Planning a trip to Orlando can be a little scary at first. But here’s a summary with some practical details you need to know to start planning your trip to Orlando.
For more information about Orlando, here’s our special website about the city:
HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY IN THE CITY?
It depends on your availability and willingness ($$$), but I recommend at least 7 days to enjoy the parks calmly, without running, intercalating days in the parks with days of rest. But if you have little time, no problem… take a look at this post here: 60 hours in Orlando.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Plane: There are several direct flights from all over the world to Orlando and some others with fast connections in Miami or Tampa (AA. United).
Airports: Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the city’s main airport. It has three levels and two terminals. Be aware that both terminals are very similar, there are Sea World, Universal and Disney stores and make sure to include exactly which terminal: A or B. The rental cars are on Level 1 and the luggage leaves on both Level 1 and 2. Buses, Taxis and Shuttles all on Level 1.
Train: Amtrak connects much of the United States to Orlando. The station code in Orlando is: ORL
Bus: Greyhound is the official carrier for interstate travel. Within the city the buses are LYNX.
Shuttle: Mears and there are transfer services of Brazilians in the city.
Car: The roads connecting Orlando are well paved and signposted. It’s a great option, since if you don’t arrive by car in the city, you will certainly need to rent one.
TELEPHONE CODES: 321 and 407.
WHEN TO GO: Orlando has activities all year round. The high season is in July, which is a holiday month and also at the end of the year with the parties.
TEMPERATURE: The weather in Orlando is subtropical, but in the winter months (December, January and February) it is cold at night. In summer (June, July and August), it is very hot and there is sporadic rain in the late afternoon.
MINIMUM MAXIMUM MONTH
JANUARY 22° 9°
FEBRUARY 23° 10°
MARCH 26° 12°
APRIL 29° 15°
MAY 31° 19°
JUNE 33° 21°
JULY 33° 22°
AUGUST 33° 23°
SEPTEMBER 32° 22°
OCTOBER 29° 18°
NOVEMBER 25° 14°
DECEMBER 22° 10°
VISITOR CENTER (Official Visitor Center): Very careful in Orlando, because there are several “Visitor Centers” around the city, just to pick up a tourist and make you buy something. The official is this one below and I advise you to take a walk there as soon as you arrive. They always have discount coupons and the Magic Card which is a discount card for many activities around the city, as well as discounts on parks ticket prices. The Magic Card can now be printed at home through this link.
Website in English: http://www.VisitOrlando.com/Português
Address: 9723 International Drive (corner with Austrian Row)
Schedule: 8:30 to 18:30 every day except December 25.
Tel: 1 800 215-2213 or 407 363-5872
WHERE TO STAY?
Orlando has a huge offer of accommodation and areas that are close to one park or another, but if you are by car or in a hotel that provides transportation to the parks the distances are not worrying. For those who are staying longer and want to concentrate on one park or another, Disney has its own hotels that give a lot of advantages for those who stay there, with special schedules for guests. And Sea World and Universal Studios have a network of excellent partner hotels that make life easier, especially for those with children,
The areas I’ve been staying in:
Disney Maingate/ Kissimee- That area is right next to the Magic Kingdom main gate and that’s why it’s called that. Most of the time I stay in this area, but you have to be by car, because besides a few shops next to the hotels, there is not much to do. We have already stayed at the Radisson Orlando and also at the Holiday Inn Main Gate East that I told a bit in the 60 hours post in Orlando. All two were very reasonable. Most hotels in this area have free buses to the Disney parks, but remembering that they have an appointment.
Celebration – It’s a very nice area created by Disney that has a small town atmosphere, with shops, art studios and many interesting houses and hotels. We stayed in 2009 at Bohemiam Celebration Hotel, which is a “Plantation” style hotel, when my sister came to visit. The huge room, with 2 queen beds and one more sofa bed. We had a beautiful view of the lake and the hotel was very interesting.
International Drive – This area is very interesting for those who like to walk down the street and go to a restaurant and some attractions without having to drive a lot. The area is closer to Universal Studios, Sea World and also the Outlets. Last time we went to Orlando, in May 2011 we stayed at one of the family hotels that was tested and approved. You can find the complete review here: Coco Key Water Resort.
Lake Buena Vista – Area very close to Downtown Disney, less than 1 mile to Disney, 4 miles to Sea World and 8 miles to Universal. We recently stayed at Blue Heron Resort, a season rented apartment that is half hotel.
There is the option to stay in other areas of International Drive which is huge, in Downtown and also Winter Park. Have you stayed in any of these areas? Tell us about it!
Another option that is becoming more and more common, especially for families, is Renting Furnished Homes or Apartments in Orlando. There are several options available, but we tested the Blue Heron Resort I’m talking about up there.
Search Orlando Hotel Options on Booking.com
Orlando’s great attraction is the parks that are everywhere. Here some of the most famous ones:
Walt Disney Parks – You can buy multi-day passes. Before you go see the 10 Tips to visit Disney.
Magic Kingdom – The main park of Disney where is the Cinderella Castle, the house of Mickey and Minie and also roller coasters. The park has attractions for all ages.
Animal Kingdom – The newest Disney park and has Safaris and many animals.
Hollywood Studios – The park dedicated to showbiz has movie sets and many attractions with special effects.
Epcot – It is the park about people, places and discovery. We spend the New Year at Epcot Center and it is very cool.
Downtown Disney – Shopping mall with food and shopping area and the Indoor park: DisneyQuest.
Blizzard Beach Water Park- Disney water park setting in a ski resort.
Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – Water park setting in a tropical paradise.
Universal Orlando Resorts – Universal’s parks are very easy to visit because they are side by side and it is possible to combine a day in each park.
Islands Of Adventure – With 5 different islands, each one with a theme is where the Harry Potter park is located. The roller coasters are also one of the attractions of this park.
Universal Studios – It is the theme park of Universal’s movie studios.
Volcano Bay – Universal Orlando’s new theme park was inaugurated in May 2017.
City Walk – Area with restaurants, shops and cinemas that is at the entrance of the parks.
Sea World – Many shows, the most famous is the Shamu Whale show that has just been reworked and is now called “OneOcean” and a fascinating roller coaster – the Manta.
Discovery Cove – It is the park where you can have the experience of swimming with dolphins. Tickets from US$199.00 + taxes. It was one of our best experiences at Disney.
Aquatica – The water park of Sea World.
Wet ‘n Wild – The Orlando water park with several radical toys in the water closed in 2016.
Legoland – Legoland opened in October and we went to visit it and in this post you will find all the information you need to visit it.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – It’s about 45 minutes away but it’s worth a lot. It is a park dedicated to space with very nice activities. The kids love it! On the link you can see my post about it.
To exchange currency from Real to Dollar, look for the kiosks of Travelex Money Exchange. They are present at the airport, in the outlets, inside the Information Center.
ORLANDO BEYOND THE PARKS
Indy Racing Experience – For those over 18, enjoy an adrenalin-pumping Disney driving an Indy car.
Medieval Times – Themed dinner with riders.
Indoor Surfing, Skydiving
WHERE TO SHOP?
Premium Outlets – 2 different Outlets, one with 150 stores and famous designers.
The Florida Mall – The most popular mall in Orlando has among its 260 stores, big department stores like Dillard’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks fifth Avenue, Sears
The Mall at Millenia – The mall of famous brands such as: Channel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo and the famous Apple store.
Layette for Babies
Photographic Equipment and Electronic Appliances
Other Things to Do Near Orlando:
Beaches near Orlando
Halloween in Orlando
Have you been to Orlando? Do you have any tips to add here? Or do you have any questions? Tell us about it!