See Orlando like a local
Time in Orlando
Find a spring in your step, as days in Orlando get warmer. The capital of theme parks sees lots of large crowds during spring break and the Easter holidays, so keep an eye out on dates to suit your visit. Head to the Everglades, on the outskirts of Orlando, for a canoeing experience or speedy air boat ride. Enjoy the Spring Fiesta at Lake Eola come April and watch out for rising highs of 31°C (88°F) in May.
Feel the heat of the peak, as Orlando rolls into a hot summer. Catch the weeks where theme park queues are shorter if you can, as the school holidays come into play mid-summer. Watch out for the rainfalls, luckily rainfalls are often short and stormy, so blue skies often return after just five minutes. With temperature highs reaching 34°C (94°F), you can choose from an epic selection of water parks where you can cool down.
Enjoy the season of fall in Orlando. Pack for all weather, as highs can reach 30°C (86°F) and lows can sink to 14°C (57°F). Join in with excitement throughout autumn, as Orlando turns into the Halloween capital of the world. Attend Universal’s Horror Nights, discover haunted houses and dress-up for more fun. Children can join in with not-so-spooky celebrations at the Magic Kingdom. Celebrate here with a parade and go trick-or-treating throughout the park.
Throughout December, Christmas cheer flows throughout Orlando. Immerse yourself in the spirit, as Disney, Universal and plenty of parks create a Christmas extravaganza. With lows of 8°C (47°F), winter months can be a little chilly, so bring some extra layers. The great news is that it’s the season with the lowest rainfall. Welcome the New Year in January with shimmering fireworks across the skies. Pick a park to play in, then sit back and enjoy the show.
If you’re a citizen of a country covered by the Visa Waiver Programme (such as the UK), you will need to have a valid e-Passport along with an approved ESTA to enter the USA. You can identify an e-Passport by the ‘chip’ symbol on the front cover.
You can apply for an ESTA online, and should receive approval straight away, although we recommend applying at least 72 hours before departure, in case any travel authorisation is denied. An ESTA is valid for multiple journeys and lasts for two years, or until your passport expires.
You will no longer be able to enter the USA using an ESTA if you have dual nationality, with one passport being issued by a country eligible under the Visa Waiver Programme and the other issued by Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
UK citizens can also fast track US passport control by joining Global Entry, the US Customs and Border Protection programme. Membership lasts for five years and the application process includes background checks and a face-to-face interview at an official enrolment centre.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the right documents to be allowed entry into the USA when flying into Orlando.
When you touch down at Orlando International Airport (MCO), there are many ways to reach the city from the airport. Plenty of resort hotels provide airport transfers, so check before you arrive.
Groups can catch a shuttle van, depending on how far your hotel is from the airport – this could cost from $15-$37, or a taxi ride will usually charge between $14-$68. You can also pre-book your airport transfer with us – simply add it to you flight or holiday booking. A hire car is another great choice for Orlando, for the ultimate convenience.
In Orlando, you can hop in a taxi from theme parks to shopping malls. Jump in a yellow, checkered or city cab, or pre-book with companies like Mears Transportation or Quicksilver Taxis. Download the Mears taxi and Uber apps to book cabs on your mobile on the spot. Remember – you can also ask your hotel concierge to book a taxi for you.
Buses make Orlando a breeze. The convenient I-Ride Trolley operates from 08:00-22.30 around every 20 minutes, with tickets at $2 for adults and $1 for children. Unlimited ride passes are also available. This service operates along International Drive, with numerous stops including Universal Studios Florida™, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Downtown. Lynx bus services also provide similar stops. Prices start at $2 for a single ride, seven day passes at $8 and even a 30 day pass for $25.
With so many places to rent bikes, and lots of paved biking trails, cycling about Orlando is easy. You can also hire bikes in some of the resort hotels, to cycle to nearby parks. You can walk along International Drive with ease. If your legs start to tire, just jump on a bus.
In most Orlando restaurants, it is customary to leave between 15 and 20 per cent tip. If you feel like your service has been exceptional, a 22 per cent tip is warmly welcomed. Self-service buffets differ slightly, with a 12 per cent tip. Tipping at a bar is $1-$2, depending on the drink complexity – perhaps $3 for a cocktail.
Customarily, taxi drivers should be tipped 15 to 20 per cent. Although hotel shuttle journeys are often complimentary, a $1-$2 tip would be appreciated by the driver. A door-to-door shuttle service should be tipped 15 per cent, plus $1 a bag for taking them on and off. If you’re hiring a car, you should tip valet parking attendants $2 on return of your car. If a doorman calls a cab for you, tip $1. For room cleaning, tip $1-$2 for a few days.
If you are hitting the golfing greens, it’s customary to tip your golf caddie between $10-$25 after your round. For activities within resorts, like water sports, instructors and operators are usually tipped $5-$10. If you are going for a spa pampering, you should tip 15 per cent of your treatments bill.
Staying safe in Orlando
As in any busy city, it’s prudent to take care when travelling. These simple tips will help you stay street smart: