Knowing Who to Trust

When the first version of the Orlando Hotel Shuttles website went live, it was really a site more like the “Kayak of Orlando ground transportation”. Like Kayak, we compared all of the local transportation companies in the area and presented a list of all the lowest prices for each route.

But within a few months, I had the chance to learn more about the industry, its drivers and owners, and the reputations of the various companies that were all providing low-priced trips to Disney-area hotels and resorts plus all those surrounding Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Wet ‘n Wild, and of course SeaWorld. With all of the popular destinations for family fun and entertainment throughout Orlando and Kissimmee, coupled with the huge number of vacationers who swarm the region each year, the result is a vast menagerie of transportation options with varying levels of quality — some with highly questionable reliability.

So with swift perseverance, I made it a point to review each company on our list to vet each one and hone our “travel suppliers” down to a shorter list of excellent pricing and particular quality. And I have stayed fervently on this task — continuing to monitor our clients’ feedback on each booking and to stay in tune with the news of scandals involving disreputable drivers and providers in local  business.

The end result is a select grouping of the best ground transportation providers, ALL of whom I would proudly recommend and ANY one of which I would choose to transport myself or my family.

Please let us help you make this portion of your travel planning easier by inputting the routes for your upcoming trip, choosing from the competitive rates displayed, and using our easy reservation system to finalize your booking in short order. Have a great trip!

Excitement and Danger in Orlando

My first night on my return to Orlando, I wanted to “get the lay of the land” so I drove around in one big square — and experienced some very interesting sites! (Just what I was wanting, but not necessarily recommended!) So here’s what I learned so you can stick to the places you want to see & avoid the ones you don’t..

I rented a car for this trip from the Avis desk inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Universal Entrance. I started my tour heading south on Kirkman Road, then angled over to check out the strip of hotels and sights along the main drag of International Drive. [Very nice! You’ll like this area if you like typical tourist destinations.]

Apopka Vineland Road is another major thoroughfare, though not a walking destination like International Drive. Apopka Vineland also runs alongside Walt Disney World, and I particularly wanted to see that entrance and how it is situated in what I’d call the “old Kissimmee” tourist area. Everywhere around you can see that not too much has changed in the last half century since this place started up as the the tourist destination surrounding the Disney parks. It reminds you of any number of “typical” coastal strips from the era when family travel first became popular, complete with hotels, restaurants galore, and of course, miniature golf among elaborate settings.

I chose Osceola Parkway as the bottom of my square route; not much to see — it’s more of a connector highway through this particular area. Then I turned back north on Orange Blossom Trail — really the only major road you’ll notice on any map of the city.

Driving north on this road I noticed the scenery change distinctly from the tourist-y Disney and Universal Studios areas of Orlando. I’m sure this red light district gets its share of visitors, but it’s certainly not the same family destination that you’ll find on the opposite side of town. I moved through quickly and turned left on Colonial Drive.

Colonial Drive marks the middle of downtown Orlando and connects over to eastern-most UCF — the University of Central Florida. Though few visitors will have business in this area, I wanted to see how it all connected. And I had my biggest excitement shortly after I turned onto this street.

Driving down the road, I noticed to my left a woman pushing her van in the opposite direction. Almost as instantly I could see illuminated by the street lights that there was a baby in its car seat in the second row. I quickly pulled my car into the left turn lane beside me, shifted into Park, and frantically searched for the hazard light controls. The hour was quite late at this point, so there wasn’t too much traffic along this part of the road. I pushed for a while, but lady who was pushing & steering at the same time didn’t turn into the first parking lot. We turned the nearby corner and another man joined us in the task.

Several times I nearly lost my flip-flops. (It’s not easy to push a heavy vehicle without real shoes!) After a few more missed parking lot opportunities, the three of us began to speak to each other, and we two men learned that the women knew of a secluded spot “just down the road another 500 feet” where she could safely leave the van and her belongings overnight until she could resolve the shortage of gas situation.

But instead, once we found the van’s intended landing spot, we took the empty gas can from her trunk and I walked her over to a nearby gas station to get her started back on her way.

It was especially funny to me to notice what I saw when I finally made it back to my own car. Parked right in the middle of the road, driver’s door propped open and keys in the ignition! For roughly 20-30 minutes I’d guess. So I guess this particular area is perhaps a safe one  😀

I slept well that night.

How to Save Money in Orlando

Our clients will often ask me how to find savings for their trip to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. Here is some of the vacation planning advice I have collected:

When you are trying to find discount theme park tickets, you will find there are dozens and dozens of options once you have arrived in Orlando. Many of the area resorts – particularly chain hotels such as Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and Holiday Inn, etc. – will have a small desk in the lobby staffed with a person knowledgable about special events & concerts going on during the week. But best of all, they also sell discounted park tickets – maybe not at the lowest price possible, but it’s a good deal and will save you a ton of time.

If you’re not so interested in ‘paying the small convenience fee’ of a higher price in your hotel lobby, there are billboards and flyers all over town to direct you to the several “visitor centers” and discount ticket vendors located in all the highly trafficked tourist areas.

My personal favorite is located between the DoubleTree Hotel Universal Orlando, the Holiday Inn & Suites Maingate to Universal, and the Hyatt Place Universal, just across the street from the entrance drive heading into the Universal theme parks (which include Islands of Adventure where you’ll find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – an amazing place). This little ticket location has everything; they do offer timeshare opportunities to land you an even better discount – but the staff people are very nice and won’t pressure you to buy anything more than the attraction tickets you came for. Plus they have a ton of brochures and printed information books to help with other aspects of your trip planning.

I’ve used both options in the past, and was even able to wrangle a discount for tickets to Blue Man Group for a less busy performance night directly from the auditorium’s own ticket booth personnel.

However you go for it, there is so much to do & tons of fun to have when you visit Orlando! We hope you’ll come and see us soon!

New, Simpler Booking Process

Hey All-

We just updated our website with a completely new – and easier to use – website. Now instead of 4 steps to creating a reservation, there are only 3 steps:

  1. Enter basic trip details
  2. View free quotes
  3. Reserve your transportation

The process couldn’t be easier! When you start typing a hotel or cruise ship name, a list appears showing you all the available resorts, airports, and options that match your search. Just select the one you want, and the street address also appears, so you can quickly and conveniently confirm your selected location.

Clicking the “Compare Quotes Now” button instantly brings up a listing of shuttle rates for your transfers from the best transportation companies in Orlando. Then you can click “Select” next to the service and price you like best, and enter your name, trip dates, and credit card information on the next page.

Next to come: an easier mobile website to streamline bookings from your smartphone.

We are dedicated to making the quoting and booking process fast and easy – helping travelers find the best deals in Orlando shuttle transportation.

Please let us know what you think of our new site!

My ‘Secret’ Universal Vacation Plan

You’ve read my story of “How We Started” Orlando Hotel Shuttles with our dad-and-son trip that included Disney’s Pop Century Resort, plus the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom Park, and our favorite, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Well last year, I planned a Spring Break trip with that son, Jesse, and his older brother, Matthew. This time we headed for Universal Studios Theme Parks. After I shared our vacation plan with a woman on the phone who was planning to come down with her two teenage sons — along with my personal “secret” for making the trip a success (she was very excited to hear it!) — I thought I really ought to share the ideas with more travelers. So here goes.

We started our trip at the Best Western Plus Orlando Gateway. It is a very comfortable hotel and literally across the street from Wet ‘n Wild, and I bought us 3-day Park-to-Park tickets that included this fun and awesome park. We booked a relaxing afternoon flight to arrive at MCO in early evening, then had the evening to hang around the hotel pool or walk either south to International Drive or north to Universal CityWalk for entertainment and dinner. (We chose CityWalk.) Next day, sleep in and hit Wet ‘n Wild all day long. (Water parks always open later in the morning and close early evening, giving you another night to chill.)

The morning of our second full day, we packed our bags and took a taxi from the Best Western to Loews Royal Pacific Resort one mile away. Now the Best Western is comfortable (and the right price!), but the Royal Pacific is très magnifique! (Actually the Portofino Bay Hotel is très magnifique-er, but we were traveling on a budget.)

So why blow the hotel budget on the third night in? Glad you asked! Any of the Loews hotels on-property at Universal Studios will let you check-in at 7 a.m. (you store your luggage with the bellman). Now you have your room key — granting you one hour earlier access to Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — and you also get unlimited Express ride access, to skip the regular lines in both parks all day. AND the benefits extend through all day tomorrow, after you check out. (This is my “Big Secret” for making the most of your days at both Universal parks.) Be sure you get your tickets to Blue Man Group for tonight or tomorrow — you will love this incredibly unique show!

[Note: As of April 2014, Universal’s new on-site hotel, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, is now open — and boasts even lower rates than the other hotels on-property. However, the Universal Express Unlimited ride access feature I mention above applies only for guests at “Deluxe On-Site Hotels” according to — guests staying at the Cabana Bay do not receive this bonus.]

Day 3: Check out of the Royal Pacific and leave bags once again with the bellmen. After the parks close, ride the free water taxi back to your hotel, collect your suitcases, and stroll (or taxi) across the street to the Holiday Inn & Suites Maingate to Universal. (There is also the DoubleTree Hotel Universal Orlando and my personal all-around favorite, the Hyatt Place Universal … but they were booked solid on this particular night.)

Next morning, meet your driver just outside the hotel lobby doors, and you’re on the shuttle to Orlando International Airport. (Wow! I’m ready to go again!  : )

Wishing you this much FUN on your trip!
— Rick

A Savings Success Story

Recently a man contacted us to ask about how to create his reservation when he was being dropped off at MCO, instead of flying in on an airline. He had booked round-trip travel on the cruise line bus, which only took him and his family to and from the airport.

This gentleman and his wife were planning a family trip with their kids and grandkids. The cruise line made it ‘easy’ to add on their ground transportation to the port, but since the family wanted to spend a few days at Walt Disney World following the cruise, he wanted to book a separate round trip from MCO to his Disney area resort hotel.

I explained that we could certainly book the transfers he requested, but that with the multi-route discount available, I could probably save him even more money while also providing a private vehicle for his family for the routes to and from the port as well.

After comparing the Cruise’s ground transport price of $70 per person for his group of seven passengers, he was able to not only enjoy having a private driver waiting for him at the airport baggage claim, but they rode in a private car for all three routes AND saved $285. The cruise line gave a full refund of their ground transportation charges in a simple cancellation process.

Helping people have More Fun on their trip – and saving them money – is what we love! Click the link above to get your Free Quote and start our simple (and free) booking process.

Cruise Season is Upon Us

With the advent of Summer comes the season of cruising! And cruise deals are everywhere.

Port Canaveral is located about one hour east of the Orlando International Airport and an hour-and-a-half southeast of Sanford International. Travelers find amazing offers and luxurious service from the top cruise lines sailing from this port: Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Lines, and Carnival Cruises.

Our drivers are on-call to serve you! We can help you find the very best prices for transfers from the airport (or airport hotel) to the cruise port to meet your ship. By comparing prices and service levels, you can find the best in transportation options from Orlando to Port Canaveral terminal.

Many of our clients choose to fly in the day before and stay overnight before heading to the port to board their cruise ship. We offer transport from Orlando airport hotels direct to the port, but we also take travelers to Cocoa Beach hotels from the airport, then pick them up at the ship for their return trip.

And if you want to add a few days at Disney or Universal Studios before or after your cruise – no problem! Just enter your trip details on our quick & easy quote page to get the best pricing on your entire trip. Click the link in the menu above to get your free quote now!

Big Changes .. Better Service

Today we made major changes throughout our site. For the more than two years since Orlando Hotel Shuttles first went online, we have listed all the competitive rates from every transportation company servicing the Orlando area. Some of these rates were “Verified Best Price” rates, which we confirmed with each company to ensure there were “no surprises”; rates that included all fees and surcharges — everything except driver gratuity — so our customers could have a true apples-to-apples comparison when making their decision about which company to choose for transport to their hotel or resort from the Orlando airport.

Some of the companies wouldn’t commit to a definite price, so we listed the rates from their websites, but clearly notated that those rates were unreliable and might change if and when that transportation company accepted the new reservation. In all cases, however, we offered the most convenient and secure online reservations process to simplify the booking process.

Now, as time has gone by and we’ve gotten to know each company better — and the quality of service they provide — we have “settled” on a group of the Top Ten local transportation companies that we know are reliable and provide excellent service.

Our website has now been updated to list just those top vendors — still with the convenience of secure, online reservations and NO FEES added from us at all.

We hope you will find the new site to be just what you need for your Orlando hotel and Port Canaveral cruise transfers. We do the research so you don’t have to!