Driving to Walt Disney World is different than driving on other road trips with kids. When you’re heading to Walt Disney World, kids have an expectation to have fun along the way. In Part 1 of this article (which you can read here), I explained some general tips for helping kids during a 12+ hour drive. Now, I’m sharing some tips that will specifically help if you’re driving from the East Coast.

3 Tips To Surviving A Road Trip To Walt Disney World

If you’re planning a 12+ hour road trip from the East Coast, these three tips will help you make the best of your journey, especially if you have kids in the car.

1.) Scout hotels before leaving home.

Get a good idea of where you want to stop for the night before you leave home. To stop about halfway into your journey, several cities North Carolina offer a quick dinner and a place to sleep for the night.

If you want to stop at a popular tourist destination overnight, reserve a hotel in advance. During our drive down, we called several hotels around Tybee Island and Hilton Head, but all of the hotels were already booked. Stopping at a beach destination overnight can help you make the most of your road trip to Florida, but you should plan your mid-way destination in advance to get the hotel you want.

2.) Plan a reasonable time to stop mid-way.

Decide the time you plan to stop before you leave home. Some families like driving late because the kids will sleep, but I recommend stopping early. This way you can avoid reckless drivers, have a casual meal, watch a movie, and get plenty of sleep. You can wake up well rested and energetic.

We drove longer than expected, and we made it into South Carolina on our way to Walt Disney World. Driving a longer amount of time can be more difficult because your eyesight can become very limited in the dark. 

Plan on arriving at your Walt Disney World hotel as early as possible. When we woke up, we were not far from Orlando, and our check in time at Walt Disney World was about 3 in the afternoon. Without a lot of planning, we had just enough time for an impromptu morning at the ocean in Ormond Beach, Florida.

Ormond Beach is 45 minutes from St. Augustine, an hour from Jacksonville, and only minutes from the Flagler Pier. You can discover completely private, scenic surroundings at one of Florida’s best hidden beaches. 
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If you visit, check out my article here about free activities to enjoy in Ormond Beach. There’s plenty to do in this area if you happen to stay longer than a few hours!

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To get to this hidden beach, drive down Highway A1A past the Flagler Pier. There are a few places to pull off and park near High Bridge Road.

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You can also drive down High Bridge Road for a gorgeous scenic view of the Halifax River. If you follow High Bridge Road, you get to Old Dixie Highway, which is another well known, scenic road that is part of the Daytona Loop, where a lot of motorcyclists ride for the beautiful view.

By stopping for the night only hours away from Orlando, we got in a picturesque beach stop. Running around the beach was exactly what the kids needed after driving for so long. Unexpectedly visiting Ormond Beach also helped everyone get in the spirit of Walt Disney World.

3.) Turn a mid-way stop into part of your vacation.

Choose mid-way stops that offer a unique experience to make the most of your vacation time.

On the way back from Walt Disney World, we had another unexpected change of plans. We had considered visiting another amusement park, but we just couldn’t do a fourth day of walking around in the heat. Instead, we stopped in St. Augustine (which I described in Part 1 and Part 2 of an article series).

Before we left St. Augustine, we ate at a cute diner called Georgie’s Diner. The Mousaka was incredible! By the time we were done enjoying our meal, we were off to a late stop. After we drove another few hours, we decided to visit Savannah, Georgia where the kids could cool off in the fountains at the City Market.

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We stayed at the Cotton Sail Hotel. We enjoyed being able to look out and see riverboats that took up the whole window in our hotel room. Another perk was that we were walking distance to the most fun parts of Savannah. Although the location was gorgeous, staying next to the Historic River Street could have been quieter if our room had been located higher up, which would have also given us a nice aerial view of the water.

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Staying at a fun destination for the night added another day to our vacation. This made splitting up the drive into two nights more enjoyable and exciting for everyone, including the kids who were especially tired after such a long few days enjoying their favorite theme park.

If you’re taking a road trip to Walt Disney World from the East Coast, there are several ways that you can make your trip enjoyable! Plan your mid-way stops ahead, and decide what time you’ll stop before you leave home. You can also stay at a vacation destination on the way down and the way back to make the most of your trip.

What’s your favorite place to stop on the way to Walt Disney World if you drive there? Share in the comments!

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5 Responses

  1. Harmony, Momma To Go

    I’ve only driven to Florida w our kids, but I did do a long trip NY to NC w kids. I always find it hard to gauge road trip overnight stops bc you might want to keep driving or turn in early before you get to your intended stop!

    Reply

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