View Full Version : Driving to the Parks

TTA Metroliner
06-08-2009, 05:49 PM
How does driving your own vehicle to the parks work? I've always relied on Disney Transportation, but this year with little kids we are driving instead of flying. The kids are too small to stand and wait when the parks close for the buses (and you typically don't get a seat). I've read it's free if staying on property. How does it work, and is that true?

06-08-2009, 06:01 PM
We always drive to WDW, but we don't use our car after we get there unless we are leaving the WDW "campus". We use the buses, boats and monorail exclusively to get to and from the parks, DTD, resorts etc. Especially going to MK, where the WDW buses drop you right off at near the gates. If you drive to MK, you have to park in the distant lot, ride the shuttle to the TTC, then take a boat or monorail to MK. That takes more time than using the buses, even accounting for the wait at the resort. You can drive to each park (parking is free is you are a WDW resort guest) and then take the shuttle trams to the park entrances (all except MK). When you leave the parks, you simply take the shuttle tram back to your area of the parking lot ( but be sure remember which Disney character area you parked in!) and then it's just a short hike to your car.
Some people like driving their car to each park because they don't like waiting on the buses (especially at park closing times), but we have found that little or no time is saved by driving and we actually like parking our car at the resort and not using it again during our "escape" from the real world. Our kids actually enjoy the Disney transportation, even the buses, maybe because we live in a small town where there is no public transportation (& they don't ride the school bus).

06-08-2009, 06:03 PM
It's simple. When staying on site you are given a parking pass for your vehicle so that you do not have to pay for parking each day. Just follow the signs to the park you want to go to. You will be directed by Disney CMs as to where you should park. Once parked, make your way to the polls and wait for a tram. At DHS, DAK, and EPCOT the tram will take you to the front of the park. At MK the tram will take you to the Ticket & Transportation Center where you will then board either the Monorail or the boat to the park. When leaving for the day you'll wait for a tram again and be taken back out into the parking lot. Make sure to write down or text yourself what section of the parking lot you are in each day so you can find your car.

06-08-2009, 06:44 PM
We had always relied on Disney transport, but on this last trip, we drove A LOT more, and I have to say, it is so much easier, and I think we'll drive a lot more in the future.

The parking pass you're given at the resort works for all of the parks too, at the toll booths, the CM's just waved us through once they saw the pass.

A couple of times at Epcot we parked close enough that we could walk to the park, the other times we took the tram. At DHS, we also took the tram (which, gets you WAY closer to the park entrance than the busses do!)

We even drove to MK once, and it was a lot easier than we expected, but we did park close enough to the TTC that we could just walk, instead of having to take a tram.

The real benefit to driving (for us) is at the end of the day, instead of waiting for a crowded bus, we just hopped in the car and were back to the resort in no time. It also made park-hopping real easy.

06-08-2009, 08:37 PM
We always drive to the parks; it works best for us. We always arrive at the parks prior to opening so parking close isn't a problem. We usually have the AAA diamond parking as well. It gives us the freedom to come & go as we please. When the kids were younger, it definately beat waiting for a bus with tired, cranky kids. Many times, the moment they hit their familiar car seat, they were out. DH & I sometimes just drove around sightseeing while they napped. I never wanted to deal with dragging the strollers on & off the busses and having our car prevented this. Parking is free if you're staying on site and we've always found driving to be extremely quick and easy.

06-08-2009, 09:13 PM
On this last trip we drove to the parks except for the first two days. It was so much easier! No long lines to wait in, no crowded bus to stand on just the comfort of your own car. You could get to the park and hotel much faster than on the bus because you dont have to make all the stops along the way too. From now on we are going to drive.

06-09-2009, 11:02 AM
Here's why we love driving:

1) Going to the parks, and park hopping is SO easy, you take a direct route with no lines, no waiting, and no multiple stops (CBR you know I am talking about you).

2) The roads are clearly marked. The giant purple signs make getting around so easy

3) ADRs - feel free to go to MK all day and eat at Cape May Cafe for an ADR dinner, maybe go to Downtown Disney and then back to Epcot for Illuminations without having to figure out what buses to take or going to the TTC and changing buses or any of that hassle.

4) Time - yes sometimes you have to wait for a tram to the lot, but guess what, a wheel chair with a group of 15 won't delay you 15 minutes, the next tram is 2 minutes behind, and then I am off to the next park or my resort in minutes

5) Supplies - I can easily go right outside Disney to Walgreens or the Crossroads, or Publix (wherever you want) to buy snacks, sodas, sun tan lotion, etc and save a ton of money without the mark up at the Resorts.

6) Your personal storage facility - go from MK to Typhoon lagoon and have all of your supplies safe and secure waiting in the trunk. No going back to the resort to change. No 30 minute rides to the Resort and 30 minutes to the park.

7) PURE FREEDOM...My vacation is MY time, and I don't like the idea of losing any of it waiting for buses where I'll have to stand with an 18month old, a stroller, a diaper bag, and my DW. I love to drive, and Disney is my personal favorite to drive in. Just watch out for the orange county cops, its easy to feel like World Drive is the autobahn sometimes :D

06-09-2009, 11:36 AM
weve never driven to the parks, but after reading this thread i may give it a shot in sept

Daddy Mouse
06-09-2009, 01:56 PM
We've done both. When we stayed a ASMo we used Disney Transportation. When we stayed at FW we drove to all the parks except MK. It was quicker using our car than DT. I don't mind the wait for busses, however we never waited ver long for transportation.

06-10-2009, 02:31 PM
7) PURE FREEDOM...My vacation is MY time, and I don't like the idea of losing any of it waiting for buses. I love to drive, and Disney is my personal favorite to drive in. Just watch out for the orange county cops, its easy to feel like World Drive is the autobahn sometimes

Couldn't have said it better myself. Whether renting or driving our own car from Illinois, we wouldn't even consider going to Disney without our own transportation. As mentioned above, ask for a parking pass when you check into your resort, and then just show it at the parking lot entrances and you'll be able to park for free. :mickey:

06-10-2009, 02:43 PM
We have done the transportation both ways with the kids and using your own car is by far much easier than waiting in line for the bus. We started renting or bringing our own car probably the past year or so and will always have one from now on. The ability to come and go as you please, plus being able to explore areas that the busses don't go can be fun. You can get a better idea of how things are laid out when you drive. If you have a dinner reservation at a specific resort it is much easier to drive there than using Disney transport.

06-10-2009, 04:34 PM
I actually timed our average times between Pop Century and the parks, both using the buses and our own car (which we always drive to WDW) on two separate trips, once in May and the other in October.

Except at park closing times (more about that later) our avearge wait for a bus at Pop to depart for a park (always in the early morning) was less about 7 minutes in May, less than 5 minutes in Oct. When we drove to the parks it actually took about 10 minutes longer to get to the security checkpoint at the gates at MK, even though we could leave Pop as soon as we walked to our car, primarily because of the increased time it took to get from our car in the MK parking lot to the TTC by tram, then wait on a monorail, then get to MK. Going to the other parks we averaged about 5-7 minutes less (depending on the length of the wait for the bus) by driving our own car. We always went to parks early in the a.m. when the parking lots were nearly empty, so the tram rides were never very long. driving to parks at other times of day may yield different results.

When leaving the parks (except at closing), we actually averaged almost the exact time getting back to the resort by riding the buses as driving. If we left with the mobs at park closing and had to wait for more than one bus before leaving the parks, it took an average of 10 minutes longer to get back to our resort by bus than by using our own car.

Interestingly though, getting back to Pop from the MK, even when we had to wait for a second bus, took about the same length of time getting back as driving, mainly because the time it took waiting on the second bus (about 20 minutes) is about the same amount of time it takes to get to your car in the MK lot, using the monorail or ferry to the TTC and then the tram to the car. The main difference is that instead of standing still in line, you are either walking or riding for than amount of time, so it doesn't feel like time is being wasted. Of course if you have to wait for more than a 2nd bus, or if there is a problem with the buses (like one year we waited for more than 45 minutes for an All-Stars bus at MK due to mechanical breakdown), your results will be different.

So generally you can save a little bit of time (10 minutes) by driving your own car to most of the parks, especially at the water parks, where the parking lots are not very big, but it won't be a lot of time. At MK, you may or may not save any time at all, due to the distance of the lot from the park entrance. It all comes down to convenience and personal choice. Last year when gas was $4.00+ per gal., I preferred to let Disney burn their fuel and saved mine. I'm glad Disney has the resort to park buses, think how crowded the parking lots at theme parks would be without them!

Disney Doll
06-12-2009, 09:46 AM
We started driving last year when my mom started needing an ECV. There's no way we are going through that hassle on the WDW buses. Because mom has a handicap decal we get the handicap parking and don't have to bother with the tram. It does take a bit more time at MK having to take the boat or monorail, but the convenience of your own vehicle is worth it. We have a toddler and after the trip with mom I can't imagine going without a car. It's really just so much easier. It may not be faster, but it is less stressful and more relaxing for everyone.

06-12-2009, 11:29 AM
We love driving our own car. Like others have said they give you a pass when you check in. We have stayed at POP and the All Stars and the only park that it is actually quicker to take the bus is MK. Even still we drive there becasue we normally plan to eat at one of the monorail hotels. Plus the kids love to ride the monorail.

I will also say this about our driving experience. We generally arrive before open to the parks so we are parking on one of the very front rows. Or we go back late evening and again we normally get a close spot. So this probally cuts down on the transit time.

06-12-2009, 01:21 PM
We usually rent a car for our stay and I find it enhances our vacation quite a bit, especially since we like to park hop and take mid-day siesta back at our resort. We save a fair amount of time when we use our own car. The one location we NEVER drive to however, is Magic Kingdom. IMO, getting to/from the parking lot at MK is a real hassle (ferry or monorail to the TTC and then long walk or shuttle ride to the parking areas). When we go to MK, we always use park transportation or park at Epcot and take the monorail to MK.

We frequently visit water parks during our WDW vacation, and I think having a car makes this a much more doable activity, because it allows us to leave the park we have been visiting and book over to the waterpark without having to go back to the resort, change and then head to a waterpark.