in the Uber/Lyft market and have created their own competitor. Actually, Disney is running this service with Lyft and you need access to the Lyft App. Any Cast Member at your Resort Front Desk will help you get started. Up to 6 guests can travel in 1 car and there are 2 junior car seats available for all vehicles. There are options for Wheelchairs and Scooters but you may wait for longer.
The service will transport you anywhere in Walt Disney World for a flat fee of $25. $25 is considerably more expensive than what you would pay for Uber or Lyft. However; the availability of accessible vehicles is a big positive.
Whilst not hiring a car is not an option for everyone we do think it is feasible to do Orlando without a car. If you are planning to only visit Disney World and stay on site we can’t see any reasons to hire a car. Avoiding the new resort parking charge will save you considerable money.
However; if you are planning to visit multiple parks whether to hire a car or not is something you will need to consider carefully.
Want to learn more about Disney World? Visit our Beginners Guide.