6 Tips on Car rental in Walt Disney World as an Overseas Traveler
Traveling from overseas to Walt Disney World can be exciting yet overwhelming experience. Determining if you should rent a car to get around can be a tricky decision as we had to face a few challenges such as driving an automatic on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in a foreign country.
We were given the choice of several cars and could have gone bigger if we wanted. (My first tip is to take a photo of the car and license plate on your phone once you arrive at your accommodation so you will recognize your car the next morning).
Apart from the first drive out of the Alamo parking lot, driving in Orlando was much simpler than I had imagined and after a few days I quite enjoyed it.
What I wish I had known beforehand..
1. An automatic is much easier to drive than a manual car (stick shift). I was actually surprised how quickly I stopped trying to press the missing clutch pedal or change gear. Driving an automatic gave me more time to think about what was going on around me and to take in the scenery.
2. Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road seems very strange at first but with everyone else doing it your brain soon accommodates the difference. My worry was that I would try and turn left too soon when turning left at an intersection and end up heading towards oncoming traffic. I found that the very clear signage helped avoid this disaster!
3.Coming from the UK, we were unused to Toll Roads and paying at toll booths. Before traveling we had been told to think about paying for the Sun Pass in advance to avoid having to pay for tolls and to be able to access the Sun Pass lanes.
For Alamo this would have worked out at $3.95 per usage day with a maximum capped total of $19.75 + tolls for the whole vacation. We decided not to use this service when collecting the car. Overall we found the toll system to be efficient and the staff very friendly towards us asking where we were from.
You should definitely make sure you have some small bills and coins and try to avoid automated booths on your first journey. If you fail to pay a toll by getting in the wrong lane at the toll plaza the official advice is not to stop and reverse but let your hire company know later.
4.Buying gas can also seem a daunting experience. At the moment overseas travelers are mostly unable to pay at pump which means you will need to pre-pay for your fuel.
We bought our gas from two different filling stations, and both times the staff were really helpful to the very obvious foreigner and talked me through what I needed to do. Another difference from the UK is that most pumps will have a lever you need to lift to begin filling up. I saw a number of perplexed tourists wondering why nothing was happening at the pump.
5.Parking is generally much easier than in the UK as the spaces are much larger to accommodate the large cars. Parking at Disney is extremely well managed. Another good tip to help find our car after a long day in the park was to take a photo of the row / area on my phone. We also took a small and familiar plush toy from home to leave in the back of the car window as a reminder of our car.
6.Be prepared for sudden weather changes and drive accordingly. Thunderstorms can happen quickly with heavy rain and very poor visibility in Florida. Make sure you know where the lights are and how to operate the de-misters.
I am glad that we took the decision to drive, it was much easier than we had imagined it would be and gave us the opportunity to explore other places outside of the parks. We had a great day at Kennedy Space Centre which included a scenic drive down there.
These are our top tips for driving in Orlando as an overseas visitor.
- Do it!
- Avoid additional options when picking up the car.
- Take a photo of the car when you collect it so that you can remember it the next day.
- Put a small plush toy in the back window to help you find your car in a parking lot.
- Have a look on YouTube for driving videos, we found one from the airport to near our accommodation. It is really helpful having an idea of where you are heading.
- Read the Florida Drivers Manual before traveling.
- Carry small notes and coins for toll booths.
- Enjoy the experience, it can be fun!
About the Author
Spencer Organ is a Science teacher from the UK who loves all things Disney and technology. He has recently come back from 17 days in Orlando with his wife and two boys. When he is not teaching Spencer blogs about his passion for technology at http://home.uktechreviews.com and his love for Disney at http://disneytraveltipsandhints.blogspot.co.uk
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