MCO to Universal Orlando Transportation Guide

If you are planning a Universal Orlando trip then you are probably wondering how you will get from MCO to Universal Orlando. MCO is the abbreviation for the Orlando International Airport and it's only about 30 minutes away from Universal. There are a few different options for the best transportation to get from MCO to Universal.

Universal Orlando, located in Florida, has two theme parks to visit: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Volcano Bay is Universal Studios’ water park. It is home to the Harry Potter Universe and where Disney fans can go to see Marvel. Universal also has nightlife at Universal CityWalk Orlando. Universal Orlando can be a great vacation option for your older kids, adventurous travel parties, and as a compliment to your Disney World vacation

Keep reading for our full guide to getting from MCO to Universal Orlando.

MCO to Universal Orlando

There are two different Airport Options to fly into when visiting Universal Orlando. The first, and most popular option is the Orlando International Airport (MCO) about 19 miles away from Universal Orlando. Orlando Sanford International Airport is also an option at about 36 miles away, which in Florida traffic could be closer to an hour away if you were driving your own personal car. 

When you are ready to begin your Universal vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is how to get to your hotel from the airport. 

There are a few factors to consider when booking your transportation to one of the 8 on-property Universal Studios Hotels from MCO. How many people are in your travel party? Will you need a car for your entire trip? Will you need to make a stop before arriving at your hotel? 

Since there are no free transportation options when you fly either to MCO or Sanford to get to Universal Studios, this article is going to focus solely on flying into MCO which will be the most cost-effective when planning and budgeting your trip.

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Orlando International Airport

The Orlando International Airport (MCO) has three different terminals for traveling guests to fly into. It is however one of the largest and busiest airports in the United States. In fact, MCO even has its own hotel located between Terminal A and Terminal B. The airport does have great signage to direct you to where you need to go but be prepared to walk or take a tram to your specific gate or from your gate to the main building. 

In general, you will find departures located on Level 3, Baggage claim on Level 2, and transportation options on Level 1. For each travel option from MCO to Universal Studios, it will be particularly important to pay attention to signage or use the MCO maps to plan out your route as much as you can ahead of time. Traveling is always stressful, especially with a family, so knowing where to go can be helpful to get your vacation started just a little quicker.

Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle

The first option if you are staying on-site at one of the eight Universal Hotels is to book the SuperStar Shuttle add-on to your package. This is the easiest option to go directly to your hotel, as the shuttle provides dedicated welcome service and transportation between MCO to Universal Orlando Resort Hotels.  

If your flight arrives between 7:00am and 8:00pm, go to Baggage Claim (Level 2) to pick up your bags and then to the Hotel Transportation Desk located on Level 1, Ground Transportation, of the terminal specified by your arrival airline. Here you will be greeted by a Universal Representative. If your flight arrives before 7:00am or after 8:00pm, Universal will send instructions on how to board Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle. 

The total trip, after getting your bags, is about 30 minutes. However, it is important to note that the shuttle may have to make multiple stops, or you may have to wait for everyone booked on the shuttle to board after their flight arrives, adding time to your total trip.

The average price to book is $39 per adult, $29 per child (ages 3-9), tax included. Children will not need car seats on this shuttle, so if you did not fly with your car seat, this may be a great option when traveling with young children. 

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Rent a Car

Renting a car is a great option if you know that you want to drive around Orlando, if you have a split stay between Orlando and Disney, or if you have kids that have car seats you are traveling with. There are many car options to choose from at the Orlando Airport. 

On the airport property, you can find rental car services in Terminal A, Level 1; Terminal B, Level 1; Terminal C, Level 4. The following Rental Car Providers are located on airport property:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Rent a Car
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National 
  • Payless
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty

The price of renting a car is going to depend on the company, length of days needed, type of vehicle, and other factors. If you are planning to rent a car, make sure to shop around ahead of time for the best deal and read reviews if possible. Also, make sure to factor in any tolls that you will need to drive through to get from MCO to Universal Orlando. 

Renting a car at MCO can have its drawbacks like long lines, limited options of vehicles, and varying prices depending on the season due to the high demand at the International airport. However, renting a car is beneficial if you know that you want the ease of coming and going at your leisure. 

Uber/ Lyft & Taxis

An Uber or Lyft rideshare is a great option if you want a direct route to your hotel. 

With both of these options, you will need to download the app on your phone before booking. Both Uber and Lyft prices are going to vary on many factors: time of day you travel, traffic and demand for the service, and the type of service/vehicle (based on number of passengers) you choose. Surge pricing is also a factor to consider, so do your research about the times of your flights beforehand. Uber's ride estimator is a great option to use. 

The cheapest vehicle option is going to be around $30 dollars, but you could pay as much as $90 for the trip depending on the factors mentioned. However, if you really want to splurge on your ride, the LUX Black XL is the most expensive Lyft service and usually costs around $100 for four passengers. No matter what terminal you fly into, there are designated waiting areas to grab your Uber/ Lyft. 

Similarly, a taxi is a direct ride to the hotel. Taxis can be a little more money since they are run on a meter, but they are usually ready and waiting at the airport since flights are constantly arriving. You also don’t have to download an app to use a taxi. 

Once your flight arrives, head towards Ground Transportation and follow the signs. Unlike booking with Uber/ Lyft for a specific pick-up time, if several other flights get in at the same time, you may find yourself waiting a while for an available taxi to get from MCO to Universal Orlando.

Once you have your ride vehicle, Lyft, Uber, or a Taxi will have you to your Universal Hotel within 25 to 35 minutes (depending on traffic). 

This option is not always the best option if you need car seats unless you are bringing your own on the plane. Taxis don’t regularly carry car seats for kids. Uber and Lyft have cars that you can book with a car seat; however, it is not guaranteed to have one, be the correct one for the age of your child, and it may require a longer wait time. 

MEARS Connect Shuttle

Mears is another popular shuttle site booked by guests for both Disney and Universal vacations. 

The Mears shuttle has convenient 24/7 reservation times for pick-up and return drop-off, so no matter what time your party arrives or leaves, you will have a reserved ride. Travel prices are from $23-27 round trip, per person. Children 3 and under are free to ride. 

Mears also provides Charter Buses, Mini buses, and Car Services as well. An 11-passenger van in the Orlando area will cost you $203.00, one way total, but split between 11 people comes out cheaper than the shuttle per person. You have other options like an 8 passenger Limousine or 13 passenger executive van for just $243.00, one way total. There is also an additional $40.00 Meet and Greet Fee added to all MCO arrivals. These prices do not include driver gratuity, but custom gratuities can be added. 

Mears is a great option if you are traveling with a large family and don’t want to rely on multiple Ubers/ Lyfts or the Universal shuttles. 

Private Car Service

If you are looking to travel in comfort or style, a private car company may be the way to travel from MCO to Universal Orlando. 

There are many companies that you can book on your own that offer everything from luxury cars to limousines. However, if you have booked a special vacation (birthday occasion, bachelorette party, anniversary) this may be well worth the price. 

These trips are going to cost you a little more in the $250-$800 round trip range. The types of vehicles that you can expect to book range from Cadillac Luxury cars to Stretch Hummer Limousines. 

Public Transportation

Public Transportation is also an option if you are willing to handle the hassle that involves the Orlando Bus System. This is going to require more travel time when getting from MCO to Universal Orlando.

The LYNX system will take you over an hour to navigate as you make multiple stops, but it is a cheaper option at just $2.00. If you are really on a budget, want to experience Orlando, or are used to taking public transportation, then this option may be a great experience. However, when traveling with large parties and kids, this transportation is not what we would recommend despite the cheaper price tag. 

It is also important to keep in mind, the bus won’t drop you at the front door of the resort, so you will also have to walk with all of your luggage. This is just another factor to consider when deciding if public transportation is the right option for your family. 

Best MCO to Universal OptionMCO to Universal - Universal Florida Entrance

Depending on your traveling party, each of the 6 options of travel has its positives and negatives. The two best options of the ones listed are rideshares and shuttle buses. 

Rideshares like Uber or Lyft are great for multiple types of traveling parties. For small families, it makes the most sense because you are paying per car, not per person. If your flight is early or late, you can schedule the ride when you arrive. These services will take you directly to your destination, barring traffic, the quickest. You can book the type of car that fits your traveling party the best and see real-time updates of when you are going to arrive. 

Shuttle Buses also have their positives. If you are traveling with a large party, this will keep everyone together and have plenty of room for luggage and people. If you are traveling with small children, car seats are not a requirement on shuttle buses. Though the wait times can be longer, you don’t have to worry about directions, or toll pricing, and can book the shuttles for almost all hours of the day.

Rental cars also have their positives if you are wanting the freedom of travel on your vacation. Many of our traveling parties want to not have to worry about the extra hassle and fees associated with the rental; however, depending on the season you are traveling, rewards that you may have saved up, or deals that you can get, rental cars can be affordable. The real consideration here is the rental car process worth it to have the freedom of going when and where you want when you want.

Our last recommended option for travel is to use Orlando Public Transportation. There are too many logistics in figuring out which line to take, making sure you get off at the right location and transfer to the right bus number. Trying to drag all of your luggage onto public transportation is also a hassle. There are much better options in our opinion.

No matter which option of travel you choose, getting from MCO to Universal Studios property doesn’t have to be a stressful or overwhelming choice for your travel party. Each of these travel options has been tested and tried and will let you still have the epic vacation you are wanting.

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