A Newbie's Guide to Orlando International Airport

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by WillCAD, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. WillCAD

    WillCAD Where there's a Will there's a way

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    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.


    GENERAL ARRANGEMENT

    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.


    [​IMG]


    AIRSIDE


    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").


    LANDSIDE


    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.


    [​IMG]


    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.


    [​IMG]


    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.


    [​IMG]


    COOLNESS ABOUNDS

    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.
     
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  3. goofy4tink

    goofy4tink No tags...not needed! Transportation moderator Moderator

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    Why thanks!! This will be a nice addition to our board.
     
  4. PoohsFan1

    PoohsFan1 DIS Veteran

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    In March we will be flying into MCO for the first time and will be using DME (also our first time). We will be flying in/out with AA so our terminal will be on the A side. My question is, how do we get from Terminal A to Terminal B to get to the Disney Welcom Center and DME. Is there a walkway or do we have to take a shuttle across? Thanks for any help.
     
  5. goofy4tink

    goofy4tink No tags...not needed! Transportation moderator Moderator

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    Everyone arriving into MCO has to take a shuttle tram from the gate area to the main terminal. So, when you get off the tram, you will walk towards the center of the terminal area...hotel is around it, lots of greenery and such. If you look up, you will see, in bright neon, Side A and Side B signage. You are on level 3 at this point. Walk over to Side B, and go down a level, you are on level 2 now...baggage claim. Go down another level, to level 1, which is ground transportation. At the end of that area you will find DME, past the rental car counters and the Mears area.
    It's really very easy.
     
  6. PoohsFan1

    PoohsFan1 DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for the info :goodvibes
     
  7. AuroraluvsPhillip

    AuroraluvsPhillip <br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/i

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    I haven't posted on these boards in a few years, but I want to thank WillCAD very much for a great post on the Orlando airport. We are from MA and have gone through the airport numerous times on various trips to WDW and UO, however, it was a whole different ballgame for my daughter coming home from college and flying for the first time over Thanksgiving break all by herself.

    I sent her some maps, and descriptions from the official MCO site, but I wish I had sent her your post, it would have been much easier to explain things. She actually did fine, got to the airport about 3 hours early, didn't check a bag to save time, got through security and found her gate easily.

    I am going to forward your post to her, as an added resource for her trip home mid-December. Thanks! :thumbsup2
     
  8. WillCAD

    WillCAD Where there's a Will there's a way

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    Glad it could be of some use!

    This post actually started as a reply to someone who asked a simple question about the airport; I don't even remember what that questions was, now. But in replying I realized that so many folks who have never been to MCO don't know anything about the layout or what to expect, so I started listing the various common questions in my mind and tried to put them all in one post. Needless to say, it grew to be more of a novela.
     
  9. dudspizza

    dudspizza I married in to a Disney crazy family... now I hav

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    Here is an addition.... people always ask how to get to the DME desk... this map helps a ton!

    [​IMG]

    Duds
     
  10. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    Thank you WillCAD for all you did for the forum.
    You did a fantastic job!


    I would like to help also with this thread.
    Below is the link for all the limo's, car service, etc that can provide transportation if you are not using the ME for the motherland.

    http://www.orlandoairports.net/ops/vfh.htm

    And for those that ask about taxi fares, another link to give you an estimate for traveling in the orlando area.

    This is the Mears Transportation link:

    http://www.mearstransportation.com/TaxiFareEstimator.asp


     
  11. W21981Brick

    W21981Brick Mouseketeer

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    Hello, I am wondering if there is a store that sells liquor in the airport. I want to buy some small bottles to keep in our room. Thanks Much ...
     
  12. WillCAD

    WillCAD Where there's a Will there's a way

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    There are no liquor stores in the airport. The only place where you might find some booze is in the Hudson News locations in the various terminals. They have coolers with cold drinks, and I think they carry a selection of light alcholholic beverages, but I'm not 100% sure since I've never looked for them specifically.

    Failing that, if you absolutely can't go a week without booze in your hotel room, you can purchase beer and wine coolers in the gift shops at most WDW resorts. Every WDW resort has a bar, and many of the TS restaurants in the resorts serve alchohol.

    With propper planning, it's possible remain in the bag from the moment you arrive on WDW property until the moment you leave, if that's your thing. Since WDW is a crowded, hot, and often exhausting vacation, with lots of kids everywhere, some folks actually feel more stressed on vacation there than at home, and the desire to get toasted on a nightly basis is stronger for some. However, excessive alchohol consumption, like any other excess, comes with a price, and the price for getting ____-faced at WDW is usually paid by those around you rather than by you.
     
  13. W21981Brick

    W21981Brick Mouseketeer

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    pixiedust: Thanks for the reply!pixiedust:
     
  14. Gretta

    Gretta Mouseketeer

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    Hi Brick!

    I know that they sell small bottles of alcohol at the gift shops right at the disney resorts. We always buy a couple and enjoy a cocktail or two by the pool when the kids swim.::yes::

    Have fun!

    Gretta
     
  15. momdad4kids

    momdad4kids Mouseketeer

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    WE are meeting my sister-n-law at MCO in the food courst,our flight arrives about an hour before hers. Do they allow you to claim your baggage nd bring it back up to the food court or alternatley can you claim you baggage and leave at the ME area until you are ready to come back and board the express?
     
  16. WillCAD

    WillCAD Where there's a Will there's a way

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    If you are using Disney's Magical Express, your luggage will be delivered to your WDW resort for you. There is no need to claim it. You will be given special luggage tags in your DME welcome kit that will identify your bags for delivery to the proper resort when they come off the plane in Orlando.

    But no matter what, you may not leave any bags unattended anywhere in the airport for any reason. I don't believe that the DME folks will "keep an eye on" your luggage for you, since it's not their job and they'd be legally liable for any problems that might crop up due to missing or damaged luggage.

    If you pick up your bagsfrom the belts, you can go back up to the food court with them, since the food court is not past security.
     
  17. 1ST time at DW

    1ST time at DW Earning My Ears

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    it willl come in handy when we visit.
     
  18. BrerRabbit1114

    BrerRabbit1114 Paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow!

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    The Orlando Int. Airport is not that difficult at all. If you take magical express all you have to do is go to first floor on i think b side all the way to the right, then you check in and wait for your bus. If you take a taxi just go same place and ask the person to get you a taxi its that easy.
     
  19. djd7292

    djd7292 Mouseketeer

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    There are 2 duty free stores that possibly sell liquor....good luck finding them.
     
  20. Dr. M

    Dr. M DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the maps. My question is, is it possible to get from side A to side B or vice versa if you are on the 1st or 2nd levels? I see from the map that you can do this on the 3rd level, but there seems to be no walkways between sides A and B on the 2nd or 1st levels. I will be picking up my own luggage (due to late arrival, close to midnight) on the A side of baggage claim on the 2nd level and will need to proceed to the B side of level 1. Will I need to go back up to the 3rd level before proceeding to the B side? (confusing, I know :confused3)
     
  21. WillCAD

    WillCAD Where there's a Will there's a way

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    I'm pretty sure there are a couple of crossovers on each level, though I've never needed them myself.

    However, it might actually be easier to go back up one level before going down to Level 1, because of the length of the terminal; it could be a shorter walk to cross over on Level 3 and take the elevator back down that it would be to walk halfway down the building to find a crossover, then walk all the way back to the DME counter.
     

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