Okay, so you’ve decided that you’re going to go to Disney (duh). You’ve picked your dates, booked your hotel, and thought about where you want to eat & what rides you want to go on. There’s just one thing… how are you getting from insert your location here to Walt Disney World?! I’m still wishing on that star for instant teleportation, but until that happens we’re pretty much stuck with planes, trains, and automobiles. And maybe boats. But most people will either fly down or drive down, and there are pros and cons to both.
Flying to Disney
Hands down, flying is my favorite method of travel. I have been flying since I was a little baby, and I absolutely adore it. I don’t even mind going through security, because flying is just that fun to me.
Aside from that actual joy of flying itself (which can’t be overstated!), I think the biggest benefit to flying is the travel time. Instead of a whole day of travel, you spend a couple hours and you’re there. Easy peasy. Direct flights from Memphis International to Orlando International are just under 2 hours. Add on a couple hours for getting through security and then getting from MCO to the hotel and you’re still only at 1/3 the time it would take to drive from Memphis to Orlando.
Side note: speaking of getting from the airport to the hotel… if you are staying on Disney property and fly into Orlando Interational (aka MCO), you have the option to use Disney’s Magical Express. It’s a complimentary bus shuttle from the airport to the various Disney hotels. All you have to do is set it up in advance, which you can do as soon as you have both a hotel confirmation and your airline information. Super awesome, huh?? But if you’re staying offsite or you fly into Sanford (SFB), you’ll need to rent a car or arrange for other transportation.
Unfortunately, flying comes with a cost. A big cost. Literally. Depending on where you’re flying from, and whether you’re dead set on nonstop or not, and what days you’re flying… it can add up to a lot to fly down to Disney. And that cost is the same for each person in your party, which can easily get over $1000 very quickly. Michael & I are going to Disney in January for marathon weekend (have I mentioned yet that I’m doing Dopey?), and I’ve been obsessively checking ticket prices for months. I managed to find Southwest tickets for only $86/person for the flight down, and I don’t think I’ve ever hit PURCHASE so fast.
Driving to Disney
Let me just start this section by admitting that I would rather have a root canal with no medication than take a road trip longer than 3 hours with my family. I love my family. My family is the best. My family is amazing. My family drives me stark raving bonkers on the road…
We’ve driven to Disney several times. I’ve driven down with Michael, Big J, and my mom. I’ve driven down with Michael and the boys. Once, rather memorably, I drove down with the boys, Heather, Heather’s girls, and her ex. That was a long drive (and some seriously hilarious stories came from it)! I’ve driven down with just Michael. The drive from our area to Disney is about 12 hours – long enough to drag, but short enough that we don’t have to stop overnight or anything.
The biggest pro to driving is the cost. No matter which vehicle we’ve taken, it has never cost more than $200 in gas, max, round trip. Considering I’ve always driven with at least one other person but up to six other people, that’s a ton of savings compared to the cost of us all flying down. When you’re talking about only one person going, it will either be equal cost or could even be cheaper to fly, and when you’re talking about two people it will be cheaper to drive but the time factor might make the cash savings a wash. The big savings come in when you’ve got three or more people going down.
Another nice thing about driving is simply having a car available while you’re down there. If you need to run to Walgreens to pick up some medicine there’s no scramble to find a cab, you already have your car. If you want to go to the outlet malls, bam. Car is ready. There have been so many trips where I’ve never left Disney property, but there have been many trips where we have gone off site for shopping or dining. And shopping leads to another benefit of having a car on hand: you’re not as restricted in what you bring, and what you purchase to bring back. No 3-1-1 rule, no worry about having too many bags or your bags being too heavy.
In the end, there is no right or wrong solution to transportation. Time, cost, distance… plus there are some families out there that actually enjoy road trips together. Every time you’re planning to go to Disney, you’ll want to compare airline tickets and travel time vs cost of gas and how well your toddler can handle the drive. And heck, sometimes you can have it both ways – there have been times that the kids and I flew down while Michael drove with the luggage. I know that whenever I can, I will be flying, but sometimes I’m going to be
stuck in purgatory driving down with my family.