Massive rental car shortage in Orlando more than quadruples prices for travelers next week

Mar 25, 2021 in "Walt Disney World Resorts"

Posted: Thursday March 25, 2021 3:02pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Spring break travelers to Walt Disney World who may need a rental car could be in for an unpleasant surprise next week.

A massive shortage of rental cars in Orlando means that what little availability there is will come at a high price. A compact car, such as the Toyota Yaris, which normally rents for less than $30 a day is now more than $150 a day for next week. Some companies are charging up to $300 per day according to some industry observers.

During the COVID-19 shutdown, which saw a sudden and massive decline in renters, car rental firms scrambled to sell off vast quantities of their fleets. With Orlando now starting to see a strong rebound in visitors, car demand is outstripping supply. The shortage is being further complicated by a global lag in vehicle manufacturing which is needed to resupply the rental fleets.

With Walt Disney World's Minnie Van Service still grounded, visitors may look towards Uber as an alternative, or one of the private airport transfer services. Disney's Magical Express remains available through the end of the year for those guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

The best advice for anyone needing a rental car in the coming months remains to book early and lock in a reasonable price.

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LilofanApr 12, 2021

Some tips to get a rental car are - Book a reservation for a week or more. Rental companies would rather you book for a longer duration rather than a 3 or 4 day where rentals are hard to come and the prices may be higher. Then return the rental early and the rental agent will refund you the difference. - Book a rental outside the airport where rates are cheaper and avoid paying airport tax. Then just Uber to the airport or going to the rental place. Just check the hours of operation since MCO has 24/7 hours and outside rental location may not.

aliceismadApr 12, 2021

Agreed. There are definitely maintenance costs even if a car isn't being driven. Plus you really don't want to let most cars sit for that long without being driven. Most rental car companies only keep cars to a certain age (1 year for Enterprise) or mileage (up to 40K for Hertz) anyway. If you've ever shopped at Carvana or CarMax, a lot of those vehicles are former rental cars. Also a lot rental cars are fleet leases rather than owned. Hertz applied for Ch 11 last year.

Rob562Apr 12, 2021

While I don't know all the ins and outs of the rental car business, having a fleet of cars sitting idle isn't quite the same as other industries having a supply of unsold products. There are costs to the rental company for every car, whether they're rented or not. Insurance, registration, inspection, perhaps excuse taxes. There's also the depreciation of the value of the car on the used car market. I'm sure there were many 2-car families the past year having to decide whether they still could afford to keep two road-ready cars when one or both weren't being driven much. Now expand that to many thousands of cars sitting around idle, but still paying costs associated with them, and companies have to make the same decisions. -Rob

Stitch826Apr 12, 2021

Well that was an idiotic thing for the rental car businesses to do. Instead of having inventory sitting on their lots simply being unused much of the time, they got rid of it. Now that travel demand is quickly climbing back up a year later, they (as well as their potential customers) are in a tough spot.

Waltsworld1971Apr 10, 2021

Yes and no

flynnibusApr 02, 2021

under normal conditions.. yes. But they move cars around... and in these abnormal conditions the depletion impacts more than the airport sites

LilofanApr 02, 2021

The really nice part of getting a rental car arriving in the airport in Orlando is when you pick up your luggage at baggage claim/ rental agents counter you literally walk a little more than a minute to the 1st parking level of the covered garage where the rental cars are waiting. Its the easiest airport that I've been to to rent a car. But inventory now is an issue.

MinnieM123Apr 02, 2021

(I don't have any current information, but at least in the past, for Denver) -- suggest trying the city locations for all car rental companies out there. Can be a substantial savings over the airport sites, and also more vehicle availability, if booking in advance. (May have to take a taxi from the airport to the city location, but that's a minor inconvenience, if trying to save money. May also be other options such as shuttles, if rental office is located at a city hotel.)

Club CooloholicApr 02, 2021

So for the heck of it I looked up rental options if I went to Denver this summer. Enterprise and Alamo had NO options available. That is crazy.

Club CooloholicApr 01, 2021

No idea, but it seems short sighted. The Magic Express definitely gave an edge to Disney over Uni for a family and kept them captive on the property. With a rental car or having to take a taxi more folks might find themselves in Harry potter world.

Judi8281950Mar 31, 2021

What is the reason, if you know, why they are eliminating the Magic Express? we've been using it over the years and we are going again in '22 and it really disappoints me that it will be gone. I am hoping that another bus company will be willing to take people to their hotels. 🙏

aliceismadMar 31, 2021

This isn't limited to Orlando. Rental car companies sold off a lot of inventory to stave off covid losses. There have been stories from Vegas, Hawaii, etc.

DISRMar 31, 2021

When I was there over New Years rental car outlets seemed stressed by the volume, but reluctant to ramp up staff and inventory. I think the travel industry has been so hurt by COVID they are milking the increased demand by lagging their investments...understandable, but frustrating. It also seemed like the volume of available Uber/Lyft drivers was much more limited than in times past. I wonder if that is back to a more robust and responsive level around the World.

mktMar 30, 2021

It's literally cheaper to buy a cheap beater car off craigslist when you arrive.