I Saved Hundreds Of Dollars At Disney World Doing One Thing Differently And Everyone Should Try It

Disney World Uber

Disney World

This is a special guest post written by my good friend Lauren. She’s been to Disney World more times than Mickey Mouse. She explained this all to me and I said “you have to write this up for my audience.” Here’s her story.

Uber and the city of Orlando have been battling out the terms of Uber’s service for more than a year. As of right now, Uber drivers cannot pick up guests from the Orlando airport, but recent verbal agreements to unspecified terms may mean that soon, Orlando visitors will be able to use Uber for transportation away from the airport, but only the more expensive version of Uber. To clarify, anyone is allowed to take Uber from any place TO the Orlando airport. The problem only lies with taking it FROM the airport since the local taxi companies threw a fit about Uber cutting into their client base.  But, like with all silly rules, there are ways around that.

After arriving at the airport, I logged into Uber and tried requesting a car. The app wouldn’t let me drop a pin within the airport grounds. I had two options. I could either take a shuttle (or walk) to the nearest off-site hotel, which was only a few blocks from the airport, or I could drop my pin anywhere just outside the airport perimeter, wait for an Uber driver to take my request, then call him and tell him I was not actually standing on the side of the freeway, but in the arrivals section of the airport. Being lazy, option two sounded better.

If you’re unfamiliar with Uber, here’s the chain of events: You drop a pin signifying your location, then you type in the address or name of the destination. Seconds later, you’ll get notified that a driver has accepted your request for a ride. You’ll then be provided with the name, photo, phone number, license plate number, and make and model of the car. If needed, you can call or text the driver directly, letting him know exactly where you are. I only had to do this while negotiating my airport trickery and no other time.  Typically, the driver will know exactly where you are based on your pin.

Also important to note, there are different levels of Uber.  Unless you have a family of 5 or 6, UberX will likely be sufficient for your needs.

UberX is the basic, cheapest service and you’ll likely get picked up in someone’s everyday vehicle, model year 2000 or newer.  Seats 4.
UberXL – typically a minivan or SUV that seats 6. Higher costs associated. Still affordable.
UberSelect: Luxury sedan seating 4. Usually a Mercedes, BMW, etc. Highest cost for Uber.

After letting the driver know I was in the airport, not freeway, he arrived a few minutes later. He explained that a growing number of people are dropping their pin at a nearby hotel or calling with exact locations from the airport and he didn’t mind at all.

So let’s crunch the number on airport rides from Orlando Airport to Disney World. I stayed in the Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) area. Exact prices will depend on your trip length. From MCO to Downtown Disney, my Uber fair was $20.19. Using a first-time sign-up promo code gave me a $20 credit, making my bill $0.19 for a ride for two.

That same trip using a Mears taxi is $49 using their online fare estimator.

The shared Mears shuttle is $22 per person one way or $36 per person round trip.
Public transportation using the Lynx Bus is $2 per person, but takes an hour.
Uber is roughly $20.

I’ve also taken Disney’s Magical Express, free to those staying on Disney property, but it can take an hour or more for it to arrive, load passengers, make multiple stops at resorts, etc. I’d gladly pay the $20 to be there in 20 minutes.

Uber Mears Taxi Mears Shuttle/Charter Lynx bus Magical Express
MCO to WDW $20 $49 $22 pp $2 pp Free
WDW to Universal $13 $33 $42 $2 pp N/A

** Fares depend on exact locations.

Getting from Disney World to Universal studios (and back)

Let’s say you were at Epcot in the Walt Disney World Resort and you wanted to go to Universal Studio. You have several options for getting there. Of course, you can rent a car. We’ll estimate that cost at $60 a day + $20 per day that Universal charges you to park in their garage. You can take a Mears taxi, which would run you about $33, according to their fare estimator. You could also charter one of their nicer vehicles, like a luxury sedan, for $42.  You could take public transportation, the Lynx Bus, which takes 90 minutes, yes, 90 MINUTES, to get from Disney to Universal. Lastly, you can use Uber or a similar ride-sharing program, which is estimated to cost anywhere from $13 to $17.

My ride from Saratoga Springs Resort at Walt Disney World to the drop-off location of Universal Studios totaled $12.92 and took 18 minutes using Uber. Thanks to a referral code from a friend, I was eligible for a free ride up to $20. That credit was applied and I rode from Disney World to Universal for absolutely no cost.

When we were ready to return to Disney World from Universal, I simply referred my husband using my code and since he hadn’t used Uber before, he got a $20 credit and I got another $20 credit, so we rode from Universal back to Disney for free, too.

So how do you get free rides to Disney World?

Your first ride is free up to $20 when referred by an existing Uber member. After your first ride, you can refer other people to Uber and receive a $20 credit after their first ride. They will also receive their first ride free because you referred them.

Everyone in your party who has a smart phone can be referred by you while you’re on vacation. Meaning, if you’re traveling to Disney World with your spouse and two children with smart phones, they can each sign up using your code and receive $20 credits and you’ll get a $20 from each of them, making for a LOT of free Uber rides around Orlando!

If you’re looking for a referral to start, use mine! Sign up using the Uber app or on the Uber website using the code laurenz526ue to claim your free $20 credit. That’s more than enough to get your family of 4 from Disney World to Universal.

4 Comments on “I Saved Hundreds Of Dollars At Disney World Doing One Thing Differently And Everyone Should Try It”

  1. This is such a great tip as I’m planning my first WDW trip! Just wondering.. if I were to stay off-resort and request an Uber to drive me to one of the parks, where would I be dropped off? Doesn’t seem like its a possibility for Uber to be able to drop you off within a good distance to the park gates.

  2. Jess, they can drop you off at the Ticket and Transfer Center for Magic Kingdom. At the other parks, there are parking areas where you would be dropped off. Simply tell the person manning the parking gate that you are dropping off and not parking and they will let you cruise on through and back out again (this is at their discretion). Worst case scenario, you can ask to be dropped off at the nearest resort hotel and either walk or shuttle from there. For instance, you can ask to be dropped off at the Swan & Dolphin for Hollywood Studios, or at Boardwalk Inn for Epcot (International Gateway is the “back entrance” by World Showcase), etc.

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