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How Disney World car rental works (discounts, tips, & more)

How Disney World car rental works (discounts, tips, & more)

Sometimes having a car at Disney World makes sense.

Sure, you can use Disney transportation, but what if you want to go off property?

We rent a car for Disney World several times a year, and through all those experiences we’ve learned a thing or two that we think can help you if you’re planning to rent a car on your next trip.

In this post, we are going to cover everything you need to know about how Disney World car rental works – from how to get the best price, to what to expect when you hit the road.

Let’s get started…

Disney World car rental prices

Oh, the allure of freedom on a Disney World vacation—nothing screams “I’m the king of my castle” more than cruising down the road in your rental car, choosing your own destiny (or, at least, which Disney park to conquer next).

But before you put the pedal to the metal, let’s tap the brakes and talk dollars and cents.

Daily Rental Rates

So, you’re probably wondering, “Just how much does it cost to rent a car for Disney World?” The good news is that you’ve got choices, from the ultra-economic “I’m not sure this car will make it another mile” variety to the “I must be Disney Royalty” luxury options.

Generally, when renting a car for Walt Disney World, you’re looking at anywhere from $30 to $200 a day. Just remember: You usually get what you pay for, and while there is definitely some appeal to paying a bit less, the less expensive options might also be the ones where the cars aren’t super reliable, they smell like cigarette smoke (we’ve had that happen before, and it is not fun), or the agency is located in an inconvenient location and not at the airport.

hertz rental counter mco

All that to say, do your research before you commit and make sure that the agency’s reviews match its prices.

Other fees

In addition to the base daily rate, there are also going to be other fees associated with renting a car:

Insurance

Some folks opt for the peace of mind that insurance provides, while others gamble on getting the car dropped back off no worse for the wear.

Whether or not you choose to purchase insurance will depend on a few things. First, if you already have car insurance, that may cover you in a rental car, so definitely check your policy before you spring for something you don’t need. Plus, many credit card companies also offer rental car insurance if you use their card to reserve and pay for your rental. You can usually find that info on the website for your credit card company.

If you do decide to spring for the insurance, make sure you understand what you are getting and how much it will cost.

Options range from liability to full-coverage, and prices can vary widely, so you’ll want to compare that coverage to what your own car insurance and credit card might already cover.

Other misc. fees

Let’s not forget, my friends, the hidden world of “additional fees.”

Things like fuel charges, additional driver fees, and tolls. Between the extra fees and the hard upsells, you may find your total cost rising significantly. Be sure to read the fine print and ask questions—lots of questions—so you aren’t surprised when you get that final bill.

How to find the best Disney car rental prices

In our minds, the more money we save on things like rental cars, the more we’ll have to spend on the REALLY important things, like Dole Whips.

dollar rental counter

The good news is that in our experience, Orlando has some of the best car rental prices anywhere. It isn’t hard to get a good deal. It just takes a little work.

General advice

Want to get the best deal on your Disney World car rental?

When renting a car, the best advice is to book a fully refundable fare (as far out as you can) when the cost fits your budget and then check back often to see if the prices drop. 

As long as your fare is refundable, you can cancel and re-book as many times as you’d like, making it easy to snag the best price possible.

Daily car rental prices tend to go down once you rent for a week. For the best deals, make sure you compare prices between renting for a few days vs. a full week, even if you only need the car for part of your trip.

Use discount codes

Promo codes, discount codes, and membership offers are your Fairy Godmother in the world of rental car savings. Are you a AAA member? What about Costco? Check these and other memberships you may not even remember signing up for. Trust me, they’re worth their weight in Mickey bars when it comes to bringing down the price.

Mousesavers

When looking for valid discount codes for a Disney World car rental, Mousesavers is a great resource. They always seem to have the best Orlando-specific codes for all the major rental car companies.

You can find the list of current codes on their rental car discount code page

Costco

If you’re a Costco member, be sure to check the Costco discount rental car codes for prices. Discounts are available for Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise.

And with the Costco Alamo code, you get an additional driver for free.

Autoslash

Autoslash is a handy (and free) resource for tracking your car rental for price drops. In some instances, it can even automatically re-book your reservation for you.

We’ve had mixed results with having our reservations automatically re-booked for us, but since the Autoslash service is free to use, we think it is worth it to check it out.

Hotwire

This site often has prices that are hard to beat. Be sure to check Hotwire car rentals as you compare prices.

Rent at the airport OR at Disney World

Alright, now that we’ve talked cold hard cash, let’s move on to the riveting world of convenience and locations—because nothing says vacation like, well, convenience.

At the beginning of a trip you may not be as concerned about where you pick up your car because you’ll be full of energy, but at the end of a trip when you’re worn out from all the fun you’ve had, you’ll definitely be thankful you considered the pick-up and drop locations.

Renting a car at Orlando International Airport (MCO)

If you are flying into Orlando and you intend to drive for your entire trip, you will likely be renting a car at the airport.

All of the big names in car rental agencies are found at Orlando International Airport (MCO). You’ll also find several lesser known brands.

Keep in mind that the lesser known brands may have better prices, but they may not have the same resources available if you run into any issues. Because of that, we recommend sticking with one of the major brands.

Rental car agencies inside Orlando International Airport (MCO)

The agencies located inside of MCO are the most convenient. You won’t have to worry about a shuttle, which makes dropping off and picking up a bunch less stressful.

Car rental agencies available inside Orlando International Airport (* indicates major brand):

Rental car agencies with a shuttle

Most of the least expensive options will be offsite and not actually located at the airport. For these agencies, you’ll need to take a shuttle to and from the airport, so be sure to take that travel time into account when making plans.

You can find the shuttles for the agencies below at:

  • Terminal A: Level 1 (Ground Transportation) in spaces A11-A13
  • Terminal B: Level 1 (Ground Transportation) in spaces B11-B13
  • Terminal C: Level 1 (Ground Transportation) in spaces C277-C278

Agencies available nearby via shuttle service:

  • Action Car Rental
  • Advantage
  • Americars MCO LLC
  • APM Car Rental
  • Bandago Rent A Van
  • Best Rate Rent A Car
  • CA Car Rental
  • Carl’s Rent A Van
  • Clubs Car Rental
  • Easirent Car Rental
  • Economy Rent A Car
  • Flex Rent A Car
  • Florida Van Rentals
  • Fly Car Rental
  • Fox Rent a Car
  • Global Car Rental
  • Green Motion Rental
  • GS Car Rental
  • Inbocars
  • JC Car Rental
  • Mex Rent A Car
  • Nextcar of Orlando
  • OC Car Rental
  • One Switch Rent a Car
  • Reliant Rental Car LLC
  • Rent a Car 4 Less
  • RJ Car REntal
  • Roam of Orlando
  • Routes Car Rental
  • RROA Car Rental
  • Seven Auto Finance
  • Surprice Car Rentals
  • York Car Rentalsl
  • You Turist Car Rental
  • Zezgo Orlando

Renting a car at Orlando Sanford International Airport

Most major car rental companies offer car rental at Sanford.

Those include:

  • Advantage
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Thrifty

There is also a shuttle available to Discount Mobility for handicap-accessible vehicles.

Renting a car on Disney World property

If you are only planning to use a car for part of your trip, it might make sense to rent from an agency near or on Disney property.

Disney Car Care Center

Many people don’t know that there is a full-service automotive facility right on Disney property.

Located near the Transportation and Ticket Center, this is a very handy spot if you need your car repaired, some gas, or even roadside assistance.

Rental car agencies available: Enterprise, National, and Alamo
Phone number: (407) 824-3470
Car Care Center Alamo Rent a Car, Enterprise, and National Car Rental desk operating hours:

  • 7:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday – Friday
  • 7:00 am – 7:00 pm Saturday & Sunday

If staying on Disney property, complimentary shuttle service to and from the Car Care Center is provided.

You can either be picked up and dropped off at your resort OR one of the theme parks:

  • Magic Kingdom park: Transportation & Ticket Center
  • EPCOT: Taxi stand
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Bus parking charter C-59
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom park: Rideshare stand
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach: In front of main Guest entrance
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: In front of main Guest entrance
  • Disney Springs area: Lynx bus stop outside of Cirque Du Soleil
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports: In front of the main entrance
disney world car care center map

To schedule a pickup time, call: (407) 824-3470 ext. 1, at least 2 hours before pickup is needed.

This location also offers an after-hours vehicle return if you need to drop off your car outside their normal business hours. No shuttle is available after hours, so you’d need to plan on using a service like Uber to get you where you need to be.


Disney Springs resort area

There are 2 resorts in or near the Disney Springs resort area that offer rental car services.

Shuttles are sometimes available for these (call to inquire) or you can take a bus to Disney Springs and then walk over OR use an Uber/taxi to go directly to the hotel.

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Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista

Rental car agency available: Avis
Phone number: (407) 827-2847
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Avis Rental Car operating hours:

  • 7:30 am – 6:00 pm Monday – Friday
  • 7:30 am – 6:00 pm Saturday & Sunday

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Double Tree Suites

Rental car agency available: Budget
Phone number: (407) 827-6089
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Avis Rental Car operating hours:

  • 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday – Friday
  • 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Saturday & Sunday

How to get from the airport to Disney World

Best routes from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Disney World

If you are driving from home to Walt Disney World, you have probably already mapped out your route.

For those flying into Orlando, you may not have thought much about getting from the airport to the Walt Disney World Resort, which is roughly 30 minutes away.

There are 2 main ways to get from MCO to Walt Disney World. There are other routes that may have you avoiding toll roads, but these roads will also be more congested and more likely to have construction issues.

If you are first-time driver (or an infrequent driver) in Orlando, we recommend you stick with the toll roads. It is well worth the few dollars to avoid the traffic.

Option 1: SR 528 (Beachline – or B-Line – Expressway)

  • Pro: Cheaper. You’ll pay less in tolls.
  • Con: Often more congested and you have to connect to I-4.

Option 2: SR 417 (Central Florida Greeneway)

  • Pro: Less traffic. You’ll avoid the I-4 congestion.
  • Con: More expensive. You’ll pay slightly more in tolls.
WDW-Routes-01

Best route from Sanford International Airport (SFB) to Disney World

To get from Sanford to Disney World, you’ll either need to take I-4 or the tollway. Like the 2 Disney World routes, you’ll have to choose between congestion on I-4 and save on tolls, or you can choose the tollway which will be less traffic but cost a bit of money.

Toll roads

If driving to or around the Walt Disney World resort, you can anticipate coming across toll roads.

Toll Booth

The toll roads around Disney World use the SunPass system and many are unmanned and offer only an “Express Lane” and an “Exact Coin” lane.

For anybody with a car (either a rental or your own) we highly recommend you use either the Visitor Toll Pass system or SunPass.

Visitor Toll Pass

Visitor Toll Pass is a free, temporary toll pass that works on the toll roads throughout Florida.

There are no activation fees, users are guaranteed to pay the lowest rates (as opposed to the costly programs available from car rental companies), and you can easily reserve it via an app on your smartphone.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Reserve your hangtag pass via the Visitor Toll Pass app
  2. Once you arrive to the Orlando International Airport, look for the Visitor Toll Pass vending machines located on Level 1 of Terminal A.
Visitor Toll Pass vending machine map

3. Open up the app on your phone, and select “Scan QR Code” on the reservation screen to retrieve your pass.
4. After you get to your car, hang the pass off your review mirror.
5. At the end of your vacation, simply drop your hangtag into one of the Visitor Toll Pass drop boxes. NOTE: Failure to return the pass will result in a $10 fee.

Visitor Toll Pass dropbox locations map

Using SunPass

In some instances (like for frequent visitors), it may make more sense to purchase your own Sunpass that you can take with you.

SunPass transponders can be purchased in Florida at many places including CVS and Publix. SunPass transponders can also be purchased online.

Note: Many turnpike systems are now interlinked, so if you have a transponder for the turnpike system in your area, make sure you check to see if your local toll system works with SunPass.

Paying as you go

Most visitors will pay their tolls as they go and should be prepared with adequate and exact change.

Roughly speaking, it will likely cost about $3-4 in tolls each way. We recommend that you bring with you $8-$10 worth of quarters to cover this cost.

Just to be sure, you can use the toll rate calculator to figure out how much you can expect to pay in tolls.

Beware of daily fees

Most of the rental car agencies offer a “deal” in which they will let you use their SunPass transponder for a daily fee.

Be wary of this!

In most cases you are charged the daily fee every day of your rental in addition to the cost of the tolls.

The fees vary from $3.95 per day all the way up to $10.49 per day. Considering the cost of the tolls is around $3.00 to $4.00 each way, you can see that their “deal” could wind up being a huge expense for you.

To compare the fees that each agency charges, you can visit the SunPass website

Beware of gas price gouging

There have been recent reports of price gouging at some of the gas stations closest to the airport. When refilling your tank before your return flight home, we suggest that you use an app like GasBuddy (iOS and Android) or Gas Guru (iOS and Android).

Using an app like that will ensure that you find the best price on your route to the airport. If you plan to exit the tollway, be sure you plan ahead and have enough change for your tolls.

Reasons to rent a car at Disney World

There are many reasons you might consider renting a car at Disney World.

Puts you in control

If you aren’t the kind of person that likes to wait, having a car makes it easier to just “go”. You won’t have to wait for a bus or for boat or monorail or Skyliner. You are in total control of when you leave.

Going offsite

If your vacation includes a trip to anywhere off property (like Universal, Kennedy Space Center, a beach, etc.) you’ll need a way to get there.

You can take Uber, a taxi, or shuttle service, but if you are planning multiple trips off property, a rental car might be a better (and more economical) option.

Save money on food

Having a car means you can cut down on food costs by eating a few meals at one of the many restaurants just outside of Disney’s gates.

If you didn’t schedule a grocery delivery, having a car makes it easy to visit a grocery store where you can buy things like snacks and water to carry with you into the park.

Place to sit after a long day

Sure, the Disney buses are a great option, but when they are full, you might find yourself standing.

Having your own car means you always have a place to sit at the end of a long day. This is especially nice if you have young children.

Having your own car provides a much-needed escape pod where you can decompress, enjoy some AC, and relish a few minutes of non-Disney radio (or Disney radio if you can’t get enough—no judgment here).

Tips when renting a car for Disney World

Take Advantage of the Option to Skip Lines

Most major rental car agencies allow you to pre-complete your rental contracts, which typically will allow you to spend less time at the counter or even skip the line altogether, and go directly to your car. This can be a huge time saver in Orlando, where the rental car counters often have long lines.

alamo kiosk mco

Book in Advance but Continue to Shop Around

Prices for rental cars can be more favorable if you book several weeks ahead of your trip. However, keep monitoring rates, as they can fluctuate. Some companies allow you to cancel and rebook without a penalty if you find a lower rate.

Compare Multiple Providers

Don’t limit your search to just one rental agency. Use comparison websites and also check for rates directly on the rental companies’ websites. Off-site rental locations may offer more competitive rates, but factor in the convenience and cost of getting there.

Choose the Appropriate Car Size

Select a vehicle that fits your needs in terms of passenger and luggage capacity. Larger vehicles may offer more comfort but usually consume more fuel, so consider your priorities carefully.

Document the Vehicle Condition

Before leaving the rental lot, inspect the car for any existing damage like dents or scratches. Take photos as a record so that you’re not held responsible for them when you return the vehicle.

Decline Unnecessary Extras

Rental agencies may offer add-ons like GPS, toll passes, or additional insurance. Evaluate whether you need these services or if you can manage without them to save money.

Understand the Fuel Policy

Review the fuel policy of the rental agency. Options usually include pre-purchasing a tank of fuel from the agency or returning the vehicle with a full tank. Full-to-full policies are often the most economical.

Know Disney World Parking Rates and Locations

Familiarize yourself with the cost and locations of parking within Disney World to plan your trips more efficiently. Parking fees can add up, so include them in your budget.

Confirm Drop-Off Locations

Be clear on where the vehicle needs to be returned to avoid any last-minute location change fees. Some rental agreements may permit you to drop off the vehicle at a different location but at an extra charge.

Review All Fees

Additional fees, like taxes and insurance, can substantially inflate the final cost of the rental. Confirm all charges before finalizing your booking.

Consider Membership Programs

Some rental companies offer loyalty programs that provide perks such as quicker pick-up processes or free upgrades. These programs are often free to join and can make your rental experience more efficient.

Walt Disney World car rental FAQs

Have questions about renting a car at Walt Disney World? We have answers!

Is it necessary to rent a car for a Walt Disney World vacation?

A: Renting a car is not strictly necessary, as Disney World offers multiple transportation options including buses, monorails, and boats. However, having a rental car provides flexibility, especially if you plan to visit locations outside the Disney property..

Q: Is parking free at Disney World hotels?

A: Yes, parking is free at Disney World Resort hotels.

Q: How much does it cost to park at the Disney World theme parks?

A: Parking fees at Disney World theme parks starts at $25 per day for Standard parking. Preferred parking, which is closer to the entrances, is available at a higher rate and typically starts at around $40. Get all the parking at Disney World details.

Q: Can I drop off my rental car on Disney property?

A: There are limited options for dropping off rental cars directly on Disney property. It’s advisable to consult with your specific rental agency for detailed drop-off instructions and available locations.

Q: Do rental car agencies offer shuttle services to Disney World?

A: Some off-site rental agencies may offer shuttle services to Disney World. However, you would need to confirm this directly with the agency and be aware that this might limit your pick-up and drop-off times.

Q: What should I consider when choosing a car size?

A: Choose a car based on the number of passengers, the amount of luggage you’ll have, and your planned activities. A compact car may be more fuel-efficient, while an SUV may offer more comfort and storage space for all the bags filled with Disney souvenirs.

Q: Are one-way rentals possible?

A: Many rental agencies allow for one-way rentals, but there is often an additional fee for this service. Check with the agency for specific rates and drop-off locations.

Q: What type of insurance do I need?

A: Most rental agencies offer a variety of insurance options, including collision damage waiver (CDW) and liability insurance. But don’t forget, your personal auto insurance or credit card company may offer coverage for rental cars so be sure you check with those before you spend extra money you may not need to.

Q: Are there age restrictions for renting a car?

A: Generally, the minimum age to rent a car in Florida is 21, although some agencies may have a minimum age of 25. Drivers under 25 may incur an additional “young driver” fee.

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Have any tips for a Disney World car rental? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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