Arriving and Departing

By Air

The major gateway to Walt Disney World is Orlando International Airport (tel. 407/825-2001). Flying time is 2 1/2 hours from New York, 3 1/2 hours from Chicago, and 5 hours from Los Angeles.

Carriers

Carriers serving Orlando International include Air Tran (tel. 800/247-9726), America West (tel. 800/235-9292), American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300), Continental (tel. 800/523-3273), Delta (tel. 800/221-1212), Northwest (tel. 800/225-2525), Southwest (tel. (800/435-9792), TWA(tel. 800/221-2000), United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522), and US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322).

From the U.K.

Carriers serving Orlando International include American (tel. 0345/789789), British Airways (tel. 020/8897-4000; outside London, 0345/222111), Continental (tel. 0800/776464), Delta (tel. 0800/414767), Northwest (tel. 01293/561000), TWA (tel. 0800/222222), United (tel. 0800/888555), and Virgin Atlantic (tel. 01293/747747).

Between the Airport and Town

By Bus

Public buses operate between the airport and the main terminal of the Tri-County Transit Authority (1200 W. South St., tel. 407/841-8240), in downtown Orlando. Although the cost is only 75, other options are preferable because center-city Orlando is far from most of the hotels used by theme-park vacationers.

By Taxi

Taxis take only a half hour to get from the airport to most hotels used by WDW visitors; they charge about $25 plus tip to the International Drive area, about $10 more to the U.S. 192 area. Depending on the number of people in your party, this will cost more or less than paying by the head for an airport shuttle.

By Limousine

Mears Transportation Group (tel. 407/422-5566) will meet you at the gate, help you with your luggage, and whisk you away, in either an 11-passenger van, a town car, or a limo. Vans run to Walt Disney World and along U.S. 192 every 30 minutes; prices range from $12.50 one-way for adults ($8.50 for children 4-11) to $22 round-trip for adults ($16 children 4-11). Limo rates run around $50-$60 for a town car that will accommodate three or four and $90 for a stretch limo that will seat six. Town & Country Transportation (tel. 407/828-3035) charges $30-$40 one-way for up to seven, depending on the hotel.

By Car

Use the Beeline Expressway (Rte. 528) to get to the hotels from the airport. Follow the expressway west to International Drive, or stay on the Beeline to I-4 and head either west to Walt Disney World or east to downtown Orlando. Call your hotel for the best route.

 

By Bus
Greyhound Lines (555 N. Magruder Ave., tel. 407/292-3422 or 800/231-2222) serves Orlando from most American cities.

 

By Car
Walt Disney World has three exits off I-4.

If you want to have your car in Orlando without driving it there, board the Auto-Train in Lorton, Virginia (tel. 703/690-3355), near Washington, DC. Its southern terminus is Sanford, Florida (tel. 407/323-4800), some 20 miles north of Orlando.

 

By Train
Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL) operates the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor to Florida. Both stop in Orlando (1400 Sligh Blvd.).

 

Getting Around

Overview

Although public transportation in Orlando is practically nonexistent and taxis are expensive because of the distances involved, it is by no means absolutely necessary to rent a car when you are in the area. If you are staying at a Disney hotel or purchase a multiday passport instead of buying daily admission tickets to the Disney parks, your transportation within Walt Disney World is free. Outside Walt Disney World, just about every lodging is linked by private shuttle to area attractions. However, should you want to visit the major theme parks outside Walt Disney World, venture off the beaten track, or eat where most tourists don't, then a rental car is essential.

By Car
The most important artery in the Orlando area is I-4, which links the Atlantic Coast to Florida's Gulf of Mexico. However, the interstate actually runs north and south in the Orlando area. So think north when I-4 signs say east and think south when the signs say west.

The gas islands at the Disney Car Care Center near the Magic Kingdom are open daily until 90 minutes after the Magic Kingdom closes.

Car Rental

The major car-rental companies represented in Orlando are Alamo (tel. 800/327-9633; in the U.K., 020/8759-6200), Avis (tel. 800/331-1212; in Canada, 800/879-2847), Budget (tel. 800/527-0700; in the U.K., 0800/181181), Dollar (tel. 800/800-4000; in the U.K., 020/8897-0811, where it is known as Eurodollar), Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131; in Canada, 800/263-0600; in the U.K., 020/8897-2027), and National InterRent (tel. 800/227-7368; in the U.K., where National is known as Europcar InterRent, 0345/222525). Fortunately, Orlando offers some of the lowest rental-car rates in the United States. Rates begin at $28 a day and $136 a week for an economy car with unlimited mileage. This does not include tax on car rentals, which is 6%.

Requirements

In the United States you must be 21 to rent a car; rates may be higher if you're under 25. You'll pay extra for child seats (about $3 per day), compulsory for children under five, and for additional drivers (about $2 per day). If you are not a U.S. citizen, to pick up your reserved car you will need the reservation voucher, a passport, a driver's license, and a travel policy that covers each driver.

Parking

Every theme park has a parking lot-and all are huge. In fact, Disney prides itself on noting that the Magic Kingdom's parking lot, with its 12,000 parking spaces, is the second-largest lot in the universe (after Houston's Astrodome). Always write down exactly where you park and take the number with you. Although in theory Goofy 45 is unforgettable (sections of the Magic Kingdom lot are named for Disney characters; Epcot's are named after environments, such as Space and Energy; Disney-MGM Studios' are film genres), a day full of unforgettable experiences in the Disney parks may prove it otherwise. Trams make frequent trips between the parking area and the parks' turnstile areas.

For each lot, admission is $5 for cars, $6 for RVs and campers, and free for Walt Disney World resort guests with ID. Save your receipt; if you want to visit another park the same day, you won't have to pay to park twice. Parking is always free at Typhoon Lagoon, River Country, and Blizzard Beach.

 

By Mass Transit in Orlando
If you are staying in Orlando proper, you can ride public buses to get around the immediate area. To find out which bus to take, ask your hotel clerk or call the Lynx Information Office (1200 W. South St., tel. 407/841-8240) for more information.

From the Hotels to the Attractions

Scheduled service and charters linking just about every hotel and major attraction in the area are available from Gray Line of Orlando (tel. 407/422-0744), Mears Transportation Group (tel. 407/422-5566), Phoenix Tours (tel. 407/859-4211), and Rabbit Bus Lines (tel. 407/291-2424). In addition, many hotels run their own shuttles especially for guests; to arrange a ride, all you have to do is ask your hotel's concierge, inquire at the front desk, or phone the operator directly.

One-way fares are usually $6-$7 per adult, a couple of dollars less for children 4-11, between major hotel areas and the Disney parks.

 

By Mass Transit within WDW
Walt Disney World has its own transportation system that can get you wherever you want to go. It's fairly simple once you get the hang of it. All charges for transportation are included in the price of your multiday passport. Monorail, launches, buses, and trams all operate from early in the morning until at least midnight, although hours are shorter during early closing periods. Check on the operating hours of the service you need if you plan to be out especially late.

Boat

Motor launches connect WDW destinations located on waterways. Specifically, they operate between the Epcot Center resorts-except the Caribbean Beach-and Disney-MGM Studios and between Discovery Island in Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness, the Wilderness Lodge, and the Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian resorts.

Bus

Buses provide direct service from every on-site resort to both major and minor theme parks, and express buses go directly between the major theme parks. To Typhoon Lagoon, you can go directly from or make connections at the Transportation and Ticket Center-called TTC, Disney Village Marketplace, Epcot Center, and the Epcot Center resorts including the Beach Club and Yacht Club, the Caribbean Beach Resort, the Swan, and the Dolphin.

Monorail

The elevated monorail serves many important destinations. It has two loops: one linking the Magic Kingdom, TTC, and a handful of resorts, including the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian Village, and the other looping from the TTC directly to Epcot Center. Before this monorail line pulls into the station, the elevated track circles through Future World-Epcot Center's northern half-and circles the giant silver geosphere housing the Spaceship Earth ride to give you a preview of what you'll see.

Tram

From the Epcot Center resort area, trams operate to the International Gateway of the park's World Showcase.

 

By Taxi
Taxi fares start at $2.45 and cost $1.40 for each mile thereafter. Sample fares: To WDW's Magic Kingdom, about $20 from International Drive, $11-$15 from U.S. 192. To Church Street Station, downtown, $20-$25 from International Drive, $30-$40 from U.S. 192.