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Old 04-30-2022, 08:43 AM   #1
bostonRob
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Default Flying into Tampa

Im looking at flying into Tampa for the first time because prices for Orlando are sky high. Im sure some of you have some experiences with this? Can you give me the good, the bad and the ugly? I get there is about an hour drive.
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Old 04-30-2022, 09:14 AM   #2
Joel0917
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Originally Posted by bostonRob View Post
Im looking at flying into Tampa for the first time because prices for Orlando are sky high. Im sure some of you have some experiences with this? Can you give me the good, the bad and the ugly? I get there is about an hour drive.
we have done this A LOT!!! and have 3 or 4 more fall trips planned into Tampa and then over to WDW. it does seem to be cheaper.

Pro: Save Money
airport seems less crowded than MCO
Getting a rental car is easy. Walk outside to skylink tram. 2 or 3 stops at at rental center. just as easy to return.

Con: the only con to me is the time. *its' at least 1 hr 10 min to Disney. I4 is crazy fast driving there to. Like the autobahn. it's nuts!~
the other con when comeing back is you have to give yourself extra time in case of traffic on i-4 for your flight. so i often leave WDW 4 hours before my flight.
NOw in downtown tampa there are some great little restaurants and areas to explore if you need to kill an hour.

But we do it all the time! I say go for it!
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Old 04-30-2022, 09:19 AM   #3
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Our daughters prefer Tampa airport to MCO. It's smaller and easier to navigate. The car rental they've used was off site and the ride to WDW is clear. The eldest said that because of where it is placed AK is only a 45 minute ride from Tampa where the Main entrance is closer to an hour (I forget whether over or under). The eldest said the first time she drove to WDW from Tampa to meet us at AK she almost drove past AK entrance because she wasn't expected to bypass the main gate and she thought she still had more of a drive. She was following her GPS.
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Old 04-30-2022, 09:46 AM   #4
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I did this a ton due to family living there. We'd stop in on one leg of the trip. TPA is much smaller. I tend to rent the choose your own cars and selections are very tiny. Drop off of a breeze though. So is navigating the airport itself.

The biggest issue is planning for the drive between Tampa and Disney. Especially if there is an accident it can easily take 2+ hours. Where normally it's just over an hour. Drivers in Florida are among the worst (and I've driven in Chicago and NYC among others). So on return I would add in an extra hour of drive time and leave 4 hours in advance. The airport negates a need to be there 2 hours early IMO. More like 90 max.
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Old 04-30-2022, 12:30 PM   #5
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We've flown into TPA a few times and are doing so again in May. The TPA airport is fantastic! I definitely prefer it to MCO. Our primary reason for booking there (aside from the fact that we are ending our trip on the Gulf Coast) was that the rental car was at least $300 cheaper. I don't mind the drive from TPA to WDW at all, but I've also never encountered any major traffic problems (knock on wood!)
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Old 04-30-2022, 01:23 PM   #6
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I am flying into TPA this fall, first time. Chose it over MCO because this will be the first time renting a car since the loss of DME and I wanted to have the "small airport experience". At the time I booked, the plane tickets and the rental were the same whether I chose MCO or TPA.

There is always some stress on the travel days, as I'm sure everyone knows. Our airport (Minneapolis) is about 1.5 hrs or so from our house - usually done speeding at 4am because we didn't get out of the house early enough, and then you get to the airport and find out everyone else in the state is getting on the same 7am flight and the line through security reflects this, and I spend the next 45 minutes frantically looking at my watch. This is our usual experience, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Fast forward to a few months ago, my mom books a trip to Arizona and flies out of our local tiny airport in Rochester MN. (Four gates, unless they bumped it up to six in the last few years). She asked me to drop her off. We drive up about an hour before the flight - and the place is a ghost town. I'm the only car, we pull up right to the front door, which is about ten steps from security, which takes a minute to go through...she calls me on the phone on the other side and says we were like 45 minutes early.

I'm like "this is how *I* want to travel in the future!" Well flights out of our little airport didn't work out this time, but I'm hoping the Tampa airport can give me some of that.
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Old 04-30-2022, 03:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Adelard of Bath View Post
Fast forward to a few months ago, my mom books a trip to Arizona and flies out of our local tiny airport in Rochester MN. (Four gates, unless they bumped it up to six in the last few years). She asked me to drop her off. We drive up about an hour before the flight - and the place is a ghost town. I'm the only car, we pull up right to the front door, which is about ten steps from security, which takes a minute to go through...she calls me on the phone on the other side and says we were like 45 minutes early.

I'm like "this is how *I* want to travel in the future!" Well flights out of our little airport didn't work out this time, but I'm hoping the Tampa airport can give me some of that.
I had a similar experience with the Ft. Wayne, IN airport. Work trip. On departure day, someone asked about my flight time and said, "This isn't like flying out of a major east coast city; you can get to the airport 45 minutes to an hour before your flight time and you might be the only one in the airport other that TSA." Not wanting to take any chances, I arrived 90 minutes ahead of time. Until about 30 minutes before the flight departed, I was the only person in the airport who didn't work there.
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Old 04-30-2022, 01:28 PM   #8
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I did this a ton due to family living there. We'd stop in on one leg of the trip. TPA is much smaller. I tend to rent the choose your own cars and selections are very tiny. Drop off of a breeze though. So is navigating the airport itself.

The biggest issue is planning for the drive between Tampa and Disney. Especially if there is an accident it can easily take 2+ hours. Where normally it's just over an hour. Drivers in Florida are among the worst (and I've driven in Chicago and NYC among others). So on return I would add in an extra hour of drive time and leave 4 hours in advance. The airport negates a need to be there 2 hours early IMO. More like 90 max.
Re drivers in FL......When we were hecking on our insurance coverage as we were renting a car 3+ months in FL this winter and last winter, both agent and his associate mumbled something like "Good Luck driving in FL". We are in Chicago area all our lives and have driven downtown a million times so we were puzzled by that statement

HOLY COW...we know now what that statement meant. Never, ever saw more lane changing at 80-90 mph in my life and awful drivers. These were not seniors driving 35 mph in a 55 zone. These were drivers of all ages. Plus had to drive in a massive thunderstorm on I-4 and did people slow down...at all? Nope. Literally thought we were goners.
Wow, just wow on Florida drivers. We were shocked.
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Old 04-30-2022, 01:40 PM   #9
Adelard of Bath
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I just now had google maps give me directions, at this instant it says there is a "slowdown on i-4 causing a 27 minute delay" well shucks. So it's 1:44.

Of course that's at speed limit - it sounds like traffic will not be going the speed limit heh

For fun, if you have it take you NOT on i-4, you get times of 2:22 up to nearly 3 hrs.
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Old 05-01-2022, 06:09 AM   #10
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I-4 is a different level of crazy during the morning commute in the downtown Orlando area. I missed an exit and had no choice but to go that way on one of my trips to Disney in March. I don’t know the area well enough to know an escape route. I have been on it a few other times because I had no choice and it wasn’t any different than I-75. Very busy, but not a parking lot. I’ve never traveled between Disney and Tampa on I-4, but I suppose it’s probably similar.

I will say that traffic on all the roads can be brutal. Mornings are usually okay when we venture to Disney, but when we return, 95% of the time we finish our day in stop and go traffic. My last Costco run using I-75 dealt with a burning car on the return trip. Originally, the trip was going to be 3 hours rather than the actual 1.5 hours. Traffic did clear. It only was 30 minutes extra. The alternate routes given by the gps turned out to be 3 hours so I was glad I stayed on I-75.

DH had to pick me up from Sanford and he watched on Google maps for a week to find the best route (boredom set in while I was gone I guess).

I know when we closed on our house in Jan 2021 we were going to Sanford and it should have been 1.5 hours, but there was an accident on I-75 right before the turnpike and the gps had it at 3+ hours.

Give yourself lots of time for the return trip. So many people moved to Florida and there are a lot of visitors who are driving. I’ve looked at a lot of plates sitting in traffic. When DH flew out of MCO, we doubled our time to the airport for departure and when we have flown together in the afternoon, we’ve gone to Springs and then left from there so we are closer.

**
Every trip there are several cars that zip in and out of traffic at very high speeds. I’m referring to the comments about Chicago traffic. I drove that for 4 years into downtown Chicago. It’s difficult to zip in and out of traffic going into downtown Chicago because “from the Super Target on the right” it was always a solid parking lot. I don’t miss that traffic. At least here, I have a better ending, both ways. We found that level of insanity along our entire route on major highways/freeways/tollways. I guess those drivers didn’t take physics.
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