The pretty standard order to book a trip to Disney World used to be: 1. Book your resort and tickets. 2. Book your flight. 3. Book your rental car. If you were accustomed to booking a rental car for your Disney vacations, they were plentiful and relatively inexpensive in Orlando, other than a few peak weeks of the year. They were basically an afterthought.
But all of that has changed (yeah, you knew we were going to say that, didn’t you?). The rental car business shifted dramatically during the shut-downs of 2020. We’re taking a look at the state of rental cars in 2022, and whether you need to book one first, or not at all.
At the onset of the pandemic, rental car companies started dumping their fleets. They could not afford to have all of their cars sitting — and they didn’t have the room for that, either. Their facilities are built with the consideration that on any given day, a certain percentage of their vehicles will be out on rentals and not need a parking spot.
Then the vaccine was introduced, COVID numbers started falling, and many people started traveling again. Demand for rental cars shot up in 2021, and so did prices. The price to rent a car in the U.S. was up 67% in February 2022 compared with February 2019, according to federal Consumer Price Index data.
So, can you afford to rent a car on your next Disney World trip? Can you afford not to? Let’s dig in.
How much does a rental car cost in Orlando in 2022?
We looked at rental car rates on Expedia for three random weeks in 2022 to get a sense of pricing. We stuck to well-known, national companies that popped up in our search for a Standard size vehicle:
- May 15th to May 22nd — The median rate was $72 per day.
- July 10th to July 16th — The median rate was $98 per day.
- November 6th to November 12th — The median rate was $98 per day.
It’s important to note that rental car rates fluctuate frequently based on supply and demand. We performed our searches the first week of April 2022, but this is just a snapshot of rates may be at any given time. We would also point out that there seemed to be plenty of availability for the car class and dates we were seeking, and that was not always the case in 2021.
Do I NEED a Rental Car for My Disney World Trip?
The short answer to this is no. You can arrange transportation from the airport to your hotel through a bus service, take a taxi, or take a rideshare. There are also walking paths between some resorts and parks. If you are staying at a Disney World Resort, you can use free Disney transportation to get around, as well as use taxis and/or rideshares. If you are staying off-site, many resorts in the area offer their own transportation back and forth to the Disney World parks and Disney Springs, and if they don’t, they are accustomed to making transportation arrangements for you.
So, why do people rent cars? We can answer that in one word: convenience. Disney World transportation is free, but it can be slow, and just like attractions, the Monorail, Skyliner, and buses can have long lines at peak times.
If you don’t want to be dependent on those lines and Disney’s timing to get you from place to place, a rental car may be a necessity for your enjoyment (and sanity!). If you are bringing a youngster (or even an adult) who is known for epic meltdowns, you may need a rental car to make a swift trip back to your hotel at times (and that’s totally OK — we’ve been there!). Of course, that’s also a time when you can choose to use a rideshare or taxi rather than wait on the Disney transportation options. If you plan to venture out quite a bit to shop or dine off Walt Disney World property, that’s another reason you may want a rental car.
What Am I Forgetting to Factor Into My Rental Car Decision?
PARKING FEES. Just as a rental car is not an inexpensive proposition in Orlando, parking at your Disney World resort (or the Disney parks if you are staying off-site) is not cheap. Disney World currently charges $15 per night at Value Resorts, $20 per night at Moderate Resorts, and $25 per night at Deluxe Resorts to park a vehicle. If you stay at an off-site hotel and drive to the parks, it will cost $25 per day to park your rental (if you’re staying at a resort and paying the parking fee there, you won’t have to pay when you drive to the parks). So a 7-night trip could cost you an additional $175 to park that rental car.
In many cases, you could use a combination of free Disney transportation and rideshares you pay for each day, and save money over what you would be paying for a rental car and parking fees. Like so many things about your Disney World vacation, it’s all about your needs and what’s going to add to or detract from your enjoyment.
Our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining is also a fantastic resource for getting the most out of your Disney World trip. This super helpful ebook has over 800 pages of easy-to-navigate planning tips, snack recommendations, budgeting tools, special deals, and SO MUCH MORE!
We also created it with YOU in mind. (Need to save money? ✅ Have picky eaters in your family? ✅ Not sure how to start planning? ✅) There’s something in there for everyone!
Click here to grab your copy of the 2022 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining for 25% off with code 25DFB!
Happy planning! We hope you have a GREAT trip!
Do you usually rent a car when you travel to Disney World? Let us know in the comments!