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!

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!

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