/ Monday, August 20th, 2012

by Caitlin Corsello

So you have decided to book a trip to WDW! Once you stop jumping up and down and celebrating, you are faced with the first decision concerning your trip: how to get there? While there are the two obvious options of flying and driving, the decision is one that still requires some thought. Depending on where you live, either option may be the right choice for you based upon several factors.

The first thing to consider is the amount of time you have allotted for your vacation. If you only have a few days, flying would greatly eliminate travel time and increase the amount of time you are able to spend at Disney. However if you have a longer time period available for your vacation, consider the following things.

First think about who you will be traveling with. Depending on your group, you can decide whether the “road trip experience” is one that is right for your party. More often than not my family chose the eighteen hour drive from New York to WDW because it allowed us to also add in additional vacation stops on our journey. So if your group seems open to experiencing other things along the trip in the form of towns, cities, road side stops where you can purchase fireworks (I’m talking about you South of the Border!), etc, then driving may be the better choice for you.

In addition, if you are a group who is prone to over-packing (guilty!), driving eliminates the stress of ensuring that your bags are under a certain weight to avoid an additional fee. You are also free to pack whatever you like in terms of snacks, beverages, and other conveniences that may not be available if you choose to fly.

If you chose to drive, there is the convenience of then having a vehicle on property with you to use at your own need. Say you forget something and have to venture into Orlando to go to a store; you can easily jump in your car and get there. However, keep in mind that it is unlikely that one might encounter a needed item that you could not obtain on Disney property. The resort gift shops are stocked with plenty of items one might forget or end up needing. You could also use your own vehicle to transport you to the parks where the parking fee is waived if you are a Disney resort guest. Just keep in mind then that you will have to walk a relatively good distance to get to the gates of each park instead of being dropped off right at the entrance. Thus considering whether you would like the convenience of a car on property factors into your transportation decision.

If your group is more likely to favor flying to Disney, several factors should also be considered. First, always check if anyone in your party has any points from either rewards cards or credit cards that can be used on air miles. Often times, these miles can save you a decent amount of money on the flight, and who doesn’t want to save money? Checking various websites throughout the week can also be fruitful in saving money as you can see which days tend to have the lowest fares and opt to book on that day.

Keep in mind that flying also offers several conveniences which may be helpful to your trip. First off, when booking a Disney package, flights can be included in your plan. Regardless of whether you choose to book online or via Disney’s phone service, flights can be added into the package and you will be provided with information about varying fares. Disney also provides Disney’s Magical Express free of charge round trip to and from the airport. This service is a bus which will take you straight from the airport to your resort and also return you to the airport upon departure. The service will also deliver your bags straight to the room and check them into the airline for you.

An additional convenience of flying is that should you choose a very early morning flight, you can be in the parks by mid-day. This allows the option of almost a full day in the parks immediately upon arrival. In addition, when leaving the parks, you could choose a later flight in order to spend a half day in the parks and increase the amount of time you have for attractions, therefore increasing the value of that day’s ticket and avoiding the cost of an additional night at the resort.

Lastly, if you are on a budget like myself, the overall cost of both options should be considered. When driving, depending on the distance to WDW, costs can rack up between gas, food, and any needed hotel stops. Depending on the number of people traveling in your party, this cost may be reasonable when divided amongst a group. When flying, costs can definitely be more expensive, but the need for gas, food on the road, and any needed stops are eliminated. Flying also can provide you with more time in the parks by eliminating overall travel time. The more time you can spend in a park on one day always increases the value of the ticket that you purchased.

While these two options seem fairly obvious, they can be a lot to think about! When trying to choose, I recommend going with what feels most comfortable to you. Talk it over with your group, compare costs, and see which option works best whether it is for convenience or monetary reasons.

Try not to stress; just remember that whichever option you choose will lead you to Disney!

How do you travel to Disney? Any place you have to stop if you choose to drive? Share it in the comments below!


Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.



10 thoughts on “Disney for Twenty Something: Getting to Disney-Driving vs. Flying”

  1. Mary C says:

    Excellent article

  2. Tammy O. says:

    My hubs, sister and her then boyfriend road tripped to WDW a few years ago. The boys wanted to drive, the girls wanted to fly. We should’ve flown. Driving straight through from PA with four people + luggage in a car was exhausting and mostly boring despite our fully loaded ipod. All we wanted to do was get to the parks, but we were tired and cranky and arrived late at night. Having to drive back home after all the fun we had was none too exciting either. We have flown on all of our trips since then. Magical Express is the BEST. Love being able to check in, not have to worry about our bags and just heading right into the parks!

  3. Baconator says:

    I think age of the children also plays into the decision. Sometimes having a car with you is better in case your small child needs anything that they might not stock at the resorts or in the event that one of those wonderful childhood illness pop-up at the most inconvenient times and you need a pharmacy or walk-in medical facility.

  4. Nicole says:

    We just drove from Ct this past May. There were four adults and the drive was ok. I had wanted to plan things out a little more, bring more snacks and that sort of thing. I had wanted to plan how we were getting there and who was going to drive. But the boys felt it would be MORE FUN if we winged it.. Yup you can guess all the fun we had.. We laughed at all the road signs for South of the Border.. and then there was the little shack well lite in a field that was Miss Kitty’s.. At three am that seems very funny to two 28 ish boys.. But all in all the ride went well. We arrived at Pop Century around 8 am and eat and since the rooms were ready we dropped off the stuff then hit the parks.
    I liked not being rush to have to make it to the airport on time and to make sure we had the weight right. One of the guys bought a few Lego items and we had no problem getting them home. The ride home we broke up the driving more and that worked better. Since we were going down for SWW there was a lot of Star Wars talk. and when the guys went into major geek speak about computers I had my pod casts to listen to.
    We’re planning on going back down again this May and will be driving again. But we will be doing a lot more planning and bringing more snacks and sandwiches then last year. this is not a drive I would do with my girls it is too long almost 23 hours. But since one of the Guys with us in May is like BA from the A Team about flying it is better to drive. that and we have a car on property and we save money as well. You do loose a day on each end of the trip for travel but it is worth it. I was also going through one of the WDW trivia books on the way down too ..

  5. Dusten says:

    Just an FYI, if you ever need to go to the dr or hospital while staying onsite Disney provides complimentary transportation to/from.
    Flying seems to work better with small children as kids get older they can occupy themselves better. Comparing fly vs drive really depends on $$$ you allocate to vacations, once i got past spending $3000 on a vacation, flying totally made sense, 2 days in disney vs 2 days on the road was a no-brainer so don’t forget the value of your time. We also have groceries, especially bottled water and juice delivered on every trip, forgot a hair dryer last trip, ordered from walmart w/ rush delivery sunday night and had it tuesday. Anybody know if you can get prescriptions filled/delivered on disney property?

  6. Caitlin says:

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    @Baconator- Having children with you definitely impacts your choice. In terms of a child getting sick, you can have a doctor be called to your room on site. I’ve done this when I came down with the chicken pox there.

    @Dusten- One on of my previous trips a family member became ill and needed a prescription. While we did have a doctor with us who called it in to a local pharmacy, the pharmacy did deliver it to the resort room within hours for a fee.

    @Nicole- You are definitely right in that the choice depends on who you are flying with. Plus it’s also nice to not worry about fitting all of your purchases in your suitcase to go home!

  7. I’ve done both and like either for different reasons.

    Flying- I did this for the first time last year with my boyfriend! It was amazing to wake up in the morning of the day we left home for WDW and think, “We’ll be eating LUNCH at Columbia Harbor House, then head over to Haunted Mansion in just a few hours.” We are going again in November and chose the flying option. It actually works out cheaper this way with just the 2 of us.

    Driving- This is what I’ve done with my family for all previous WDW vacations. It was a blast; lots of laughs! I would totally do this again, but I hate being the driver, so unless I’m going with my dad who doesn’t let anyone else drive, I don’t know if I can plan on driving down any time soon again! I like the added security of leaving when you want. We always say, “We can always stay an extra day if we need to.” We’ve always had 4 people, whether it be my older brother, my cousin, or my boyfriend coming along, so this way was always the cheaper option at the time.

  8. LeeAnn says:

    We fly! My kids (10 & 11) love to fly, and are good travelers in the car. Why do we fly? We get to head straight to the parks on arrival, on the same day we left home! No waiting, instant WDW! (And we don’t have to worry about “someone” getting us lost in the car…)

  9. Caitlin Corsello says:

    Angie and LeeAnn– I definitely agree that one of the nicest parts of flying is you’ll be in the parks in just a few short hours! The last time I flew, I remember waking up and immediately thinking, I’ll be on Spaceship Earth in 4 hours!!

  10. Caitlin Corsello says:

    Angie- Also, when in November will you be in WDW? That’s the next time I’ll be there too!