More Shark Guides
Location and Getting There
The neighborhoods comprising the area of South Orlando are located approximately 20 miles south of downtown. The area is dominated by the Walt Disneyworld Resort in Bay Lake, and traffic is notoriously congested in the morning and early evening when the crowds descend and retreat. The public transportation in and around the resort is a highly sophisticated and reliable network of free buses, shuttles, and monorails. Public transportation from Orlando is a different story. If you are traveling from Orlando with children, it is highly advisable to bring a rental car and pay for parking. The stress saved from navigating unreliable public transport with children will be more than worth the extra money.
Walt Disneyworld is located in Bay Lake and the other main neighborhoods of South Orlando circle this Disney metropolis. Kissimmee and Celebration are located a few miles further south. The International Drive area is located about ten miles north of the Disneyworld parks, about halfway between Orlando and Disneyworld. This is where theme park tourists find the widest array of hotels and attractions outside of Disney, including SeaWorld and Universal Studios.
Walt Disney World and Downtown Disney
Established in the early 1970’s, Walt Disneyworld has become a commercial metropolis in South Orlando that operates like a small city. Since additions in the 80’s and 90’s, Disneyworld now consists of the original park, the Epcot Center, Disney Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. Transportation within the park is well organized and reliable, with a series of buses, shuttles, and monorail lines shuttling guests within and between parks.
Downtown Disney in a commercial area within the park designed as a town where guests can shop, eat, and find accommodations in all price ranges. This is where you can find a movie theater, Cirque du Soleil performances, all of the best Disney souvenirs, and a wide range of themed and basic hotels.
Located directly south of Walt Disneyworld across Highway 4, Celebration is a breath of fresh air from the theme park madness. Characterized by its restored, 19th century homes, wrap around porches, and towering palm trees, the neighborhood is just begging to be explored on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Check out downtown’s Market Street for great food and shopping.
The neighborhood of Kissimmee, much like many neighborhoods of North Orlando, is characterized by its proximity to a number of lakes where locals and tourists like to relax. The historic downtown is great for walks, afternoons at a sidewalk café, or shopping, while other tourists will flock to the green spaces filled with golf courses and lakeside culture.
International Drive Area
Also known as Orlando’s Tourist Corridor, the International Drive Area is located about ten miles south of Orlando and is home to every theme park you could dream of outside of the Disney Dynasty.
Most of the theme parks in this area are water oriented, and include Sea World, Discovery Cove, Aquatica Waterpark, and Wet ‘n Wild. In addition to the water parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are also located in this theme park haven.
The I-Ride trolley is a sophisticated and reliable bus system that services all of the parks and hotels in the area, so getting around is easy and cheap, with no need to pay for parking.
The widest variety of hotels in Orlando is located in this area, many with great deals and packages for children. And if you’re a couple traveling without the kids, you’re sure to find a romantic getaway and the perfect package for relaxation and pampering.