2019 Orlando Florida Car Hire and Travel Guide

There is no doubt, Florida is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.  Estimated to attract over 1.5 million UK tourists each year.  Situated amongst the southern states of the USA, Florida hosts a huge variety of tourist attractions. 

With more than a dozen theme parks, Orlando in central Florida has all you need to keep the whole family entertained and to enjoy quality time together.

From adrenaline-fuelled rollercoasters at Universal Studios Florida to film sets, aquariums and water parks, the ‘Sunshine State’ really does have something for everyone.

Walt Disney World monorail

Hiring a car in Orlando, Florida

Many find that the easiest and most flexible way to travel to Orlando’s must-see attractions is via a hired car.

You’ll find that Orlando’s car hire companies are grouped together on the ground floors of Terminal A and Terminal B at Orlando International Airport – Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, Firefly, Budget and Thrifty are among the car hire firms in residence.

You’ll also find car hire firms across Florida, and in Orlando itself, that can meet your needs.  Depending on what your Orlando hotel offers, you may need to pay for overnight parking for your hire car – check in advance to see whether this is the case.

Car Hire Considerations

Note that the main driver will need to be at least 25 years of age. A handful of Orlando car hire firms do rent to younger drivers, but such a hire will usually cost more.

Brits are sometimes shocked to learn that when they arrive in their dream destination, they are not fully equipped to hire a vehicle without an International Driving Permit (IDP).  On 1st January 2013, new laws were ushered into place, stating that motorists with non-US licences were required to also carry an International Driving Permit.  Even though this law was revoked by the Governor of Florida in early April of the same year, rental and hire companies of the state may still require you to have in your possession both your home licence and an International Driving Permit. 

We at Questor Insurance recommend that although some rental companies do not require you to possess an International Driving Permit, it would be a good idea to apply for one – just as a precautionary measure. 

Applying for an IDP

As a UK citizen, you are not permitted to apply for an International Driving Permit until 3 months before your trip and you must be 18 years of age upon application.  At the Post Office, you will need to fill out a form in person.

Please ensure that:

  •         You have your valid UK driving licence at hand
  •         You pay the £5.50 application fee
  •         You bring along a passport sized photo of yourself that is signed on the back
  •         You bring along proof of identification (for example, a passport) 

If you do decide to hire a car during your travels, remember to also consider purchasing car hire excess insurance. You will often find that comprehensive excess cover is much cheaper to buy through Questor Insurance in comparison to an excess waiver offered by the car hire company. To find out more about car hire excess insurance and how this protects you against additional car hire charges, just click here.  

Other Modes of Transport

The SunRail commuter rail service runs from north to south in Orlando but does not stop near to any of the main theme parks. Amtrak serves Winter Park, Kissimmee and Winter Haven (the latter of which is home to Legoland) and provides an alternative route into Orlando if travelling from elsewhere within the United States.

The Lynx Bus also makes regular airport pick-ups and drop-offs, roughly every 30 minutes on weekdays and hourly at weekends – serving locations in downtown Orlando, Florida Mall, SeaWorld, and International Drive at a cost of $2 per passenger per ride. The bus network does not service Walt Disney World or Port Canaveral.

Orlando airport

Orlando is served by Orlando International Airport (MCO), acting as a gateway to millions of inbound tourists on an annual basis.

Situated around six miles to the south-east of Orlando, the airport is a short drive from Interstate 4.

An Orlando airport shuttle service operates to hotels close to the airport and to some that are further away. These services also offer a shuttle from the hotel to Orlando International Airport, but you will need to book at least 24 hours in advance to organise the transfer.

Weather in Orlando, Florida

If you’re planning a trip to the many theme parks or other attractions, it’s important to note what to expect from the weather.

Temperatures in Orlando peak in July and August, pushing 30°C, while January and December are the colder months, where temperatures average 15°C.

Extreme variations in humidity can mean Orlando’s weather is tough on holidaymakers, as high temperatures and thunderstorms are both common.

You can expect a minimum of 10 hours of sunshine between April and July, although rainfall peaks in July at 170mm when showers can be expected on two of every three days.

The best time to visit Florida is between September and November, as the weather in Orlando in September features notably lower humidity levels.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World is the home to 4 unbelievable theme parks including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Magic Kingdom

In Magic Kingdom, revisit the classic Disney films that we all know and love. With a range of water rides, roller coasters and off-the-scale castles, Magic Kingdom is the ideal place to celebrate Disney’s best known stories. 

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom provides the opportunity to explore the jungles across the world and (new to Disney World) you can explore the world of the incredible film ‘Avatar’!  With thrilling roller coasters and extraordinary animals, Animal Kingdom offers something for everyone.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is the best place for all the movie fanatics providing the opportunity to explore famous films throughout the eras from the early 20th Century through to the modern day. A must for any Star Wars fan! 

Epcot

Experience ‘the world’ at Epcot as well as outer space and under the sea!  With a variety of futuristic rides, Epcot is the perfect place to let your inner-explorer flourish.  

Water Parks & Aquatic Life

Florida is also home to a variety of water parks such as Sea World and Universal Studios’ Volcano Bay. Fancy swimming with a variety of marine wildlife, such as dolphins, manta rays and even sharks? Then a trip to Discovery Cove is a must. SeaWorld Orlando is also home to an abundance of sea life including whales and dolphins.

Other Popular Attractions

It’s not just about Walt Disney World, read on to discover more about Orlando Florida and the many attractions and sights you may want to explore:

  • Among Orlando’s other popular attractions are LEGOLAND, Gatorland wildlife preserve and the Holy Land Experience, a Christian-based theme park.

 

  • Universal Orlando includes both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, with parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter found at each.

 

  • Numerous Orlando hotels serve the many theme parks too, with many including spas and restaurants, although it’s best to search around prior to booking to ensure you find the best value deals.Universal Studios

 

  • As with any major city, you’ll also find an abundance of shopping outlets and opportunities to buy the big brands from numerous Orlando premium shops.

 

  • The Orlando Science Center is located in the centre of the city and offers a hands-on experience, while the Orlando eye swing, known as the Starflyer, opened in 2018. Situated near to the Orlando Eye – a giant Ferris wheel – on International Drive, the swing stands at 450 feet tall and can reach speeds of 60mph.

 

  • Other popular excursions include boating tours through the swamplands, where you can see everything from bald eagles to alligators, as well as water sports and lake fishing.

 

  • Hot air ballooning, golf and snorkelling experiences are also increasingly popular and are a hit with young and old alike.

 

  • If you wish to explore beyond Orlando and its theme parks, travel 50 miles towards the Atlantic Coast to find the Kennedy Space Center, which houses numerous artefacts and memorabilia relating to rocket launches as well as an IMAX theatre.

Beaches

After an exhausting few days exploring the parks, you might just want to relax on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches.  In the south of the state, beaches in Miami and Clearwater are perfect for a bit of rest and relaxation.  With warm, turquoise waters and talcum powder-like sand, these beaches will have you feeling like you have landed in paradise. You’ll also find an array of beaches in Orlando that offer golden sands and a chance to top up your tan.

South Beach Florida

Food and Drink

Renowned as one of the USA’s major tourism regions, Orlando is packed with places to eat, drink and immerse yourself in culture. The best Orlando restaurants can be found in Downtown, where you can find award-winning eateries serving up everything from pizza and pasta to burgers, steak and sushi.

We hope you have found this travel guide useful. For more travel related advice, take a look at the blogs and news articles in our social hub.

Date Created: 09 January 2019