Getting Around Orlando
Car hire provides convenience at a cost. Public transport and transfer services are cheaper but more time-consuming. Your situation will ultimately determine your preferred transport method.
If you would rather not use a hire car please visit my dedicated getting around Orlando without a car page
Orlando’s International Airports
Orlando now encompasses 3 different international airports. Which one you fly into depends on the airline you choose to fly with.
Orlando International is the closest, Orlando Sanford was used by TUI and ost charter airlines in the past who have swapped back to Orlando International except TUI whose operations have switch to Orlando Melbourne International for its proximity to Port Canaveral.
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Orlando International (MCO) is the closest airport to Disney and Universal and one of the busiest airports in the US. You are 15-45 minutes from your hotel depending on where you stay.
Orlando Sanford International (SFB)
Orlando Sanford International (SFB) is an old military airport situated roughly 1 hour north of Orlando. Sanford became popular with UK charter airlines because of lower airport fees than the much larger Orlando International.
Consolidation in the airline market and a shift in consumer taste (the cruise market) coupled with Sanford’s limited location and connections has led to UK airlines now abandoning SFB which acts more as a regional airport.
Orlando Melbourne International (MLB)
Orlando Melbourne International (MLB) is just over an hour southeast of Orlando.
Its proximity to Port Canaveral, the winter home port for many cruise carriers’ Caribbean itineraries, led TUI, the biggest tour operator in the world, to move its Orlando Gateway from Sanford to Melbourne in 2022.
If you fly with TUI Airlines you will be using Melbourne International. If you would prefer to use Orlando International make sure you are booked with an airline other than TUI.
Car hire is especially convenient for young families who may not want to spend all day in the parks and have a lot of baby & toddler related items to take. Space on free theme park transport is limited and they are crowded at opening and closing times.
A car keeps your plans flexible and makes for a great nap stop for younger ones who may have had enough come lunch time.
Convenience does come at a cost. Increasing petrol costs and car hire charges are the obvious outlay but the surprising cost of car hire is the daily cost of parking your car at the theme parks and your hotel. No matter if you stay ‘on-resort’ or ‘off-site’, theme parks will charge you to park your car.
If you would prefer not to use a car please see my dedicated page to getting around Orlando without a car
Car Hire Convenience
Picking Up Your Car
If you booked a package holiday your car hire cost may be included. All relevant car hire desks are outside the arrivals hall. You may need to get a short transfer to pick up the car. Remember insurance isn’t usually included in the base cost.
Drive To Your Hotel
Orlando International airport is 15 minutes from International Drive and Universal Orlando Resort. Disney and Kissimmee are 25-45 minutes drive. Other Orlando airports are 1 hour or more from Orlando. Most villas are located in Kissimmee.
Drive To The Parks
Driving to the theme parks gives you freedom. If you stay on-resort a nightly parking charge is added to your room on checkout. Many hotels outside the theme parks have free parking but you pay a higher daily rate to park at the theme parks.
Daily Parking Costs
To help you budget these are the advertised daily parking rates for standard-sized cars for Orlando’s theme parks.
Prices are correct in April 2022 but are subject to change at any time. Price increases can happen at any time but are usually announced between January and March.
Walt Disney World
Water parks are free as there is no direct Disney transport option to them
Universal Orlando Resort
But parking is free after 6pm if no events are on to bring visitors into Citywalk
UK 3-park combo tickets to Seaworld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens get free parking!
Legoland Florida Resort
Legoland Florida used to have a shuttle from Orlando but it has not been reinstated post COVID.
Get a head start on your driving with these free maps courtesy of the Orlando Tourism Bureau
Lake Buena Vista
A simplified map for Disney World which sits within Lake Buena Vista. Please see the link below for Disney transport options
An overview of the whole area so you can see how Lake Buena Vista, International Drive and Kissimmee relate to each other
The main tourism corridor for Orlando, International Drive has many attractions trying to temp you from the main parks
Resort Hotels Parking
Disney World’s Resort Hotels Parking Charges
Starting January 2020 Disney Resort Hotels now charge UK guests an overnight parking charge. This brings their policy in line for all guests staying on-resort after the change happened for US ticket holders in 2019.
The cumulative cost of overnight parking will be added to your bill on check out at the nightly rates listed below. This list is meant as a budgeting tool only and prices can be changed at any time. An up to date list can be found on the Parking FAQ page of the Walt Disney World Website.
Art Of Animation
Campsites At Fort Wilderness
Port Orleans – French Quarter
Port Orleans – Riverside
Cabins At Fort Wilderness
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Beach Club Resort
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Polynesian Village Resort
Yacht Club Resort
Bay Lake Tower @ Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge & Cooper Creek @ Wilderness Lodge
Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House & Kidani Village
Beach Club Villas
Old Key West Resort
Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Villas @ Grand Floridian Resort
resort Hotels Parking
Universal Orlando Hotels Parking Charges
Like Disney, the cost of overnight parking in Universal Resort properties depends on the band of the hotel you stay in.
With the opening of the Endless Summer Resorts off property on International Drive, Universal now has 4 bands of hotels just like Disney.
Unlike Disney, Universal Orlando Resort doesn’t own or operate their onsite resort hotels. Lowes Hotels operate them on Universal’s behalf. There is no direct page for parking charges on Universal Orlando’s website. You need to visit each resort hotel in turn to find out their charges. The charges for registered guests in 2022 are listed below. If you are not a registered guest and decide to park in the hotels the day rate for parking is between $30 and $45 depending on the resort.
Surfside Inn & Suites
Dockside Inn & Suites
Prime Value Resorts
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach
Universal’s Aventura Hotel
Loews Sapphire Falls
Loews Portofino Bay
Hard Rock Hotel
Loews Royal Pacific