How Can You Get to Disney World Quickly From Tampa

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Resorts

Hate I-4? Tired of US 27 traffic? Tampa folks: Here’s a hack to avoid I-4 and get to Walt Disney World quickly.

Once upon a time, you could get to Disney quickly from Tampa by simply heading east on I-4. This is no longer the way. Today, if Tampa peeps want to get to Walt Disney World in less than two hours, I-4 is the popular highway, but it can make for a tear-soaked sojourn through traffic, at least one accident, and, at times, random things on the road (Really? A sink? Just… why?). What if someone told us they had a better, less stressful, calmer, faster route from Tampa to Walt Disney World? Would we take it? You bet Donald’s britches we would!

So, when my iPhone seemingly had enough of waiting for the traffic in Clermont to clear and told me, in no uncertain terms, to get off I-4 and take the backroads to Walt Disney World, I couldn’t head for the nearest exit fast enough. This has happened twice on my drive from my home in Gulfport, Florida to Walt Disney World, and Apple Maps has suggested two different routes. Both delivered me to Disney more quickly than staying on I-4. In one case, the backroads to Walt Disney World delivered me to the main gate about five minutes faster than staying on I-4 would have; in another, it saved me about 30 minutes. In both cases, it saved an untold amount of traffic headaches and stress, which meant I arrived at Walt Disney World relaxed and ready to enjoy the day.

Two Backroads To Get To Disney Quickly From Tampa

Your phone’s maps app may not always suggest this route, but I’ve found that even when it doesn’t, these backroads to Disney save 5-30 minutes over taking I-4. Take a look at two backroads from Tampa to Disney that get you there faster—and in a better state of mind.

For both routes, get on I-4 eastbound. From there, pick your backroad!

When You Don’t Want To Be on I-4 At All

Time saved: 30 minutes or more

  1. Take Exit 31 (the Kathleen exit; SR 539) and make a left (head north).
  2. Follow SR 539 to Deen Still Road East.
  3. Make a right (head east) at US 27.
  4. Turn left (head north) on US 27.
  5. Turn right (head east) on Florence Villa Grove Road.
  6. Turn left (head north) on West Side Boulevard.
  7. Turn right (head east) on Funie Steed Road.
  8. Turn left (head north) on Morgan Williams Road.
  9. Turn right on W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway.
  10. Get in the right lane.
  11. Exit for Walt Disney World just before Mile Marker 7 (you will see the large Mile Marker 7 sign in time to signal and exit safely if you’re already in the right lane.)

When Your GPS Shows Last-Minute Heavy Traffic

Time saved: 5-10 minutes or more

  1. Take Exit 48 to Old Grade Road and make a left (head north)
  2. Follow Old Grade Road to Deen Still Road East.
  3. Make a right (head east) on Deen Still Road East.
  4. Turn left (head north) on US 27.
  5. Turn right (head east) on Florence Villa Grove Road.
  6. Turn left (head north) on West Side Boulevard.
  7. Turn right (head east) on Funie Steed Road.
  8. Turn left (head north) on Morgan Williams Road.
  9. Turn right on W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway.
  10. Get in the right lane.
  11. Exit for Walt Disney World just before Mile Marker 7 (you will see the large Mile Marker 7 sign in time to signal and exit safely if you’re already in the right lane.)

Posts by Cathy Salustri

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Cathy Salustri's formative years revolved around Walt Disney World, whether it was having an OG annual pass (four months out of the year only!), wearing acid-washed denim to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, or working as a tour guide at the now-defunct Inside the Magic attraction at the then-Disney-MGM Studios. She loves all of Florida, too—her Florida travel narrative, "Backroads of Paradise", earned her an interview in the New York Times, and she freelances for other Florida publications. Follow on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, listen to her Florida Spectacular podcast, and sign up for her monthly Florida newsletter.
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Authored by
Cathy Salustri

Cathy Salustri's formative years revolved around Walt Disney World, whether it was having an OG annual pass (four months out of the year only!), wearing acid-washed denim to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, or working as a tour guide at the now-defunct Inside the Magic attraction at the then-Disney-MGM Studios. She loves all of Florida, too—her Florida travel narrative, "Backroads of Paradise", earned her an interview in the New York Times, and she freelances for other Florida publications. Follow on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, listen to her Florida Spectacular podcast, and sign up for her monthly Florida newsletter.
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