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View Full Version : Whether to Rent a Car/Large Van? - Somewhat Unique Situation



hockeywidow
07-30-2007, 10:28 PM
Our situation is a bit more unique that the standard "should we rent a car" question. Here's some background ...

There will be a group of 13 of us travelling to WDW next May (arriving the Friday of the Memorial Day long weekend & staying for a week). The group includes kids 3, 3, 5, 5, 9, two sets of "moms & dads" and two sets of grandparents (who are all very mobile, the oldest being 69). We will be staying on site, either at one of the value or moderate resorts (haven't decided which one yet).

Our "plan" is that we will pretty well stick to one park per day for at least four of the days, and then have a few days to do the water parks and go back to various parks for some rides that may have been missed or for favorites. When we've done Disneyland in California, it's worked pretty well where we hit rides in the morning, take in the shows & break for lunch in the afternoon to "rest', and then gear back up again in the evening. So that's what we're hoping to do again at WDW. Plus, because we do have little ones and a large group - park hopping seems a bit more "daunting". We will be making one trip to Seaworld and that's the only planned trip offsite at this point.

So my question to you experts is do you think we should rent a large van to for everyone? If yes, any suggestions on where we can do this? I checked Alamo & National on-line and they don't seem to offer these large passenger vans for rent. Or should we rely on WDW transportation? Is it that bad? How long are those waits at the end of the day when the parks close?

Thanks for any help on this one!

mom22gls
07-31-2007, 03:51 AM
Given the wide ranges of ages, which brings with it different interests, different ride capabilities (at least height-wise), and different levels of stamina, I would not even try to stay together all the time, or even enter and leave the parks at the same time, all the time. The nine year old may want to do thrill rides, which the younger kids are too short for, so you would not want them standing around doing nothing, while the older kid goes on a roller coaster, for the sake of staying together. Some people may tire out faster than others, and if you "make" them stay another hour, to ride together in the van, you are very likely to have toddler meltdowns and cranky adults. That is why, in your situation, just having everyone use Disney transportation is the better idea. If a few people get tired after lunch, they can jump on a bus back to the resort for a rest and pool break, while others continue at the park. If some want an earlier start in the morning, or want to stay later at night, they can. If grandma wants to skip the water park, and just hang out at the hotel with a good book, she can, and then meet up with you later. Make reservations for some meals together, and perhaps designated meeting times to watch a parade or fireworks, together. There is no need for the expense of renting a large vehicle, with the expectation that everyone will be sticking together all day, every day, because it is not likely to work out that way. Typically, with our small children, we get an early start at a park, take a mid-day break at the hotel, to rest and swim, and then return to a park for the evening (the same or, usually, a different one). We, very often, split up with the kids. My younger daughter and my husband usually tire before my older daughter and I do, so we carry on and they can return to the hotel, and we don't have to travel together. I strongly recommend park hoppers, which will give you a lot more flexibility. You could, say, do the morning/afternoon "segment" at MK, and evening dinner and Illuminations at Epcot. If you want to meet up at the hotel, for a mid-day swim, the kids will do better together that way, than trying to stay together in the parks all the time.

GusMan
07-31-2007, 06:44 AM
Going along with what mom22gls mentioned, this is a case where you might be better to just use DME from the airport and use Disney Transportation around the resort. You will have the frequency and flexibility needed without extra costs. (Besides, one of those big vans can cost some serious $$ per day - and I know from experience.) Will you have to wait in line once in a while? Sure. But use that time to talk and plan your next steps as a family.

My take - forget the van. Use what is free.

Wendy3
07-31-2007, 09:16 AM
I totally agree. Plus, if you want to rent a car (or two) for a day trip to SeaWorld, it's very easy to do from your resort. I think it's Alamo (?) at WDW - they will pick you up at your resort and take you to the car center, then bring you back to your resort. Or you can rent from the desk at the Swan (really convenient for Epcot resorts).

Greg in TN
07-31-2007, 09:30 AM
You will have the frequency and flexibility needed without extra costs. (Besides, one of those big vans can cost some serious $$ per day - and I know from experience.) Will you have to wait in line once in a while? Sure. But use that time to talk and plan your next steps as a family.

My take - forget the van. Use what is free.


^ What he said !! ... Really, Disney transportation is tailor-made for situations like yours. And taking into consideration everything they have to handle, is very efficient. In fact, you might even be able to convince the younger ones that the busses are actually "rides" ;) Well, maybe for awhile, anyway.

mom22gls
07-31-2007, 11:10 AM
^ What he said !! ... Really, Disney transportation is tailor-made for situations like yours. And taking into consideration everything they have to handle, is very efficient. In fact, you might even be able to convince the younger ones that the busses are actually "rides" ;) Well, maybe for awhile, anyway.

The monorail counts as a ride, at least for the 3 and 5 year olds! Seriously, if you want some "down" time with a toddler, just hop on the hotel loop, and ride it. Also, there are "free" boat rides, between some resorts. If you plan a family dinner at Hoop-Di-Doo review (at the Ft. Wilderness campgrounds), or the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge Hotel, take the boat from the Magic Kingdom dock. Another point I will make about transportation, also applies to overall vacation planning and budgeting. If you go with the Disney Dining Plan, there is a disincentive to taking meals off-property, because you have, basically already paid for them. If you take the day trip to Sea World, you have to consider food bought there, if you are doing the Dining Plan, as well as your admission there, and transport. A pretty expensive day. We've been to Disney World pretty frequently, and everytime I consider an off-property excursion, I can't quite justify the extra cost. Once you pay for the first 4 days on your Disney passes, subsequent days get considerably cheaper per day. Cost out the Sea World excursion, but I would not scrimp on my Disney passes (by doing base passes, instead of park hoppers), to pay for a day outside the Disney parks. We use the park hopping feature pretty much every day, as it adds so much flexibility to our trip, and we get to do the daytime and nightime activities at the parks, without doing commando days. I would put it to the individual family units whether they want to do a day outside the parks, once they get there, in other words, don't plan on Sea World for the first couple of days of the trip, leave a free day later in the week, and see how people feel about it closer to time. Odds are pretty good, that, at least some of your party will opt to stay on property, because there is so much to do there.

wishiwasthere
07-31-2007, 11:11 AM
If you really want a car then try out different configurations and get a few different cars. If you don't want to do that then use Disney's free transportation.

hockeywidow
07-31-2007, 12:04 PM
Thanks for the feedback!

Just to clear things up, we are getting the Park Hopper option - that's probably we'll end up doing the last few days after we make our initial rounds of the parks.

My initial thought was just to rely on Disney Transportion and just do a one day rental or take a shuttle to SeaWorld. But my sister-in-law just got back and she said totally recommended renting a car. She said she saw all those poor people waiting at the bus shuttles in the heat, tired and cranky and was so thankful it wasn't them. Which then made me question whether I should rent a van.

How long are those line-ups for the buses at the end of the day? (Although I figure we've probably been standing in line all day waiting to get on the "rides", what's a bit more waiting for the bus?)

Wendy3
07-31-2007, 12:33 PM
We've been in June, August, December, January, February (not all in the same year, tho :)) I seriously don't think we ever waited more than 15 minutes for a bus. Maybe 20 MAX in June. However, when we are on vacation, we are laid back and waiting (in line, for a bus, for our food) doesn't bother us. The key is don't push yourself (or your kids) to the point of melt-downs.

Greg in TN
07-31-2007, 12:36 PM
How long are those line-ups for the buses at the end of the day? (Although I figure we've probably been standing in line all day waiting to get on the "rides", what's a bit more waiting for the bus?)

If you leave right @ park closing, yes, you're going to be in a line. I don't think we've ever waited more than two busses, though (ie--at worst we've always gotten on the 2nd bus, never had to wait for a 3rd). But there are probably going to be as many people waiting in line for the parking lot trams, or in line to drive out of the lot, etc.

Outside of the money-issue, it's kind of a "which bugs you more" decision. Would you rather wait in line for the tram, wait in line to leave the parking lot, then handle traffic & direction issues as you drive back to your hotel. Or would you rather wait a bit for a bus, perhaps be in somewhat crowded conditions (ie--you might wind up standing), but then when you get off, you're at your destination.

I imagine you can read between the lines & figure out which is my preference, but some people would simply rather to be at the wheel of their own car regardless. In your case, however, I guess there's also the issue of, "will everybody in the group be wanting to go to the exact same place, all at the exact same time?" So I guess that complicates the decision somewhat, too.

Other than closing times, lines are pretty short to non-existent.

Drince88
07-31-2007, 12:43 PM
The key is don't push yourself (or your kids) to the point of melt-downs.

I just had to second this part.

I've gone in Jan, Feb, March, April, May, July, October, November, and December, and the only time I had to wait any 'ugly' length of time was when there were problems with the buses, and I would count that as twice in all 11 trips I've stayed on site. Sometimes you have to wait for a second bus, but especially at closing time, they're really good at getting the buses in and the people out of the parks. I was REALLY impressed with how they did it at Epcot last trip after Illuminations. 2 buses pulled into each resort stop (one loading a person in a wheelchair, the other only taking ambulatory people), they'd pulled up all in sequence (so minimized bus traffic issues) - it was ALMOST like a ballet!

Yea, you might have to stand some, but it's not that long of a trip, and unless there are lots of other kids on the bus where you end up standing, MOST people are good at giving up their seats so the parents/little ones can sit.

hockeywidow
07-31-2007, 05:56 PM
Well it sounds like I can save those several hundred $$$ and spend it elsewhere :D! I'll stick with my initial plan of taking advantage of staying onsite and using Disney's transportation! Thanks!

vamassey
08-02-2007, 08:56 AM
We went at that same time this year. This was the first time for us to go when it was hot and it really made a difference. Normally we get at a park at opening and get as much done as possible before it gets crowded. We usually go all day too, but not on this trip. The heat really played a huge part on what we could get done. It just drained us. We had to take breaks and come back later in the day. I'm use to heat and humiday, I live in south Louisiana but when you combine that with lots of people and trying to get from one attraction to another it can really drain you. Be sure to drink lots of water and take breaks in attractions with ac.

I don't think you'll have trouble getting adventureland done in 7 hours.


Vanessa

Mrs Mouse
08-02-2007, 09:53 AM
On the topic of resort transportation - how late does the last bus/ferry/monorail run? We've never been to WDW, but I know that on our trips to DL we like to linger in the park after official closing, enjoying the shopping and sites of Main Street. We are planning on staying in a Disney property next August, but don't yet know which one. Will we still be able to stay late?

Drince88
08-02-2007, 09:57 AM
Yes, you'll be able to browse your way out of the parks. They will not leave guests stranded.

GusMan
08-02-2007, 10:02 AM
On the topic of resort transportation - how late does the last bus/ferry/monorail run?
Generally speaking, they say about 30 mins to 1 hr after park closing. But like Drince said, they will run transportation until everyone gets back to where they need to go.

ETA: There are some modes of transport that run later than others... ie: Mono and busses. Some ferries may have a shorter cut off time.

Cheshire Figment
08-03-2007, 04:30 AM
At TL a Transportation Coordinator shows up a few minutes after Park Closing. He will hang around until he sees us close the gate and will ask if the park is clear. When we tell him it is, he does a quick drive-around past all the bus stops to check that nobody is waiting, and then calls in to discontinue bus service.

If there are people at only one or two stops he will verify their destinations and cancel all the other buses.

Klutch
08-03-2007, 09:00 AM
I think people get mistaken impressions when they have a car and look at all the people waiting for busses at park closing.

First, the people waiting for long periods typically aren't Disney resort guests. They are waiting for their off-property hotel shuttles which come around far less frequently than Disney transportation.

Second, although it appears throngs of people are destined to spend hours waiting for a Disney bus, the lines move very quickly. Disney has been hauling people around WDW for a long time. They know what to expect and have the busses to accomodate the large crowds. As mentioned, most guests have to wait for only one bus to arrive and depart and will make the next bus.

Disney transportation isn't the best solution for all guests, but it does work amazingly well. I know my city could learn from Disney's example. Getting across town on a Colorado Springs bus is a half-day misadventure.