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 major airlines travelling to the city from around the world and is our preferred airport when flying from the UK due to it’s close proximity to the theme park.
There are five different ways you can travel between Orlando Airport MCO and Universal Studios Orlando. They are; by hiring a car and driving, taking an Uber or Lyft, taking public transport, pre-arranging a shuttle transfer or by taking a standard taxi.
Which transfer method is right for you is likely to depend on where you’re staying, how many people you’re travelling with and your budget. In this post, we’ll share our experience travelling between Orlando Airport and Universal Studios Orlando using all five of these different methods as well as the pro’s and con’s of each to help you decide which is right for you.
Table of Contents
- Driving Universal Studios Orlando From Orlando Airport
- Take An Uber Or A Lyft From MCO To Universal Studios
- Taking An Airport Taxi From Orlando Airport To Universal Studios
- MCO Orlando Airport Shuttles Services To Universal Studios
- Public Transport Between Orlando Airport And Universal Studios
Driving Universal Studios Orlando From Orlando Airport
The most popular and convenient way of travelling from Orlando airport to Universal Studios Orlando is by car. For many driving gives them the freedom to get around Orlando and visit a number of attractions such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios as well as being able to visit the incredible outlets, nearby beaches and of course Walmart and Target for food and other essentials.
Hiring a car varies depending on the number of days you’d like to hire it for, the size and type of vehicle, the age of the primary driver, the insurance policy as well as the company you choose to hire the vehicle with.
Personally, I’ve found using a comparison website such as Economy Bookings to be the best way to find affordable hire cars in Orlando and beyond.
Hiring a car in Orlando costs as little as $22 a day, but can easily 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 trying to sell you unnecessary extras such as satellite navigation and toll passes so be sure to do your research prior to booking.
Driving from Orlando Airport (MCO) to Universal Studios can take as little as 20 minutes, although it can just as easily 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 if you’re planning on making reservations for the day you arrive at Universal Studios in Orlando. In some cases, I’ve found this to actually take longer than the drive to the park itself.
An don’t forget to ensure your hotel has plenty of parking. The cost of parking your car at the hotel (if parking charges apply) can quickly and very easily double the cost of your rental car and make the benefits of having a rental car seem irrelevant 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. Pricing of the parking is subject to change at any time, prices are correct at the time of publication.
|Hotel||Price Per Night|
|Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites||$15 plus tax|
|Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites||$15 plus tax|
|Universal’s Aventura Hotel||$18 plus tax|
|Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort||$18 plus tax|
|Loews Sapphire Falls Resort||$26 plus tax|
|Loews Royal Pacific Resort||$28 plus tax|
|Hard Rock Hotel||$28 plus tax|
|Loews Portofino Bay Hotel||$28 plus tax|
Take An Uber Or A Lyft From MCO To Universal Studios
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, the cost of 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 maybe 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. Both Uber and Lyft pick up and drop off outside the exit at arrivals (level 2). There are signs overhead if you get lost (which is still common for me despite the number of times I’ve been to this airport).
Taking An Airport Taxi From Orlando Airport To Universal Studios
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, 7 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 the time of day, traffic in the area and 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 as I find it’s quicker, I can actively see where my driver is and how long the journey is going to take and I have someone to contact if I’ve lost anything or have a problem with the service I’ve received (rare, but it does happen, although I find it happens less with Uber and Lyft).
MCO Orlando Airport Shuttles Services To Universal Studios
If you book your Universal Studios Orlando vacation online using the dedicated Universal Studios website then you’ll be able to add on an official shuttle service to transfer you from the airport to your on-site hotel and back again for an additional fee.
However, if you’ve booked the vacation separately (flights with one company and your on-site hotel and park tickets with another) then you’ll likely find it’s cheaper and easier to arrange your own shuttle transfer between the two locations too.
Mears is the most popular shuttle service and private taxi hire company in Orlando, offering a range of different 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). 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. Exact instructions will be provided when booking, I advise printing these off and having them handy upon your 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 in case you need to contact a member of staff for whatever reason.
The majority of companies then send you a text message between 48 and 24 hours prior to your return journey back from your hotel to the airport. This will include estimate pick-up times and locations along with additional information.
Personally, when travelling with a family to Universal Studios Orlando I’ve found it’s actually not worth the saving getting a shuttle and instead it’s worth the extra $10 or $20 for the return trip in a taxi (Uber, Lyft or private) as you can get straight in the taxi and go rather than hanging around for the coach to fill up and then proceeding to drop everyone off at their hotel before finally arriving at your own.
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 which 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 Superstop.
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 of the hotels so you’d still have to walk between 10 – 30 minutes to your hotel (not ideal with luggage and in the Florida heat).