You’ve arrived in Orlando, so what do you do next? One tip is to find the restrooms when you get off of your flight because it may be a little while before you are able to have a minute or two to relieve yourself or even splash a little water on your face. Once that is done, there are a some restaurants to grab a bite, or you can wait until you get to the main terminal.
THE FIRST RIDE IN ORLANDO
You will want to make your way to the MCO People Mover that will take you to the main terminal. The People Movers are automated shuttles that ferry passengers from the main terminal to the satellite terminals and visa-versa.
Once you have arrived at the main terminal, you will be on level 3. Here you are able to visit stores from Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and NASA. There are also several photo opportunities in this area. There is also a greater variety of restaurants and shops in the food court and mall area. There is also a hotel in the main lobby of the 3rd level. We have stayed there and it is excellent if you have a very early morning flight.
Once you have made your way through the main terminal, you will want to take the escalators down to level 2 the baggage claim. At MCO, depending on which airline you have used, it will take approximately 30 minutes for your bags to get from the plane to the baggage carousel. This area can be a mad house if several planes come in at the same time. I usually go up to the carousel and stake my claim to an area and wait for my bags to come to me. I also make sure to rent a baggage cart before I go to the carousel, they are worth their weight in gold if you have several heavy bags and just got off of a long flight. Again, this area can get quite busy and everyone just got off of a plane, so I would advise that you take a deep breath and your bags should be out soon.
Now that you have your luggage you’re going to need to get to your hotel. All transportation is on level 1 of the terminal. You will want to make your way to the elevators and head down. Car Rentals are toward the other side of level one. Be prepared to wait! No matter how many times I have rented a car at MCO it amazes me how the rental agencies know when there will be an influx of people coming off of a flight, yet, they NEVER have enough agents ready to handle the lines. If you have pre-paid for your rental, you may be able to skip this step and go right across the street to pick up your rental. If you did not rent a vehicle or are not staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, taxis and shuttle services are right outside the doors.
PICKING UP THE RENTAL CAR
Make sure that you are alert when picking up your rental car. Some Rental Agencies, not all, but some are very sneaky and there could be quite a few hidden fees that you may not be aware of until you receive your credit card statement after you’ve returned from your trip. Be aware that one of the biggest scams that they pull at MCO is that when you return your rental, you have to show them a receipt from a gas station that is within 5 miles of where you return the vehicle. There is only one station that I’ve found to be that close and they conveniently charge over $7/gallon. If you do not fill up the vehicle within this range or if you do not have a receipt, all agencies will charge you for a FULL tank of gas at THEIR rate. This is even if the vehicle is showing the tank to be full on the gauge.
Before you drive out of the parking garage with your rental, make sure to go over the vehicle with a fine tooth comb. Take pictures and/or video of any scratches, dents or damage anywhere on the vehicle (body, tires, glass, etc.) and make sure that your report them to the agent BEFORE you leave the garage. Once you leave the garage, YOU are responsible for the damage on the vehicle if you did not report it.
So you are on your way to whichever resort you are staying at. When driving out of the airport, be careful, 90% of the people driving do not know where they are going and I have seen some pretty stupid moves by drivers. Also, be aware that there will be traffic… LOTS AND LOTS of traffic. I-4 which is the main Interstate highway through Orlando is ALWAYS backed up. Make sure you know where you are going before you leave the airport.
Another thing to be mindful of are the toll-booths in Florida. They are very sneaky if you are paying cash and did not rent a transponder. When coming upon a toll-booth, keep an eye out to the right. Most of the toll-booths have what look like off ramps for the cash lanes. If you miss the ramp and go through the transponder lane (which is just the highway) you will be charged the toll by your rental company, along with the cost if you got the transponder for the entire length of your rental. This can be quite expensive and you will not see the charge for up to two months after your have returned the vehicle.