Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Which is the Most Affordable Way to Get to Disney World?
Planning an affordable Disney vacation involves, at some point, a decision about transportation. How are you going to get to Walt Disney World? And how are you going to get around once you get there? While it can be a challenge to travel economically, planning ahead and doing a bit of research can save you quite a bit of money on your trip.
Flying is probably the most popular choice for transportation, but getting the best price requires you to plan ahead and to be persistent about checking rates. You will probably get the lowest airfares 4 months out and then again possibly 6-8 weeks in advance. If you wait and book within the last 2 weeks, you will pay the most.
You may also save money if you can fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday when the fares are cheapest…and try to avoid Friday and Sunday nights when they are usually the most expensive. You should also register with the website of each airline that you are considering flying with, so that you are eligible for any email promotions that they send out. Another tip is to look at nearby airports such as Tampa, Jacksonville, and the smaller Sanford, for cheaper airfare. You can also see if you have choices for your home airport, as it is not unusual to be able to save money by flying from a different airport.
Folks along the East Coast may want to consider taking the train as a fun transportation option for an affordable Disney vacation. If you do this, you will have several options for both trains as well as seats/accommodations. On Amtrak’s basic trains, there will be a number of stops along the way, so be sure to look at the estimated travel time on the train schedule so you will know what to expect. You can also try the Amtrak Autotrain, which travels between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL. On this train you can take your car with you, and arrive in Florida ready to drive away.
On every train, you will be able to choose whether you want to purchase just a seat…the least expensive option…or get an entire compartment, which may be a bit more comfortable, and can be very fun. If you get just a seat, you will want to make sure you are comfortable sleeping upright for the entire night. But don’t rule out a compartment at first, because it may be possible to get one for a very affordable price, if you plan ahead. Always at least check!
Most of the time, if you drive, you will probably save money, although with rising gas prices, make sure you compare the cost of several tanks of gas (and possibly a night in a motel along the way) with the cost of airfare to be sure. But if you choose to drive, you will also save money on other things as well. By driving, you won’t need a rental car. And having your car will allow you to pack things like food, snacks etc. Plus, if you are bringing little ones, bringing your own stroller will save you the cost of renting one while at Walt Disney World.
Now what about when you arrive in Disney World? If you plan to stay in a Walt Disney World resort property, you will be able to use their free Magical Express bus service from Orlando Airport to your hotel and back. And you will also be able to take advantage of Disney’s network of buses, boats, and monorails to get from your hotel to the parks.
However, if you are staying off property, or wish to travel away from Disney to other locations, you will probably want to rent a car. You will find several rental car companies at the Orlando Airport, and to get the best possible price you should expect to check their rates early and often. Be sure to register as a “preferred renter” on each website to get money-saving discounts. And when you find a good rate, book it. The nice thing is, if you find a better rate later on, there is no penalty for cancellation. When it comes to saving money on a rental car, persistence definitely will pay off.
Travel to Disney World can be much less expensive than you might expect, if you are able to do some research and planning. And by saving money on your transportation, you will find that you can actually have a far more affordable Disney vacation than you might expect. It is said that the journey is half the fun: why not make that journey fun, and affordable?