Getting around Orlando

Welcome to the sunshine sprawl

Published April 01 2019

Orange County Convention Center Orange County Convention Center Congratulations. If you’re heading for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting, then you’ll be in Orlando in April. As a former Floridian, I can state authoritatively that’s a pretty good month to visit — the weather is likely to be hot but not yet sweltering — so you might want to see some sights outside the big Experimental Biology meeting in the Orange County Convention Center.

What’s the best way to do that?

Most of Orlando isn’t especially hospitable to foot traffic; the heat, humidity and asphalt can render more than a few minutes outside sweaty and unpleasant. However, the shopping centers and restaurants around the convention center are surprisingly walkable, given the sprawling nature of the city and state, so you’re in luck if you want to get through the meeting without renting a car. If you decide to rent a vehicle, buckle in and drive carefully — the combination of congested roadways and tourists unfamiliar with them can be harrowing.

If you’re reading this before you’ve arrived at either the Rosen Centre Hotel or the Hyatt Regency Orlando, your nonrental options for getting from the airport to your hotel are to take a taxi, one of the local Lynx buses or a paid shuttle. If you’ve already made it to your hotel, consider these as options for your return trip.

A taxi’s a taxi, and the hotels are nearly 13 miles from the airport; with minimal traffic, the drive takes about 20 minutes, but with springtime tourism, it may take the better part of an hour, and the cost averages $30 to $60. A rideshare service such as Lyft or Uber will save you from a running meter if you wind up stuck in traffic, but both will carry a $5 airport surcharge.

If you aren’t pressed for time, the westbound route 42 of the local Lynx bus system, which runs between the airport and Destination Parkway near the convention center with minimal stops, is the most affordable option at $2. However, the ride takes an average of 80 minutes and requires exact change.

Between these extremes of cost and convenience are the paid shuttle bus services Mears Transportation and SuperShuttle, which respectively cost $22 and $19 for a one-way trip from the airport and can be scheduled in advance.

Once you’ve gotten to your hotel, it’s a breeze to get to the convention center; both the Hyatt Regency Orlando and the Rosen Centre Hotel connect to the center through indoor bridges. If you aren’t inclined to eat at the hotel restaurants, a short walk on International Drive takes you to a Denny’s, Red Lobster and Dunkin’ Donuts, and just northward lie the bars and upscale chain restaurants of the Pointe Orlando.

If you want to explore a bit farther afield, consider the I-RIDE Trolley. This affordable transportation service operates from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the International Drive area. Cost is $2 per adult and $1 per child. Unlimited day passes also can be purchased online. More information, including the route map and real-time trolley tracking, can be found on the website.

John Arnst John Arnst is ASBMB Today’s science writer. Follow him on Twitter.