If you’re staying on-site at Universal Resort Orlando or in one of the nearby hotels, you’re going to want to plan ahead and make sure you know how to get there once your plane has landed and you’ve collected your luggage.
Here’s what you should know about traveling this route.
- How Far is Orlando Airport from Universal Studios?
- What’s the Best Way to Get to Universal Studios from Orlando Airport?
- Overview Of Transportation Options
- Are There Any Other Options For Getting To Universal Studios?
How Far is Orlando Airport from Universal Studios?
If traveling in a straight line were an option, going from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios is about 10.2 miles. However, if you’re driving, the most reasonable distance is going west along FL-528 and then north along I-4 to Orlando. This L-shaped trip is about 16.8 miles by car and takes 20-25 minutes in regular traffic.
What’s the Best Way to Get to Universal Studios from Orlando Airport?
Here are the best ways to get from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios.
1. Rent a Car & Drive
If you want to drive your family to the park (and your hotel), the easiest way is to rent a car at Orlando Airport. Most major services have on-site rentals, including Alamo, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, and Hertz. Several more rental services are located off the airport, near the A-Side area of the terminal.
Competition for rental cars is intense at this airport, but renting a four-passenger vehicle for a week costs about $150. This may go up to $200 for a somewhat nicer car. Thankfully, prices rarely rise more than $10-20 a day because there are so many alternatives within minutes of the airport.
The fastest route from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios is the FL-528 to I-4 route, but you can also take Florida’s Turnpike route. This is usually a few minutes longer, but the difference isn’t significant enough to matter for most people.
2. Use a Rideshare Service
If you don’t want to rent a vehicle for your trip, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are a practical and affordable alternative that can take you straight to Universal Studios. This is most practical if your group has 1-3 people. Many rideshare vehicles can’t fit four passengers comfortably, so you may need to wait longer if you have more people or a lot of luggage.
Pricing varies much more among ridesharing services than car rentals. A one-way trip will usually cost between $30 to $70 depending on the size of vehicle you need and the amount of traffic in the area. Expect the ride to cost more if you’re traveling during a congested time.
Ridesharing services have a near-constant presence at major airports, so you probably won’t need to wait more than a few minutes to get any vehicle you want. Make sure you don’t call for your ride too early, as you could lose your money if the driver has to wait more than a few minutes for you.
Lyft often has more large vehicles than Uber, so it’s a good choice if you have a bigger group.
Actual drive times will vary based on the time of day but are typically similar to renting a car and driving yourself. There might be a slight delay if your driver is picking up someone else at the same time. They might need to drop off other passengers before you, too, which could further delay your arrival.
Ridesharing services are often the most convenient option if you only plan to get a ride to the theme park and back to the airport. However, they are fairly expensive for longer trips, including those to Universal Studios and back again.
If you’re traveling at particularly bad times, this could cost a total of $200 for just those trips. You could get a rental car for the same period at a lower price and still be able to use it to drive anywhere else you want.
That said, ridesharing services don’t require you to spend time filling out forms. You can simply arrive at the airport, request your ride, and (usually) be on your way within minutes. That’s useful if you want to spend as little time dealing with paperwork as possible or if renting a vehicle would be difficult for any reason.
3. Take a Taxi
Taxis are the traditional alternative to ridesharing services. These usually aren’t as fast as companies like Uber or Lyft, and you may find yourself waiting as many as 30 minutes to get into a taxi. That’s longer than many people visiting a theme park want to spend, but it remains a popular choice among people who want reliable services.
The average fare for a taxi going from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios is about $40. This might vary slightly based on the actual time taken but shouldn’t fall too far outside that range. The taxis themselves are otherwise accessible, located near the center of the Arrivals areas on Level 2 of both the A-side and the B-side of the terminal.
Taxis have several advantages over ridesharing services, despite their slower pacing. The first is that taxi companies offer vehicles holding up to nine passengers, which is considerably more than most ridesharing services offer. This makes them an excellent option for larger groups.
Taxis also charge flat rates regardless of the number of passengers. This can ultimately make them more affordable than ridesharing services, especially since fees are strictly calculated by taximeters instead of arbitrary, fluctuating pricing algorithms.
Taxis can also be more affordable than rideshare services during peak hours when rideshares often put surge pricing into effect. Taxis also change fares throughout the day, but rarely as much as ridesharing does. The result is more reliable pricing for most customers at most times.
Ultimately, many people prefer the speed and convenience of rideshares. However, a taxi’s ability to fit more people and more luggage, especially if you call ahead of time to arrange for the ride, means they probably won’t vanish as a viable alternative anytime soon.
4. Take a Shuttle Bus
Shuttle buses are the slowest option for going from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios. These fit many more people than even the largest taxi, and it takes time to load people up and drop them off at different destinations. However, they’re often the best way to move large groups if you need to keep everyone together.
Shuttles usually have different pricing based on whether you’re going one-way or returning to the airport. Mears is the most popular shuttle service in the Orlando Airport area, often charging around $35 per adult for a round trip ticket. Children are a few dollars less.
Cost-wise, shuttle buses are more expensive once you start moving about four people around. Remember that taxis have a flat fare regardless of the number of passengers. That means a large taxi is usually much cheaper than a shuttle bus (or several rideshares) for moving 4-9 people.
However, with all that said, shuttle buses do stand out in the safety department. There are far more people around on a bus, so it’s unlikely you’re going to get a problematic driver. That’s particularly nice for families that want as much security as possible, even if it does require waiting for a while longer.
You can usually reserve a shuttle bus long before you even visit the airport, and most companies are reasonably flexible about transfers if your plane ends up arriving late.
5. Book a Limo
Limos are considered the luxury alternative for transportation. However, despite the image of limos as considerably more expensive than other options, the truth is that many limo trips from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios are surprisingly competitive.
Most limos charge either a flat rate or hourly for their services, regardless of the number of passengers. Most companies can transport somewhere from 14 to 18 people at a time in a stretch limo, though smaller options like sedans, SUVs, and vans are also available.
The main value of renting a limo is the highly personalized service. Limo drivers will usually meet you at the airport with a personalized sign so you can find them, followed by an escort to your vehicle and help with your luggage. Some companies will even let you make a quick stop for food somewhere without modifying the price.
Limo companies are generally reputable and secure, with extensive background checks on all drivers and transparent, up-front pricing. Like shuttles, you can arrange for limo rentals well ahead of time.
On the low end, for a sedan, prices could be around $75 for a one-way trip to Universal Studios. That’s broadly competitive with higher-end choices from a ridesharing service, and limos might even be cheaper than some rideshares.
Ultimately, limos are the best way to move large groups as quickly as possible. They can fit more people than the largest taxis, they don’t have the same delay that shuttle buses do, and you can often reach them even faster than you can get a rideshare.
The obvious downside is that limos are somewhat more expensive than the other options, but they have clear advantages if you have plenty of money and want to make the most of the limited time on your trip.
Overview Of Transportation Options
Here’s a quick comparison of the best transportation options.
Renting a car is the most cost-effective option if you want to make multiple trips throughout the area. They can take a little while to get, and you may have to pay a bit in gas, but they offer more freedom once you have them than any other transportation options available at Orlando Airport. These are particularly useful if your hotel isn’t too close to the theme park.
Rideshare services are reasonably quick. They’re handy for people that might have a hard time getting a rental vehicle. They’re moderately expensive, especially over longer distances, but the ability to connect with a driver in mere minutes and even track their location offers many advantages. This is good for a few short trips.
Taxis usually take longer to get than ridesharing services. However, they charge by distance instead of the number of people, making them quite affordable for moving up to nine people. Taxis also tend to have a flat rate and have more transparent pricing, but try to schedule a pickup ahead of time, so you don’t need to wait too much.
Shuttle buses are the slowest option, but large vehicles are generally safer than small cars. Shuttles can also help accommodate many disabilities that other services may have trouble with. These are the best way to keep especially large groups together, but they tend to get expensive if you’re moving more than a few people at a time.
Limos are somewhat more expensive than other options, although the costs remain surprisingly competitive in some situations. However, they can move many people for a flat rate, include highly professional and personalized service, and can even provide in-ride entertainment to start a vacation off right. Limos can also be faster than ridesharing.
Are There Any Other Options For Getting To Universal Studios?
Yes, but these aren’t a good choice for most people. The best alternative is getting a friend in the area to come to pick you up, but most visitors can’t rely on that. Other transportation methods can also get you around the area (such as walking), but these are usually much slower, even if they are cheaper.
Ultimately, the five options of renting a car, using a rideshare, taking a taxi, riding a shuttle bus, or renting a limo are the most practical and affordable ways to get around Orlando for your vacation.
Note that you can mix and match some services. For example, you could take a limo to Universal Studios with a large group, then pick up car rentals on-site at the end of the day to travel to different hotels.
The best way to pick a transportation service is to consider how you want to do things with your group, then see what options in the area match your objectives. Orlando Airport has a truly incredible number of easily accessible services, so chances are you’ll be able to find anything you need.
Make sure to call ahead if someone in your group has disabilities or other special needs that could affect your travel. If your preferred service can’t accommodate that, they can probably tell you who can.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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