Transportation is a critical component to planning a successful vacation. Since Orlando and Central Florida do not have a robust public transportation system, it is important that guests be aware of when they will need transportation and what options are available. From taxis, town cars, limos, shuttles, and even trolleys, in this article we will break down all of your options for getting around the United States’ top vacation destination.
The best option: Private Transfers with a Towncar, Van, Escalade or Limousine
For a lot of visitors, a private car service is the best way to go. Our recommendation is to use Quicksilver Tours & Transportation. They have a great reputation and fantastic reviews.
For pricing, a towncar for up to four passengers traveling one-way to Universal is $70 ($125 round trip), a van for up to ten passengers is $80 ($140 round trip), Cadillac Escalade SUV for up to six passengers is $110 ($205 round trip), and a limousine for up to eight passengers is $130 ($240 round trip).
For a limited time, Orlando Informer readers can get a special discount:
- $5 off all Orlando airport round trips (Towncar and Van)
- $10 off all Orlando airport round trips (Escalade and Limousine)
- $15 off all Sanford airport round trips (all vehicles)
- $15 off Land & Sea Packages (all vehicles)
- Free 30 minutes stop for airport one way trips (More info below)
To receive any of these special offers please use promotion code: OI/2015
All of Quicksilver’s rates include tolls, airport gate fees, and surcharges. There are no late or early pick-up fees, nor international arrival fees. There are no hidden fees.
Your driver will meet you in the airport. Available car seats and booster seats are free of charge. There is no credit card needed to hold most reservations.
Best of all…
Stop at the grocery store
Along with transportation, another big travel expense is food. That’s why a lot of guests prefer to rent accommodations with full kitchens, so they can prepare some meals and save money. But how do you get your fridge stocked if you don’t have a car?
Quicksilver offers a free 30 minute grocery stop for airport round trips! For a limited time, Orlando Informer readers can get a free 30 minute grocery stop with an airport one way trip, too! Make sure you use the promotion code: OI/2015 when booking.
Guest Staying on-site at Walt Disney World
For guests staying on-site at Walt Disney World, Disney offers complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport by way of Disney’s Magical Express. You can visit this link to book the service and find out more information. You may also take a look at the Magical Express FAQ for additional information.
Transportation services lined up at Universal Orlando.
Once on Disney property, guests can use Disney’s Transportation System completely free of charge. This system, consisting of monorails, buses, and boats enable guests to visit virtually any spot on Disney property. This service is incredible because it is extensive and free. The downside is that, depending on where you are traveling, you may need to allow up to an hour for traveling one way. (For example, there is no direct transportation from Downtown Disney to the theme parks, so you need to take a bus to the Ticket & Transportation Center, then catch another bus to your park of choice.)
Two important notes about Disney’s Transportation System: It only travels on-site. So, if you are going from park to park or if you are staying at one of Disney’s on-site hotels, it usually works out quite well. But it won’t take you anywhere off-site. Second, the on-site transportation system is available to anyone — you do not have to stay on-site to use it. So, if you want to spend the morning at Animal Kingdom and the afternoon at Epcot, you are free to use their transportation regardless of where you are staying. You can learn more by clicking here.
Guests staying off-site from Walt Disney World
While venturing off-site from Disney opens up an entire world of new attractions and accommodations, we cannot bring our free Disney transportation with us to Universal, SeaWorld, or International Drive. So now we will look at all the different options for getting around the rest of Orlando and Central Florida.
Let’s will start with one of the most economical option for travel in Orlando, the I-Ride Trolley. For getting around the International Drive area this is by far the least expensive option. At $1.25 per ride (free for kids 12 and under with a paying adult!), or a variety of unlimited passes ranging from $4 -$17 based on how many unlimited days you choose, this allows for a super inexpensive travel option around International Drive. However, the I-Ride Trolley has a relatively limited footprint (for example, you cannot take the I-Ride Trolley from the airport to the attractions, or from Universal to Disney.)
The most economical way to travel around Orlando outside of the I-Drive area is by shared shuttle service. When going by this method, you will be in a 15-passenger van with other patrons. By combining your trip with others, you will be able to get discounted rates for the trip. This an excellent way to visit local attractions and also get out to some of the farther out spots like Cocoa Beach, the Tampa area, or Kennedy Space Center.
Mears Transportation offers this service for $19-$21 for one-way adult travel for Disney/Universal from the Orlando International Airport. While going from the airport to the theme parks is the primary use for the shared shuttle service with Mears, other scenarios may apply as well. For example, if you are staying on-site at Universal or in the International Drive area and you’d like to visit Disney World, many times Mears will have a shared shuttle for this route. Check out this PDF file for more information.
If Mears doesn’t work out Super Shuttle is another shared shuttle option in the Orlando area with similar rates. They don’t have a standard rate spreadsheet like Mears does, but I priced a one-way trip from the airport to Universal using their shared shuttle service and it was exactly $19, like Mears.
As we mentioned above, with shuttles you are sharing the vehicle with other guests. These guests will likely be staying at different hotels than you. You will likely stop multiple times and multiple locations to drop off other riders. Keep in mind this can significantly cut into your vacation time.
Another shared shuttle option (it’s actually more of a bus) I will mention here is specific to people visiting Busch Gardens Tampa – and the best thing about it is that it’s free to anyone with paid admission to Busch Gardens Tampa. They offer this service through Mears, and provide multiple pick-up/drop off locations throughout the Orlando area. Check it out
Like the options above, this is definitely not the quickest way to get to Busch Gardens.
Visiting Legoland? You’re in luck Legoland offers a shuttle for only $5 – $10 from the Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland Ave.
BEFORE YOU PAY FOR A SHUTTLE…
Something else to keep in mind before paying for a shuttle is that many hotels offer free shuttles to popular locations like SeaWorld, Universal Orlando, and Walt Disney World. Always check with your hotel first to find out what complimentary shuttles they offer. Keep in mind hotel shuttles are limited as far as departure times from the hotel and the parks, so plan accordingly. If you want the flexibility of coming and going as you please, a paid option is more likely to fit your plans.
This is probably the most familiar option for most people. Mears is once again the largest provider of taxis in Orlando. They have a fleet of over 600 up-to-date cars with GPS.
Keep in mind that for transportation from major destinations like the airport or any theme park via taxi, you do not necessarily need to make arrangements in advance. At these major destinations there are always many taxis waiting to pick up guests. Please note that this is for taxi service. If you want another service, like a shared shuttle or town car, you will definitely need to make arrangements in advance.
Regarding taxis, use only metered taxis when at all possible. All of the Mears cabs (Yellow Cab Company, Checker Cab Company, and City Cab Company) are metered. If you have to use a non-metered taxi that is not one of the reputable ones listed previously you risk being overcharged.
Finally, speaking of being overcharged, bear in mind that taxis will charge extra for stops and “caught in traffic” time. The time spent stuck in traffic can most definitely add up very quickly.
Charter Buses & Tours for longer trips around Central Florida
When making longer treks around Central Florida (Tampa or the Kennedy Space Center come to mind), charter bus tours are a option for traveling. There are two major companies to consider when choosing this option:
Gray Line of Orlando is the option that probably receives the highest reviews. Starting at $99.00 you get round-trip transportation, tickets, and more for your visit to the KSC. They also offer tours and transportation to Cocoa Beach or Clearwater for around $75.00.
Florida Dolphin Tours offers comparable tours and rates to that of Gray Line for the KSC. Starting at $99.00 for adults and $89.00 for children this is another great option for seeing the KSC and has also received great reviews. They also have similar beach excursions like Gray Line for Clearwater & Cocoa Beach and they both are $75.00 for adults.
Always do the math
Finally, be sure to run the math all the way through to ensure you’re getting the best price and value!
- Dining reservations at Universal Orlando – complete guide
- Maps and Rider’s Guide for Universal
- Parking, guest drop off, and the Universal Orlando transportation hub
- Saving time and money at Universal Orlando: Top 12 tips, tricks, and secrets
- Shuttles, taxis, and towncars: Transportation recommendations around Orlando
- Universal Orlando Annual Passes – complete insider’s guide
- Universal Orlando Express Passes – complete insider’s guide
- Universal Orlando ride & show wait times based on crowd levels (including Diagon Alley)
- Universal Orlando vacation packages – insider tips, tricks, & secrets
- Universal Orlando: Complete guide to attraction assistance for special needs families
- Universal Orlando: Secret to getting UNLIMITED Express Passes
- Universal Orlando’s Dining Plans – complete guide & tips to save money
- Universal Orlando’s Q-bot Ride Reservation System
- Weather at Universal Orlando: Average temperatures, rainfall, & expert advice
- What to pack for your Universal Orlando vacation: free checklist & how to keep kids safe