Depending on where you are staying, it is possible to reach at least some of the Orlando parks without driving. The Renaissance Resort (described in Chapter Five: Resort Hotels) is just across the street from the entrance to SeaWorld, and a few other hotels are within reasonable walking distance.
Walking to Aquatica from some of these hotels is also possible, but sidewalks are at a premium, and since you have to walk around to the other side of Aquatica to reach the main entrance, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as an alternative.
Reaching Discovery Cove on foot requires covering a greater distance and, since parking is included in the price of admission, there is no economic incentive to hoofing it.
If you are staying farther away, but still relatively close, look into shuttle service from your hotel. If it is available, shuttle service will most likely take you to SeaWorld but not to Aquatica or Discovery Cove. SeaWorld operates its own shuttle service to Aquatica (but not Discovery Cove). The service is typically free to guests, but some hotels may charge a small fee. In theory, you must be a guest of a participating hotel to use this service, but this is seldom if ever enforced. Hotels near a pickup point cheerfully send their guests next door to catch the shuttle. Shuttle service is usually limited to a few runs to the parks in the morning and another few return trips in the early evening.
Unfortunately, information on routes, schedules, and which hotels are currently offering this service is hard to come by. The best bet is to ask the hotel you are planning to book whether they participate in the program.
If you are staying along the International Drive corridor, you can hop on the I-Ride Trolley to either SeaWorld or Aquatica (but, again, not Discovery Cove, although it gets close). The trolley is $1.25 for those 13 and older and 25 cents for those 65 and older. Kids 12 and under ride free. Exact change is required. All-day and multi-day passes, which are a good deal if you want to explore I-Drive, are available at many hotels and retail shops along I-Drive, but not on the trolleys. For more information, call toll-free (866) 243-7483 or view a route map on the Internet at www.iridetrolley.com.
You can also reach the parks via public transportation; Orlando’s Lynx buses cost just $2 ($1 for seniors 65 and older), exact change required. A weekly bus pass costs $16. Route 50 links Walt Disney World’s Ticket and Transportation Center with SeaWorld and Route 43 links Universal Orlando and SeaWorld and continues on to the Florida Mall. For more information, call (407) 841-5969 or visit www.golynx.com on the Internet. On the web site you will be able to download maps of the routes that interest you; there is also a “Trip Planner” that lets you plot a route from anywhere in Orlando to SeaWorld, but I find it cumbersome to use and the results hard to decipher.
Otherwise, Mears Transportation offers walk up shuttle van service from the airport to hotels near SeaWorld for $30 round trip per person, $24 for children 4 to 11. No reservation is necessary. Taxi fare from the airport to these hotels runs roughly $40 each way, a better option for families.
All of the above applies to the Orlando parks only. As for the Tampa parks, you pretty much have to drive, although a few modest hotels are within (long) walking distance of Busch Gardens. Details will be found in Chapters Six and Seven.
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