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Old 11-02-2008, 04:27 PM   #1
Where there's a Will there's a way
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
Posts: 5,841

A Newbie's Guide to Orlando International Airport

A Newbie's Guide to Orlando International Airport

One of the most common themes on the boards is questions about where to go and what to do at Orlando International Airport. Those who have never been there don't know how the place is laid out, where various services are located, and what terms like "Terminal A" and "Airside" mean. In order to assist those folks, I have put together a detailed description of the airport terminal's layout.

Additional information on the airport can be found on the Orlando International Airport web site.

NOTE: The three-letter code for Orlando International is MCO, because it was once called McCoy Air Force Base. You will see those letters often on the boards. Locals in Orlando call it OIA.


The airport is split into 5 main buildings. The outer buildings, called Airside buildings, are where all of the gates are located. They are arranged in a rectangle and connected to the main terminal building, which is called the Landside building, by very cool short monorails. The monorails connect to the 4 corners of the Landside building, inside the security checkpoints, so the only way to get from the Landside building to one of the Airside buildings is to go through security and take a monorail.


Each Airside building houses a number of gates, and also has a sampling of shops and eateries to make the wait for your flight a little more pleasant. All of the normal airport terminal amenities, such as restrooms and phones, are also present in each Airside building. There are even places for the business traveler to recharge their laptops or cell phones. Free wi-fi internet access is provided throughout all five terminal buildings (SSID "Internet").


The Landside building is divided into two sides - A and B. The sides are mirror images of each other, with various services located on one side, and some services (like rental car counters) duplicated on both sides. The A and B sides run along the outer edges of the north and south faces of the building. You will often hear people mention "Terminal A" or "Terminal B"; these refer to the A and B sides of the Landside building, not to separate buildings.

There are two large parking garages, one on each side of the Landside building, containing daily parking and rental car pickup and return.

Landside is 3 levels high, with each level having a particular focus.

Level 3

Level 3 houses the security checkpoints and monorail access to the Airside buildings, as well as passenger drop-off and airline check-in counters; all of these are divided between the A and B sides. A shopping and services district and a food court run through the middle of the building, between the A and B sides. The lobby of the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport hotel can be found at the east end of Level 3.

Level 2

Level 2 is entirely composed of Baggage Claim. Belts are located on both the A and B sides; to determine which side your bags can be found, look to see which side your gate was on.

Bags from flights arriving at Gates 1-29 (Airside 1) and Gates 100-129 (Airside 2) will be delivered to one of the belts on the A side of the Landside building.

Bags from flights arriving at Gates 30-59 (Airside 3) and Gates 60-99 (Airside 4) will be delivered to one of the belts on the A side of the Landside building.

Overhead signs on Level 3 will tell you on which side your bags will be delivered, and overhead signs on Level 2 will direct you to the specific belt where your flight's bags will appear.

Outside the glass doors on Level 2 is the pick-up area; if you have a local friend or family member who will be picking you up from the airport, this is where you can meet them. However, vehicles are not permitted to stop in this area except while loading passengers and luggage, so your ride will have to wait until you call them in the free Cell Phone Lot.

Level 1

Level 1 is Ground Transportation. Here you will find counters for the 9 on-site rental car agencies:
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Enterprise
  • E-Z Car Rental
  • L & M Car Rental
  • National
  • Thrifty

The rental cars themselves are located in the garages, which can be accessed by simply stepping outside through the glass doors, and crossing the street at one of the designated crosswalks.

Also on Level 1 are bus stops for off-site rental cars, airport area hotels, and the Mears, Disney's Magical Express, and Disney Cruise Line bus services; taxi stands; and meeting areas for towncar and limo service pickups.

Almost all ground transportation is duplicated on both the A and B sides. All of the rental car agencies have counters on both sides, and so does Mears. Disney's Magical Express bus service, however, only operates on the B side of the building.

Car rental agents at the on-site agencies will direct you to the garages on either side of the Landside building to pick up your car. Each agency keeps cars in both garages, so you won't have to cross the airport to find your car; simply walk out the glass doors in front of the rental counters, cross the street to the garage, and follow the signs to your agency's pick-up area.

When taking a shuttle bus to an off-site rental agency or an airport area hotel, simply look for the signs designating your bus stop, just outside the glass doors, and wait for your bus to arrive.

When taking Disney's Magical Express service, head for the B side of the terminal and follow the signs - and sometimes Disney cast members with giant Mickey hands - to the DME counter for check-in.

Taxis, towncar pickup areas, and Mears bus service, can all be found on both sides of Level 1. Just follow the signs to the appropriate counter or pickup area.

Level 1 is where more people get lost or confused than anywhere else in the airport, because it is essentially two very, very long straight lines, and after walking what seems like forever without seeing your destination, you might begin to think you've gotten lost. But don't lose hope - it's a straight line, so you can't get lost. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you walk past your destination and have to backtrack.


Orlando International Airport is a huge, busy, and extremely well-run airport. It may be a little intimidating at first glance, but once you get to know the basics, it's not too difficult to find your way and arrive at your ultimate destination quickly and safely. For more detailed info, check out the airport's FAQ page.

Last edited by WillCAD; 06-09-2009 at 01:04 PM. Reason: NEW RENTAL CAR AGENCIES ON-SITE!
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