Visiting Orlando? From taking a cruise to the theme parks, the city is without a doubt the most family-friendly destination in the world. It’s a town built to cater to tourists, but one thing it lacks is easy public transportation.
Not to worry. From shuttles to Uber/Lyft to taxis to car rentals, there are plenty of options for getting around. The question is, given the cost and convenience factors, what’s the best way to travel? That will depend exactly on how you plan to spend your time in Orlando.
We cover some of the most common scenarios for visitors to the city below, along with our advice on how to best get around, including highlighting potential costs to give you an idea of what to budget. Before, that, however, it’s a good idea to understand more about the options available to Orlando visitors.
Note: This article contains affiliate links to Kayak. We earn a commission for clicks made on their website, at no charge to you.
Orlando Transportation Options
Disney’s famous monorail gets you around the park, but what about getting from the Orlando airport, to dinner, or to other attractions? You have a number of options.
Hotel, Theme Park & Area Shuttles
With literally millions of visitors arriving each year heading everywhere from cruise ships in Port Canaveral to Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, and tons of other points, shuttles are available to get you to major attractions in and around the area.
A number of hotels offer shuttles from the airport to their location, even if they are a considerable distance from the airport. You can simply contact your hotel to see if service is offered. Depending on the hotel there may be a small charge, or it could be a free service.
Headed to major theme parks like Disney or Universal? These two parks offer their own shuttle service. Disney has the Sunshine Flyer, which runs $15 per adult each way (kids ride free) to the theme park’s hotels. Universal has the SuperStar Shuttle, which costs $23 each way per adult ($21 per child) that will take you between the airport and their hotels.
In addition to these shuttle options, there are also independent shuttles happy to take you around the city to wherever you need to go, including theme parks. This includes companies like Mears Transportation.
Headed to the theme parks? The hotels associated with those parks will also have shuttles that take you back and forth (often at no charge). As well, even non-affiliated hotels near the parks can have shuttles as a perk for guests. (See a list of hotels with Disney/Universal shuttles here.)
No matter where you are going, services like Uber and Lyft can pick you up whenever you’re ready. The cost can add up if used often, however.
Taxis have always been a popular way to get around Orlando, and in the past decade Uber and Lyft have boomed in popularity.
With a taxi, you can catch a ride when you’re ready at the airport, and you’ll be able to call them to pick you up from any hotel or attraction in Orlando.
In general, however, we prefer to use services like Uber and Lyft. They are relatively affordable, convenient, and readily available. You simply pull the app up on the phone and request a pick-up. Your ride should be there within minutes and the price of the trip is laid out beforehand. As for pricing, it runs about $45 to get from the Orlando airport to Disney, but remember that’s for the car, so several people ride for that price.
That said, if you plan to do a lot of moving around from park to park or other attractions, then the cost of taking a taxi or Uber each time can quickly add up.
Orlando Car Rentals
Car rentals give you the most in convenience with having a car anytime you want it. Rates are surprisingly affordable, with daily costs starting around $40. Screenshot: Kayak.com.
If you want without a doubt the most convenient option (and for some, the most cost effective), then renting a car is the way to go. In a town built for tourism, you have a large number of rental options (literally dozens) and they can be picked up at the airport or other points around town. In addition, you have lots of options from less-expensive compact cars that are great for a budget or larger SUVs for those traveling with families or need more space for luggage.
As far as cost, it will vary based on the time of year and the type of car that you choose. That said, it’s not unusual to find rates between $40-$60 per day in our searches. That gives you a car for the whole day for about the cost of an Uber/Lyft from an airport to the theme parks.
You can search prices for your specific vacation dates at Kayak or using the search tool below:
Our Suggestion on Getting Around Based on Your Vacation Style
So what’s the best option for your trip? The scenarios below cover some of the most common ways that people visit Orlando, with our advice on how to best get around.
Planning to visit only for the theme parks? In that case, you might be able to get by with the theme park’s transportation shuttles.
Scenario #1: Full Theme Park Stay
For many, the entire reason for visiting is to enjoy the theme parks. For instance, a family might head to Orlando for 4-5 days to go to Disney, stay at an onsite hotel, eat at restaurants at the resort, and visit the parks each day. The same can be said for visiting Universal Studios, which also features multiple parks and its own resorts.
If this is the case, the need for most transportation is limited. If flying in, you’ll need a ride from/to the airport and hotel and then transportation around the parks. In this case, Disney and Universal have these options available. You can fly in and use a service like the Sunshine Flyer (Disney) or SuperStar Shuttle (Universal). From the hotel, there will be transportation to the parks provided.
If you do decide to head somewhere occasionally for dinner or something else to do, services like Uber/Lyft should be able to fill that gap without costing too much.
Scenario #2: Hopping Parks or Attractions
There’s a lot to see in Orlando, and coming into town to only visit one small portion is a bit like going to a restaurant and limiting yourself to one side of the menu. In fact, many people visit multiple parks, staying a few days at one and then heading to another. Some others want to visit other attractions around the city including attractions along International Drive (Wonderworks, ICON Park), golfing, and restaurants.
In that case, you might find yourself needing a bit more flexibility. While shuttles might be able to get you some of the most popular places, they aren’t readily available to get you around for dinner, or to visit spots not associated with major parks.
In that case, you want to consider how much sightseeing you want to do. If it’s a little, then using Uber/Lyft can be ideal. You don’t have to worry about directions, parking, or traffic. Simply call a ride when you want to go.
If you plan to do quite a bit, however, then Uber/Lyft can get expensive and it can be a hassle to have to regularly be waiting on a car. In that case, a car rental may be ideal. With your own wheels, you can explore when and where you want without having to worry about cost. That’s much more convenient for those that plan to move around a bit during the vacation.
Scenario #3: Exploring the Entire Area
Central Florida is a literal playground for families and that stretches well beyond theme parks. From the aforementioned area around International Drive to cruises from Port Canaveral to Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach all the way to the Tampa area, there are things to do and see everywhere.
Of course, these things are spread out, so if you plan to explore the entire area then the best option available is to rent a car. This way, you’ll have a vehicle at your disposal no matter if you want to go a couple of miles down the road or halfway across the state.
As well, in addition to the convenience you’ll also be likely to save money. Rates for rentals will vary, but can often be found for $50 or less per day. For that amount, you’d only be able to get one or two Uber/Lyft rides (depending on the route) versus having full use of the car all day.
You can check rental rates for when you are in Orlando here:
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