Disney World is one of the top family vacation destinations. A great addition to a Disney World vacation is a Disney Cruise. Port Canaveral, the home of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, is only a 65 miles drive from Disney World (also at certain times of the year, you can take a Disney Cruise out of Miami).
There is a lot of information about Disney World and Disney Cruise Line on the Internet (a great source of info is disboards) so we won’t go into details of a Disney World or a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Instead, I will take you, step by step, through the process of driving from Disney World to Port Canaveral.
As of the time of this writing, Disney Cruise Line officially starts guest check-in at 11:00am, and embarkation at 1:00pm. However, many PT’ers have been able to embark around noon. For this reason, you don’t need to rush to the port. You can visit a park in the morning, especially if a park has early an extra magic hours.
PT Tip - This is also a good time to visit Downtown Disney. It is free to visit and there are very few guests before noon.
Once you decide to leave the Disney Resort, make sure you have your paperwork (including passport) with you, and still not in the safe. Don’t place your paperwork in a bag that you will be checking either. You will need it at multiple points at the port. Also be sure to secure the luggage tags on your luggage before you leave. There will be no time to place them on your luggage when you get to the port.
As you leave for the port, you head in the direction of the Orlando International Airport (you’ll pass right by it). Be sure to pay attention to the signs pointing to the airport while on Disney Property, it is easy to make a wrong turn.
The address for the Disney Terminal at Port Canaveral is:
Port Canaveral Terminal #A
9155 Charles M. Rowland Dr.
Port Canaveral, FL 32920
9155 Charles M. Rowland Dr.
Port Canaveral, FL 32920
(Some GPS systems will not recognize Port Canaveral. In this case use Cape Canaveral)
Once you turn off I-4, and onto toll road 528, you will encounter various tollbooths. Unless you have the Sun Pass, you will need to stop at each tollbooth and pay the toll. If you don’t stop at the tollbooth, and stay on the main road, you may receive a ticket. The total of all the tolls between Disney World and Port Canaveral is $4.25. Exact change is not required if you stay on 528. At a few exits, exact change is required, but taking those exits is not required to reach Port Canaveral (only if you need to stop).
There will be plenty of places to stop for gas or food between the Disney World Resort and the airport. However once you pass the airport, you will encounter a 30 miles strip of highway with every few stops. If you think you may need to get gas, be sure to do it before the airport. Avoid gas stations near the airport. They tend to be more expensive than other gas stations in the greater Orlando area.
Once you reach Highway 1, you will once again find gas stations. Also in this area you will get your first glimpse of your Disney Cruise ship, as you pass over the causeway. As you get closer to the ship, you will have a view of Kennedy Space Center to your left.
When you reach the port, you will follow signs from 528 to the port. Directions are very clear. Just follow the Disney signs.
After a few turns you will be stopped by a cruise terminal employee. They will direct you head to a Disney cast member that will check your identification and ensure you are on the guest list. After this check, you will be directed to drive to the luggage drop off location.
After driving a couple hundred feet you will reach the baggage drop off location. It is very similar to dropping off luggage at the airport curbside check-in (without actually checking-in). A porter will help you with your luggage. It’s a rather busy place, which is why you need to already have your luggage tags on your baggage. Also this is a place to watch your children carefully. Cars are consistently coming and going. Also it is customary to tip the porter helping you with your bags (at least one dollar per bag).
At this point, passengers in the car may walk into the terminal or stay in the car (and walk to the terminal after parking the car). Once your luggage is dropped off, you will follow the road to the parking lot (only a few hundred feet away).
The parking lot at the terminal is similar to parking lots at most airports. Before you can drive through the gate, you will need to obtain a parking card from vending machine. You will pay as you leave the port. Parking is $15/day (not a night) and major credit cards are accepted. This means, a 3-night cruise is $60, because your car is there for 4 days. The Disney Cruise Line parking lot has both a parking ramp and surface parking. As a side note, restrooms are located on the first floor of the parking ramp near the elevators.
After parking, collect the bags you will carry onto the cruise ship. Follow sigs to the terminal. You can walk across the street or take the elevated pathway from the parking ramp.
PT Tip – It will take a few hours for your luggage to arrive to your room. Bring your bathing suits with you in your carry on bags if you want to go swimming after lunch.
As you approach the terminal, on the other side of the road from the parking lot, you will be once again be stopped and asked for identification. Simply provide your identification so it can be checked against the guest list.
After your identification is checked, you will walk into the terminal. At this point you will need to go through a medal detector, and your bags will need to go through an x-ray machine. Typically there is a line to go through the medal detectors. Be sure to keep an eye on your valuables as they pass through the x-ray machine.
Following the security check, you will enter the main hall of the terminal. At this point you will want to fill out a health card and get in line to check-in. There are two lines. One line is for guests that have never cruised before with Disney, and one line for guests that have previously cruised with Disney (this line is shorter).
Once you reach the desk to check-in, you will provide all of the paperwork required to check-in, including another check of your identification. After everything is finished, you will receive your Key to the World Card.
TP Tip – Your Key to the World Card will have your dining rotation on it. For example, Dinner: 5:45 PM-ERA Table:11, indicates that Enchanted Garden is the first night, Royal Palace is the second night, and Animators Palate is the third night. If you don’t like the rotation, you might be able to change it. As soon as you board the ship, ask guest services where to go to make a change.
After receiving your Key to the World Card, you may or may not be able to embark. If you have to wait, the terminal is a good place to take pictures. They have Disney movies running and a model of the Disney Magic to view.
Once you are allowed to embark, you will enter through the mouse ears, onto the gangway. A cast member will scan your Key to the World Card and direct you to the photographer. This photography stop is fairly important because this is the photo that Disney uses for facial recognition, to identify you in all of the remaining pictures taken of you on the cruise.
Following the photo you will enter the cruise ship. A cast member will announce your family name and direct you to the lunch location.
There are other options to get to the Disney Cruise Line terminal at Port Canaveral. Disney offers a bus service at $70/round trip per person.
To avoid high parking fees there is a Park N’ Cruise parking lot 5 minutes from the terminal, with a rate of $6.99/day. Also you could rent a car one way. Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty all have locations near the terminal. From the car rental location you will need to take a taxi to the terminal.