News for 2021 & 2022:
- No 2022 WDW Disney Armed Forces Salute So Far
- 2022 Disney Armed Forces Salute Timeline
- What to Expect on the Day Disney Announces the WDW 2022 Disney Armed Forces Salute
- Using Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets in 2021
- Using the Walt Disney World Theme Park Reservation System
If you are flying to your Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll be transiting Orlando International Airport.
Here is our guide to navigating the airport as smoothly as possible plus an overview of all that the airport has to offer.
Note: there is an airport that calls itself “Orlando” Sanford International Airport. It is not in Orlando, rather it is in Sanford which is 45 to 50 miles from WDW making transport to WDW much more expensive and requiring extra time. Also Disney’s Magical Express does not service Sanford International Airport! Using this airport is not recommended unless you are renting a car and wasting your time is not a big deal.
Arrival at Orlando International Airport (MCO, KMCO)
When your airplane arrives at the gate you will be in one of 4 outlying gate buildings (the airport calls these “Airsides”). Each of these buildings has 2 to 3 corridors with gates radiating from a central area. In the central area you’ll find all of the shopping and dining venues as well as the tram to the main terminal.
As you exit your airplane look for and follow the signs for Terminal and Bag Claim. These will lead to your terminal’s central area. In the central area look for the sign for Shuttle to Terminal & Bag Claim, this will lead you to the shuttle to the main terminal.
The automated, above ground, subway car style shuttles will whisk you to the main terminal fairly quickly without much of a wait.
The main terminal sits in the middle of the Airside buildings, which are located at its 4 corners.
The main terminal has a central common area with dining, shopping, lounging areas and TSA screening. There are 2 sides to the airport, the north A (Orange) Side and south B (Green) side that each have separate airline ticketing, baggage claim, and transportation options.
Each side is 3 stories with ticketing on the “main” third level, baggage claim on the second, and ground transportation on the first.
As you exit the shuttle from your Airside building continue to follow signs for either A or B Bag Claim and Ground Transportation.
Once in the main terminal you’ll either proceed to your baggage claim (A or B) or Disney’s Magical Express.
Note: During 2021 Disney’s Magical Express stopped providing the airport to Resort RoomLuggage Service of the past, you’ll need to head to baggage claim to retrieve your bags.
If you are picking up your bags yourself you’ll need to know whether you need to go to Baggage Claim A or B! Check your airline app, airport monitors, or your flight attendant might have told you. Head for that baggage claim.
After claiming your bags, or if you only have carry-on either head down to your side’s first floor for ground transportation, out the doors on the second floor for Uber or Lyft pickups, or to the B side first floor for the Magical Express.
If you are riding Disney’s Magical Express (through Dec31 2021) or Mears Connect (starting 1 January 2022) you will head to the B Side. You’ll see the signs for Disney’s Magical Express or Mears Connect which is located on the first floor.
FYI – Depending on the time of day, the main terminal can be very busy and congested.
Of note in the Main Terminal is Disney’s Earport, a merchandise location for those last minute purchases and some fun photo ops.
Orland International has a USO Lounge on the A Side first floor (outside security).
The first floor of both the A and B sides houses Ground Transportation. That is: rental cars, limos, taxis, Magical Express (B Side only), Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle (A Side only), and pickups via personal vehicles.
Rental Cars – Numerous Rental Car Companies have counters on-airport on the A and B sides. These are:
Note, lines at these airport rental car counters can be HUGE.
Other companies have off-airport locations accessible via shuttle vans.
Be sure to check for military, government and USAA discounts!
When departing the airport in your rental:
- For WDW use the south airport exit (portions are tool roads, currently about $1.25)
- For the Orlando ITT, SeaWorld, Universal use the north airport exit (portions are tool roads, currently about $3.50)
Ride-Hailing Services – Uber and Lyft pick up on level 2. As you exit from Baggage Claim check for the sings with numbers located above the pickup area by the road. Text this number to your driver for ease of pickup.
One-way rides to WDW start at about $30
Uber – Free ride up to $15 by signing up via this link for Uber (or use the promo code steveb14703ue if the link doesn’t work). This promo is for your first ride only, any value not used expires so this is perfect for a ride from Orlando International to WDW.
Lyft – $5 credit towards your first ride when you sign up for Lyft using this link. This promo is for your first ride only.
Airport Shuttles – There are numerous companies that offer shuttle and limo service from the airport to all Central Florida locations.
Disney’s Magical Express or Mears Connect – If you are using either of these services for your transportation to your Disney Resort head to the B Side first floor, then follow the signs. The check in location is at the far left end (when facing the counters) of the first floor.
Note: the paid Mears connect is replacing the free Magical Express on 1 January 2022. All procedures except check in will be the same.
For the Magical Express, you’ll need to have your magic bands on by this point. There are several podiums to choose from. When it’s your turn one person in your party will scan their magic band, the cast member will confirm your resort with you, and you’ll be told a line to enter.
For Mears Connect, we assume you’ll present a printed confirmation of check in with your name.
When your bus arrives and begins to load, each person in your party will have to scan their band at the end of the line. You’ll then be told at which bus parking spot to board.
MDT Tip: Have you’re Disney’s Magical Express paperwork that you received in the mail easily accessible in case there is an issue scanning your band(s).
Departure from Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport is a very busy airport!
Lines at the TSA Checkpoints can be very long!
Plan accordingly! Note: Disney’s Magical Express usually picks you up 3 to 3.5 hours prior to your flight!
Arriving at Orlando International Airport (before you depart)
Okay, we gotta pick a road. Arrivals or departures? We’re arriving, but then we’re departing. Which one Snake?“
Eddie – from Disney’s Touchstone Pictures Big Trouble
- If you are using Disney’s Magical Express or Mears Connect – You’ll be dropped off on the first floor
- Shuttles will also drop off on the first floor
- Limos may drop you off on the third floor or the first
- Uber and Lyft will drop you on the third floor
- Rental cars follow the signs for rental car return. Both A and B sides have one
Ticketing, check in, and shuttles to departure gates are located on the third floor.
As mentioned above, the main terminal sits in the middle of the Airside buildings, which are located at its 4 corners.
The main terminal has a central common area with dining, shopping, lounging areas and TSA screening. The Main Terminal has a food court, lounging areas, stores, restaurants, and a hotel.
The 4 Airsides have all 119 gates, stores, and restaurants.
There are 2 TSA Security Checkpoints which serve:
- Airside 1 & 3
- Airside 2 & 4
The Airsides are accessed only via a shuttle train from the central airport building after passing through TSA screening.
- Airsides 1 – Gates 1-29
- Airsides 2 – Gates 100-129
- Airsides 3 – Gates 30-59
- Airsides 4 – Gates 70-99
Each Airside has a central area with the Shuttle Station and the dining/shopping locations. Two to three long hallways containing the gates extend outwards form here.
Here are the dining locations that are available:
|Restaurant||Main Terminal||Airside 1||Airside 2||Airside 3||Airside 4|
|Cold Stone Creamery||X|
|Jersey Mike’s Subs||X|
|Moe’s Southwest Grill||X|
|Nathan’s Famous Subs||X|
|On the Border||X|
|Villa Italian Kitchen||X|
|Zaza Cuban Dinner||X||X|
The Main Terminal has Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, and Kennedy Space Center stores. Many other generic shopping options are available in a the Main Terminal and Airsides.
TSA Pre check sign up, Recommended!
Orlando International Airport Official App – MCO app
Orlando International Airport Offical Site – With Security Wait Times
May your travel through MCO be smooth!
Over to you. Do you have any tips for the Orlando Airport? Tell us in the comments section below!
This guide will be helpful to your non-military family and friends, so be sure to share!
Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused?
See Our Great Disney Discount and Planning Info:
- Disney Veteran & Military Discount Eligibility Guide
- The Military Family’s Walt Disney World Comprehensive Vacation Planning and Preparation Guide
- Military Disney Tips Disney Packing Checklist
- Disney Military Tickets – Your Start to Finish Guide
- Resorts/Hotel Overview Page
- Dining Overview Page
- Transportation Overview Page
- Technology Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
Military Disney Tips' Recommended Disney Travel Agent
Ears of Experience Disney Only Travel Agency. Military family owned and operated! They know all the ins and outs of Disney military discounts!