Hot Florida

Should you rent a minivan when visiting Orlando?

Orlando is perhaps one of the most visited places in the United States, and for a good reason, it houses THE most famous theme parks in all the world, making it the prime destination for a family trip. 

Unsurprisingly, the priority for those planning a vacation here is to check the prices and packages for the parks. However, there is another important issue that people should also be considering when planning out their trip to this city – transportation. It seems like the kind of thing that you’d glance over until the last moment, but believe, me it really makes a difference. 

Drink Around the World Disney Epcot with Kids
Back when I did the drink around the world challenge at Epcot in Orlando!

So, in this post we´ll be trying to solve a question that many tourists have asked themselves at some point when planning a trip to Orlando: Should I rent a minivan when going to the parks? 

Now to know the answer to this critical question we´ll be analyzing many different factors that can affect your transportation and your overall experience when visiting both the city and the parks, so that at the end of the post you can decide for yourself which one is best. What are we waiting for, let’s go for it!

Disney World fireworks

What transportation options are available?

Now it might not seem like it at first, but South Florida, in general, is a pretty tricky place when it comes to moving around as there unexpectedly big expanses of terrain in between most sites of interest. For example, there is an average of 20 miles between downtown Orlando and Walt Disney World. Just to put it in perspective: if you were to walk that distance it would take you about 6 hours! Thankfully there is a decent enough road system, so those 20 miles can be crossed in less than an hour, as long as you have access to a set of wheels, of course, so let’s see which of them is available:

Rental cars/vans

Renting a van in Orlando offers a simple and elegant solution to the issue. If you need a set of wheels, then here’s a vehicle you can use as if it were your own for the duration of your vacation, simple as that. 

Rental car agreement

Pros: 

-Rental Cars are a very popular option for tourists in Orlando and thus they’re readily available everywhere, in fact, you can rent a car online as you plan the whole vacation and have it arranged, so that you get it as soon as you get to the airport.

-Since you´ll be the driver you don’t have to wait for any schedules and can plan your trips in a way that accommodates to your needs.  

-Having a vehicle for yourself allows you to go pretty much anywhere, parks included, with the added benefit of being able to make any stops you want and even visiting attractions other than the parks. 

Cons:

-You´ll have to drive, so make sure you’re ready to spend some time behind the wheel. Having a second driver can help with the stress of driving, and many car rental sites allow you to pick one or even more additional drivers.

-Having a vehicle for your own means that you’ll be paying for things like gas and parking. This is a bit annoying but if you plan your trips well enough, there shouldn’t be any issues. Car rental places, in fact, offer a full gas option in which they’ll give you the car with a full tank and you can return it with almost nothing… hopefully, in the future, there will be something similar for parking lots.

Family minivan rental car

  1.2 Public transport/ Private shuttles

Public transport/Private shuttles

On the other hand, we have public transport and private shuttles. Which provides a more general service that’s still quite serviceable, but more focused on single trips. 

Pros:  

Giventhat they’re meant for single-use this option tends to be a little cheaper, as you’re just paying for the service of being transported. Some private shuttles offer round trip services, but they tend to be a little more expensive than usual. 

-There are many different types of options you can take, you can find everything from a regular bus, to more comfy vehicles such as the aforementioned private shuttles and even some luxury shuttles, although these last ones may be a little bit on the expensive side.   

-You don’t do the driving. To some people, driving is a pretty stressful activity, so it’s better to let others do it and just relax for a while as you get to your destination, it’s also useful for those that aren’t able to drive.    

Bus Stock photo

Cons: 

-Public transport has a bit of a bad reputation for being uncomfortable, and while it’s not as bad as many people make it seem, it’s certainly not the comfiest option. 

-You have to follow a schedule and organize your trip accordingly. Sadly, not driving means you don’t get to choose when you leave and when to stop, it’s certainly an annoyance but if you manage to plan out your trip it shouldn’t be a problem.    

-Unlike a rental car, you can’t leave your belongings at the vehicle, if you do chances are great that you won’t see them ever again! So, you have to be a little bit more careful with your stuff.

Inside bus Orlando

Some important factors

Now that we know a little bit about the options, let’s see what some of the critical factors are when it comes to going to the famous parks of Orlando.

It’s all about timing

When coming to the parks, time is often the key to an enjoyable experience. Unless you’re staying at the resorts and plan to spend multiple days as a single park, you must organize your day to squeeze the most out of the visit. It’s a good idea to make a map of the rides and attractions you simply can’t miss and the ones that aren’t that interesting to you. This way you can optimize your time 

If you choose the public transport option remember to be on time, as having to wait for half an hour or so can wreck your schedule. 

Men's watch on Travel

Thinking about the kids

The parks provide fun for both kids and adults, but let’s not fool ourselves, more often than not a visit to the parks will include kids, so they’re an important factor to decide which option to use. 

On both sides there are some issues to have in mind: public transport tends to be extremely uncomfortable for kids so if you have toddlers it’s best to avoid buses. On the other hand, when it comes to a rental car, children under 5 years old are required by Florida law to use a special carrier device such as a booster seat or a separate seat, so make sure to order it at the counter. 

A chance to rest

The parks are certainly a magical place… but it’s also an extenuating experience as there is a LOT of walking involved, so it’s important that at the end of the day you have a good chance to rest your feet. Sadly, buses and similarly crammed vehicles aren’t particularly good for resting. In this case, renting a minivan in Orlando is the best thing to do, as this option is the only one that  will really allow you to rest a bit after a day at the parks. 

Child sleeping in car

That’s a Wrap

And there you have it, now it’s up to you to decide which transport is the best for your trip. Let us know in the comments which one would you use?

Author

I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

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