When planning a vacation to Florida, you may be trying to decide if you are flying or driving to Disney World. We have done both, although we drive much more often than we fly. When we went in November of this year, it was the first time we had flown with Emma Kate AND we stayed off property part of the time. The last time we flew to Disney, we rented a car. But since car rental prices are astronomical right now, we just Ubered a handful of times and used Magical Express to get to and from the airport.
We had quite the experience and several frustrations, so I thought it was time to share some pros and cons. Obviously if you don’t live in driving distance this won’t really matter much to you, but for those within a day’s drive I thought this may be helpful and give you some things to consider. Some of the below things will show up in both the pro flying AND pro driving category because depending on how things are, they could be a positive or negative, so take all with a grain of salt.
Pro’s for Flying (without getting a rental car)
1.) Get to your destination faster: A drive for us with the “typical” amount of stops from central Mississippi is around 12 hours. We also lose an hour on the way there, so it’s a long way, especially for a seven year old. Sometimes we break it up and stop overnight which costs even more money. We have to get up early and we arrive late. You lose a whole day basically. A flight for us with connections is around 5 hours, so much faster (without factoring in waiting at airport, etc.)
2.) Good flight deals/cheaper than gas right now: One reason we flew in November is because I got a GREAT deal on flights with a Southwest anniversary sale. Like $88 a person each way, plus free bags. Gas would have cost us more than that for sure.
3.) No paying to park at the resorts/having bus use around property: Since Disney started charging to pay to park at their resorts, you can pay up to $25 per night for your vehicle depending on which hotel you stay at if you are staying on property. If you are staying for a week that can really add up! You can also use the buses around property to not have to use your own gas or put miles on your car.
4.) Can work or sleep while you travel: If time off work is not abundant, then you can work at the airport or on the plane and not have to take a day off work. If you have to drive or try and work from the car it can be a lot more difficult. You can also nap and wake up refreshed at your destination instead of exhausted from driving all day.
5.) No stress about traffic, wrecks, driving in rain etc.: There is a big unknown when you drive when it comes to road conditions. There have been may times we got stuck in traffic or behind a bad wreck, losing an hour or more of time. We have also had some pretty stressful weather situations while driving that are unpleasant!
Pro’s for Driving
1.) Don’t have to pay airport transfers: Now that Magical Express is a thing of the past, you have to consider the cost of roundtrip bus or private car transfers when getting from the airport if you are flying or driving to Disney World.
2.) Don’t have to deal with airport antics: Long lines at security. Expensive snacks and food. Finding a plug for your phone. Entertaining your kids. Forgetting to pack your full sized perfume in your checked bag and having it get thrown away. Finding out your bag is over the weight limit and having to pay extra. There are a lot of little stressful things to deal with at an airport that you have to factor in if you choose to fly. In fact, flying can actually take LONGER than driving depending on where you live and if you have a direct flight. Some layovers are several hours, and they coupled with having to arrive early to get through security, and then waiting on a bus that is making multiple stops at hotels before it gets to yours, it may even be faster to drive!
3.) Can bring as much luggage as you want: We like to bring our own alcohol and lots of snacks with us when driving to Disney World to save money, and I like to be able to just throw stuff in the car without having to pack luggage that weighs a certain amount, or trying to remember to not put liquids in a certain bag etc. Just throw it in and go! So much easier for us, especially with a kid. We load down the SUV like the Beverly Hillbillies and love feeling like we have all the things we wanted to bring with us.
4.) Don’t have to use buses/waste time: Oh, the buses. A blessing and a curse. When I am ready to go to a park, I want to get in the car and go. When I am ready to leave a park, I want to get in the car and go. I don’t want to have to hold my kid on my lap with my bag while my husband is standing up holding on to a hand rail for 30 minutes. When we stayed at POP Century the first two days, we arrived at the bus stop an hour before park opening…and the line for the bus was an hour long. I was SO frustrated. People pay way too much money on vacation to spend half of it waiting around. The same thing happened leaving the parks., We were tired, hot, and ready to go. Waited 35 minutes for a bus that we then got squished onto with two VERY drunk 20 somethings that were causing a huge scene. It was miserable. I kept telling Bobby “never again.”
5.) Ubers and rental cars are expensive: Getting a rental car for this past trip was out of the question (it was around $600! More than out flights!) but since we stayed off property part of the time, we did Uber a handful of times. Anyone who Ubers a lot knows that it can be fine or not fine. One time the car smelled so strongly leather cleaner I had a massive headache all day. Another time our driver must have been practicing for a NASCAR race because he drove like a maniac. We also had some great ones, so it’s really hit of miss. One frustration was doing a split stay. So the day we went from POP to an off site house, we had to store our luggage at Pop (waited in another line to do that) and then we took a bus to the park. At the end of the night, we were exhausted. But instead of going straight to our house off property, we had to wait on a bus to go back to Pop, get our luggage, call an Uber, and then take it to the house. The same thing the day we went from the house back on property. When we checked out of the house, we got an Uber to our new hotel, Saratoga Springs, and had them store our luggage, then went from there to the park. If we had a car we could have just loaded up and gone straight to the park with all our stuff in the car. Lesson learned. Also, Ubers can be expensive. What cost us $12 to get to the airport the day we left cost us $54 the day we came home. We ended up finding a Lyft for $34, but still so much more expensive and we had to wait 30 minutes for it, this is after waiting 35 minutes for our luggage to come off the plane.
6.) No stress about canceled or missed flights or connections: This one is a biggie with the way COVID is going right now. Flights are getting cancelled left and right. No one wants to get to the airport to find out their flight was cancelled and now their plans have changed. Even worse, having a delayed flight and missing a connection and getting stuck in an airport (been there, done that, not fun!)
7.) Can easily go to other places off property: If you have your own car, you are not limited to Disney property. Granted you can always get an Uber but that’s pricey. With your own car you can for “free” go to other attractions, or restaurants that you would have a harder time doing if you flew.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when deciding about flying or driving to Disney World. Only you can know what is best for your specific family situation, location, and vacation needs. Personally, we prefer driving to Disney World over flying, but I know it’s not for everyone. I hope this helped in the decision making process. Enjoy your vacation!