IN order for this to be an accurate picture of what using Uber would be like in Swindon, I decided the experiment should be carried out in one of Swindon’s twin towns. Fair’s fair and all that. So off I jetted to Orlando, Florida – home to Swindon’s former partner town, Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom — where Uber is causing quite the stink among taxi drivers.

Sadly, the Adver wasn’t willing to let me claim expenses for the trip – even in the name of journalism. Well, it was worth a try.

The idea behind Uber is in fact very simple, which is perhaps why it is doing so well.

The entire system is controlled from an app on your phone through which you can see nearby drivers. Tap in where you want to go and within a couple of seconds a driver comes back to you with an ETA and — most helpfully — a price for the journey. You even receive a picture of your driver and their registration plates so you know who to look out for.

Your journey is then paid for via the app, eliminating the need for cash and removing the danger of any surprise bills at the end of it all. And you can even split a fare between passengers.

My decision to use Uber instead of the traditional hire car had actually been made months before my better half and I jetted off for our winter sun getaway.

Unlike the delight that is Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World in Florida is a bit of monster on the geographic scale. It took quite a while for me to fully fathom the scale of the place, and I was very quickly laughed at when I asked why we couldn’t just walk from our hotel to the theme parks.

No, in Orlando the hire car is a staple for those not staying ‘on property’ (that’s in a Disney hotel to you or me).

Many travel agents even offer specific ‘Fly drive’ deals exactly for this reason – tacking the all-important set of wheels on with your flights, hotel and park tickets, which gives you some idea of just how vital it is to have a car in Florida.

Being on a bit of a budget we were looking to make savings at every corner in order to maximise our beer dollars, and doing our research we began noticing murmurings of a new trend emerging – that of ride sharing apps.

Having not used Uber myself in the UK, I was a little sceptical. The firm hit the headlines this time last year after applying for operating licences in almost every large town and city up and down the country, prompting rage from taxi firms who feared they would be driven out of town by Uber’s cheaper rates (made possible by the lack of backroom infrastructure, as everything is run through an app) and its pure convenience.

We requested a number of quotes for rental cars to price things up, and the cheapest deals we could find were working out at around $25 a day – and that was before any of the insurance add-ons and, of course, petrol.... sorry, gas.

Now $25 a day may seem like quite a reasonable deal, but one aspect that makes a holiday at Walt Disney World particularly expensive is the car parking charges at the parks – an eye-watering $20 a day. So in order for this to work, we had to beat $45 a day.

I should probably point out that we actually started our experiment with a bit of a cheat, and were collected from the airport by a friend in a rental car — who had actually been stung by ridiculous insurance charges and was paying more than $50 a day for their rental.

The arrivals gate at Orlando International Airport gave us our first taste of the turf war taking place between Uber drivers and traditional taxi firms.

Uber can’t actually make collections from the terminal building itself — they will more than happily drop you off at departures, but the arrivals hall remains the feeding ground of the taxi firms.

A few bloggers, who hadn’t cheated like we did, seemed to have got around this by jumping on an airport bus to a car park, or somewhere else just off the main arrivals concourse to be picked up from there.

Either way, an Uber from the airport is likely to set you back about $30, as opposed to the almost $60 for a Mears taxi to Walt Disney World.

Mears helpfully display their rates on the side of the cars — $2.40 for the first ¼ mile or first 80 seconds waiting time, plus 60c for each ¼ mile and 60c for each 80c waiting time, plus a $1 surcharge for an airport trip. I think we were actually more confused than when we started — which is where Uber has the upperhand by telling you how much your journey will be from the start.

We didn’t actually get off to a very good start using Uber ourselves, though.

We had set up a pre-paid credit card to use specifically for our Uber journeys to eliminate any credit card charges, but when we tried to use this as a form of payment on the app we discovered Uber doesn’t accept prepaid credit cards — which was uber annoying!

We also lucked out on our first driver, who ignored the route that Uber showed us on the app, convinced he knew a short cut to get us to our first park of the holiday, Animal Kingdom.

Sadly he didn’t, and he first took us to the cast member entrance, before doubling back and taking us to Animal Kingdom Lodge – the park’s hotel. Uber helpfully sends you a receipt upon your arrival, showing the route you took, and this particular one made us chuckle, as it was a squiggly line going back and forth – just like the snakes we saw in Animal Kingdom.

The ride came in at $9.20, which was at the upper end of our guide price of $8 to $10.

We quibbled this with Uber, given our roundabout journey there, and the entire journey was refunded – which we hadn’t been expecting. Their complaints procedure was equally as user friendly as the rest of the experience.

We did feel bad for our driver, so did leave him a five star rating – as the key to an Uber driver’s success comes down to his ratings.

The same goes for us passengers though, so there’s no point going round being rude to the drivers, as you will soon get a bad rep and discover none of the nearby drivers will touch you with a barge pole.

We had booked dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge that evening, so jumped on board Disney’s free bus transportation for the ride from the park to the restaurant, and booked an Uber home from there later that evening, which came in at $5.85.

So our first day we had shelled out $15.05 – or $5.85 after the refund – for our transportation, which seemed like a pretty good deal all in all, considering a car would have cost us at least $45.

Animal Kingdom was the closest park to where we were staying, so for the remainder of our fortnight stay our Uber rides were more expensive, as each of the parks were further away.

Our visit to the Magic Kingdom the next day cost us $12.10 on the way there, and $13.13 on the way back – still well within out $45 target, while journeys to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which are all slightly further east from where we were staying all came in around the $13 mark.

During our journey to Epcot towards the end of our first week we discovered that our driver also worked for rival ride sharing app Lyft, which works under the same premise as Uber. He gave us a card which gave us $5 off our first 10 rides with Lyft, which we could both use to save ourselves $100.

We also discovered that we had been doing that most English of things and not tipping our drivers. This came as a bit of a shock, as we had researched meticulously to find out if you should tip an Uber driver, and everything we’d read told us no.

But it seems to be an unwritten rule that you leave a couple of dollars in cash for your driver – as is customary for anyone else providing a service in the States.

Lyft even has an option to leave a tip for a driver as part of the payment process, adding $2 a time to each of our rides, so in effect we were only saving $3 a trip with our discount codes.

Overall, we found the experience of Lyft far less user-friendly than Uber, and a lot of our journeys seemed to work out marginally more expensive by Lyft than Uber – before the discount codes kicked in. We did have a few glitches with Lyft along the way too.

By our second week we considered ourselves seasoned travellers and found ourselves in the odd situation of being picked up by a virgin driver. We were literally his first passengers.

We were honoured. That was until we realised he hadn’t yet got to grips with using the Lyft app himself, so despite dropping us off at the Magic Kingdom he didn’t tell the app he had, so as he drove off down The World Drive and onto the 192, the meter was still running and we were being charged for it, despite by now being thrown around on Big Thunder Mountain.

Quibbling this with Lyft was a faff too – unlike the seamless system of Uber. Initially we were told there was no error and they would not be refunding the excess journey. It took several more emails to make them see sense, which isn’t really what you want, even if all you are doing is standing in line for Pirates of the Caribbean.

We stuck with Lyft for the remainder of the week, simply for our $3 discount, which was making the journeys work out slightly cheaper than with Uber. Lyft also accepted our prepaid credit card, which was also in its favour, as it was saving us the credit card charges we faced with Uber for using it abroad.

But our final journey with Lyft sums up our experience with them when our driver ignored the route suggested by the app, only to get us stuck in a traffic jam on her so-called short cut, taking in two toll roads on the way, landing us with a $21 trip for what should have been a $13 fare.

This was actually a journey to the car rental garage – as we figured $25 for the day would be cheaper than a $30 ride to the airport, although with hindsight again, this turned out to be a false economy.

In total, our Uber and Lyft fares set us back a grand total of $290.61 over the two weeks.

Had we taken out a budget rental car, and had to pay the $20 Disney parking a day we would have shelled out $630 – and that’s not factoring in trips to the gas station.

If we were to do it again – which I have been promised by him indoors that we most certainly shall, and I am putting it in print to prove it – we would definitely use Uber again.

The only thing we would probably do differently is look at getting a rental car on days where we planned on doing more than one thing in a day.

Uber is fine if you’re spending the entire day in one park, but on a couple of occasions we both suffered park fatigue and would have quite liked to have gone back to our hotel and chilled by the pool for a bit. Having a car on those occasions would have been wise, as the more journeys you make in Uber, the more expensive it becomes.

But getting a rental car is time-consuming – so for the simple reason of convenience, we would Uber it all the way.