Our First Drive to WDW: The Way Down

wdwjill (NDM#117) (27 Posts)

My name Jill Laperle. My first trip to Disney was way back in 1978. I still remember the first glimpse of the Magic Kingdom with my parents. I even still have some of those unused original tickets buried in a box. I met and married my Prince Charming (Jeff) and we have 2 Princes (Riley and Aidan). Mickey and Minnie were kind enough to pop in at our wedding (thanks to our parents) and we had an amazing Disney honeymoon. Both of the boys had their first haircuts at the Main Street Barber Shop when they were a year old. In 2009 we became proud DVC owners at Baylake Tower. I have graduated from the College of Disney Knowledge and keep up with that training just to help people plan trips. I made it to the second round for Moms Panel after years of applying. I will keep trying knowing one of these years it will be my turn. I was a beta tester for Disney InsidEARS. I may have a small obsession with Disney Dooney and Harvey Seatbelt bags. I also love collecting Disney iPhone cases, Chamilia beads and other jewelry finds. I am always showing a Disney Side in a small way. Anything else you would like to know just ask. NDM #117


Jill's road trip 1

Packed and ready to roll!

Last year when I was looking for a good time to plan our annual trip to WDW, we saw that our school’s vacation week had really low crowds, according to Touring Plans. This was because Easter fell really early in 2105 and Massachusetts follows our Patriots Day Holiday for our vacation week, which was 2 weeks after Easter this year. The crowds were predicted to be under 5 for almost everyday that week. This seemed perfect to us. I booked everything I could and then started to research the airfare. This is where I hit a road block. We generally pay around $2,000 for the four of us round trip. When I started to look for airfare, I couldn’t find anything less then about $3,800. My husband and I discussed this and decided, if we were ever going to try to drive, this would be the perfect time.

jill's road trip 3

The boys were good 😉

We planned to leave after supper on Friday, and needed to be on Disney property between noon and 1 pm on Sunday. This plan gave us about 40 hours to make the 21 hour drive. Yes, I live 1,266 miles from our happy place.

I did not plan any over night stays because we would drive until we needed to stop, and never having done this before, we had no idea what that would be. We made it as far as Elkton, Maryland, because of bad traffic, at about 1:30 am Saturday morning. We found an exit with 5 hotels. The first 4 were booked. We were desperate so we tried the 5th. This had room, but it was like the scene out of Psycho. If you ever watched the series Dexter, there was a running ice truck outside our room which reminded us of the ice truck killer from the series. Needless to say, after just a few hours of very restless sleep with our bags barricading the door, we were off again. We hit some traffic in the DC area and did not realize on the way down we could use the center E-Z Pass lanes to avoid this. We did this on the way home and it worked awesome.

jill's road trip 2

Quick stop

Before the trip, I found old-school bingo cards that were made for car rides. Called “Interstate Bingo,” we had fun playing that off and on during the Saturday drive. We also made sure we had power for all the iDevices and movies and games on them for the kids. I have to say, my boys (ages 6 and 12) were really good for the drive.

We drove all day Saturday. Let me just say South Carolina is a rough drive. It is 2 lanes with just trees. The traffic wasn’t bad, but I need more than trees to look at. That is just me. We did stop at Pedro’s South of the Border and the kids got a kick out of that. We hit some weather and about 4 hours shy of Disney, we decided to stop in Georgia. We found a much nicer hotel this time. We did this because we wanted to get a better night’s sleep so we could hit the parks at full speed on Sunday when we arrived.

We pulled up to Bay Lake at 1 pm on Sunday with our first FP+ scheduled for 2:30 pm. We had time to spare! Our room was ready, so we dropped off the luggage and hit the park.
I thought we may use the car since we had it on property but after driving for that long, we were happy to take Disney transportation.

Have you ever chose to drive to Disney over flying? What was your first experience like? Share it with us in the comments below!

  • kimmer

    We make the drive every year from Ottawa, Ontario. We love it! Our kids (10,8,6) have grown up making the two day trek to WDW (our youngest was 8 mos. his first trip). Even considering seat sales, driving saves us thousands that we’d rather be spending at the parks!

  • Chris White

    great story! We’ve flown twice and driven 3 times – but our drive is about half of yours. There are definite pros and cons to driving and flying. I bet everyone who’s driven has experienced an unexpected delay or stuck in traffic episode. But flying isn’t at the top of my list right now – just with getting through the gate and all the other stuff. I haven’t even priced flights lately, but I still would figure it’s much cheaper for us to drive than fly.