Renting a Car at Walt Disney World
Renting a car saves time. Disney transportation is a reliable way to get around Disney, but think of it as public transportation: it will get you there, just not as fast as your own car. Plus renting a car also allows you to go between hotels, something Disney transport does not offer. Often guests need to travel between hotels for dining reservations.
Orlando International Airport is home to the largest rental car market in the world. Rates are highly competitive compared to other cities, so you definitely want to shop around. A good price for a fullsize car is about $30 per day but you might be able to do even better. Fun Fact: it usually costs less to rent a car than a stroller at Walt Disney World!
Tip! Book your rental car several weeks in advance but check back often, especially 5 weeks prior to your arrival. Fare wars are common among rental companies at Orlando International but they can actually increase too, like when a convention comes to town or if it's a holiday weekend. Avoid pre-pay discounts, if rates go down, you won't be able to rebook!
Rental Cars and Florida Tolls
Most major rental car companies now offer their customers the option of automatically billing tolls to the credit card they used to rent the vehicle. You can use the SunPass lanes on 417 (my recommended route) and other toll roads in Florida. Some rental companies offer SunPass rentals, usually free of charge.
Getting to Disney from Orlando International Airport
There are two main routes you can take: Route 417 or I-4. Avoid I-4, the stretch between the airport and the theme parks is always heavily congested. 417 has a few inexpensive tolls.
To take 417, follow signs for the South Exit of the airport. Then, simply stay on 417 to either exit 6 or 3, depending on where your hotel is located. Signs on 417 will tell you which exit to take based on theme park and/or resort hotel.
Walt Disney World is about 20 minutes from Orlando International.
When going back to the airport, follow signs in Walt Disney World for Osceola Parkway. Once on the parkway, follow signs to Route 417 towards the airport. If you follow the airport signs in Walt Disney World, most of them will take you on I-4 which you want to avoid.
Costco Wholesale has consistently offered some of the best rental car rates in Orlando. They contract exclusively with Alamo, Avis, Enterprise and Budget. Costco's rates usually beat special offers found on the rental agency's official website and the travel websites like Expedia. A Costco membership starts at $55 but you don't need to be a member to view rates. If you're not a member, check to see how much you'd save, the savings might actually pay for your membership.
Book Direct from the Rental Car Companies
Alamo Rent A Car is the official rental car agency for Disney with two offices located right on Disney World property. Offices are located at the Walt Disney World Car Care Center near Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Another office is located at the Walt Disney Wold Dolphin, near Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and Epcot.
Alamo has recently reduced the number of online offer codes, opting to post discounts on it's Alamo Insiders Club website. Membership to Alamo Insiders Club is free.
A great feature that Alamo offers is pre-arrival check in. You can complete all the rental car paperwork online, in advance. All you need to do at the airport is walk over to the garage, choose a vehicle, then stop drive through window to check out. Super fast and convenient - plus it's nice to be able to choose your own car. Avis offers a similar program.
The American Automobile Association provides member rates on Orlando car rentals through its website. Rates are usually on par with the travel websites. AAA contracts with all the major companies like Alamo, Avis, Budget Hertz and more. Sometimes they will feature one particular company and will include special member-only benefits. For example, June is Hertz month at AAA. Members get an extra discounts and a few perks like a free carseat rental. That's a savings of about $15 per day. But check your prices, sometimes the featured car rental company isn't the cheapest.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is located inside the Orlando International Airport and have a reputation for renting new, high-quality vehicles. The checkout process is painfully slow compared to the other rental agencies but they offer some of the best customer service in the rental car market. Someone is going to help you locate your vehicle and go over all its features with you. Sure it's great service, but not ideal if you just want to get your car and hit the road.
Budget Rent A Car is located at Orlando International Airport with an additional office at the DoubleTree Hotel - Walt Disney World, 2305 Hotel Plaza Blvd, Orlando, FL (just outside of Disney Springs). Cars tend to be slightly older with higher miles than some of the other rental companies. If you plan on driving to Port Canaveral for a Disney Cruise Line voyage, the office near the port is convenient.
E-Z Car Rental is a smaller company but offers competitive rates. They are located on airport property - no shuttle bus is required. They are pretty good about offering upgrades at a discounted rate. Just ask at time of check in. The issue with E-Z is that it's a slow process to rent a car once you arrive at the airport. First you need to check in at the desk inside the airport. They will spend a lot of time typing on the computer while you stand there and wait. Then, you walk outside to the garage and stop and another desk for your keys. If they are busy, this can take a long time.
CarRentals.com offers retail car rental and works with tier two and tier three vendors. such as Fox, Dollar, Budget, Thrifty, Payless and and a few others at Orlando International Airport. Note that some of the these companies might require a shuttle to the office, but at Orlando International. Be sure you know where the rental car office located before you book. Those with offices outside of the airport usually have cars at a much lower rate.
Updated August 2019, Darren Wittko