Things You Should Know (FAQ)
There is quite a bit of information about Orlando that visitors to Orlando should know before their arrival. Below we've attempted to answer any and all of those questions to help you in planning your stay and to provide you with the most knowledge possible prior to your trip. You will find information on tipping in Orlando, visa requirements, ideas for attractions to visit, as well as other important practical information. You can never know to much before a trip to a new destination, so feel free to email us with questions on any of this information.
The majority of the population speaks English, and Spanish is also very common and spoken by a large number of our residents. You will be able to interact in almost all situations using only English.
Yes, tipping is very common in Orlando. At restaurants and bars a good tip is 15% to 20% of the bill. When taking a taxi a good tip depends on the distance driven, but a few dollars should suffice. At hotels, if you receive assistance from a concierge, bell boy, or any other employee, a tip of a few dollars is much appreciated. It is also common to leave a small tip of appreciation for the maid service if you stay in a hotel for an extended period of time and they have been cleaning your room on a regular basis. As the quality of the establishment increases the amount of the tip usually does as well.
Unfortunately for international travelers, only the U.S. dollar is used here in Orlando, and you must exchange your currency for them. This can be easily done, however, because you can find currency exchange offices in the airport and banks. We highly recommend knowing the current rate ahead of time and avoiding most places in the airport as they are normally very expensive. Also there are ATM’s spread out all over the city and you can easilyays withdraw American dollars using a Credit/Debit card. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are commonly accepted.
Thanks to the beautiful Orlando weather, we are a year round destination. It rarely dips below 35 degrees Fahrenheit/2 degrees Celsius in the winter and while it does get hot in the summertime (up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit/38 degrees Celsius occasionally!) there is always a pool close by to cool off in. The most pleasant times of the year however are the Spring and Fall seasons, or roughly March-May and September-November respectively. If visiting during the summer expect rainstorms almost daily, but these normally last less than an hour before the sun comes back out.
Any fashion fits into multicultural Orlando, the only important thing is to make sure you pack according to the weather. It is important, however, to realize that the heat and humidity in Florida is significantly higher than a majority of the United States, and almost all of Europe. You should pack accordingly and be prepared for the possibility of warm or hot days, no matter what time of year.
There are many sites to see in Orlando but we understand the length of your stay might not allow you to see everything. With that in mind we've put together a list of the Top 10 Things to Do while in Orlando so that you can easily choose the options that are best for you!
If you are coming to the United States for tourism only then a B-2 Visa is required unless you are qualified otherwise as specified on our detailed visa information page.
Orlando has bus routes that crisscross the entire city and can get you just about anywhere you want to go. They also are very affordable, however, they are one of the slower ways to get around the city. There are actually free buses in downtown Orlando, so be sure to take advantage of those. Any information you may need can be found on our Public Transportation page. *Note - Orlando is currently in the beginning stages of building a rail system but it won't be completed for a few years.
There are several ways to get from the Orlando International Airport to your destination. Renting a car is the easiest way and gives you more freedom to go where you want, when you want. You can also use a taxi, take the Lynx bus, or if your vacation is to Disney or on one of several cruises, you can catch one of their complimentary shuttles. Check out our Orlando International Airport page or our Sanford International Airport page for more info.
Orlando is known for its theme parks and children oriented entertainment, however there is as much or more for adults to do. From our nightlife, spas, and fine dining, to our golf, beaches, and shopping there is never a shortage of things to do in Orlando.
There are several centers of nightlife in Orlando. The first, and largest, is downtown Orlando in the business district where you can find dozens of bars and entertainment spots that offer a wide variety of activities. The second is called City Walk and is located right outside of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It offers around a dozen bars and some of the many themed restaurants in Orlando. The third center is in the Downtown Disney area, which is similar to Universal City Walk, with multiple bars and restaurants, many adhering to fun themes. That being said, you can find good bars and other types of nightlife citywide because of the demand from locals and tourists alike and you will rarely be far from a great night out.
Children who visit Orlando are in for one of the most exciting trips of their lives. The major attractions are of course the theme parks that offer a once in a lifetime experience for all of those who visit. Walking into these parks is like walking into another world completely, and is the perfect trip for families from across the globe. That being said, there are other attractions that children love outside of the major theme parks, such as state parks that have natural springs to swim in, beaches with beautiful white sand, and many smaller family friendly attractions.
We suggest checking out our Best Beaches Near Orlando page before deciding where to spend your time in the sun, but the closest beaches to Orlando are Daytona Beach or Cocoa Beach, with each one just under 60 miles (90 Km) from downtown Orlando. They are very popular destinations for locals and visitors alike. There are several other beaches north and south of Daytona and Cocoa that are close enough for a day trip and are excellent beaches such as New Smyrna Beach, Melbourne Beach, St. Augustine Beach, and Satellite Beach. On the west coast of Florida the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are renowned for their beauty and are only a little more than an hour away. Beaches such as St. Pete, Clearwater, Bradenton and Sarasota are all great places to take a day trip to.
This depends on the type of vacation you want and who you are travelling with. If its a family vacation then we would suggest one of the many resorts geared towards young people. Those who want a couples retreat can find many accommodating places where you can spend your day relaxing in luxury. For those travelling on a budget don’t worry! You can still stay in Orlando at budget hotels or even hostels. For a full list, and to browse your options, check out our Orlando Accommodation page or just search for accommodation in the search area at the top right of this page.
Smoking is banned in almost every indoor area in the State of Florida. There are several exceptions to this rule, such as smoking designated hotel rooms, certain bars, and several other indoor areas that are designated smoking areas. If it does not say you can smoke on posted signs, then in all likelihood it is illegal there.
Like the rest of the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. It is one of the higher drinking ages of the world and is enforced at all bars and stores where you can purchase alcohol. It is important to take this law seriously, as possession of alcohol can easily land a minor in jail.
911 is the emergency number in Orlando and throughout the United States.
(321) 235-5300 is the Orlando Police Departments’ non emergency number.
(407) 254-7000 is the Orange County Sheriff Departments’ non emergency number.
The United States runs on 120 V and 60 Hz, so if you are travelling from an area with different voltage and frequency adapters may be needed for chargers, hair dryers, etc.
Post Offices, Banks, and Governmental agencies will most likely follow a strict 8 or 9am opening time to 4 or 5pm closing time. Besides this most companies offering services to visitors will be open most hours of the day. You can eat almost any hour of the day with many restaurants open 24 hours a day, and you can enjoy a night out until 2am (the legal time that alcohol will stop being served). Opening times will often vary form business to business so be sure to contact the company in question and simply ask them when you can visit.
If your question wasn't answered here, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you.
Photo Credit: Bob Brown - MCO (Photo 1); Ravin - Universal CityWalk (Photo 2); Turtlemom - Orange County Convention Center (Photo 2); Milan Boers - SeaWorld Show (Photo 3); Tim Pearce - Gatorland Gators (Photo 4); Anthony Quintano - Epcot Spaceship Earth (Photo 5); Rob Bixby - Arabian Nights (Photo 6); Kamoteus - Universal Orlando (Photo 7); K. Walk - Orlando Magic Game (Photo 8)
Disney Fireworks - Photo by Jo...
Hard Rock Orlando
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Disney Fireworks - Photo by Jo...
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"Travel and change of pace impart new vigor to the mind" - Seneca