Fly to Walt Disney World

Drive or Fly to the Walt Disney World Resort?

It’s one of those big questions that comes up once in a while on Disney-related forums, and it’s one that has to be answered before every new trip: How are we going to get there?

We’ve done both, and I’ll tell you which one I prefer, but first I’ll lay out a list of pros and cons to each. Before we begin, I should let you know that we live in Illinois, about 1200 miles from the Magic Kingdom. If you live closer, or father away, this list might look different for you.

Flying to the Walt Disney World Resort – Pros

  • Speed. Flying is definitely faster than driving, but it’s not exactly quick. The flight from Chicago to Orlando only takes about 2 1/2 hours, but once you consider the time to drive to the airport (about 30 minutes, unless there’s traffic), getting through security (1-2 hours), and the bus ride to the resort (30-40 minutes), you’re looking at a total travel time of 5 1/2 hours.
  • Convenience. It’s nice to be able to go into vacation mode the moment you board the plane, sitting back with a good book or a Disney movie to set the mood. And when you land, there’s something wonderful about skipping baggage claim and going straight to the Magical Express terminal!

Cons

  • Cost. Flying is almost always more expensive than driving.
  • Inflexibility. When you fly, you have to follow the airline’s schedule. You’ll have to say no to “just one more ride” on your departure day.

Driving to the Walt Disney World Resort – Pros

  • Adventure. If you see a roadside shop and want to check it out, go for it!
  • Ability to shift plans. If you fly, you’ll pay stiff penalties for changing your plans. If you drive, you just leave later (or earlier!)

Cons

  • Cost. Flying is almost always less expensive, but sometimes it’s not by much. If you live far enough away to make it a multi-day trip, you’ll need to factor in hotel, food, and gas.
  • Stress. If sitting still isn’t high on your kids’ priority list, a long road trip might be more stress than fun. Keep in mind that while they might be able to nap in the car and arrive well-rested, you probably won’t. Even if you’re sharing driving duties, chances are you won’t get a lot of sleep on the road.

We’re planning our third trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, and this time we plan to fly. For us, arriving exhausted made our last trip harder than it had to be, but we also drove straight through the night. It might have been easier if we had made it a 2-day trip, but lets be honest, we just wanted to get there as fast as possible! Besides, I love being able to go into vacation mode the minute I arrive at the airport. We find the nearest Starbucks and treat ourselves to a mocha and the kids to chocolate milk in anticipation of a whole week of indulgence.

What about you – do you drive or fly? What’s your reasoning behind the decision?