Updated: Dec 30, 2021
With the discontinuation of Disney’s Magical Express service between Orlando’s International Airport and the Walt Disney World Resorts, you may have wondered how you will get from the airport to their resort. While there are many options, such as Uber, Lyft, or the new Mears Connect service.
The most traditional option that I use each time I visit is renting a car. Having a rental car affords me the freedom to come and go as I please, get out of the Disney “bubble,” and it allows me the chance to visit places that I might not usually visit otherwise.
However, renting a car in Orlando, one of the largest car rental markets in the country, comes with a bit of a catch: toll payment convenience fees. Because Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, and in many parts of the state, their sales tax is low, some major thoroughfares charge a toll to pay for the maintenance and upkeep. While not a big deal, knowing how car rental companies manage paying these tolls can be a big deal.
Most companies charge $4.95 a day to “rent” a toll transponder. You get charged each day whether you use it by going through a toll plaza or not. There are a couple who charge a convenience fee only on the days you go through a toll plaza, but a couple of companies charge a more significant, flat fee per rental. I’ve seen these fees go up to $35 per rental period. Except for a couple of companies, they will also charge the cash toll rate, which is always higher than the electronic rate that those with a responder should be getting.
Simply put, some of these companies are ripping people off.
Our agency only works with reputable, national car rental companies because while the tolls are unavoidable, the extra fees and we believe the lack of respect for our clients is avoidable. It seems like Orlando’s mayor Buddy Dyer and the Central Florida Expressway Authority agree. They came up with a solution to this racket, and we love it!
The solution: Visitor Toll Pass and the Central Florida Expressway Authority claim that you can save up to 80% on the tolls if you're renting a car.
They do this a couple of ways. First, it’s completely free to use. Yes, you still have to pay the tolls, but you don’t have to purchase a transponder or pay any transponder rental or “convenience” fees. You must return the transponder when you’re done using it, or you’ll be charged a $10 fee. You are also charged an electronic toll price, not the cash price.
Here’s how the Visitor Toll Pass system works:
1. Download the Visitor Toll Pass App
Simply go to your app store, search for “Visitor Toll Pass,” and follow the setup instructions.
2. Pick up your Visitor Toll Pass
Look for the Visitor Toll Pass vending machines on Level 1 near the rental car counters at the Orlando International Airport. A barcode will appear in the app to scan at the vending machine to retrieve your pass.
3. Hang your Visitor Toll Pass
Prior to leaving the airport, decline the transponder rental or “convenience” toll fee with the rental car company. Hang the Visitor Toll Pass on the rearview mirror of your rental vehicle.
4. Return your Visitor Toll Pass
There are 8 drop-off boxes spread throughout the airport on both the A and B sides. The drop-off boxes look like mailboxes, so they’re easy to find.
5. Pay your tolls
You will be billed to the credit card you provided in the app, and you will be billed the electronic price for the tolls.
It really is that simple!
I tested it out on my latest trip, and I must say, it was easy to use, and I saved just under $30 using it. That’s the equivalent of 5 snacks at Disney World! (Yes, that’s how we think around here).
The Visitor Toll Pass system is a win for travelers, the City of Orlando, the airport, and the tourism community at large, so what do you think? Is this something you think you’ll test out? Do you even rent a car when you travel?
Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
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