Having been here almost 2 months now, and countless trips to WDW before moving here, I thought I would give some insight into driving your own vehicle around WDW Property. Unless I am blogging about the Disney Bus System, I am always using my own car to get to WDW to and from home. Trust me, if I can handle it, YOU can handle it. So buckle up, because we are driving to Disney World!
Let’s starts with the basics, which is first learning about where everything lies on WDW Property. Everything is grouped basically around a certain Park- so you will have your Magic Kingdom area, Epcot area, Animal Kingdom area, and finally the Downtown Disney area. The Disney Resorts that are closest to one of the parks will be in that area- example is Caribbean Beach Resort is in the Epcot area. How does this help you driving? Simple- if you are seeing nothing but signs for the four major Parks or DTD, you can follow the road to the Park which will more than likely lead you to your designated Resort.
Once you arrive at WDW, under that famous Disney arch we all have come to know and love, you are officially on Property. Signs will be PURPLE now and, for the most part, will tell you which way to head for what you are looking for. Then there are certain ways you figure out how to get around simply by trial and error, which I would like to share with you so you don’t do what I did.
- If you are heading to a MK Resort- upon entering the Magic Kingdom gate where you pay to park, you have to be all the way to the RIGHT- right next to the bus lane. After everyone leaves that gate, there is ONE LANE, and ONE LANE ONLY, that takes you to the Contemp, Bay Lake Towers, Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge, the Polynesian, and Shades of Green. When it is busy, it is nearly impossible to get all the way over into that lane if you are on the far left through the gate, so line yourself up on the far right before ever entering and you will have prime position for a smooth lane change to the road that will lead you to the Resorts area. The same lane also is needed for drop-off and pick-up of guests, so keep that in mind as well.
- Most Resorts have either a traffic light or stop sign when entering and leaving them- especially ones on the busy roads.
- Upon entering any of the WDW Parks, there will always be several lanes to use at the Main Gate, for parking, and for generally driving into it. Inside the parking lots the speed limit is 25 mph. There is no need to race anyone or try to beat the car next to you- everyone has equal share of parking, and you will most likely be in the same lot that the guy who is in from and in back of you- so no reason to race.
- Some Resorts are grouped together, so when looking for a certain one, you may have to look for the named road more than the signs. The All-Stars are grouped together, one after another- so easy to remember and they are in the AK Area- AK=All-Stars. Then you have Swan and Dolphin grouped in together with the Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach Club- and so on.
- If you are driving around Property and you find yourself upon an exit that reads “To All Guest Areas” – this means it will take you back onto WDW Property- if you drive past it, you have probably left WDW. I saw this sign for the first time last month, and I took it as “Guest Areas” to be Resort referenced, not actually WDW as a whole. I was wrong, it means it leads you back to WDW.
- Coming down Highway 192 West, there is an Exit before you ever get on the WDW exit, and all it says is “Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios.” If I am a new person to the WDW area, I wouldn’t bother taking that exit for AK or Epcot- but here is the catch- AFTER you take the exit, THEN it shows you the different directions to get to all FOUR Parks. It is a VERY misleading exit, and even though I have been on the WDW exits many times now, I still messed up and didn’t take it because I needed to head to AK today. Heads up on that!
- All of the Disney Park exits that you will see from Interstate 4 don’t ever actually go straight to the parks, but take you to the road or roads to get to your desired Park. If you miss your WDW exit, more than likely the next one you come upon will get you back to where you need to go.
- The traffic is usually high at Park opening, closing, and when there is bad weather. Keep that in mind when using your own vehicle so you can get to any dining reservations or anywhere else on Property on time.
- When you are using your own vehicle after having relied on Disney busses to get to and from the Parks, you can sometimes forget that you have to remember where you parked. We either take a picture of the end of our row, text the info to ourselves, or put it in our note pad on our phones. The only problem with that is if your battery dies and the info is all on your phone- so you can always do it old school and keep a note pad in your car during your vacation to jot down the parking info.
- If all else fails on driving around WDW, GPS it. I guarantee it you will catch on sooner than you think after having to return and leave your Resort over, and over, and over again.
- Feel free to ask Cast Members at the gates for any directions you may need- most of the time they are more than happy to help.
I hope the personal experiences I have had will help you in the future with driving your own vehicle in the Disney area. Drive on my friends!