Flying into Orlando to go to Disney or Universal theme parks?
Although the city boasts an abundance of things to do, the fun often feels surrounded by a thicket of slow-moving traffic and urban sprawl. Uninitiated visitors trying to get to a hotel near the parks from the airport may feel as if travel dementors are bent on sucking the joy out of their Orlando vacation.
On a good day the roughly 20-mile trip across town to either park can take 25 minutes. If there’s traffic or an accident, be prepared to spend up to an hour getting to a hotel near the parks.
If it’s your first time visiting the parks, don’t worry — you don’t need a magic wand or an invisibility cloak to get around Orlando. You have a number of options on getting to the park areas, including hotels that offer shuttles from the airport to the hotel and then from the hotel to the theme parks.
We’ve done the research to make sure you have all the information you need to get around Orlando easily without a car.
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Hotels with Shuttles: Disney, Universal, and Off-Site
Resorts owned by either Disney World or Universal may carry a higher price tag compared with some other options for accommodations. The trade-off is that hotels affiliated with the theme parks offer perks, including easy airport transportation.
Below, we’ve provided a brief synopsis of your options for getting to your hotel if you’re staying at Disney or Universal Studios, as well as how to reach off-site hotels with a shuttle from the airport.
Disney Guests — Magical Express & Minnie Van Services
Staying at a Disney-operated hotel? If so, then you can get a ride to your hotel for free, using the Magical Express.
The Magical Express shared shuttle bus is a free service for guests of Disney-owned accommodations. The service is only available for guests arriving at Orlando International Airport and does not extend to other regional airports such as Tampa or Sanford.
Magical Express workers will pick up your checked luggage from the airport carousel and take it to your resort room for you. All you have to do is reserve your spot ahead of time. Be sure to book the Magical Express service at least two weeks in advance of your trip so Disney can mail you the luggage tags for this service. You can find more details about the Magical Express shuttle buses here.
If you prefer a private ride tailored to your schedule, you may want to use Disney’s Minnie Van service. The Minnie Van offers rides to and from Orlando International Airport cost a flat $150 each way for up to six people. You’ll also want to add in gratuity.
In effect, the service is a Disney-owned taxi ride between hotels and the airport. The Minnie Van airport shuttle operates between 6:00 AM and midnight. Unlike the Magical Express, the Minnie Van service does not pick up your luggage and take it to your room. More information about Minnie Van Service can be found here.
One thing to keep in mind is that only guests staying at one of these Disney-owned resorts can take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express bus or Minnie Van service from the Orlando Airport:
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Wilderness Lodge
- Polynesian Village
- Contemporary Resort
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Beach Club Resort
- BoardWalk Resort
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Yacht Club
- Old Key West Resort
- Port Orleans
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- All-Star Resorts (Sports, Music, Movies)
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas
There are many other hotels whose name and/or proximity to the parks may confuse some guests into thinking they are Disney properties although they are separately owned. Just note that if you’re staying at a property that’s not Disney-owned, then you can’t take advantage of Magical Express bus service or the Minnie Van.
Universal Guests – SuperStar Shuttle
Universal currently offers airport transfers via SuperStar Shuttle only to on-site guests who book their stay through a Universal Vacations package. The following hotels are eligible for the service:
- Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites
- Loews Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Loews Portofino Bay Resort
The shuttle fee is $39 roundtrip for adults, kids (ages 3-9) are $29 each, and children under 3 ride free. Rides are available from Orlando International. Rides are available around the clock, but it’s best if you arrive at the airport between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Outside of these hours you’ll need to call the shuttle directly to make pick-up arrangements.
Unlike Disney’s Magical Express, SuperStar service will not deliver luggage to your room. SuperStar airport transfers can be added to a Universal Vacation reservation by calling 1-866-604-7557. You may have to wait at the airport until the van is full before it departs for Universal – this usually takes 30 minutes or less.
Other Shuttles & Uber/Lyft
Although SuperStar Shuttle is the official provider for Universal, you can also use Mears Transportation, which is another shuttle service in Orlando. Mears charges $34 per adult for roundtrip service and services hotels all across Orlando.
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are also available and will likely be even cheaper as they charge by the car, not per person.
Shuttle Service to Off-site Hotels Near the Parks
Orlando has an abundance of hotels vying for your business. One way they do that is offering perks for guests to stay with them. For example, hotels near the theme parks usually offer shuttle rides to the park, even if they aren’t official hotels of Disney or Universal.
Unfortunately, given the location of the theme parks (about 15-25 miles from the airport), that means many hotels near the parks are too far to offer rides from the airport. Instead, you’ll need to find transportation between the airport and your hotel.
Transport Between Hotels and Airport
Mears Transportation, the official shuttle at Orlando International Airport, offers rides to and from the airport with stops at most Orlando hotels. Shuttle rides around cost around $35 per person roundtrip. You can book shuttle rides in advance here.
Shuttles can be pricey if traveling with a group, so you might want to use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft instead. For example, Lyft estimates a ride from the airport to Epcot would run $32-36 each way.
Free Shuttles From Hotels to Parks
As for getting to the theme parks, many hotels offer free shuttle service to either or both parks as a guest perk, while at other hotels there is a fee. We have a full list of hotels near Disney and Universal with shuttles here.
If you don’t see your hotel on this list, check to see if your hotel has a special arrangement with either Universal or Disney which might result in free shuttle rides and/or discounted tickets, or other theme park perks.
Be sure to also find out the schedule for shuttles from your hotel to the parks as early as possible in your trip planning – some hotels have limited schedules with only one departure time in the morning and one return trip to the hotel in the evening. Other hotels have shuttle schedules with more options. You can get more details on hotels near the parks with shuttles here.