Theme Park Insider

What's the best place to stay in Orlando, when you want to get around easily?

August 19, 2017, 11:36 AM · Where should you stay when you visit the Orlando theme parks? Let's focus today on one of the many important elements you will want to consider in making your decision — transportation. Where can you stay that will make it as convenient and inexpensive as possible to get around to see everything you want to see in Central Florida?

You can avoid a great deal of the Orlando area's transportation hassle by selecting the right "home base" for your theme park vacation. Where the right place is for you, though, will depend upon what you most want to see and experience when you visit.

Orlando's theme parks sprawl over hundreds of square miles. The drive from Disney's Animal Kingdom to Universal Studios Florida is about 14 miles — much of it on Florida's traffic-choked Interstate 4. The trip can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, one-way, in normal traffic, and that's not counting time spent waiting to get out of and into the parking lots.

Speaking of... parking costs $20 a day at the major Orlando area theme parks. Parking is free at Walt Disney World's on-site hotels, but you'll have to pay to park at Universal's hotels and some hotels near the Orange County Convention Center. Public transportation in the area is highly segmented — you can find convenient options within specific resorts and commercial districts, but getting from one to another can be difficult, if not impossible, via public transit.

Rental cars and ride-sharing services, such as Lyft and Uber, are abundantly available. But if you're planning to catch an Uber out of the Magic Kingdom at park close be aware that surge pricing is a thing, and that you won't be the only ones in the park with that idea.

If you're interested in visiting only one of Orlando's theme park resorts — Disney, or Universal, or SeaWorld, and not more than just the one — then your choice gets relatively easy. Stay at that resort, or as close to it as you can afford. But if you want to hit up more than one resort, then you will need to start weighing several factors.

In addition to which parks you want to visit, you should consider how you will be getting to Orlando. Will you drive or fly? If you are driving, you will have that car to get you around in the area, so your decision should come down to minimizing drive time and parking costs. (And which one is more important for you to minimize will greatly affect your decision.) If you are flying into Orlando, you will need to consider not just options for getting to and from the airport, but how to get around town without a car, if you don't opt to rent one.

Disney and Universal both make it absurdly easy to stay at their resorts without a car, and SeaWorld only slightly less so. Disney gives its on-site hotel guests free transportation to and from the Orlando airport, as well as between all parks and hotels on property. Universal doesn't offer that free ride, but its theme parks are located within walking distance of each other, negating any need for a car while at its resort, unlike at the sprawling, exurban Disney World. SeaWorld is located in between Disney and Universal, making it a convenient home base for visiting all three resorts, but it has no on-site hotels, so you'll have to take shuttle buses to get to and from the parks.

Stay off-site, and your hotel might have shuttles to the parks, but you will need a ride share or rental car to get around anywhere else, including to and from the airport. Depending upon where you stay, there might be restaurants and convenience stores within walking distance, but that selection will be limited.

Uber or Lyft between the parks costs from $10-20 a trip (in my experience), plus more if the dreaded surge pricing is in effect. Figure about the same to get to and from a hotel, timeshare, or AirBnB, assuming you are staying within or near one of the resort areas. Rental car rates can start as low as $25-30 a day, but not only do you have to drive, you're also on the hook for all parking fees and tolls.

If you are driving your car to Orlando:

If you are flying to Orlando:

Disney now offers its own on-property "ride share" service, called "Minnie Vans." They cost $20 a trip and will take you from between any two points on property. They seat up to six and come with two car seats, making them a solid options for families with little kids who need to get somewhere on property relatively quickly (such as a dinner reservation at a hotel). But they're expensive for general transportation around the resort. Call one of the Minnie Vans via the Lyft app.

My advice?

Ultimately, transportation time and expense if just one of the factors you should consider when deciding where to stay in Orlando, along with cost, accommodation quality, and amenities. But a great price on a great room won't give you a great vacation if you end up spending a lot of time stuck in traffic or paying for rides around town. Know your transportation options before booking your Orlando vacation... then weigh them against cost, accommodation type, and everything else you want to consider when deciding where to book. Have a great vacation!

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Replies (30)

August 19, 2017 at 12:45 PM · We fly in every year to visit the parks. Over the years we have become very comfortable renting and driving a car to our chosen destinations. We also choose to stay in the resorts nearer to Sea World. We find this the most central for visiting the parks as well as going to Tampa and Cocoa Beach. One suggestion if renting a car is to have a GPS to help guide you. Make sure that it is updated with current maps as there are always a lot of changes. Also if you are not familiar with where you are going, take some time to plan your route so that you are not flustered when you are driving to your destination. Finally RELAX, you are on vacation and you do not need to do stupid stuff if you miss a turn or get lost. Pull over when safe, reset and get to your destination safely.
August 19, 2017 at 12:55 PM · What about the monorail? ??
August 20, 2017 at 5:00 PM · Always check if an annual pass would be an option for you at Universal Studios. Just one pass saves a bunch on car rental, hotel costs, food, souvenirs and tickets for the rest of the family.
August 19, 2017 at 2:59 PM · Have to disagree with most of what you've said.
I'm sure most of your experiences have been to stay at on site properties and they are 'what you know'. BUT.....
Yea, it's easier to stay AT the resorts, but for most families it is cost prohibitive.
One more thing before my opinions......International Drive is in NO WAY as crowded as I-4. I-4 is a frigging disaster area these days with all the ongoing construction and will be for several years to come. It used to be a good artery to travel between the different areas, it's now to be avoided at all costs.

Besides, Universal Blvd. runs adjacent to International drive all the way to Sand Lake Rd, just one block away, and is nearly empty....it's a GREAT alternative, just most people don't know about it!

If your main goal is Disney and you can't afford Disney resort prices or want more options, stay in Kissimmee. There are literally 100's of motels at every price range and many are quite nice, just do your research first.
The further away from Disney they are, the less expensive they usually are (and there are discount coupon books available on the turnpike and at nearly every restaurant in the area that could cut your costs even more for rooms).
But even those motels (yes, most off site properties would be considered 'motels', not 'hotels') within a mile or 2 of Disney's entrance are much much cheaper than even the cheapest Disney resort.
All have pools, many have free shuttles to the parks (although they may be limited in times and capacity) and nearly all have some kind of FREE breakfast included in the price of the room (which can save a family a bundle of cash over the course of their trip).

If your main plan is to go to Universal studios and/or Sea World, your best bet is to stay on International Drive. The motels here actually tend to be newer than those in Kissimmee as the area was developed much later for obvious reasons (Disney was built in the 70's, Universal parks in the 90's).
Universal Drive also has a better public bus system than the Kissimmee area, although both have same to get you around the area to restaurants and shopping (which are nearly endless in scope and price range), etc.
Also wanted to mention that the International Drive area has outlet malls where you can get some very good deals if shopping is in your plans.

Both of these off site areas will require you to make your own way from the airport and I recommend a rental car. Not only will it give you the flexibility to visit ALL the parks at your convenience, but it will save you the cost of transportation to & from the airport as well as allowing you to visit the dozens of other sites and attractions in the general area (Lego Land, Kennedy Space Center, Old Town, Tampa (including Bush Gardens) and all of the smaller attractions (geared to different age groups, mini golf, Ripley's, Wonder Works, train Museum, etc, etc), plus all the gift shops and restaurants in the area.
Heck, the savings of dining off site and buying souvenirs off site rather that in the theme parks will probably pay for the cost of the rental car!

And of course these aren't the only off site options.
There is Lake Buena Vista, near both Disney's and Universals entrances, although more limited in other attractions, restaurants & shopping.
And let us not forget all the 'rental homes' available in the area. Many Brits use these for their longer stays, but they can also be great for larger families who would need more than one room. They usually have multiple bedrooms & bathrooms plus full living areas and kitchens, which of course can be great money savers (some even have their own pools and security gated communities). Be sure to check them out thoroughly though, as there are scams much more possible for renting 'privately owned' homes rather than company owned motel rooms.

So my opinion is, for cost savings and more variety, stay off site AND rent a car!

August 19, 2017 at 4:35 PM · It does depend as, since you point out, if all you're doing is Disney or Universal, you can just hitch a ride from the airport and let their transport handle you. Tricker off site, have done a few over the years and having a car can be easier in some ways but just have to plan out time for getting to and from.
August 19, 2017 at 4:41 PM · Universal Portifino and Hard Rock are the nicest places we have stayed in Orlando, with the best staff/service to boot. You can book a shuttle easily if you're doing a Universal package. Then get all the perks and walk to the parks -- easy.

You might as well uber to Disney from there. The problem is that with Disneys layout, you're probably going to be bussing it from your hotel to the parks anyway, unless you're in one of the few on the congested and often broken monorail line. So, enjoy the walkable feel of Universal and uber or shuttle everywhere else!

August 20, 2017 at 5:21 AM · For all parks - WDW, Seaworld parks and Universal Resort - the best location is the southern end of International Drive. All the parks easily and quickly in reach via self drive, shuttle or taxi.
August 20, 2017 at 1:21 PM · I've been going to Orlando at least once, but as many as four times a year for 15+ years. I've never experienced choking traffic on I-4 within Orlando, except when there is an accident.

There is no traffic in the morning hours either direction. There is slightly heavier West bound traffic between 3:00 and 6:00 pm, but it only increases travel time by a few minutes between Universal and Disney. Traffic from my perspective is a non-issue.

I can make all sorts of arguments why you should stay at SeaWorld or Universal, but I cannot make one pro-argument for staying on property at Disney. I've got more experience than most and hands down you should never stay at a Disney resort.

Disney Resort Transportation is terribly slow and unreliable. A rental car is a necessity at Walt Disney World and Orlando in general.

Magic Hours are worthless unless you want to go where the crowd goes. The best advice is to avoid a theme park with Magic Hours.

If I'm not staying at one of the three premium Lowes resorts at Universal Orlando then my preference is to stay near SeaWorld. However, beware most hotels will hit you up for resort fees and parking.

August 20, 2017 at 9:31 AM · Beware of the advice that OT has given.

Most Orlando theme parks will tow cars left in a theme park parking lot overnight. It's a security issue. The same goes for Disney Springs. I know at least a dozen people who've had this happen.

That $20 parking fee you're trying to avoid suddenly becomes $500+ in towing, impound, and transportation costs to retrieve your car. That doesn't include lost vacation time.

Also, some impound lots will notify your rental car company who will then send a tow truck to retrieve the car doubling your towing and impound fees, plus you'll pay a penalty for early termination of rental and pay administrative fees for recovery of the towing and impound fees that were incurred.

Paying for parking is part of the vacation cost. Just pay it! If you're going out drinking...take a Lyft or Uber.

August 20, 2017 at 9:45 AM · You mentioned the cost of car parking, but negated the premium you will have to spend to stay onsite at a Disney or Universal site. For the eqivalent price you can get a similar hotel spec almost half the price outside the resort areas.

My personal preference is Lake Buena Vista area.

August 20, 2017 at 5:00 PM · @ultimaterollercoaster you are right I'm wrong, I'll remove that part.
August 21, 2017 at 6:54 AM · One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to drive all over the place...Visit area's I have never been, go to eateries, beach's, theme parks... I love the freedom to go wherever whenever.

If you stay at one of then overpriced Disney Hotels you are now shoehorned into using their transportation and parks… If you don’t use those things, then it is a waste of monies…Why pay $399 per night for a basic room with two beds……

Try a local resort like Sheraton, Hilton, Marriot, Blue Green or one of the many others… Maybe pay $150 to $180 per night at a full resort with 1,000 sq feet of space with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms… Add a rental car plus gate parking fees and you are still under the Disney overpriced basic room.

August 21, 2017 at 7:40 AM · I'm with you Brian...Having a car in Orlando is a MUST, even if you're only planning to visit WDW. Even if you have a rental car while staying on Disney property, it's nice to not be bound to Disney Transportation 24/7, and for those who don't know, WDW Resort guests do not have to pay for parking at the theme parks. In fact, even if you only plan on staying at WDW, rental cars are so cheap in Orlando that it's totally worth the $150 a week to rent a car to have that freedom and ability to escape WDW for a few hours.

I do find some advantages to staying at a Disney resort over an off-site property though. If Disney is having one of their free dining promotions, booking an on-site room can often be a much better value than staying off-site. However, the free DDP promotions have been getting far more restrictive in recent years to the point where this year's annual fall promotion completely blacked out the month of October (had previously just blacked out the weekends around Columbus Day and Halloween). There's also the advantage of getting a 30-day head start on your FP+ reservations, up to 10-day head start on dining reservations, and the Extra Magic Hour perk for resort guests. One of my favorite on-site perks associated with transportation is the direct bus service to the Magic Kingdom. This is not highlighted often, but I think it's a HUGE plus. All WDW resorts have buses that take guests straight to the MK security area, meaning you can bypass Ticketing and Transportation and can walk straight into the MK without having to board a Monorail or ferry boat.

With that said, our upcoming trip in October, we'll be staying off-site, predominently for the reasons Brian has highlighted. Disney hotels are getting WAY overpriced, and there are deals that can be found from off-site hotels not far away from the parks. Even if you consider the extra $20 each day we will have to pay for parking (many off-site hotels advertise shuttles to and from the parks, but the schedules are limited and rarely drop guests off before park gates open and typically have just one evening pickup, sometimes before official park closing), many off-site hotels come in at 30-40% cheaper than the Disney Value Resorts (Pop Century, All-Stars, and Art of Animation), and that's before you consider some of the perks of off-site hotels like free breakfast, walking distance to various restaurants, and larger rooms. Then there's the B&B and timeshare markets that can blow Disney resorts out of the water if you're planning on spending more than a few days in Orlando with a larger family.

Those who fall for Disney's Magical Express Trap might as well just hand Disney a blank check.

August 21, 2017 at 8:07 AM · "Those who fall for Disney's Magical Express Trap might as well just hand Disney a blank check."

What does this mean? No one is forcing you to buy anything. A rental car is just added expense unless you know how to use it. Using it means going to the local grocery store for food items or eating outside of the Disney World resort for cheaper meals. Why would you ever need to do this if you're staying on-site? A rental car can easily cost $40 per day.

There are many options for people that don't wish to rent a car. You can order online for water, snacks, and breakfast items for delivery to your room.

Food is expensive at Disney, but many surrounding restaurants are inconvenient if you don't know where to go. If you expect to spend most of your day at Disney, using the convenient transportation is a must. Why would you need to even consider bringing a rental car? Most times, it'll be at your resort.

If you plan to stay outside of Disney World, then rental cars are a must. It is more likely you won't devote your entire time there. Transportation costs are accumulated rather quickly.

August 21, 2017 at 8:07 AM · Learn to use Apopka-Vineland, Conroy, 435, and Sand Lake roads to navigate around the theme park areas while avoiding International Drive and I-4. You will have to do a little thinking since the map apps are going to calculate "shortest" routes, but it saves a lot of time and frustration.
August 21, 2017 at 8:40 AM · As an Orlando resident I am sure I speak for the majority of us locals when I say please DON'T rent a car. The traffic here is terrible, and tourist drivers are THE WORST! If you must rent a car familiarize yourself with the local laws;
- You CAN make a right hand turn on a red light.
- U-Turns are legal almost everywhere, except where posted.
- It is NOT legal to cross 2 (or 3 or 4) lanes of traffic to try and make your exit or turn. If you miss a turn or get lost, continue to dive normally until you can safely turn around, or stop and ask for directions. Don't impede traffic flow!

Oh and by the way, as of writing this post, just about every road in Orlando is currently under construction. No joke. That is just another reason NOT to rent a car!

August 21, 2017 at 8:54 AM · Hey Anton, We just rented a car in May for 9 days and it was an average of $26 per day... This was a Premium car from Alamo.
(I did find a great deal also) - It was a 2016 Toyota Avalon V-6 with leather interior..

But we could have gotten a cheaper one also..

I just love the Freedom of going everywhere at Anytime... Might be midnight and I decide to just go for a ride... Orlando is Open almost as much as Vegas... Busy day and night...

Plus some of these resorts are Huge, the Sheraton we go to has two sides\split resort with 7 pools...

August 21, 2017 at 8:56 AM · My statement was referring to those that get lured in by the idealistic notion of not needing to have a car when at WDW. Disney's service is honestly quite brilliant, because it makes the notion of not renting a car feasible at the sprawling resort far from the airport, and keeps every single dollar of a family's vacation budget in Disney's pocket, aside from the airfare of course.

I've read WAY too many trip reports from guests that thought DME would be amazing, and have ended up giving in and renting a car from Disney's overpriced Enterprise facility because they needed to get away.

Sure you can order online for food and walk down to your resort's C-Store to get snacks and other provisions. However, you're paying a premium by doing that, and if you're staying on-site for more than a handful of days, the minimal cost for a rental car more than makes up for it. I'm not sure where you're getting $40/day, unless you need to rent a mini-van or a full-size car (or from Disney's on-site Enterprise location, where rates are deliberately higher than anywhere else). In general, rental cars in Orlando are some of the cheapest rates in the country, and any level of research and value shopping will get you a car in the $15-25/day range (plus taxes of course). Most 4-person families could offset that cost in a single trip to a grocery store or an off-site meal (a $25 breakfast for 4 at the Waffle House versus a $40-50 al a carte breakfast from a resort cafeteria).

Disney Transportation is not always convenient (I noted the one exception where it has a distinct advantage). Buses between some resorts and parks are few and far between, while traveling to and from parks during peak hours (before gates open and after they close) can result in long waits to board and standing room only. Having a car can mean traveling in comfort, perhaps having some extra food in a cooler for a midday picnic, and not having to stand in long bus lines with tired kids at the end of a long day. It can also mean you might not need to devote quite as much to to hop between parks or to travel to resort restaurants for meals, let alone the ability to travel off-site for meals.

I stand by my statement, and as I noted there are some notable advantages to staying on-site and using Disney Transportation and DME. However, those that commit to it should go into it with their eyes open, knowing that everything associated with their trip is going to be reliant on Disney Transportation and limited to Disney experiences. There are many that have no issue with this, but I've seen too many horror stories of guests that just want to buy a box of cereal and a gallon of milk so they aren't spending $40+ every morning at the cafeteria, and end up either sucking it up to spend $10 for the single box of cereal and gallon of milk from the C-Store, or end up renting from Disney's overpriced Enterprise location to get off-site. Really, I admire Disney's chutzpah for creating DME, because they found a way to trap guests into spending virtually every penny in the resort, and because of that, many guests end up spending far more than they intended for incidentals during the WDW vacation (hence my blank check analogy).

August 21, 2017 at 9:01 AM · It is impossible to recommend as everybody has different priorities, budgets, preferences, duration, itineraries, wish lists..... We come over every year for 2 weeks so we always have a car and can't think of not having one. We prefer to stay on US27 as it is close enough to everything but far enough away to have that independence from the parks and I-drive and we get a 5 star, 3 bedroom luxury condo for a fraction of a higher ended Disney or Universal room. But that is purely our choice and won't be for everybody. The budget you have for your vacation/break will ultimately dictate the majority of your main decisions.
August 21, 2017 at 9:18 AM · "$15-25/day range (plus taxes of course)" The "plus taxes" is how a $25/day bill ends up being $40/day.

"Most 4-person families could offset that cost in a single trip to a grocery store or an off-site meal (a $25 breakfast for 4 at the Waffle House versus a $40-50 al a carte breakfast from a resort cafeteria)."

Many don't need breakfast at all. Just a continental breakfast. That's why you offset with online ordering of grocery items to be kept in your room. If you're in the park, it's irrelevant since most don't bring sandwiches or other meals, but you actually have an option to bring sandwich or pre-made lunch meals into the park. I do that when I visit Disneyland, but don't do this while on vacation at Disney World, but I'm sure Orlando locals would try.

The worst thing about a rental car is how hot it is when sitting in the Orlando sun and humidity. Going in a Disney bus is a welcome relief.

August 21, 2017 at 10:02 AM · "The "plus taxes" is how a $25/day bill ends up being $40/day."

If you're paying $15 a day in taxes, you're getting ripped off. A $25 base rental charge with taxes from MCO totals $31.

"That's why you offset with online ordering of grocery items to be kept in your room."

And you're paying a premium on those groceries, typically 20-30% more than just buying them at a normal grocery store plus whatever the service charges you for the delivery, cheaper than the resort C-Stores, but significantly more expensive than from nearby grocery stores inaccessible without a car. If you're in Orlando for a longer period of time (more than 7 days), buying from Costco or Sam's Club can yield even more savings by purchasing larger quantities of items instead of standard sizes from a grocery store.

To each their own, and I don't begrudge anyone's choice to take DME and stay at WDW without a car, but those guests need to know what they're getting themselves into, and that spending your entire WDW vacation without a car may not be as rosy as it seems sitting at home. There are hundreds of trip reports out there that back me up. If you're at WDW for fewer than 5 days, MDE/car-less might be the way to go (I would still say renting a car might be worth the expense), but any longer than that, and a rental car is worth every penny.

"The worst thing about a rental car is how hot it is when sitting in the Orlando sun and humidity. Going in a Disney bus is a welcome relief."

I'm with you there, but there's something to be said about sitting in a hot car that eventually cools down being better than having to stand next to 100 sweaty guests on a bus where the AC is not working at optimal efficiency and having to wait 5-10 minutes (or longer) outside in the heat and humidity waiting for an empty bus to arrive.

August 21, 2017 at 10:52 AM · These are typical charges for a 3 day Economy rental at Alamo.

Base Rate
$112.41*

Customer Facility Charge 3.50/day
$10.50*

Priv Fee Recov Chg 10 Pct (10.0%)
$11.44*

Tire Battery Fee .02 Day
$0.06*

Florida Surcharge 2.00/day
$6.00*

Vehicle License Fee .66/day
$1.98*

Sales Tax (6.5%)
$9.26*

Unlimited mileage
Included

Total:
$151.65*

$39.24 in added taxes and surcharges on top of the rental fee of $112.41. If you're getting ripped off, then there's nothing you can do about it except don't rent a car.

IF you say this example isn't typical of the cheap rental price at Orlando, then so what? That's what I'm seeing when I try out the car rental websites.

---

As for ordering on-line, depends on how much you need. If you're just ordering snacks, water, and breakfast, you'll just need $40 plus delivery and tip fees. Not exactly a whole lot and you save a separate trip with a rental car with toll fees that I recalled requires 2 toll fees from the airport to Disney World. Have your quarters ready.

As for Costco, you'll never finish the food and water. You'll be wasting the water. I left lots of full water bottles at the resorts, never opened.

August 21, 2017 at 11:09 AM · We do use the car for trips to the Publix also… We eat breakfast in the room daily… Plus my daily AM trip to Starbucks… You do not want me to go to said Theme Parks without morning Starbucks… I am already a mean SOB and I do not need any more encouragement…hahahaha.

And perhaps I have been known to buy a few $25 scratchers (Just trying to help out FL).

And vacationers are not the problem for bad driving in Florida…. The damn locals are clowns. They speed from red light to red light just to wait at the world’s longest traffic signals. Locals think those speed limit signs are simply suggestions… hahahaha

August 21, 2017 at 11:46 AM · Russel Meyer said "I'm with you Brian...Having a car in Orlando is a MUST, even if you're only planning to visit WDW. "

I've visited the Orlando parks many times, never rented a car and never felt a need.

I get a shuttle from the airport to Universal. Universal is a completely walkable park. From there, if going to Disney or Sea World get an uber and go straight to that park.

Easy.

August 21, 2017 at 1:24 PM · @DBCooper - Using Uber might be fine if you're by yourself or with an adult companion, but a bit more complicated with a family, especially if infants and strollers are involved.

Universal is very walkable, and as Robert noted in his post, that part of an extended Orlando vacation may be best served without a car because of the parking fees charged to on-site hotel guests. However, if you're visiting more than one resort and/or visiting for more than 5 days (even if it's all at WDW), a car is almost essential for most visitors. There are a lot of variables involved (convenience, price, number of guests, destinations, etc...), so there's going to be some differences in the way most guests need to approach planning an Orlando vacation. However, for the average family, renting a car, which is a negligible expense compared to the multitude of other costs of a Central Florida vacation, would be highly recommended in my book.

August 21, 2017 at 1:23 PM · SeaWorld doesn't have on-site hotels, but it does have several partner hotels adjacent to the park and within walking distance -- Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Staybridge Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations and Hilton Garden Inn are the closest. I stayed at the latter in 2016, and it's a 15 minute door-to-gate walk -- half of it crossing SeaWorld's parking lot. To be fair, I was a solo adult traveler in April, so that might be undesirable during muggy season, when there's heavy traffic in the lot, for a mid-day nap, or with small children. But the hotels also have (infrequent) shuttle buses.

The article doesn't mention the I-RIDE Trolley (www.iridetrolley.com). It stops at SeaWorld, comes close to Universal, and Disney is completely outside its ambit; but if you're interested in the attractions *on* International Drive (Artegon Marketplace, minigolf, Pirates Dinner Theater etc., the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye and neighbors) it's inexpensive and adequate -- but hardly regular, due to traffic snarls or filling up (and even its SMS-for-arrival-time is unreliable). Don't schedule yourself tightly, and bring a parasol because many of the stops lack shade.

August 21, 2017 at 2:19 PM · My family and I have been to Orland o 3 times in the past and are planning for 2019, we always rent a vehicle. We never stay on site, I know you get the extra magic hours, but we usually rent 3 bedroom condos for @1350 for 9 nights which allows us a couple of extra days. On our last 2 trips we took in basketball games, went to Kennedy Space Center and Tampa Bay, not having a car keeps you trapped and doesn't let you experience anything new.

I don't look at our trips as a WDW or Universal trip but as a means to have some fun with my children before they are gone. The freedom to decide to go to the beach and soak up the sun just can't be beat.

August 21, 2017 at 9:01 PM · We always stay on site whether we stay at Universal or WDW and we always rent a car theough Costco. We have never paid more than $170 for a rental for about 11 days. Although both properties have great on site transportation to the parks, particularly WDW where the parks are pretty spread out, we always drive to each park even when staying on site. We enjoy the convenience of not having to wait doe buses and shuttles at the end of the day. Plus we have spent a day or two away from the parks going to Cocoa and Daytona Beaches. If you can afford it or plan for it, definitely nice having a rental car. We fly down from Washington State.
August 21, 2017 at 10:50 PM · @Russell you're wrong about Orlando rental cars. Taxes and fees for cars rented at the airport are typically about 50% of the rental rate. If you pay $10 per day, you'll pay another $5 in taxes per day.

My full-size rental two weeks ago was $102 for the week, plus taxes and fees for a total of $151.

That's not getting ripped off, that's Orlando.

Lastly, there is no such thing as free dining at Disney! Anyone who thinks it's free is a fool. You're paying for that dining in your hotel room rate.

If Disney didn't offer a dining promotion then they'd have to lower the nightly rate to fill the rooms, so it isn't free.

August 22, 2017 at 6:27 AM · "Lastly, there is no such thing as free dining at Disney!"

True...However, for guests that may feel that standard Disney resort rates are too high (they're certainly higher than comparable off-site hotels), the annual Disney Dining promotions can offer enough value to make up for the overpriced rooms. Disney runs promotions throughout the year - sometimes it's free nights, other times it's a percentage discounts, and then, of course, there are the ubiquitous "Bounce Back" offers given after guests finish their vacation to entice them to return within the next year. However, of all the various promotions that Disney offers, the "free" dining promotion is one of the best values if you know how to use it. The last time we went during a free dining promotion (October 2014), I calculated that we consumed over $800 worth of meals over 4 nights for a family of 3. Now, chances are that we would have never spent that much out of pocket for those meals (we experienced 4 different character meals that we otherwise wouldn't have done without the DDP), but we still received value that was actually almost equivalent to what it cost for our room for the 4-nights we stayed at WDW. I would take a free DDP offer over virtually any percent-off or free night offer, because for us, we can get way more value out of the DDP than getting a cheaper rate, plus it's a nice treat to be able to eat at restaurants that we wouldn't outwise eat at because the prices are not commensurate with the food or experience (character meals are WAY overpriced IMHO). BTW, Disney must not need to encourage guests to fill rooms anymore in October, because this is the first year since Disney introduced the DDP that the fall dining promotion has not included any reservations in October.

You realize that most of the MCO rental fees are day-based and not percentage based. So you paid $7/day for taxes and fees for your rental, which is pretty standard with $2/day licensing, $2/day facility, the $1.50/day local surcharge, and standard taxes. The tax will go up slightly if you pay a little more for your base rental fee, but it's not the $15/day on a $25/day base rental fee Anton is suggesting. I'm being quoted a total of $213 for a 9-day base rental fee of $150 for our upcoming trip in October, which works out to the same $7/day in taxes and fees. If you spend $25/day for your base rental charge, the taxes and fees are still going to be in that $7/day range, not the $15/day suggested above when noted that a rental car "easily cost $40 per day". I was just saying that if you're spending $40/day or more for a rental car in Orlando, you're getting ripped off, because the rental car rates are some of the cheapest in the country, even after you consider taxes and fees, which are high, but on par with other popular tourist destination like LA, Las Vegas, and NYC.

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