How to Prepare for a Road Trip to Disney World

Automobiles driving under entrance sign to Walt disnye World.
Getty Images/Bloomberg

Every day, plenty of Disney World visitors make the journey to Orlando by car. The whole park is well equipped to handle a large number of vehicles and is well-equipped with disabled parking lots and electric car charging stations. The Magic Kingdom alone has a parking lot big enough for over 12,000 cars.

Flying may be faster, but you can save a lot of money by driving to Orlando, particularly if you are vacationing during the high season or with a large group. Driving also gives you the freedom to bypass the Disney transportation system and use your vehicle to travel between parks, which can help you save time. However, there are a few things everybody should know about preparing for a long drive with kids, where to stop on the way, and where to park when you get there.

Preparing Before the Drive

Before you leave home, your car should be in tip-top shape and ready to travel. Take care of any major or minor vehicle repairs in advance, and also check your tires. Remove any non-essential items from the trunk and passenger areas. In addition to having enough room for your luggage, make sure you have space to bring back souvenirs.

Driving With Kids

If you've got a car full of kids who can't wait to arrive, there are lots of ways to keep them entertained on a long car ride. Firstly, keep plenty of snacks and bottled water on hand, especially if you have young children. This is also a great time for a sing-a-long of everyone's favorite Disney songs via Radio Disney, but there are also Disney-related podcasts that can help keep everyone hyped up. Road trip toys and car games are also a great way to make use of the long hours spent in the car.

Stopping Along the Way

If you are traveling to Disney World from out of state, you can stop by the Florida Welcome Center as soon as you cross the state border. It's not only a good place to stretch your legs, but you can also pick up some brochures and maybe even find coupons for other Orlando attractions. If you cross the border from Interstate 75 or 95, you'll still have a couple of hours of driving to go before you get to Orlando. Keep an eye out for rest stops along the route with restrooms and restaurants. Don't forget to bring lots of change for the tolls if you are taking the turnpike, or you can roll straight through them by paying with a SunPass, Florida's electronic toll collection system.

Parking at Disney

If you are staying at Disney-owned hotel, you'll be able to park overnight at your resort, so drive straight there to check-in and park. Unless you are a Disney Vacation Club Member, every hotel charges a fee for overnight parking which can range between $15 and $25 per night. However, parking at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort is included with the cost of your campsite.

If you are just visiting Disney for the day or staying at a hotel off-property, you'll need to pay for a parking pass, which is good for all four theme parks. Standard parking begins at $25 per day but can cost up to $50 for preferred parking, which means you can park in a lot closer to the entrance. Parking at Disney Springs, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Disney water parks is complimentary. For guests with disabilities, there are multiple Disability Parking Lots, which are located near the entrance. If you are parking in one of these lots, make sure you show your handicapped parking placard at check-in, so you don't have to pay for parking.

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