Orlando-Walt Disney World Travel Guide

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Courtesy of Jimmy DeFlippo/Jimmy DeFlippo

Getting Around Orlando-Walt Disney World

The best way to get around Orlando is with a car, but the best way to get around each theme park is on foot. Orlando's top things to do, as well as its hotels, sprawl across the city's 113 square miles – not to mention the fact that Walt Disney World Resort is actually in two different cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. You can rent cars in Orlando, but you can also find them at Orlando International Airport (MCO). And if you're a guest at one of Disney's accommodations, a Magical Express bus will shuttle you to and from the airport. However, once you're inside a park, your own two feet are the best way to get from one ride to the next. If you do grow fatigued, Disney offers a host of free options for moving between the parks and hotels, including bus, monorail and ferry boat routes. Universal Orlando Resort's accommodations also offer complimentary bus and water taxi services to get around the property.

On Foot

Visitors walk, jog and push strollers all around Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando. Carry several maps with you, because you never know when you'll get lost or drenched by a water ride, an afternoon shower or your own sweat. And to be efficient, you should plot your path before you begin the day – you'll have a lot of ground to cover. You'll also be surprised at how exhausted (and sore) you are by the end of each day. A good pair of walking shoes is essential. While you can tour Orlando's individual neighborhoods by foot, you'll need a car to get from one to the other.

Car

Although your car will stay in the parking lot once you're on theme park grounds, a vehicle is the most convenient way to explore Orlando. Attractions are spread out in the metro area and are easy to drive to. Avoid rush hour, when Orlando's highways – especially Interstate 4 – become parking lots for several hours each day. And note that taking side streets isn't a reliable option. You can easily pick up a rental car at Orlando International Airport or various city locales.

Taxi

Taxis are stationed at the airport and in downtown Orlando, but it is nearly impossible to find one elsewhere. If you want to avoid renting a vehicle, you can have your hotel call a cab for you. The ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber also operate in the Orlando area. From the airport, you can expect to pay between $38 and $45 for a ride to downtown Orlando and between $52 and $68 to reach the Disney Resorts area.

Bus

Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando offer free shuttle services between their resorts and affiliated theme parks, but you may have to transfer from one to the other. Usually, routes run every 20 to 30 minutes, departing from the entrance of every Disney and Universal property. You'll find the routes drawn on maps at each bus stop. This is not the fastest option, but it'll certainly get you where you want to go.

For bus service in Orlando, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority offers LYNX. Dozens of bus lines serve Orlando and its nearby suburbs, and fares are just $2 a ride, $4.50 for an all-day pass or $16 for a seven-day pass.

Trolley

When checking out Orlando's International Drive or Major Boulevard areas, using the I-RIDE Trolley is the way to go. A single-fare pass is just $2, while an all-day pass will only set you back $5. I-RIDE Trolley operates daily from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and makes stops near must-visit sights like the Orlando International Premium Outlets and SeaWorld Orlando.

Monorail

The monorail is the fastest way to get around Walt Disney World. But with only three lines, coverage isn't extensive. The Express Monorail carries passengers to and from the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center, while the Epcot Monorail travels between the Transportation and Ticket Center and Epcot. And to get to and from the Magic Kingdom, the Transportation and Ticket Center, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, visitors can take the Resort Monorail. All rides are free; monorail services start 30 minutes before park opening times and end one hour after park closures.

Ferries and Water Taxis

Granted, the ferries move slowly, but they are (occasionally) the most direct means of getting from point A to point B in Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Plus, these modes of transportation offer prime photo ops of the parks' surroundings and entrances, not to mention giving your feet a break. You'll find them at docks around the lakes near main ticket centers or affiliated resorts. Water taxi services on the Universal Orlando Resort grounds are free for guests staying on-site, while ferry services at Walt Disney World Resort are complimentary for all visitors. Most ferries and water taxis depart in 15- or 30-minute intervals.

Disney's Magical Express

Disney's Magical Express – Walt Disney World Resort's complimentary airport shuttle service – runs between Orlando International Airport and select Disney properties, but you have to schedule the shuttle when finalizing room reservations or by calling your hotel's booking agent before you arrive. This free shuttle service is available to resort guests between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Complimentary luggage delivery is also included but may take up to three hours after arrival to be delivered to your room. Make sure to put your MagicBands in your carry-on, as you'll need them to check in to your hotel.

Although your car will stay in the parking lot once you're on theme park grounds, a vehicle is the most convenient way to explore Orlando. Attractions are spread out in the metro area and are easy to drive to. Avoid rush hour, when Orlando's highways – especially Interstate 4 – become parking lots for several hours each day. And note that taking side streets isn't a reliable option. You can easily pick up a  rental car at Orlando International Airport or various city locales.

Explore More of Orlando-Walt Disney World

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