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Orlando's Useful Facts
The weather is an important factor in any trip to Orlando and you need to know what to expect. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to what clothes to pack. During the school summer holidays it is hot and humid, with quite a bit of rain (with the chance of a tropical storm), so take your waterproofs. That said, most families still find it preferable to our normal summer rain at home in freezing temperatures. Winter is an excellent time to visit weather wise, with little rain and temperatures in the mid-twenties (but please be aware that at peak times like Christmas it is heaving with crowds).
Flights and Airports
Flights to Orlando arrive at two major airports. Passengers on scheduled flights such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will land at Orlando International (MCO), while those on charter flights from the UK (such as Thomson) will arrive at Orlando Sanford (SFB). The flight time is around nine hours. Direct and indirect flights are available plus regional departures are possible. And you might want to fly into Orlando and then have a few days on the coast, flying back from either Tampa or Miami. You can discuss the best options for you with your American Sky travel consultant.
Your journey from the airport
If you have pre-booked a taxi or minibus transfer with us you will be met on arrival by our American Sky representative who will guide you to your transfer vehicle. If you have pre-booked car hire follow the instructions given on your booking itinerary. Shuttle buses take you from the airport to the various car hire depots.
From Orlando International airport it is around 12 miles to International Drive and 25 miles to Walt Disney World Resort.
From Orlando Sanford airport it is approximately 35 miles to International Drive and 50 miles to Walt Disney World Resort.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the return date to the UK.
All travellers should check full entry requirements prior to travel by visiting the FCO website or by contacting the relevant embassy.
USA entry procedures have changed and UK travellers to the USA under the Visa Waiver Scheme must now complete the I-94W form online using the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) system - for more details, look at the US Embassy site. Any other nationalities must seek the advice of their embassy.
Language, People and Culture
The predominant language of the area is English and the culture is an all-embracing one of theme parks and Disney. The area has been built around tourism and visitors, and you will find everyone you meet is on holiday from somewhere else in the world.
Of course locals do exist, and there is a diverse community in the city of Orlando away from the theme parks, with a mix of American, Puerto Rican, Haitian and Asian, with many students and golfers coming for extended stays.
American Dollar. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and many restaurants and shops (except the smaller ones, particularly around Chinatown).
120V 60 Hertz. All plugs are a flat blade 2 pin.
Converters are readily available in the UK for the USA.
Vaccination & Health
As health requirements change please consult with your GP or specialist travel clinic well in advance of your holiday for specific information related to your travel and medical history. Additional information can be found by visiting NaTHNaC or MASTA Travel health.
Orlando (+1) 407
Location and Getting Around
Orlando is as far from the sea as you can get in Florida, being located in the very centre of this state.
Orlando has been built around the needs of the visitor, and so is an easy place to get around with lots of different transportation options, including the free shuttle services offered by many of the hotels to the major theme parks.
By car: It’s worth noting that Orlando is the busiest car rental market in the world. To rent a car, the driver must be over 21, have a valid credit card and English language drivers licence. Your passport must also be presented. American Sky can pre-book your car at favourable rates, and have a great range to suit all different shapes and sizes of group. The roads are wide and easy to drive on with all major attractions well sign-posted, but traffic jams around downtown are common in the afternoons, and around the touristy areas on Friday nights and all day Saturday. Parking in the theme parks is straightforward and well planned. Simply remember your car park area which is clearly numbered when the car park shuttle takes you to the park gates.
Orlando has a lot of toll roads and you travel to the right of the booths as you will be paying in cash, not with the transport cards.
By public transport: The I-Ride Trolley offers a convenient service along International Drive and Universal Blvd, operating daily from 8am to 10:30pm. While the service is advertised as a trolley, these are in fact modified buses travelling in traffic with many stops, which makes for a fairly slow ride, amking it for a short hop along I-Drive, but if you’re travelling from one end to the other its best to get a taxi or drive.
By taxi: These are readily available and generally not too expensive. The best thing is to ask your hotel reception for a reputable taxi company. Many families will find a good taxi company at the beginning of their holiday and stick to it for the duration – it’s always nice to see a friendly face to take you home when you’re exhausted from a day in the park or at the end of a long night.
On foot: All your walking will be around the parks and attractions – you can’t walk in between or to and from them. However, many of our hotels and villas have shops and restaurants within walking distance, so if you have the energy you’ll be able to step out in the evening.
Holidays in the USA – when the crowds will be at their peak
- New Year’s Day 1 Jan
- Martin Luther King Day around 21 Jan
- Presidents Day around 18 Feb
- Memorial Day around 27 May
- Independence Day 4 Jul
- Labour Day around 2 Sep
- Columbus Day around 14 Oct
- Halloween end of Oct
- Veterans Day around 11 Nov
- Thanksgiving Day around 28 Nov
- Christmas Day 25 Dec