I think this is a great bonus for staying on a Disney Resort. You are provided with shuttle buses to all the theme parks, the marketplace and pleasure island. There is no need to rent a car which is one less expense. The buses are on a schedule and are very efficient. The bus drivers are friendly and you feel safe.
Taking Disney Buses is one of the cheapest way to go from one themepark/waterpark to the other (You can only do park hopping if you're holding a DISNEY PARK HOPPER TICKET ~ this would allow you to go to one themepark to the other in one day). There are designated stops wherein you can hop on and hop off. Free of charge.
The I-Ride Trolley is a great system to get around in Orlando and visit allmost every attraction without the need of a car.
Either you get a ticket in the trolley at 75 Cent or you buy one of the passes, available at different locations
If you don't drive, or you've missed your free shuttle bus to Disney...or you just want to go a different time than the buses leave, it's really easy to get to Disney using the I-Ride & Lynx Buses.
If you want to get to Disney from I-Drive, you'll be heading south on the I-Ride (towards SeaWorld). Get off at stop 38, then you need to cross the road and wait for the Lynx #50 at the bus stop there. That takes you straight to the ticket & transportation center at Disney!
To get back, take the Lynx Bus#38 from the ticket & transportation center, which takes you back to Seaworld - cross the road again, & hop on an I-Ride back to I-Drive!
Speaking from experience, it is possible to get around Orlando without a car. I managed to visit all the Disney and Universal parks, Seaworld, Kennedy Space Centre, Downtown Orlando and Winter Park. Here's how.
1. Stay in a hotel on International Drive, most have a regular free shuttle service to the theme parks (check before you book).
2. To travel between the Disney parks, use the park bus service or the monorail (between Magic Kingdom and Epcot). The Universal parks are within easy walking distance of each other.
3. To get to Kennedy Space Center, I took a coach tour. Pickup was from the hotel. There are a few companies around, I think my tour was with Gator Tours http://www.gatortours.com/ who do tours to other places around Orlando too.
4. Downtown Orlando/Winter Park - take a Lynx bus from one of the stops on International Drive. See the website for up to date timetables and route maps but at time of writing, bus 38 goes from International Drive to Downtown bus station, bus 39 then goes from the bus station to Winter Park Tech. You can either walk from there to the places of interest in Winter Park, or get another bus 23.
I was a little reluctant to use an airport shuttle after two bad experiences with Super Shuttle in NYC and Baltimore but since I was traveling to and from the airport on my own, it didn't really make sense to get a taxi. If there are two or more people traveling, it might be more economical to catch a taxi but for a single traveler, the shuttle is the cheapest option that goes directly to the hotel.
Fortunately this turned out to be a much better experience, I had to wait for about 20 minutes on the trip from the airport to the hotel even with a reservation and was the first dropped off. On the way back, the shuttle was right on time for the return trip to the airport and the trip only took about a 1/2 hour with one other hotel stop. I would recommend calling to confirm your reservation either the night before or first thing when you wake up.
You can reserve online, it cost me $30 round trip to go to the Seralago Hotel in nearby Kissimmee, it would have been $18 one way. Go to their website for an online quote.
For other options from the airport, check the Orlando airport website.
The I-Ride trolley is a very convenient mode of transport to get from A-B along International Drive. However, be aware that during peak holiday seasons, the I-Ride trolleys can get very full, and you may end up waiting for a few trolleys to pass before you can get on. If you are lucky enough to board, be patient, as the trolley makes frequent stops, and can get held up at each stop by the many tourists who fail to have their change ready for the fare, or the fare machines that simply will not take your $1 bills (which happens a lot!!!). FYI - Multi-day passes are available from numerous outlets along International Drive:
If you're the type who will get easily frustrated, then take the Lynx buses instead, buses # 8 and 42 run up and down International Drive. Fares cost more than the I-Ride, but generally, you will get to your destination a lot faster. (Multi-day passes for Lynx buses are available too - www.golynx.com)
Another key note is that the air conditioning is sometimes too cold in the I-ride... so don't get on if you're still damp/wet from a swim.
The best and easiest way to get around Disney is to use the bus system. There are buses that pick up from all the Disney resort hotels, campground, and resorts and drop off at which ever park you wish to go to. There is no cost for this service which makes it even more appealing. At the Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort where we stayed there were at least 3 different bus routes to take you around there.
It is possible to get to Disney from I-Drive using public transport, just be aware that it can be very time cosuming, especially as the public buses are not that frequent (and to my experience, often doesn't run to schedule). This is how:
Only using Lynx buses:
Take bus #8 towards Sea World, get off at the 1st stop after the bus has turned right off International Drive. Change here for bus #50 (front of bus will indicate Magic Kingdom) which goes the the Disney Transportation & Ticket Center. Alight here and transfer to Disney transportation to your desired theme park. (NB remember to ask for a free transfer ticket when you board bus #8 to avoid paying again on bus #50) The place where you disembark the #50 is also the same spot to catch the bus on your return trip.
Using I-Ride trolley and Lynx buses:
Catch the main line southbound trolley to stop 38. Cross the street to stop 38 on the other side of the road (stop marked 38 South).
Take the #50 as above.
One of the cool things about staying at an on-site resort at Walt Disney World is that free transportation is provided between the Orlando airport and your hotel. When you book a room at one of the resorts, you can go online and book transportation on board the Disney Magical Express. We quickly received by mail all the information we needed to take advantage of this free shuttle service. They can even take care of your luggage for you, but we just thought it was easier to carry our suitcases to the shuttle ourselves. On the way over to our resort we were treated to a short video that highlighted everything there was to see and do at Walt Disney World, it sure was a great way to put us in the right mood!
When it came time to leave, there was a notice delivered to our room the day before to let us know at which time we would be boarding the shuttle for our trip back to the airport. They arranged it so that we got there 3 hours before our flight, which gave us plenty of time to find our way around the airport. During the ride, our driver entertained us with some trivia about Walt Disney World (number of visitors, number of employees, etc.), and gave us all the information we needed about where to check-in and drop off our luggage. It's got to be the most practical way of travelling to and from the Orlando airport!
Again when you're staying at an on-site resort you have access to Disney's free shuttle service that offers transportation between your hotel and all of the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney area. We never had to wait more than 10 minutes to get on a shuttle, no matter what time of the day or evening it was. Even after the big night shows, when all the guests are exiting at the same time, they make sure that more shuttles are available so you don't have to wait too long. Indications are always very clear so finding the right shuttle is never a problem. It's just another thing that makes travelling to Walt Disney World such a hassle-free vacation!
Shuttle buses to International Drive from the airport will cost $15 one way, and $25 roundtrip. We took the public buses instead. The Lynx bus # 42 goes straight to International Drive, from stop B-15 at the airport. It only costs $1.50. Takes about 60 minutes to get to International Drive.
Public transportation in Orlando is spotty to the tourist area, especially Kissimmee and International Drive. I would suggest taking a shuttle (van or small bus) from Orlando International Airport. Mears is the largest and most reliable. Their website for a reservation is: http://www.mearstransportation.com/
We went from the All Star resort out to take the bus to Downtown Disney. For guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels there is a bus system.. The shuttle buses will take scooters or wheelchairs. The bus driver will strap the scooter or wheelchair passenger in safely
Grandma asked me to take a photo of how they strapped her scooter (and her) down.
Complimentary transportation is available one hour prior to Disney Theme Park opening time up to one hour after Disney Theme Park closing time. Additionally, buses operate until 2:00 a.m. from the Downtown Disney Area.
We also had a bus from the airport to the hotel but Disney will NOT supply wheelchairs at the hotel as a rule, and will not have a bellman or someone push the wheelchair.
In order to get to Animal Kingdom and some of the other park sections, there is complimentary transportation—including transportation to the Disney Water Parks—for guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.. The shuttle buses will take scooters or wheelchairs. Complimentary transportation is available one hour prior to Disney Theme Park opening time up to one hour after Disney Theme Park closing time. Additionally, buses operate until 2:00 a.m. from the Downtown Disney Area.
Each of the appropriate hotels (All Star Resorts, Contemporary and other hotels on the Disney property) has a shuttle bus stop which the staff will direct you to. Keep in mind that certain destinations are not direct, and that you may be required to take a connecting mode of transport to reach your required stop.