Holiday travel… sure, it’s the best way to bring us closer to our loved ones, but it’s often wrought with the highest number of travel nightmares like delays and cancellations. If you’re stuck in Orlando LONG after your vacation was supposed to have ended, here are some tips to glide through your airport internment like a pro. If done right, a flight delay can actually be turned into a delightful extension of your trip. Here’s how to make the best of your time at MCO.
Orlando International Airport – A Shopper’s Dream
Die hard shoppers rarely complain about getting stuck at Orlando International longer than expected. That’s because there are about thirty specialty shops in the main terminal. While you probably checked into either A or B terminal, it’s actually all just one big concourse packed with unique stores and souvenir shops from all the major theme parks.
You can easily kill thirty minutes checking out all the gadgets at Brookstone, thumbing through the best sellers at Borders Books, or trying out the astro-gear at the Kennedy Space Center store (mmm, astronaut ice cream!).
For eats, there is a giant food court in the center of the terminal with fast-food favorites like Chick-Fil-A and Quiznos. There are also a handful of sit-down spots like Chili’s and Macaroni Grill. If you really want to get that ‘getting away from it all’ feel, wander into the Hyatt Regency (attached to the airport) which has a handful of upscale, full-service restaurants ideal for a change of scenery and some peace and quiet.
Really stuck for something to do? Get a flu shot at Solantic Urgent Care located on the B side of the terminal or log in some prayer time at the chapel located inside the main located just beyond the west security checkpoint. The chapel is open to all faiths, and Catholic mass is conducted every Sunday at 8:15am and noon.
Of course, if you’re connected to the internet, you can catch up on all your favorite shows, return email, or just generally surf until your hearts content. Thankfully, wireless internet access (wi-fi) is available in all public areas of the airport and is provided free of charge. There are also several kiosks with charging stations.
For a comprehensive list of all the restaurants, stores and services, click HERE.
Near the airport
The area around Orlando International is mostly residential but International Drive is about 12 miles away. If you really wanted to take the chance, you could venture over to I-Drive for some last-minute touristy stuff (mini putt anyone?) and outlet shopping. The area is accessible along the 528 Beachline, a toll road adjacent the airport.
Within a few minute’s drive, you’ll also find several more chain restaurants and tons of fast food. None are really worth the aggravation and anxiety of leaving the airport.
Golfers should know that there are a few great courses within a short drive from the airport. Only about 15 minute’s away, Shingle Creek is an area favorite known for its immaculate conditions and elevated greens.
The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes is 10-miles away and not only features an incredible Greg Norman course, but the resort also features one of the area’s best spas which allows visitors to use the facilities and all its fabulous amenities for just $40. Not a bad way to kill some time pre-flight.
For the love of Rudolph, will you make it back to the airport in time? For the ballsy traveler who’s going to have one last adventure before they head home, departure times be damned, I’d recommend racing to SeaWorld, about 13 miles away. Traffic allowing, you can get there in about 15-minutes, race through the dolphin, stingray, and otter feedings, plus possibly, lines allowing, grab a turn on SeaWorld’s newest roller coaster, Manta. May the force be with you.