Driving at Walt Disney World
Driving at Walt Disney World can be confusing. The road that you take somewhere might not be the same road that you take back. Getting to know the roads ahead of time can help you be prepared for the crazy roads you will be driving at Walt Disney World.
Driving from Disney College Program Housing to Walt Disney World
From The Commons, Chatham Square or Patterson Court your best bet to get to Walt Disney World is it take the back route on International Drive to World Drive. That will then bring you to Epcot first then Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
If you are coming from Vista Way you can take a right on 535 and then turn right on World Drive.
Driving at Walt Disney World in General
Many of the roads go from one lane to two lanes then back down to one lane or even up to three lanes. Roads are constantly changing and merging into other roads. As you start to drive on these roads will get to know which lane you want to be in to ensure you get to the proper location.
One of the best tips I can offer is that when driving at Walt Disney World if you’re not passing other cars then you’re going under the speed limit and wasting time.
People at Disney World do not drive well. You have people from all over the world driving in one location and they have no idea where to go. Even if they are from the USA they are confused as to where to go and if they are not from this country then it becomes and even more confusing situation for drivers.
I can tell you first hand that after nine months of driving at Walt Disney World there were still times I got all turned around and went the wrong way. The roads are not marked well and the signs they do have do not always tell you exactly where to go. You need to learn what destinations are near other locations. For instance, the Beach and Yacht club are near Epcot and Hollywood studios so if you follow the signs towards Epcot or Hollywood Studios you will most likely find a sign with directions to the Beach and Yacht Club.
Know the zone you want to go to. Let’s take a look at some maps of Walt Disney World.
How to Find Your Way Around While Driving at Walt Disney World
The first map is an overview of Walt Disney World. As you can see I have divided it into 6 zones; Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, ESPN, Animal Kingdom. I have also highlighted the two longest roads that cut through Disney World; World Drive and Buena Vista Dr. If you are following the signs at Walt Disney World and you do not see your destination on those signs then you will need to figure out what larger destination is near your destination and head towards that. Once you get closer to the areas main destination then the smaller destinations will start to show up on the signs.
If we remove the zone labels and add in all the major roads you get a clearer picture of how there really are not many main roads to navigate through Disney. It’s really how to get from one road to another that gets the most confusing.
Looking at the map above you can see Walt Disney World hugs 3 major highways; the 429, 192 and 4 (I-4).
I can not say I recommend speeding but if you can drive in a way that’s faster than the rest of traffic you will not fall behind. Like I said earlier I found that if I’m not speeding I’m going under the speed limit. You need to be aggressive and pass those who are going under the speed limit. Do not expect the majority of drivers to go the speed limit because they will not.
Have a GPS ready because no matter how many times you drive somewhere if you miss your road you may quickly become lost thinking I can just turn around right here but in a lot of cases, it is not that simple. It gets really confusing sometimes.
Knowing which lane to be in is half the battle. When you drive to work every day you are going to notice a pattern in which lanes always slow down at certain points and which lanes clear up at other points. Once you learn that for the most part, it is very consistent.
You will find that at many intersections there are right turn lanes that you do not have to stop at. You will come to a red light and the right turn lane does not have to stop because the lane you will be turning onto begins at that intersection and then probably merges shortly down the line.
Try to Avoid Vineland Ave While Driving at Walt Disney World
One road to avoid like the absolute plague is the road that goes past the Mary Queen of the Universe church and the outlet mall this will be the road that coming from this the way they on your way to The Commons or to get to Chatham Square and Patterson Court. This road goes from two lanes down to one and is just the worst road ever especially on Saturday evening because that’s when the church has mass.
It’s just under 1 mile from the start of that Vineland ave coming from Vista Way to Little Lake Bryan Rd which is what you would take to get to the other 3 Disney College Program housing complexes. It’s about 3 miles to take the back route between Vista and the other 3 housing complexes. The average speed limit on the back route is 45 mph whereas Vineland Ave is 35 mph if you even get to go the speed limit. So depending on when it is it may be in your best interest to take the “long way” miles wise to get between housing.
There were times when I accidentally took Vineland Ave and it would take me 45 minutes to go that one mile.
Also on that same road, there is a Shell gas station do not fill up at the Shell gas station on Vineland Ave. They overcharge for gas at this gas station by a lot all the time because for guests on vacation who are staying at the Marriott hotels right there or a lot of the other locations right around that area this is the only gas station that a lot of them are going to pass so they do not know what else is around. I made this mistake one time back when it was only around a dollar more than other gas stations and it cost me about 16 dollars more for gas than it would have if I went to the 7-11 or Speedway that are marked on the map. By the time I realized it was a dollar more than my usual gas station it was too late.
The Speedway on the corner of International Dr and World Center Dr was my gas station of choice. It was on the way to work from Chatham Square, Patterson Court or The Commons, and they had the best prices for gas as well as the mini mart shop inside which had regular priced items as you would find in non-tourist areas.
Getting From Magic Kingdom to Disney College Program Housing
When you are leaving the Magic Kingdom Cast parking lot, one of the best ways to get back to housing is to take the road that is behind the Magic Kingdom.
Take a right out of the Magic Kingdom cast parking lot on Reems then take a right on Wintergarden Vineland Rd then a right on S Apopka Vineland Rd (535). This will put you back by Vista Way where you can decide if you want to continue of 535 down to World Center Dr and take the back way to the other three Disney College Program Housing Complexes or whether to take a left on Vineland Ave and take your chances with traffic.
It is a guarantee that Vineland Ave will be backed up when the church on that street is having mass which I believe is Saturday nights. Otherwise, it’s just hit or miss. I got to the point where I just stopped taking this road completely and always took the back route.
Another tip is that when you’re going through the Magic Kingdom entrance area you have to go through the checkpoint and show your Disney ID. If you are not going to the Magic Kingdom parking lot then you will want to be in the right lanes at the checkpoint. From here you can get the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and the Contemporary.
You don’t have to be in the last lane on the right to make the exit. You can be a few from the right and still make it over just fine. The last couple right lanes move more slowly from buses and people who do not know what they are doing.
Police at Walt Disney World
As far as the police go driving at Walt Disney World, I never had an issue with them. I would occasionally see them checking speeds but they were always in the same spot so I knew where to look for them and they were almost never there. There is a lot going on at Disney and most people do not have a car so in my opinion, the cops did not really seem too interested in what I was doing as long as I was not being reckless.
Should I Bring a Car to the Disney College Program?
Having a vehicle on a Disney College Program is absolutely a good thing I highly recommend it because taking the bus is can just be a real pain. If you have a car you can leave 20-30 minutes before your shift and get there on time, depending on your work location. If you work at Magic Kingdom you will have to park your car walk to a bus that will then take you to West Clock (the backstage entrance to Magic Kingdom) and then you can walk to your location from there. In that case, you probably will need more than 20-30 minutes especially if you work on the far side of the park.
The one downside of not taking the bus is that you are missing out on some opportunities to meet new people. When I did take the bus on my first program I always met people. I made a lot of great friend from taking the bus however you can also make friends by having a car. I gave a lot of people rides home after work who I became friends with.
Also having a car can sometimes be a curse. You will get calls from friends who do not have a car to see if you can take them to Publix for Chicken and Beer…or something like that. Don’t be afraid to say no. I mean help out as much as you can and want to but don’t be afraid to tell him no they are not going to be heartbroken. There is a bus if they really need to get somewhere and you can not take them. Also if they say they are going to give you gas money for the trip then get that money up front either in cash or go straight to the gas station and have them use their card. People are more easy about giving gas money at the beginning of the trip before they spent a bunch of money at the grocery store.
Let us know if this was helpful to you and/or if you have any of your own Driving at Walt Disney World Tips in the comments below!