Drive instruction Orlando: What’s the first thing you think of when you hear about the city of Orlando, Florida? It’s the mouse, right? Without the mouse, Orlando would still be the swamp land it was back before Walt Disney envisioned laughing children, people in costumes, and bright balloons. Now, it’s the heart of Florida, and all roads lead to Disney. This means there are some critical things you need to know before you drive in Orlando. First, you should really have a car, to avoid riding with strangers in a hot, sticky, crowded bus. If you don’t have your own car, check out an open car auction in Orlando, Fl, and bid on your choice of great transportation. Secondly, you need nerves of steel once you’re inside the park, so you can go on all the exhilarating park rides.
This cannot be stressed enough: the traffic in Orlando is horrendous. Between continuous construction projects on I-4 and people looking for shortcuts, and the millions of tourists getting off planes at Orlando International Airport, the traffic quickly becomes a problem.
There is limited mass transit anywhere in the Orlando area, so most people rent cars and try to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, Disney just discontinued its shuttle to their Disney hotels, which adds to the traffic issues.
Here are five things that Florida residents want you to know before you drive around Orlando:
Make a Plan
Before you leave the airport, plan your route. Use a satellite feature of the rental car, use Google maps, or get a paper map, but make a plan before you hit the road.
When leaving the airport, you’ll have your choice of three toll roads to Disney World. East-West Expressway, Beachway (which also goes to Kennedy Space Center to the East of Orlando and used to be named the Beeline, should you have an old map) and the Greenway are all toll roads that will get you around most of the road trouble.
About the tolls: You can use the Toll-by-Plate system that scans your license plate and mails you a bill (with a $2.50 convenience charge attached to it), or you can get a SunPass at any of the local grocery stores, malls, a turnpike oasis or online. Tolls are taken at speed, so don’t worry about slowing down.
You cannot buy any transponders at the airport, so buy yours before you need them.
Avoid Rush Hour
Interstate 4 is the major road through Orlando, and while you’re visiting, this is the road that takes you to all of the other attractions and into downtown Orlando, which offers world-class dining and entertainment.
Stay off of this road during rush hours:
- 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. – It’s crowded, there are accidents, side streets are blocked, and there’s usually a lot of construction.
- 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. – At night, the traffic is worse, and people drive aggressively, so there’s usually an accident or two. It’s not unusual for I-4 to be shut down for hours due to an accident.
When you’re ready to drive I-4, check with the local television or radio station for traffic reports before you head out. They will often give alternative routes, but everyone else might be trying those routes out too.
I-4 does have a limited Express section in some areas payable with SunPass, Peach Pass, NC Quick Pass, LeeWay, E-ZPass or Epass transponders. Don’t try to drive the Express without a transponder because there is no Toll-By-Plate, and if they have to send you a bill, they tack on another $25 in addition to the toll.
All of Orlando’s roads are always in some state of construction due to the boom in population and the sprawling nature of the landscape. As everything expands, so does the need for more, wider roads, which has led to an abundance of road construction projects. For the most part, the State of Florida tries to do these at night when the traffic is lighter, but the same rules apply night or day.
- Move over from construction sites
- Slow down and drive the construction site speed limits
- If you can’t move over, then yield to the construction workers and trucks
Much of the most recent construction has been on overpasses, so it’s not unusual to see many spotlights and Highway Patrol blue flashing lights set up to alert you to slow down.
Because of construction, the state put up temporary concrete barriers to keep traffic on the road, which means that if there is a breakdown or an accident, the vehicles cannot be moved from the highway, and everything stops, adding to the congestion.
Cell Phone Use
Florida has a hands-free, voice-activated phone and texting law on the book, so don’t use your phone while driving. There are some exceptions to this law, but for general purposes, don’t use the phone while driving.
Red Light Cameras
Lastly, as you’re enjoying a drive through Orlando, remember that they use red light cameras, so should you zip through a red light, they’ll be sending you a postcard from the state with a bill close to $200.
Ready to drive the roads of Orlando? If you want to see some great attractions, enjoy good food and drink, dance in lively nightclubs and see fine entertainment, then hop in your car and come visit “City Beautiful”.
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