One question we get asked a lot is, “What route do you recommend for driving from the Kansas City area to Walt Disney World?”. As I have personally driven this route at total of 5 times, I have managed to get it down to a science. When making the drive from KC to WDW you do need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Do we want to enjoy the drive there?
- or Do we want to get to WDW as fast as possible?
Based upon my experiences of driving this route, I would HIGHLY recommend you don’t try to rush it in one day. You may think you are saving yourself time and money, but in all actuality you are not. The most time you are saving is a matter of 6 hours, and those are sleeping hours. So no matter where you end up, you will be sleeping those 6 hours. It is honestly not worth the misery of pushing through to just get to the next place to sleep those 6 hours you just saved. This may not make sense to you yet, but as I go through the route, you will see what I mean by only saving 6 sleeping hours.
I know many of you maybe reading this and saying to yourself, I am not starting in Kansas City, or I won’t even go through there. If that is the case, leave us a comment below and I will put together a recommended route for you as well. Be sure to tell me if there is anything important for you to see on your way.
Let’s Get Started
It’s all about timing.
The night before you leave, pack up your vehicle. Put EVERYTHING in it’s place, so when you wake up the next morning all you have to do is climb in and go.
- Pack one bag for the hotel and trip, you don’t want to unpack the entire car when you stop at a hotel on the drive down. Be sure you have one bag that contains what each person will need for an over nighter.
- Sleep the night before in sweats or comfy car clothes, so you don’t have to worry about changing and getting ready for the day the next morning.
Stage 1 – Kansas City to St Louis, MO
Google Maps says it is 248 miles that will take you 3 hours 40 minutes. For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to pretend their drive times are right (we typically beat them by 30 – 45 minutes)
Stop have breakfast, use the bathroom, stretch your leg – 45 minutes
Stage 2 – St Louis, MO to Nashville, TN w/ one stop along the way
Google Maps says it is 308 miles that will take you 4 hours 35 minutes
After leaving St Louis, MO you drive south for 167 miles that will take you 2 hours 38 minutes (according to Google Maps) to Metropolis, IL.
If you are reading for lunch, then stop and eat with the Giant Superman Statue or stretch legs while enjoying this iconic statue in this Comic Book City. – 30 minutes
Continue on your way to Nashville, TN – 148 miles that will take you 2 hours 11 minutes
If you didn’t have lunch in Metropolis, IL. Now is the time to eat, or have an afternoon snack, stretch your legs and use the restrooms. – 45 minutes
Stage 3 – Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA
Google Maps has this at 248 miles that will take you 3 hours 43 minutes to drive.
On the way to Atlanta, a good stop for a snack time, leg stretch or bathroom break is Chattanooga, TN (133 miles, 2 hours) – 30 minutes
Arrive (in Chattanooga): 5:30pm
From Chattanooga TN to Atlanta, GA – 118 Miles, 1 hour 49 minutes
Arrive in Atlanta GA: 7:50pm
From Atlanta, GA to Walt Disney World it is 448 miles, or 6 hours 24 minutes. This is where that whole 6 hours of sleeping comes into play. You see it is now almost 8:00 at night, if you try to push through to WDW or even to get a little bit closer, you really aren’t saving any time. You are now just deciding whether you want to get up early or stay up late.
If you stop now, you can do a little site seeing, or even take a swim at your hotel. You can get to bed at a decent time even, let’s say 10pm ish. We typically go to the hotel, get cleaned up and head to dinner at a local restaurant or go swimming. The next morning we get up around 8am, pack up and go site seeing in Covington. We generally stay at the same hotel each time, Holiday Inn Express Covington, GA, they have an awesome free breakfast that includes bacon, waffles, biscuits and gravy and cereals. After we eat, we head into the Town Square, take a few pictures and hit the road.
Stage 4 – Atlanta, GA to Walt Disney World, FL
Google Maps has this at 448 miles that will take you 6 hours 25 minutes.
Let’s just pretend that you don’t want to stop and do any site seeing. You just want to get up and go.
Stop in Valdosta, GA – 228 miles, 3 hours 23 minutes
Get out of the car, have lunch, stretch your legs, use the bathroom. – 45 minutes
Now this last segment will seem like it is the longest. But remember you are only 3 hours away from being at the most magical place in the world. You are 225 Miles away, 3 hours 15 minutes.
Now if you REALLY want to push through and drive LATE into the night:
Alternate Stage 4 – Atlanta to Walt Disney World
Arrive in Atlanta at 7:50pm
Eat dinner if you haven’t all ready. Use the bathroom, stretch your legs and pick up coffee. – 40 minutes
Drive to Valdosta, GA – 228 miles, 3 hours 23 minutes
If you want to keep going, then you have 3 hours and 15 minutes left of driving before you reach WDW. At this point, you should arrive at 3am.
There are few areas to stop from Atlanta to WDW that have decent hotels at reasonable rates. We Recommend the following cities:
- Lake City
I hope this helps with your planning, and be sure to let us know if you want us to add anything, any stops, good site seeing stops, alternate routes. Do you want to stop by the beach on your way down? Just ask and I will gladly update with additional route options.