Renting a Car at Walt Disney World
My focus is on car rentals and Walt Disney World.
RENTING A CAR AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
My basic advice for first time visitors to Walt Disney World is that they ought not to rent a car, but rather should use Disney’s Magical Express instead.
Why? First, you’ll save hundreds of dollars. Orlando rental car costs vary with the time of the year, the length of the rental, any discount or coupon codes you might have, and the size and capacity of the vehicle, but you’ll always pay more than you would for the free Magical Express, and then the free transport within Disney World itself.
Second, you’ll avoid getting lost. Disney World is pretty well signed given its complexity, but getting just a little bit off track can make it hard to find your resort if you don’t have a good mental map of where it is compared to some of the major, well-signed landmark locations.
That said, a rental car can make getting everywhere except the Magic Kingdom faster (if you don’t get lost), can make it easier to get to Harry Potter and to lower-cost shopping venues, and can make it easier to go from your hotel to another hotel—e.g. for dinner—which, depending on where you stay and where you are going, can be hard to do using Disney transportation.
So for those pursuing a rental car, here’s some thoughts
ONE LAST TIME DOUBLE CHECK WHETHER YOU REALLY NEED A RENTAL, AND FOR HOW LONG
Depending on the time of the year and how long you are staying, a cab, car service, or shuttle may be a cheaper way to travel from and to the airport, or to a grocery/liquor store, than a rental (and their prices are usually the same year round, rather than skyrocketing during the busy times.)
If you just really need a car for a day or two—for Harry Potter, restocking the chardonnay, visiting the outlet malls–Disney’s on site car rental service will rent you a car for a day or two—and pick you up from your Disney resort to get to the car, and drive you back to your hotel when you are done.
TARGET THE SMALLEST RENTAL CAR YOU CAN FIT
While there are sometimes exceptions, in general the smaller the car, the less expensive it is.
You won’t be spending more than 20 minutes in your rental on most of your trips—and on only one of them will you have your bags. (Just one—the trip from the airport—because you can check your bags at your Disney World resort for your flight back.)
Given this, you likely can rent a smaller car than you are used to at home—although this may mean that due to lack of trunk space, the drive in from the airport may require some bags to ride in laps.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE
You will be pressed to buy insurance from the rental company which can be inordinately expensive.
In almost all cases this is an expensive waste of money, as your current insurance policy will cover you for normal accident costs while you are driving a rental car, and you should firmly say that you are declining all coverages. (But see below for “LOU”.)
Your insurance, however, may not cover you in rental cars—unlikely, but possible–or may have exceptions for certain fancier or speedier options. So call and double check before you go.
Also check for coverage of “Loss of Use” (“LOU”) charges.
If you are in an accident, some rental car companies will threaten you with additional penalties that most insurance won’t cover–LOU. These are charges to your credit card of the car’s daily (undiscounted) rental rate while it is being repaired, to make up for the revenue lost to the rental car company from its inability to rent the car while it’s being repaired.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a scam meant to scare you into buying the rental car company’s overpriced additional coverage. But check to see if your policy will cover it—likely not—and consider your accident record, including dings that you may not care about but that a rental company would, before deciding to skip the coverage.
WORK AT FINDING A DEAL
When your dates are set, use a source like expedia.com to check base rates. Don’t even consider prices from companies you’ve never heard of, or that don’t have cars in the terminal. While I’m sure some of these are fine at least some of the time, I have yet to use an off-site rental that makes me think the cost savings was worth the inconvenience and hard-sell on insurance.
Then start looking for a deal. The basics are memberships, coupons, and codes.
Other have already covered this terrain—see MouseSavers.com for great stuff on renting cars and getting deals on them, and Steve Bloom’s post on TouringPlans.com that both covers the basics on getting deals and also adds a less common strategy.
And, as Mary notes, once you have a deal, keep checking, as an even better one may emerge!
SOME FINAL TIPS
If you are watching every penny and don’t have a tight schedule on the day of your return, don’t pre-pay your gas. Instead, stop at one of the Hess stations at Disney World to fill up before you return to the airport.
Inspect your car carefully—including the roof—for damage before you leave the rental lot. Report any you see. Some people even make videos to prove that damage was there when they rented their car. If you don’t note any existing damage before you leave the lot, you may end up paying for it.
The Orlando Airport has two terminals, A and B, and identical rental car facilities at both. When you return, follow the signs your departing airline’s terminal, and use the return facilities there.
MORE ADVICE AND HELP ON RENTING A CAR AND GETTING A DISCOUNT
MouseSavers.com has lots of great stuff on renting cars and getting deals on them.
Steve Bloom’s post on TouringPlans.com covers the basics on getting deals and adds a less common strategy.
MORE FROM MAGICAL BLOGORAIL TEAL
Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Teal this month. We will be back Tuesday, March 27th with an all new theme.
Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
- 1st Stop ~ The Disney FAITHful
- 2nd Stop ~ Disney Lovin’ Spectrum Mom
- 3rd Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
- 4th Stop ~ Heidi’s Head
- Final Stop ~ yourfirstvisit.net