Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World is an exciting experience, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay close attention to the details.
You must consider not only which dining plan to choose, but which restaurants you’re going to eat at; not only what parks you want to visit, but also which attractions you want to experience; not only your flight but also transportation to and from the airport.
For decades, visitors to Walt Disney World traveled in and out of Orlando International Airport (MCO), but in more recent years, Sanford International Airport (SFB) has become increasingly popular. Previously just a small regional airport, national and international airlines have started to fly in and out, including Allegiant Air.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to get from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World, the region’s most popular tourist destination.
Let’s take a look at all of the different options, including rental cars, ride-shares, taxis, shuttles, and limos, so that you can make the best decision for your vacation.
- How Far is Sanford Airport from Walt Disney World?
- What’s the Best Way to Get to Walt Disney World from Sanford Airport?
- How Should I Get from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World?
How Far is Sanford Airport from Walt Disney World?
Depending on your route, Sanford Airport is about 40-50 miles from Walt Disney World. The exact distance also depends on where within Walt Disney World you plan to go since it is a rather large complex. Sanford International Airport is located in Sanford, Florida, which is northeast of the city of Orlando and Walt Disney World.
In terms of time, you can make the drive from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World in as little as 40-45 minutes. However, you’ll only find traffic moving at this pace during off times, such as very early in the morning (before 5:30 AM) or later in the evening (after 8:00 PM or so).
Typically, we recommend leaving at least one hour for transportation from SFB to WDW or back to the airport (more if you’re on a time crunch or need to make a departing flight or reservation).
We’ve also provided the most straightforward directions from SFB to WDW. Bear in mind that these avoid side roads and minor highways for the sake of simplicity. Your map app might take you a more circuitous but faster route:
- Follow airport exit signs to FL-417 South (this is a toll road)
- Stay on 417 S for about 16 miles, then take exit 33 onto FL-408 towards Orlando.
- After about 8 miles, take exit 10B for I-4 West; stay left for West.
- Stay on I-4 for about 16 miles, then take exit 67 toward Epcot and Disney Springs.
- Follow signs to your specific destination.
If you’re driving, it’s helpful to know which Disney landmarks are around your hotel so that you know which signs to follow. For example, if you’re staying at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, follow signs for the Magic Kingdom. If you’re staying at Disney’s Boardwalk, you want Epcot. Just take a peek at a map ahead of time to get an idea.
What’s the Best Way to Get to Walt Disney World from Sanford Airport?
Now that we know the approximate distance and time it takes, we can look at your options for getting from SFB to Disney World safely, quickly, and without stress.
1. Rent a Car and Drive
Renting a car and driving is one of the most obvious ways to get from the airport to WDW. Several rental car companies service Sanford Airport. These include:
With the airport only growing in popularity, more rental car companies are likely to be added in the near future.
Rental car prices can vary significantly from season to season. It also matters where and how you book; there are many ways to get reduced prices on rental cars. During the off-season, you can rent a full-size car or small SUV for around $400 weekly. Prices go up from there.
Even though Sanford is a small airport, their prices for rental cars are comparable to larger nearby airports and rental car shops. If you’re going to schedule a one-way rental, go with either Alamo or National; both have desks on Disney property, making it easy to drop them off and then use Disney’s transportation to your hotel.
One of the benefits of renting a car is keeping the vehicle throughout your stay. While Disney has made considerable improvements to its internal transportation system over the past few years, it still has its issues. If you like to be in control of exactly where you want to go and when we recommend renting a car for the duration of your stay.
2. Use a Ride-Share Service
Thanks to services like Uber and Lyft, ride-shares have become one of the most popular and most affordable ways to get from one place to another when you don’t want to drive your car. It’s also one of the most convenient ways to get to Walt Disney World from Sanford Airport.
Many drivers in the area make their living driving back and forth from the airport, shuttling families like yours. For that reason, they’re almost always readily available. Even UberXLs will arrive within 5-10 minutes of confirming your pickup.
One of the reasons people prefer ride-shares over traditional taxis is because, unlike most taxis, a ride-share quotes your price before you get in. They charge per trip, not per minute, so the price doesn’t shoot up if you hit traffic.
Uber rides start around $60 for an UberX (3 people at most) and $80 for an UberXL. These are midday prices. Lyft prices are comparable. Keep in mind that prices will likely be higher during higher demand times and rush hour. Return prices are typically about the same.
3. Take a Taxi
Despite the prevalence of ride-sharing, taxis are still an excellent option for getting around in central Florida, including traveling from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World. It is also one of the fastest methods for getting there; the average taxi ride takes around an hour, but traffic can considerably speed that up (or slow it down).
Taxis are often more expensive than ride-shares, typically costing over $100 and as much as $160. Despite the upcharge, some people prefer taxis because the drivers are actual professionals, and sometimes they even carry credentials. They also tend to have much better insurance coverage if something were ever to happen.
4. Take a Shuttle Bus
Another option for getting to Walt Disney World from Sanford Airport is to take one of the shuttles available for hire. The best thing about a shuttle is that you can book it in advance. Some people don’t like waiting until they land to finalize their transportation plans. With a shuttle, you make a reservation ahead of time according to your flight’s arrival time.
Sanford Airport is relatively small, so you shouldn’t have difficulty finding ground transportation. With most companies, the shuttle company driver will check your reservation when you arrive. When you book, they should ask for your flight information. That way, if your arrival is delayed, they will automatically adjust your pick-up time.
Several well-known transportation companies have begun to offer round-trip service from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World. Some of them include:
- American Luxury Transportation
- Arroyo Transportation
- Executive Car Service Orlando
- Orlando Sun Transportation
- Via Transportation, Inc.
Sanford Airport itself also maintains a list of local shuttle, car, and limo providers.
Of all of these services, Mears is the most reputable. Mears is contracted with Disney through the end of this year to provide their Magical Express Service until it expires. For that reason, they are the most knowledgeable and best equipped to navigate inside Disney property.
Typically their shuttles stop at several hotels, but you can choose direct service with fewer stops for an additional fee.
Like most things in Orlando (or any region heavily reliant on tourism), prices vary with seasons. Must shuttle services cost at least $100 round-trip. Remember to check that you’re looking at round-trip fees if that’s what you need.
We should mention here that although central Florida has a decent public transportation system, there is no direct or easy route to Walt Disney World from Sanford Airport. If you’re really savvy, you could possibly figure it out, but we don’t recommend it. You’ll end up wasting a lot of time and energy, especially given the relative affordability of the shuttles.
5. Book a Limo
Last but certainly not least, you can always ride in style by booking a limo or private car. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to make your family feel like royalty, there’s no more refined way to arrive in Walt Disney World than in a limousine.
Several of the shuttle companies that we listed above offer either limos or private cars, in addition to buses. Mears is one of them. Other popular options with high customer ratings include Orlando Transportation, A1 Elite Transportation, and WPC Transportation.
Limos offer personalized, high-end service that you won’t get with any kind of ride. Your chauffeur will meet you at baggage claim, take care of your bags for you, provide you with water or other food and beverage, and get you where you need to go on time.
Keep in mind, if what you’re seeking is a quiet, private, pre-scheduled ride from the airport, you don’t need a limousine; look into car services. They’re more similar to an Uber or Lyft that you can schedule ahead of time.
How Should I Get from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World?
As you can see, you have many options, and the best method varies depending on your family and your vacation style. It also depends on what time of day you arrive, when you want to be at your resort, and more.
Does Disney Offer Its Own Transportation?
The short answer is no, and they more than likely never will. Disney offered airport transportation for all resort guests via their Magical Express Service for decades from MCO. However, they recently announced its cancellation effective January 1, 2022. It’s unlikely that they’ll reinstate it for any airport in the foreseeable future.
Which is the Fastest Method?
If you want to jump into the magic as soon as possible, we recommend a ride-share or taxi. Just schedule a pick-up or head out to the cab line, and you’ll be there as quickly as possible. Even though you have to wait for your turn, there’s no paperwork to fill out or sign or reservations to confirm.
If you’re concerned about your arrival, there are things you can do on your own to speed things up. Try packing in carry-ons, so you don’t have to wait for luggage. Consider paying a little extra to sit up near the front of the plane so you can be among the first passengers off.
Finally, save your hotel address and all confirmation numbers somewhere easily accessible. For die-hard dashers, familiarize yourself with SFB so you know where to go as soon as you deplane.
What is the Most Affordable Way to Get from Sanford Airport to Walt Disney World?
Unfortunately, we just can’t give a single definitive answer. It depends on the number of people in your group, the time of day, and various other factors.
If there are only two or three people in your party, then your least expensive option is almost certainly going to be Uber or Lyft. A $60 one-way ride, split two or three ways, isn’t bad at all. As soon as you add a fourth person, though (even a child), the price jumps up. Still, that might be more affordable than four round-trip shuttle tickets or a car rental.
Don’t Forget About Your Return Trip!
Since you flew in, we’re thinking it’s safe to assume that you’re going to fly out as well. If that’s the case, do not let your return trip to the airport go unplanned! That’s a recipe for disaster that puts you at risk of missing your flight. Given that Sanford is a small airport, you’ll have an even harder time rebooking.
Some people like to have their return transportation booked well in advance, so they don’t have to think about it while on vacation. Luckily, even if you plan to taxi or use a ride-share to get to Walt Disney World, you can still schedule a shuttle pick-up to take you back. They often offer discounts on round-trip tickets, but they’ll pick you up either way.
The Best Transportation Option for You
The best way to get from Sanford International Airport to Walt Disney World is the option that is most comfortable for you and your family. After all, you don’t want to start your vacation with stress. That’s going to look a little bit different for everyone.
Thankfully, though, you don’t have to do the research yourself or decide on your own. Use this handy, comprehensive guide to evaluate all of your options for arriving at Walt Disney World from Sanford International Airport. After all, the most important thing is being able to relax and enjoy your time on vacation!