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.