Parking at Disney?

We are staying off-site (mistake #1) and the shuttle system seems difficult to use. Early shuttle to Epcot and then you use Disney’s system to get everywhere.

Is this the same system when you drive or are there separate parking lots? And how long does it take to physically leave a park, get to your car, and get out? I was planning to take a few afternoon breaks that week and the shuttle just won’t work for that.

Thank you!

IMO having a car if you are staying off-site is a must, especially if you are going to take breaks or want some flexibility in your schedule. Also, the shuttle system where you are staying seems particularly painful.

Each park has its own parking lot with tram service to the main entrance if you are parked far away (except for MK, which has tram service to the TTC, where you then take the monorail or ferry to the main entrance).

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Also, staying off-site is not a mistake - there are a lot of good reasons to be outside the bubble (lower cost, more space, etc.). As long as you plan accordingly, you will have a great vacation!

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IDK. I missed out on Free Disney Dining and I am now renting a car for the week $198 just to get back and forth from the airport. We are at the Summer Bay which might be a bit far but time will tell.

Not sure what kind of car you need, but try priceline or costco auto rental with alamo. We are paying less than $100 for our mid-size car this week.

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$5 cheaper but $5 is $5. LOL I’m stuck in min-van world as I need to transport 6 people.

Thanks. I passed that on to my friend who needs to rent a car also.

Check out @JackOfAll’s car rental tips Car Rental Advice from JackOfAll. As long as you don’t have a non-refundable pre-pay rental, you should be able to find a better deal and save some $$$.

We stayed offsite, and we found it easier to stay in the park and find something low key or relaxing to do during the kids’ normal nap/rest times- hall of presidents, spaceship earth, The Land and so on. It took about a half hour to get from the park to our car, get everyone packed back in (we have three in carseats) and then another 15 minutes to get back to the hotel, from which Epcot was visible. The good thing is, once you park your parking pass is good a any of the parks for the whole day. Which was nice, because when park hopping we found it so much easier to drive between the parks than use the park transportation. My son is obsessed with the Monorail and wanted to take it from Chef Mickey to Hollywood Studios, and we were basically told by the cast members that it would be a schedule suicide. We were glad that we drove over there, in the end. The process would not have taken as long if we weren’t coralling so many kids, so I guess it also depends on how old everyone in your party is, and also what time you get there/where you park in the lot. Our hotel shuttle was basically the same, and the first one didn’t leave until after rope drop, which was a no-go for us.

I would def. recommend a car if you can. I think it’s doable without one, but not optimal. We drove down there so we were stuck with ours :wink:

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Getting to/from your car to/from the park entrance typically takes about 10 minutes everywhere except Magic Kingdom (add another 10-20 minutes for a boat or monorail from the parking lot there). You’ll have to pay for parking (unless you have an Annual Pass), but you should only have to pay once each day and I believe you can use your parking receipt when you return to the parks after your afternoon breaks.

Driving around Disney property is pretty easy, with relatively good signage directing you. There aren’t really that many different roads on the property, either, so if you familiarize yourself with those ahead of time on Google Maps, then driving should work well for you.

We always rent a car- onsite or offsite. Gives you a level of freedom that you can’t get using Disney transportation- and rental rates are so cheap down there it is hard to make an argument against it. The additional freedom to do and go where we want when we want is well worth the daily car rental fee. You may also want to check both Avis and Budget directly @ustasmom. The thread mentioned above gives a lot of good options as well. Avis and Budget (don’t know about the others) have a prepay and save option if you book direct with them- knocks 30% off the price of the rental. If you are of age, I also oftentimes have really good luck with the AARP travel center by Expedia. You get a discount plus a guaranteed upgrade, so to save even more money I rent the car class below what I want- and wind up with what I want, or sometimes better. We just got back from England, and I used AARP to reserve a Ford Focus level car class. We wound up being upgraded to a Mercedes Benz with 4000 miles on it- was great.

You might not’ve missed out on Free Dining. Availability was so limited this time around that a lot of people weren’t able to get it. Don’t let that be a big disappointment.

As long as you’re renting a car, you’ll be fine. Remember, no matter what else, you’re going to Disney World. You’re absolutely going to have fun! When it comes to afternoon breaks, I second @jensenfam’s suggestion of lower-key attractions in the park during the day instead of leaving for a break. The monorail loop from Epcot to the TTC is really nice,and you can take it round-trip without getting off. I love to ride that when I need a break from the parks and the crowds!

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We’re going next week and found a car on for about $30 less than going to the actual company sites to book - it checks all the companies around the airport (or wherever you’re planning on picking up the car) and shows you the cheapest options. Plus, we didn’t have to pay ahead to hold the reservation, so easy to cancel and re-book if something cheaper pops up. Staying off-site is never a mistake! Taking into account the car rental and paying for parking, we’re still saving almost $400 for the week vs if we stayed at a value resort, and we’re staying in a 1-bedroom villa at the Vistana with a kitchen and laundry, 7 pools, 2 restaurants, gym…hard for us to rationalize staying on-site with those perks.

Hola @ustasmom!! Just adding that parking costs $17 per day and you can reuse in other parks if you park hop!