Orlando in Florida is the epicentre of the theme park world. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and more can all be found here, and a flight to Orlando should definitely be followed by getting a hire car so you can get around more easily. Here, as with many US cities, the car is king!
As you can imagine, Orlando is very popular for family holidays so flight prices rise during school holidays. The best months to look for deals on flights are May and October, as this is the transition between the cooler dry season and the hot and humid wet season. If you really want the parks to yourself, try January and February. You'll benefit from cheap prices on flights and hotels but don't expect temperatures to get higher than around 20°C.
You can fly direct to Orlando from London and Manchester, but from Belfast, Birmingham and Glasgow, you'll have to go indirect. There's a good selection of airlines offering direct routes to Orlando. These include Norwegian Air, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
A direct flight from the UK to Orlando will last around nine and a half hours, which is already a long time, so many opt for direct routes to the world's theme park capital, to reduce their journey times and to save them the hassle of a layover.
Orlando is a popular winter sun destination, which means there are plenty of direct flights leaving the UK for this city each day. It is also much cheaper to travel there in winter and outside school holidays, so if you're looking for the best deal, do your research.
It's definitely worth looking into getting a taxi or a hire car to get to your hotel from the airport. Having your own wheels is probably the best bet, although traffic can be quite bad in Orlando so if you know you'll just want to sleep, arrange a hire car to pick up the next day and have someone else do the hard work. The local buses run a fairly comprehensive, but slow, service, and many of the hotels offer free shuffle buses to the major theme parks.
You'll be sure to want to do all the main theme parks - after all, they were the reason you booked your flight to Orlando! Look for advanced-purchase offers to save on entry. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, and the smaller Gatorland all vie for your attention. If you've not had enough adventure then have a go at a range of sports at the the Sammy Duvall Watersports Centre. For a break from all the adrenaline, try the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art or take a boat out on Lake Eola. For more hints, tips and advice head to our Orlando guide.
Most international flights arrive at Orlando International Airport. Orlando also has a second airport that also serves international destinations, Orlando Sanford Airport, which is situated about 25 miles outside Orlando.
Many Orlando hotels and the Walt Disney Resort offer a free shuttle service from Orlando International Airport, although reservations are often required. Local buses serve most of the tourist areas for about $2 one way, or you can take a shuttle bus. As shuttle buses cost between $18 and $45 per person for a return journey it might be worth hiring a taxi, especially if the whole family is in tow. You can also pick up car hire at Orlando Airport, and considering that all the major resorts have ample parking this is often the easiest way to get around.
Most people decide to hire a car when they visit Orlando, but if you want to avoid driving there are still ways you can get around. Firstly, check whether your hotel offers free shuttle buses to any of the attractions, many of them do. The local bus network is also fairly comprehensive, if a little slow, but it's really cheap so if you've got the time this is a great option. Also, for travel along International and Universal Boulevard, the I-ride trolley offers regular cheap services.
If you're looking to travel a little further, trains depart to both New York and Miami, serving some interim destinations. The greyhound intercity buses also offer low cost travel to a wide range of destinations. Public transport is fairly limited to major towns and cities though so if you're looking to head off the beaten track or want some more freedom then hiring a car in Orlando is again your best option.
From June until late September expect hot and humid weather in Florida with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Temperatures can reach a scorching 36°C in the day and rarely drop below 21°C at night, but the humidity can make it feel even hotter. This is the peak visiting time for Orlando, especially during school holidays. Hurricanes are possible during September and October although the risk is much lower than for coastal parts of Florida.
October until May is cooler than the rainy season but predominantly dry. Winters in Orlando rarely drop below freezing and can be pretty mild with average daytime highs of 22°C and night-time lows of 10°C. Most visitors find this a more pleasant time to fly into Orlando, and the parks are generally a little quieter. May and October tend to be popular times to visit Orlando, with almost-guaranteed good weather and fewer other visitors. January and February are also popular although cooler, so remember to take a coat!
Currency is US dollars $. Travellers can easily exchange currency and cash traveller's cheques at banks across Orlando. You can also withdraw dollars, though usually there is a small charge.
From the UK dial +1 for the USA. The code for Orlando is 407
In most cases UK citizens will not need to apply for a visa before travelling to Orlando. So long as your visit is for holiday or business and is not longer than 90 days you should be able to enter the USA under Visa Waiver scheme. Though you must apply for your ESTA before you'll be allowed onto your flight. Click here to apply online.
Escape the theme parks and explore the Botanical Garden
There are fireworks every day at Disney - here they are viewed from Epcot
Gatorland does what it says on the tin: Alligators aplenty!
Lake Eola, the fountain and the Downtown skyline
Shamu is one of the best-known attractions in Orlando
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