Saturday, October 23, 2010

Will We Get to Ride in the Red Van Again?

Joey's 1st Mickey Ears ~ he was 14 months

WDW Daily News, Making Magical Memories Column, Article #4 September 2009

I have always been a firm believer, especially when it comes to Disney, in not paying for something they offer for free. I’ll handle the extra few minutes it may take or slight inconvenience in order to save money that I can put toward something else, like a character meal or a souvenir. But there is one part of the vacation expense that I will gladly pay extra for – a rental car. I discovered this gem of information first hand during our 2006 trip!

In 2006 we traveled with my 14 month old son, stroller and diaper bag and used Disney transportation to get to and from the parks. We bought a special stroller for that trip that was easier to lug around than our travel system stroller, and I translated that to mean it was convenient to get on and off Disney buses. Well, we spent the whole trip trying to get all that on the bus, usually with our son asleep in one of our arms, while the other carried our arsenal of supplies to get him through the day. I will say that we were mostly successful on the bus, but it was amazing the number of times I was trying to hold Joey and stand because there were no seats. Now most of the time, people gave up their seat for me, as we always did when we traveled before having children, but this was not the case on every bus trip. I was 6 months pregnant and Joey was 14 months at the time, but twice the size of a child his age. So imagine standing on a packed bus, holding onto a 30 pound child with one arm, while clinging to the overhead bar with the other! We never would complain because the transportation is free and it was saving us money, but it made for some difficult rides home. Though I must admit, it was a nice workout for my arms!

At 10 months, Emily loved "reading" the maps!
In 2008, with three children, ages 10 months, two years and three and a half years, my dad suggested we rent a car. I was adamant that we were fine on Disney transportation, though my dad is usually right, so I decided to do some research. I found a travel times chart in “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2008,” by Bob Sehlinger with Len Testa that compared travel times from each hotel to each park by car versus by Disney transportation. In almost every case, taking a car was a significant time saver. Not only that, we eat many of our meals at other hotels, such as the Beach Club, Polynesian and Contemporary. Since there is no direct bus linking one resort with other resorts, we always had to take a bus to a park and then from that park to the hotel. This could be very time consuming. My dad then started researching prices. He found a great deal through Dollar, so my dad made a reservation for the rental car. I wasn’t sure I was sold on it, but my dad then let us know he would pay for it. I liked the sound of that and was sold on getting a rental car.

Hayley at 2 years loving Pooh's Playful Spot

Our motto for that trip was one diaper bag, two strollers and three children. I can’t even imagine how we would have managed by ourselves getting on and off the buses, especially since Emily was only 10 months and not yet walking. Being able to just walk to our car from the park was great! We could keep the kids in the stroller and transfer them directly to their car seats. We rarely used the parking lot trams, but when we did, we waited much less time than we have waited for the buses. Plus, since we were staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, parking was free, another benefit of staying on property in any of the Disney resorts. Besides transportation to the parks, we were able to make a grocery trips to buy diapers, snacks, and water. Not only did this save us money on buying things there in Disney, but it also kept our luggage to a minimum. Midweek my daughter was a little under the weather. We were able to drive to the local pharmacy, talk to a pharmacist and get her some medication. Finally, getting in and out of the airport was very convenient because we could leave on our own schedule.

I know we will probably never go again to Walt Disney World without renting a car, at least while there are strollers involved. Of course, last month when I asked my son if he wanted to go back to Disney, his response was, “Will we get to ride in the red van again?” Apparently, our rental car – a red minivan – made quite an impression on him!

Do you rent a car while visiting a Disney theme park?


DisneyBabies said...

We always have a car - usually borrowing my parents who live in S. FL.. I wish I had known in June that parking is free if staying at a resort - just found that out this past week. We stayed at the Caribbean and one night it took us close to an hour to get back from MK.. with a 6 month old. No bueno. Next time we stay on property, I'll definitely take that advice to heart!

Beth Doda ~ disneymom2jhe said...

That's terrible! The night I had to stand on the bus while holding my son. My arm was literally shakey for an hour after we could finally sit! :-) I don't think I could have held onto him and the overhead bar for another second! On one trip my sister in law actually had to go to the emergency room, so having the car was definitely a plus because we didn't have to deal with the stress of taking cabs back and forth, especially since there were 10 of us at the time.

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