Disney World Car Rental Advice For The Rest Of 2009

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If you take a look at the taxes and other fees you’re billed when you rent a car at an airport, you might wonder whether a better deal might be available offsite, where many of the extra charges do not apply. In cities such as Las Vegas, for example, rentals are often less expensive at some of the larger hotels, which generally have at least one full-service office of a national brand on-site. Our research team set out to determine whether similar deals could be found in the Orlando market off airport property.

As in past years, we began by obtaining quotes from the Web sites of all the car rental companies in the Orlando airport-for economy cars, midsize vehicles, and minivans-for Saturday-to-Saturday one-week rentals during every month from June through December, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also got quotes for companies located near the airport, at major hotels around International Drive, and on Disney property-more than 300 quotes in all. To get the very best prices, we also used car-rental discount codes available at MouseSavers.com.

Although there are more than two dozen combinations of car rental companies and locations around Walt Disney World, our research indicates you’ll only need to look at three to find the best car deals:

1)  Start with Dollar.com at the Orlando airport (MCO) using discount code KISS2.  Dollar’s airport location has the cheapest prices about 2/3rds of the time.

2)  Next, check Enterprise.com prices at their airport location (no discount code needed).  You’ll have to take an airport shuttle to get to Enterprise but it may be worth as much as $150 in savings to do so.  Enterprise has had the cheapest rates for Thanksgiving and Christmas over the past couple of years.

3)  If getting the absolute rock-bottom price is critical, check NationalCarRental.com‘s Walt Disney World Dolphin location with discount code 5000304.  During the July 4 and Columbus Day holidays their economy car and minivan prices can be $180 less than the best airport prices.  Even factoring in $100 for a round-trip cab ride it’s still the best deal around.

Except for certain holidays (see above), renting a car at the Orlando airport is always cheaper for than offsite locations.  Most likely, competition among on-site agencies keeps prices at the airport low-it’s difficult to charge significantly more than a competitor when that competitor is 20 feet away and smiling at your customers! Off-site car rental locations, on the other hand, typically have little nearby competition, so they can charge higher rates.

For families, whatever markdowns may be available off-site may not be  worth the cab fare and hassle of shuttling kids and luggage back and forth. But if you’re staying at a hotel with a car-rental office, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask about specials for guests.

Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

18 thoughts on “Disney World Car Rental Advice For The Rest Of 2009

  • May 24, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    You normally don’t even need the round-trip cab—National usually does not impose additional charges to rent from any other Central FL location and return to MCO (or vice versa).

    • May 28, 2009 at 8:01 am

      Good tip – thanks Brian! That advice will save folks extra money during busier times of the year. Also, if your group consists of one or two people, the Mears shuttle is a less expensive option than a cab.

  • May 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I usually pick up my car at the airport from either Alamo or Dollar, then return it onsite the day before my departure. I pay about the same as if I would pick up and drop off at the airport, plus I save myself the cost of the last day. I prefer to use Magical Express back to the airport, since they’ll take care of my luggage and I can check into my airline at the resort.

  • May 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I usually rent from Dollar and have no complaints about them. However this year we are going through Alamo for the first time. I was able to get a minivan (there are 6 of us) with an extra driver and all the fees, etc for $254. We are picking up in TPA and dropping off in MCO and will have the car for 7 days. I know we have to pick up offsite but it will be worth it to save $100+.

  • May 24, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Join Dollar Express before you go! It’s free! You can sign up on the Dollar website. They will send you a temporary # & then mail you a real membership card. When you get to Orlando & everyone else is waiting in the regular line, you’ll walk right up to the special Dollar Express counter & be in your car in minutes!

    • May 28, 2009 at 8:03 am

      I second this idea – we mention it in the book. The same holds true for almost every on-site rental place. Budget, though frequently more expensive than Dollar, will let you bypass the inside rental counter too.

  • May 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Len, thanks for the Dollar code. I needed to rent a car for the end of September and even with other codes I couldn’t get a decent price. I used the Dollar code (KISS2) and saved almost $400.00 on the price of a minivan by using the code. Thank you again!

    • May 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm

      loretta, try OOAG promo code,it saved me an extra $29 bucks for 10 days in June. That’s a tip for one of our meals! every dollar saved counts.

    • May 28, 2009 at 8:02 am

      Thanks Loretta – happy to help! And thanks Disneynut for the tip on the other code.

  • May 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Always consider renting through Priceline. Often their prices can be cheaper than everyone and you are guaranteed to rent from a national company. Here’s a tip to gauge about what to expect from Priceline WITHOUT committing to them. Go to priceline.com and select the name your price option. Then, enter an absurdly low price per day (I like to use $9/day or something else ridiculously low). Hit submit and priceline will “inform” you your bid is way too low and suggest a price that might be accepted. This price is what you can reasonably expect to pay for a priceline rental and have it approved so now you can see whether there is a real deal to be had or not.

  • May 31, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I usually wind up with Alamo or National at MCO and wind up booking and rebooking multiple times as I obsess over the price. I have Emerald Club with National, and avoiding the counter is great!

  • June 23, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Hello, thanks for sharing this pretty post, carry on, it’s a pleasure to read you

  • July 8, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Strange this post is totaly irrelevant to the search query I entered in google but it was listed on the first page. – The food here is terrible, and the portions are too small. – Woody Allen Born 1935

  • July 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Just read it and went gosh, I know why I was poor in the debate class. – If my films don’t show a profit, I know I’m doing something right. – Woody Allen Born 1935

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