Orlando First-Time Visitor Tips

Coming to Orlando for the first time? We can’t wait to see you. Before you arrive, refer to the following tips designed to help first-time visitors make the most of their time in Orlando.

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Before or after your arrival, contact our Vacation Planning Services by telephone, email or live chat for personalized advice on how to maximize your Orlando experience. Our friendly, knowledgeable Vacation Planners offer trusted resources and unbiased destination information, including discounted attraction tickets, trip-planning advice, dining and entertainment options, and more. It’s a one-stop shop for the ultimate Orlando vacation.

  • Discovery Cove woman riding dolphin
    Discovery Cove®

    Call it a hunch, but we have a feeling you’ll want to visit our theme parks and attractions while you’re in Orlando. Read up on the following suggestions before you go.

    Save on discount tickets: Orlando Theme Parks & Attractions

    Theme Park Tips

    • Orlando’s major theme parks are all located within a 15-mile radius.
    • Get the best deal on theme park tickets by purchasing them ahead of time. You can buy them all in one place at a discounted rate from Visit Orlando powered by BestofOrlando.com. We also have discounted tickets for top Orlando attractions.
    • Want to dine with Disney Princesses at Walt Disney World, Captain America at Universal Orlando Resort, aquatic marvels at SeaWorld Orlando, and other famous characters? Make reservations as soon as possible. Special dining experiences at Orlando’s theme parks are popular and fill up months in advance. (Please note that character dining might not be available at the time of your visit. Check with your preferred theme parks for details.)
    • Theme parks offer guided tours and guidebooks in numerous languages. Contact the parks directly for more information.
    • Theme parks also offer ways to minimize wait times, including Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World Resort, Express Pass at Universal Orlando Resort, Quick Queue at SeaWorld Orlando, and Fastrack Unlimited at LEGOLAND Florida. (Please note that ride reservation systems might not be available at the time of your visit. Check with your preferred theme parks for details.)
    • Wear comfortable shoes. Experiencing everything at a theme park will require you to walk a lot of miles, and good footwear can help you go the distance.
    • If you ignore the previous tip and wind up with a case of blistered feet, all theme parks have first-aid stations where you can get Band-Aids. They can help with other medical issues, too.
    • Make sure your phones, cameras and other battery-powered devices are fully charged before you arrive. If you need a quick charge, some parks offer free battery charging at guest services.
    • If you’re looking to save money, keep in mind that Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and LEGOLAND Florida will let you bring outside food and drink, so long as the food doesn’t need to be heated and the beverages aren’t alcoholic. SeaWorld Orlando permits baby formula, baby food, and food for guests with special diets.
    • Make a note of where you park. Our theme parks’ parking lots and garages are massive, and after a full day of fun, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend countless minutes (or even hours) looking for your vehicle. At Walt Disney World, the My Disney Experience Mobile App can remember your location for you.

    Discover: Tips for the Best Orlando Theme Park Experience

    Photo of public art at Lake Eola
    Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park District

    Orlando Neighborhoods

    A1A Outdoor Center beach gear rentals
    Courtesy A1A Beach Rentals and Outdoor Center


    • The closest beaches to Orlando are Cocoa Beach, Canaveral National Seashore and Daytona Beach, all about an hour from our tourism districts on Florida’s east coast. Cocoa Beach can be reached via State Road 528, Canaveral National Seashore can be reached via State Road 50, and Daytona Beach can be reached via Interstate 4 (I-4) East.
    • Florida’s tranquil west coast beaches, including St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach and Tarpon Springs, are about two hours from our tourism districts.

    Discover: Day Trips From Orlando

    Island H20 Live! waterpark
    Island H2O Live! at Margaritaville Resort Orlando

    Water Parks

    Save on discount tickets: Orlando Water Parks

    Kennedy Space Center photo taken by freelancer Daniel Kuykendall
    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

    • Visitors interested in Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex should know that it’s located about an hour east of Orlando, and easily accessible via State Road 528. Several private shuttle companies and bus services provide transportation to and from the historic complex.

    Discover: Things to Do Beyond Theme Parks

  • The Alfond Inn expansion bedroom
    Newly Renovated Guestroom at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park

    If you’re coming to Orlando, you’ll need a place to stay. Fortunately, with more than 480 hotels and resorts, not to mention other accommodations such as vacation homes, condos and campgrounds, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect accommodations.

    Discover: Places to Stay in Orlando

    Lake Nona Wave Hotel sculpture garden faith Photographer: Goran Kosanovic
    Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando


    • Visitors who want to stay in the heart of it all should opt for the area in and around Orlando’s main tourism district, International Drive (aka I-Drive), which is adjacent to Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, or Lake Buena Vista, close to Walt Disney World. With a range of hotels from budget to luxury, and offering close proximity to theme parks, attractions, dining and shopping, it’s an exciting and convenient place to stay for visitors.
    • If you’re building your vacation around visiting Orlando’s unique neighborhoods, you’ll find ample accommodations in the downtown Orlando area, Lake Nona, Winter Park and beyond. You can also opt to stay close to Orlando International Airport (MCO).
    • Don’t plan to rent a car? Stay onsite at your favorite theme park and take advantage of complimentary park shuttles. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida all have multiple accommodations within their perimeters, and SeaWorld partners with several hotels near its theme parks.
    • There is no need to leave four-legged family members at home when you visit Orlando. Numerous hotels throughout the area will be happy to accommodate you and your pets.
    Elite Vacation Homes pool
    Elite Vacation Homes in Kissimmee


    • Looking to stay longer than a week? Have a big family? Consider a vacation rental. Ranging from one-bedroom villas to five-bedroom (and up!) homes, rentals offer the convenience and amenities of home, often at a great value.
    • Families or groups traveling to Orlando can also opt for one of many spacious suites at our hotels and resorts. Found at all price points, suites often come with convenient amenities like kitchenettes, separate living rooms and washers/dryers.
  • Orlando International Airport passengers waiting at APM station
    Orlando International Airport (MCO)

    There’s a lot to see and do in Orlando, but we’re also a wide-ranging destination, with 20-plus miles separating Walt Disney World in the south and Winter Park and other points of interest in the north. Happily, we offer plenty of ways to get around.


    Young couple sitting in their car and enjoying in the road trip.

    Rental Cars

    • If you’re planning to explore more than one area or theme park in Orlando, you might want to opt for the convenience of a rental car. With most major rental car companies located onsite at MCO, SFB and many hotels, you will find the move from air to ground transportation seamless and easy.
    I-Ride Trolley Services family at bus stop
    I-Ride Trolley in Orlando’s International Drive Entertainment District

    Shuttle Services

    • Check with your designated hotel or resort ahead of time to determine if shuttle service is provided to and from theme parks and the airport.
    • The I-Ride Trolley offers an easy and economical way to explore the International Drive area without a car. You can hop on and off the trolley, which makes stops at a number of hotels and attractions on International Drive.
    Family riding on Brightline train while kids play with toy train
    Brightline High-Speed Rail Service, Coming to Orlando in 2023

    Rail Service

    • Brightline high-speed rail is set to debut in 2023, connecting Orlando to Miami and other points south via its state-of-the-art terminal at Orlando International Airport.
    • Amtrak has had a station in downtown Orlando since 1926, and it’s still welcoming rail passengers to this day.
    • Orlando’s commuter rail service, SunRail, runs from Poinciana near Walt Disney World in the south, to DeBary in the north. With the exception of special weekends and evenings, service is available Monday through Friday only.
  • Capa Steakhouse & Bar
    One-MICHELIN-Star Capa Steakhouse & Bar at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort

    Love to eat? You’re going to love Orlando. We have more than 6,000 restaurants for you to sample, ranging from quick counter service to the ultimate in fine dining. You’ll also discover nightlife and entertainment throughout the area.

    Discover: Eat & Drink in Orlando

    MICHELIN Guide Restaurants & Acclaimed Chefs

    ICON Park evening overview
    ICON Park® in Orlando’s International Drive Entertainment District

    Dining, Shopping & Entertainment Hubs

    • Orlando boasts numerous all-in-one hubs featuring dining, shopping and entertainment. These include Disney Springs® at Walt Disney WorldUniversal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort, and ICON Park® and Pointe Orlando on International Drive.
    • Orlando’s famous Restaurant Row is another place to find a wide range of great dining in a compact geographic area. Close to International Drive, the 1-mile stretch features dozens of acclaimed restaurants, including everything from family-friendly eateries to fine dining.
    Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament knights joust
    Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Kissimmee

    Dinner Shows

    Save on discount tickets: Orlando Dinner Shows

    Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts steinmetz hall audience
    Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Orlando’s City District

    Live Entertainment

  • The Mall at Millenia couple shopping
    The Mall at Millenia in Orlando

    With a vibrant mix of upscale malls, designer outlets and bespoke shopping districts, Orlando is a shopper’s paradise no matter your preferences or budget. Better still, these shopping opportunities are all within 15 miles of our theme parks.

    Malls & Outlet Stores

    Park Avenue in Winter Park
    Park Avenue in Winter Park

    Shopping Districts

    • Take advantage of Orlando’s sunny climate by shopping outside. Tree-lined Park Avenue in Winter Park, about 30 minutes from our main tourism districts, offers several cobblestoned blocks filled with upscale clothing, hip boutiques, outdoor cafes and unique art galleries.
    • Boutique shopping can also be found in charming neighborhoods throughout the downtown Orlando area, including Thornton Park, Ivanhoe Village, College Park, Audubon Park and more, as well as the nearby city of Winter Garden.
  • Visit Orlando is proud to partner with Orlando Health, a not-for-profit healthcare organization that serves the southeastern United States. As the Official Health and Wellness Partner of Visit Orlando, Orlando Health offers health-related benefits for the millions of travelers who help make Orlando the Theme Park Capital of the World, including access to high-quality, health-related options and medical services, as well as valuable health information. For the latest information, visit our Healthy Travel page.

    As the No. 1 travel destination in the U.S., Orlando also takes the matter of safety extremely seriously. The destination is privileged to have an extraordinary infrastructure of major public and private entities working together to protect the health and safety of residents and visitors alike. Visit our Safety page for details.