Now that you’ve booked your trip to Disney World in Orlando, you need to actually get there.
Our daughters are both under ten, so driving from Central Illinois all the way to Orlando did not seem like the ideal means of travel to me. We are very fortunate in that we have a local airport, Central Illinois Regional Airport, that flies to the Orlando/Sanford International Airport. Using Allegiant Air, you can fly to Orlando/Sanford in about 2.5 hours. That sure beats 20+ hours in the car.
I know flying can be expensive, but when you take into account the gas, the food, the hotels costs, and the incidentals of driving, flying seems far more convenient and not that much more expensive. It was very nice to wake up in Illinois and go to bed in Florida.
A few words about Allegiant Air–yes, they had that scathing news report a few months ago. We’ve flown Allegiant four times now in the last two years, and not once did I ever feel that our lives were endangered. However, annoyances will arise with this airline. They are a budget carrier, and it shows. Three of the four times we flew with Allegiant, we had delays. This is partly just air travel. Everyone has delays. One time, though, last summer, we were on the plane about to pull out three different times before they postponed the flight to the next day. I’m talking we got on the plane, then we got off the plane. Then we got on the plane, then we got off the plane. Then–say it with me–we got on the plane, then we got off the plane. My kids were great through the whole thing, but they were very confused. The most irritating part about that ordeal is that it was impossible to reach their corporate headquarters. I should say, though, that Allegiant put us in a nice hotel that night, and gave us each $100 vouchers with a one year expiration date. We used those vouchers to offset the cost for this most recent trip! I’d also like to say that all of the Allegiant employees we’ve dealt with have been very kind and professional. Allegiant is not the most luxurious way to fly, but I certainly have no trepidation about getting on their planes.
Central Illinois Regional Airport is a dream. It’s so clean and well-maintained. The employees are very good there as well. Orlando/Sanford International Airport is a little more dicey. If you get there during off hours, it’s not bad at all. However, it’s been packed to the gills each time we’ve been there. It’s an international hub, so that stands to reason. Once again, though, the employees were great. I have a little inside information for you, by the way. If you find yourself stuck in the Orlando/Sanford airport for any length of time, check out the international wing. You walk down a long corridor before you enter it from the main wing. It’s wide open with plenty of seating, plenty of shopping, plenty of restaurants, and big, clean bathrooms. It looks much newer than the main part of the airport as well.
One more tip for flying with Allegiant. Backpacks count as personal items, not carry-ons, as do purses. To save money, I checked a suitcase, my wife checked a suitcase, and then our daughters shared a checked suitcase. We did not use any carry-ons, but we each had a backpack for which we were not charged. These personal items must fit under the airliner seat, though, so be sure to check your dimensions.
Okay, so we’ve made it to Orlando/Sanford International Airport–now how do we get to Disney World? Ah, you’ve heard Disney runs a shuttle to Orlando International Airport, right? Here’s the thing, Orlando/Sanford is not the same as Orlando International. They are two different airports about forty minutes apart. You’ve got some choices. You can hire Lyft, Uber, or a taxi. Lyft and Uber were out of the question for me–I’m not trusting a stranger to drive my family in Florida. Taxis were about the same price as simply renting a car. So … I rented a car.
I know what you’re thinking–“Scott, that’s crazy! You rented a car just to sit in the parking lot of your resort!?” Well, no. We timed our flight so that it would arrive late Thursday evening. We wanted to check in and hit Hollywood Studios right away Friday morning. So, I rented a car from Alamo, which is a very short walk down a sidewalk outside of the Orlando/Sanford International Airport. (Of course, I set all of this up ahead of time at the Alamo website.) We rented a car, drove to a nearby hotel, spent the night, then drove to our resort first thing the next morning. I parked at the resort, checked in the family, then left them to explore the resort as I returned the car at the Disney Car Care Center which has an Alamo onsite. The Car Care Center is pretty much in the middle of the Walt Disney World grounds–it’s close to everything. When I returned the car, I only had it for 24 hours–a one day rental. (Actually, I only had it about 15 hours, but that’s okay.) You see, this way you don’t have to pay a full week’s worth of car rental fees! Great, right? Best of all? The Alamo at the Disney Car Care Center will shuttle you back to your resort. In fact, they told me they’d take me anywhere I wanted to go as long as it was on Walt Disney World grounds. Furthermore, they will also pick you up! When it was time for us to leave, Alamo sent a shuttle for us, loaded up all of our luggage, and then drove us to the Disney Car Care Center in order to check out another car, which I then turned in to the Alamo at the Orlando/Sanford International Airport. It’s a really fantastic service!
Of course, all of this requires careful planning. You need to figure out what you need, communicate what you need, reserve what you need, and you need to keep all confirmation numbers on you. I literally kept all of my confirmation papers in separate color-coded folders in my backpack with me–but I’m a little … you know.
And that’s how we got from Central Illinois to Walt Disney World and back! Thanks for reading!
The next installment will arrive soon, and it will detail the resort we stayed at in 2017 and the resort we stayed at in 2018. Hint: not all outlandishly expensive resorts on Walt Disney World grounds are created equal.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)