Most of us have heard that Disney’s Magical Express is gone now. This is unfortunate, as this transportation option took Disney guests from Orlando International Airport to their Disney resort hotel, and not only was it actually magical, it was also 100% free. It was one of the major perks of staying in a Disney resort for those who were flying in, and we certainly are sad to see it go.
Of course, people aren’t going to stop visiting Walt Disney World Resort simply because the Disney Magical Express service went away. No, they will find a way to get to their hotel rooms, so they can continue to have their magical vacations.
To do this, many will turn to rental cars.
On the surface, a rental car does seem like a logical solution. You can pick it up and drop it off at the airport, and with a car of your own, you will have complete control over when you come and go.
That said, a rental car might not be as wonderful as it seems. Why? Well, there are a number of factors at play that come together to make renting a car at Walt Disney World Resort a much more expensive and difficult experience than not renting one might be.
Below, we’ll outline each of these factors, so you can make the most informed decision possible.
Rental Costs are High
First and foremost, we must give you a heads-up that rental costs are extremely high at the moment. The biggest reason for this is the fact that so many rental cars were sold off and not replaced during the pandemic.
We can’t really blame the rental car companies. Demand was low, and the car shortage made it more difficult than usual to acquire vehicles when demand picked back up. These facts don’t make the costs any more bearable for folks like us, though.
We also anticipate that we will see prices in the Orlando area go up even more. Why? Because no Disney World Magical Express means more demand for rental cars, of course. And we all know that more demand means an increase in price.
You Won’t Need the Car Once on Property
Another great argument for skipping the rental car? It really isn’t necessary. Once you arrive on Disney property, there is really no reason you should have to leave Walt Disney World Resort property for the duration of your trip. Groceries can be delivered to the Disney hotels, there are laundry facilities on-site, the gift shop sells most necessities, and the Walt Disney Company provides transportation via monorail, bus, boat, and Disney Skyliner to all of the on-property attractions.
For many people, this means the rented car will only end up sitting in a resort parking lot unused. Considering you’re paying by the day to have the car, this seems like a gigantic waste, especially when rental prices are higher than usual.
You Might End Up Waiting More and Walking More
Let’s say you do rent a car and use it to drive yourself to the parks. Would this save you time or energy? Honestly, probably not.
Those who drive their own vehicles to the parks will be put into the gigantic theme park parking lots. Much of the time, these are partially full very early in the day, and the front parts of the lots tend to be used for “preferred” and handicapped parking anyway.
This means you won’t be at the front of the lot without paying extra to be there, which in turn means you will either need to wait to ride the tram or walk the long distance to the park entrance. Additionally, those who drive to the Magic Kingdom have to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center, meaning they also have to ride the monorail or ferry boat before they even arrive at the park gate (and then go back the same way when they leave later).
On the other hand, those who choose to take Disney transportation from their Disney resort hotel to the parks will be dropped off much closer to the entry, meaning there will almost certainly be less walking and waiting involved, something that will definitely help improve your Disney experience.
You’ll Have to Pay Parking Fees
There once was a time when Disney Resort hotel Guests didn’t have to pay for parking while on Disney property. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. While registered Guests of Disney Resort hotels do not have to pay for theme park parking, they do have to pay for parking at their hotel. The fee ranges from $15 for Value Resorts to $25 for Deluxe Resorts, and it can really add up when you’re staying for more than a couple of days.
If you rent a car, you will be stuck paying this nightly rate. Meanwhile, those who choose other forms of transportation save on all of those parking fees, meaning they’ll be able to grab a few extra snacks or souvenirs instead!
Related: 10 Tips and Secrets for Saving Money at Disney World
There are Other Options
Clearly, a rental car is not the way to go. Fortunately, there are other airport transportation options out there. If you’re trying to figure out how to get to your Disney hotel from the Orlando airport without the Disney World Magical Express bus, you might try one of the Magical Express replacement options listed below:
- Ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft
- A traditional taxi
- Mears Connect shuttles by Mears Transportation
- A town car or limo service, like Happy Limo or Quicksilver
- The Sunshine Flyer shuttle (starts February 1st, 2022)
Now that you know the best ways to get from Orlando International Airport to the hotel and back again, you can book the most suitable option for you and move on to planning the more fun aspects of your Disney vacation!