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”) unless you are arriving on a Jet Blue or international airline flight.. 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.
Jet Blue is located in the new Terminal C, which is located to the south of the Main Terminal and its Airsides. Terminal C is independent, having its own parking, airline counters, baggage claim, TSA, and transportation options. Terminal C’s parking garage is connected to the main terminal by the same above ground, subway car style shuttles that connect the Airsides with the Main Terminal. Or shuttle buses run between the Main and C Terminals.
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 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.
Orlando International Airport Main Terminal
As you exit the shuttle from your Airside building, look for signs for baggage Claim.
Continue to follow signs for either A or B Bag Claim (depending on your airline) and Ground Transportation. Terminal C arrivals will pick up their luggage in Terminal C.
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, TSA, screening, 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.
Once in the main terminal you’ll either proceed to your baggage claim (A or B).
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.
Once you’ve claiming your bags, or if you only have carry-on you will need to get to your ground travel location.
Ground Travel Types and Locations:
- Disney’s Minnie Van Service (returning summer 2022) – Near the baggage claim escalators
- Mears Connect (WDW Transportation) – B Side 1st Floor Far End (follow the signs)
- Sunshine Flyer (WDW Transportation) – B Side 1st Floor on the opposite Far End
- Universal’s Super Star Shuttle – A Side 1st Floor to the left of all rental car counters
- Rental Cars – A & B Side 1st Floor
- Uber/Lyft/Taxi – A & B Side – 2nd Floor (Outside Baggage Claim, look for signs)
- Disney Minnie Van – The Minnie Van pick-up location is near the baggage claim escalators
- Limo Services – Will meet you at your Baggage Claim and then take you to the first floor to the tunnel that runs between the A and B sides
If you are riding Mears Connect or the Sunshine Flyer you will head to the B Side. You’ll see the signs for Mears Connect which is located on the first floor. Universal’s shuttle is on the other side of the airport on the A side.
FYI – Depending on the time of day, the main terminal can be very busy and congested.
Of note in the Main Terminal are Disney’s Magic of Disney Stores (there are 2), merchandise locations for those last minute purchases and some fun photo ops.
There are also stores for Universal Orlando, Sea World, and Kennedy Space Center.
Orland International Airport has a USO Lounge on the A Side first floor (outside security).
Orlando International Airport Ground Transportation
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
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.
If you are using this 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 of the first floor (when facing the counters).
Note: the paid Mears Connect is a paid service that replaced the free Disney Magical Express on 1 January 2022.
For the Mears Connect, you’ll need to have your email with QR code at this point. There are several podiums to choose from. When it’s your turn show your QR code and the employee will confirm your destination resort with you, and you’ll be told a line to enter.
When your bus arrives and begins to load, you’ll then be told at which bus parking spot to board. Your Driver will load your bags for you and you’ll be on your way.
If you are using this services for your transportation to your Disney Resort head to the B Side first floor. On my last trip the signs weren’t too good for the Sunshine flyer, look for the direction the Mears Connect signs are telling you to go and go in the opposite direction! The check in location is at the far right end of the first floor (when facing the counters).
Note: the paid Sunshine Flyer is a second paid service that replaced Disney’s Magical Express in 2022.
Check-in and transport work the same as Mears Connect above.
Universal Super Star Shuttle
If you are heading to Universal via the SuperStar Shuttle instead the procedure is almost the same as above. You’ll instead head to the A Side 1st floor and go to the Universal counter to the left of the rental cars.
They will ask you name and look you up, then direct you you the proper bus spots for boarding.
Departure from Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport is a very busy airport!
Lines at the TSA Checkpoints can be very long!
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 a Mears Connect or Super Star Shuttle Bus – You’ll be dropped off on the 1st floor
- If you are using a Mears Connect or Super Star Shuttle van or car – You’ll be dropped off on the 3rd floor near your airline counter
- Other Shuttles will also drop off on the first floor
- Limos should drop you off on the 3rd floor near your airline counter
- Uber and Lyft will drop you on the 3rd floor near your airline counter
- Rental cars follow the signs for rental car return. Both A and B sides each have one
Ticketing, check in, and shuttles to departure gates are located on the third floor.
Orlando International Airport Facilities
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 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.
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.
Terminal C has 15 gates – Gates C230-238 & C240-245.
Orlando International Airport Dining
Many of the main terminal dining locations are located in a food court area (all fast food) while the better options are spread out in the main terminal. Each airside has a few options.Airside 1 & 2 share a security checkpoint and once through you may travel between the two (it takes 2 shuttle train rides) if you want to eat at the other one. Airside 2 & 4 are likewais behind the same security checkpoint.
Airsides 1 & 3 are both behind the same security checkpoint so you can travel between them (with 2 shuttle rides) to eat if you want. The same goes for Airsides 2 & 4.
Here are the dining locations that are available:
|Camden Food Co||X|
|Cask and Larder||X||X|
|Chili’s (Chili’s Too)||X|
|Delta Sky Club||X|
|Cold Stone Creamery||X||X|
|Jersey Mike’s Subs||X|
|Le Grand Compitor||X|
|Market by Villa||X|
|MCO | MKT||X|
|Moe’s Southwest Grill||X|
|Nathan’s Famous Subs||X|
|On the Border||X|
|The Club MCO||X||X|
|Villa Italian Kitchen||X|
|Zaza Cuban Dinner||X||X|
|Barnie’s Coffee and Tea||X|
|Cask and Larder||X|
|Cucina & Co.||X|
|Einstein Bros. Bagles||X|
|Harvest & Grounds||X|
|Main Streets Market||X|
|Old Hearth Bread Co.||X|
|Orange County Brewers||X|
|Plaza Premium Lounge||X|
|Replenish W/Illy Coffee||X|
|Wine Bar George||X|
Orlando International Airport Airlines
Below is a chart showing the common carriers (I did not include off the wall or foreign ones). The Terminal column denotes the “Terminal” or which side of the building (North = A, South = B) you will pull up to for check in when you are departing.
Terminal C has an attached Parking Garage, train and airport shuttle station. The shuttle station connects with the main terminal, so that after grabbing your bags, you can head to the transportation levels of the A Side or B Side to catch your transportation to Disney World or Universal Orlando.
The Train Station offers with commercial rail service to points on the east coast of Florida. Expansion to Tampa is in the future as any potential Disney station (Which has been on and off over the last several years, currently off!).
TSA Pre check sign up, Recommended!
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!
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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