Six miles southeast of the city itself, Orlando International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the state of Florida. For that reason, it holds status as a major international gateway for the mid-Florida region, hosting carriers from all over the world and handling over three million international arrivals a year.
Divided into two major terminals, negotiating Orlando International is surprisingly straightforward considering how busy it can be.
With domestic and international flights split evenly across terminals, one of the airport’s best features is its quick-turnaround rental facility, ensuring a second-to-none speed of service when picking up your holiday car. A planned commuter rail stop is also in the approval stages which, if successful, will be completed in 2015.
As a major hub for all of those wishing to visit the various theme parks and attractions in Orlando, the airport has strong transport links. The Disney Magical Express is a popular choice for those who want the mousey magic to start the second they get off the plane, servicing all 24 Walt Disney World resort hotels. Cruise line transportation is also available for those visiting Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruises or SunCruz casinos.
Those staying further afield need not worry – the local bus service has stops right outside terminal A, visiting Kissimmee, downtown Orlando and Lake Buena Vista for just $2 per person. Taxis are available at both terminals A and B, and limousine services are also on offer for those who wish to travel in style, with prices coming in at $50-$90 an hour depending on location.
For those who are driving, parking is free within the cell phone lot for those who are picking up passengers. If you require longer, expect to pay around $10-$17 for a 24-hour stay elsewhere within the airports grounds. A monorail service is available to transport passengers between terminals, so there is no need to worry if you have parked at the wrong terminal for your flight.
Like most airports, Orlando International has a wealth of eateries to pass time in as you wait for your flight. Expect a plethora of American classics – Dunkin’Â Donuts, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A all mingle with the likes of McDonald’s, Quiznos and Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs.
Once you’ve eaten your fill, there are enough shops to put a traditional mall to shame – Lush, Mango, Oakley and Sanrio Surprise (Hello Kitty) will ensure that you have plenty of opportunities to use up the last of your dollars.
For longer layovers, there’s plenty more fun to be had in the immediate area – Three Points Bowling, the Big Dog driving range, Premiere Cinema 14 and even Florida Mall are all within ten miles of the airport.
For those who wish to stay close, the Hyatt Regency Hotel is located within the terminal itself. Erasing the stress of complicated transfers, a stay at the Hyatt comes with complimentary baggage claim, delivered right to your room. The perfect option for early-morning flights or short stays, the hotel has been awarded the AAA Four Diamond award eight years running. Other popular chain hotels exist in the very near vicinity and offer competitive prices – Hilton, Holiday Inn, Marriott and Best Western rooms are all furnished to a high standard and are within walking distance of the airport.
What not to miss
If shopping and eating all feels a little pedestrian, take a look at Orlando Airport’s permanent art collection. A mixture of paintings, sculptures and multimedia installations, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority distributes submissions throughout the airport and actively encourages passing visitors and holidaymakers to donate their work. What better way to put that stash of Disney crayons to good use?