WEALTHY WEDNESDAY: Getting around Orlando and International Drive

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It’s cute, it’s adorable, it’s … creepy? The smiling iRide Trolley in Orlando.

Orlando is not a typical destination for the two of us. In fact, it kind of goes against everything we believe in with traveling: Large crowds, waiting in line for 30 (or more) minutes to go on a 2-minute ride, screaming children, kitschy souvenir shops and chain restaurants galore.

That said, being Harry potter fans, we kind of felt obligated to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure for a belated first anniversary trip, so we packed up for a brief three-night trip in the Sunshine State. We’ll get into all the nitty-gritty of that trip later but, first, a Wealthy Wednesday for you: Getting around Orlando.

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City buses can be useful … if you do your homework in advance.

Orlando — or at least the touristy part of the city — can be a bit tricky to get around if you don’t know what you’re doing. Excluding renting s car, you have three options (all of which we used during our trip):

  1. Get a taxi: Our hotel had black cars out front but the valet would also call for a metered cab, if desired. We noticed black cars charged more than 20 percent compared to the metered cab to make the 10-15-minute trek to Downtown Disney. From our hotel on International Drive, just north of Sea World, to the airport, cost $34. They charge 60 cents per quarter-mile, in addition to a couple bucks up front for the pick-up fee.
  2. Lynx (city) bus: We were lucky that the city bus was waiting outside the airport when we got there. For $2 per person, you can the 111 to International Drive, about a 45-minute ride. We still had to walk 10-15 minutes from the stop to our hotel, but the weather was decent and we only had carry-ons, so it was manageable. Unfortunately, the bus didn’t take the same route back, which is why we opted for the taxi. The Lynx bus goes to several major tourist destinations — just look for the paw print stop signs. In hindsight, the Lynx bus might have been more convenient, but it would have been more expensive than option 3.

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    If ONLY we could have taken the Hogwarts Express to Orlando …

  3. iRide Trolley: We bought a three-day pass, which cost $7 per person. Not bad, except every tourist on Earth uses this trolley to get around International Drive. Further, it doesn’t go to most of the theme parks but it does go to both huge outlet malls and SeaWorld. We did use it to get close-ish to Universal, but we still had to walk 15 minutes from the stop. If you enjoy 60s tunes blasting from the speakers and want to sample the magic of “mass transit” in a major city, give it a whirl. Single rides cost $1.50 and kids ride free. TIP: Use the mobile website and you can see how many minutes away the next trolley is from your stop; it was mostly accurate during our stay.
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