How To Get From Orlando Airport (MCO) To Universal Studios

Orlando Airport, often abbreviated to MCO, is the nearest airport to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, at just 10.2 miles away. The international airport serves significant airlines travelling to the city worldwide and is our preferred airport when flying from the UK due to its proximity to the theme park.

There are five different ways to travel between Orlando Airport MCO and Universal Studios Orlando. They are; hiring a car and driving, taking an Uber or Lyft, taking public transport, pre-arranging a shuttle transfer or taking a standard taxi.

Which transfer method is right for you will likely depend on where you’re staying, how many people you’re travelling with, and your budget.

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Hire Car

The most popular and convenient way of travelling from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios Orlando is by car.

However, this also means that you’ll be responsible for the car for the duration of your vacation not just the single journey between the airport and your hotel.

As such it’s worth keeping in mind that the cost of hiring a car depends on several factors including;

  • Hire duration
  • Size and type of vehicle
  • Age of the primary driver
  • Insurance policy selected
  • Hire company themselves

Therefore while hiring a car in Orlando can cost as little as $22 a day, it can also quickly go up to $50+ per day, depending on the type and size of the vehicle you’re looking to hire.

Hire companies are known for selling you unnecessary extras such as satellite navigation and toll passes, so be sure to do your research before booking.

Driving from Orlando Airport (MCO) to Universal Studios can take as little as 20 minutes, although it can just as quickly take up to an hour when the traffic is bad (usually between 8am and 10am and 4.30pm and 6pm).

Remember to factor in how long it’ll take you to queue at the hire desk to collect your car, and then find the vehicle in the parking lot.

In some cases, I’ve found that this process takes longer than the drive to the Universal Studios Orlando Resort.

If you’re returning your rental car to the airport then make sure you arrive at MCO Airport with plenty of time.

Also, make sure you not only consider the cost of hiring a car during your but also the cost of parking at Universal Studios Orlando and hotels (where applicable).

These costs are easily overlooked yet can quickly double the overall cost of a rental car and making the benefits of having a rental vehicle negligible in comparison.

Universal Studios Orlando On-Site Hotels With Parking

Below is a list of all the on-site hotels at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, alongside the cost of parking (per night).

Some of the hotels also offer valet parking for an additional fee. Although the parking pricing is subject to change at any time, prices are correct at the time of publication.

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Hire Car Locations Inside MCO

There are an extensive number of hire car operators inside Orlando airport.

However, I’ve always found it more affordable and convenient to hire a car in advance and simply pick it up on my arrival at the airport.

When hiring a car in Orlando (or elsewhere in the US) we use Hoppa, a search aggregator that allows us to compare the cost of different cars with different car hire companies.

Upon booking the hire car of your choosing you’ll be provided with the pick-up location for your hire car. Depending on several factors this may be inside Terminal A, Terminal B or Terminal C.

All three terminals at Orlando Airport are within a short walking distance, and all hire car companies are located on the ground floor which can be accessed by stairs, an elevator or an escalator.

The hire car company you book with will provide you with detailed directions to where you can collect the keys and any additional information about your rental in an email when booking.

All hire cars are located outside of the terminal in the parking garage.

You’ll be provided with directions on where to collect your vehicle from either in an email or upon picking up the keys at the rental desk depending on who you hire from.

Taxi

Both Uber and Lyft serve MCO and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The journey time is much the same as hiring a car (between 20 minutes to an hour depending on traffic). However, it’s without the hassle of driving yourself between the two locations.

An Uber from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios costs between $28 and $70. Uber pricing is dependent on the time of day you travel / traffic and demand for the service, as well as the type of service/vehicle you choose.

The cheapest vehicle is usually around $25 – $35 depending on the time of day and can accommodate up to four people.

If you’re travelling as a larger party, then you’ll want to opt for the UberXL instead, which can accommodate up to six people and usually costs between $35 and $50.

The most expensive Uber is Uber Black; these are described as luxury rides by professional drivers.

Each car accommodates up to four passengers and usually costs between $60 and $70 between the two locations.

Meanwhile, a Lyft between Orlando Airport (MCO) and Universal Studios costs between $23 and $100. The exact cost depends on the type of Lyft you choose (carpool, standard, SUV / minibus or luxury) as well as the traffic and demand for the Lyft service in the area.

The cheapest Lyft is the “Wait & Save” service or the “carpool” service, however, the small reduction of around 10% when compared to the standard service is in my opinion not worth it in this case.

Instead, I’d recommend the standard Lyft service which usually costs between $23 and $30. The car will seat up to four people, and arrive as soon as possible (unlike the wait and save service).

If you’re looking for a larger vehicle the Lyft XL cars can accommodate up to six passengers and usually cost between $35 and $45 between MCO and Universal.

Finally, there’s the LUX Black XL. This is the most expensive Lyft service and usually costs around $100.

These cars accommodate up to four passengers and may be a worthwhile splurge if you’re looking for an added bit of luxury upon your arrival.

It’s important that you don’t book your Lyft or Uber until you’ve passed through immigration, security and collected your baggage as if the car is waiting for you for longer than five minutes, it will leave, and you’ll still be charged.

Instead, wait until you’re ready to leave, and then book your service.

With both Uber and Lyft, you can be picked up from either Terminal A or Terminal B.

No one terminal is cheaper than another. However, different services do charge different prices based on the demand.

As such if you’re looking to save up to $10 it’s worth downloading both Uber and Lyft and comparing the prices of your journey on each in real-time.

Prices are subject to change in real-time based on demand so make sure you only begin comparing prices once you’re ready to book.

Each terminal has a select number of different pick-up points outside.

You can use the navigation bar at the bottom of the application to select the pick-up point you’re closest to.

The pick-up points reflect the baggage claim locations you’re adjacent to inside the airport.

However, once you exit the airport you’ll also notice the baggage claim numbers are displayed overhead so you can ensure you’re in line with the one you selected.

Once you have selected a pick-up point you’ll be assigned a driver.

This process can take up to five minutes depending on the demand for drivers at that time.

You can use the message area to provide any additional information the driver might need to find you.

This is especially helpful if the pick-up area is crowded as you’ll only be given five minutes from the driver arriving to locate your vehicle before it leaves (at which point you’ll be charged a fee).

Meanwhile, you can use the map above to see where the drive is in location to your location.

Below the pick-up, location information is information about the driver and the vehicle so you can ensure you head to the correct vehicle as it arrives.

After your ride has been completed you’ll be emailed an itemised itinerary of your trip including any toll fees.

Meanwhile the application (Uber or Lyft) will ask you to leave feedback for your driver to help other passengers.

You can also use this time to give your driver an additional tip should you wish to do so.

As you can see my trip from MCO to Dockside Inn & Suites at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort at Universal Studios Orlando cost $29.98 before tip.

This included a $14.03 base fare, a $1.93 toll charge, a $7.67 booking fee, a $0.55 temporary fuel surcharge and a $5.80 MCO airport surcharge.

These additional charges are typical of an Orlando airport pick-up with Uber and Lyft and are factored into your initial quote when you’re comparing prices.

Aside from Uber and Lyft, you can also take a more traditional taxi from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios.

Independent taxi companies from around the area serve the airport 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so if you arrive without pre-booked transfers and a phone with no battery, you can still get from the airport to your accommodation.

The taxi rank is located on level one and is well-signposted overhead throughout the airport.

Depending on a number of factors including;

  • The time of day
  • Traffic in the area
  • The number of other flights arriving at the same time

You may have to queue for up to 30 minutes for a taxi to become available.

Traditional taxis from MCO to Universal Studios run on a metre, so the charges usually vary between $40 and $50 one-way.

Personally, I prefer to use Uber and Lyft when travelling from Orlando Airpot to Universal Studios Orlando. The journey is more convenient allowing you to see where the driver is and how long the journey is going to take.

However, the post-journey experience is also better too, allowing you to contact someone if you accidentally left something in the vehicle or if you have a complaint to make about your driver.

Typically taxi drivers do not carry a car seat for a baby or toddler. Yet, by law, they are still required. As such you’ll need to bring a portable travel car seat of your own to travel in a taxi with kids, or you’ll need to travel by an alternative method of transport instead.

Shuttle Bus

If you have booked your Universal Studios Orlando vacation online using the dedicated Universal Studios website then you’ll be able to add on the additional Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle service.

A round-trip fare on Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle is $39 for adults and $29 for children aged between 3 and 9 years old with children under the age of 3 travelling free.

Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle leaves Orlando International Airport (MCO) and drops off at all Universal Studios properties;

  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites
  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Hard Rock Hotel®
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Tickets for Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle must be purchased online in advance.

Once you’ve booked and paid for your tickets you’ll be provided with the exact pick-up location information you require based on your flight’s arrival and departure time.

However, suppose you’ve booked the vacation separately (flights with one company and your on-site hotel and park tickets with another).

In that case, you’ll need to arrange your own transport between the Orlando Airport and your hotel.

If you’re travelling as a group of three or less then a shuttle can be a budget-friendly option. However, remember that it is not as quick or as convenient as travelling in a taxi straight to your hotel.

Mears is the most popular shuttle service and private taxi hire company in Orlando and offers a range of transport services at an incredibly reasonable price.

You can both get a quote and book the Mears shuttle from Orlando Airport to Universal Studios online.

At the time of writing, the cost of a shuttle from MCO to Universal Studios is $23 one way and $35 return for adults and $18 one way, and $27 return for children.

At this price, it’s easy to see that getting a shuttle is only good value for money if you’re travelling with up to three people (yourself inclusive).

However, if you’re travelling as a family, it ends up working out cheaper to get a taxi as you pay for the ride rather than per person.

The majority of shuttles leave from outside the arrivals terminal on Level 1. Although exact instructions will be provided when booking, I advise printing these off and having them handy upon arrival.

You can then use this alongside the above head signs to navigate to the correct location for your shuttle departure.

The information will also include phone numbers if you need to contact a member of staff for whatever reason.

Most companies then send you a text message between 48 and 24 hours before your return journey from your hotel to the airport. This will include estimated pick-up times and locations, along with additional information.

Public Transport Between Orlando Airport And Universal Studios

While you can take public transport in the form of a bus between Orlando Airport and Universal Studios, I highly recommend against doing so as it’s incredibly time-consuming and a lot of hassle.

There is a train line that is currently in the planning phases and may be launched over the next decade designed to serve MCO, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

However, for the time being, you’d have to take the 42 or 111 bus from the Oia Transport Center at the airport to the Florida Mall.

From there, you’d need to transfer to the 37 bus to Universal Boulevard And Hollywood.

However, this bus doesn’t drop you off outside the park or at any hotel, so you’d still have to walk between 10 – 30 minutes to your hotel (not ideal with luggage and in the Florida heat).

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2 Comments

  1. Great advice, has certainly made me feel better about our upcoming trip where transfers weren’t included, quite excited about booking a Uber for the first time 😊

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