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Your Big Guide to the Orlando International Airport

Your Big Guide to the Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport is the main airport you will want to use when vacationing to Disney World and surrounding attractions. Here is a big guide that includes everything you need to know!

Orlando International Airport (MCO) Facts

Credit: Monica

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is located just a few miles from downtown Orlando. When visiting Central Florida’s attractions, MCO is the closest airport.

It originally opened in the 1940’s as a military airbase, but by the 1960’s it began transporting travelers on civilian airlines. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, commercial air travel to Orlando increased dramatically, and the airport phased out of being a military airbase.

Fun fact: MCO stands for McCoy Airforce Base which is what the airport was called from 1959 to until the mid-1970’s.

Credit: MCO website

MCO is consistently listed in the top 10 busiest airports in the United States due to number of travelers visiting Central Florida. At over 11,000 acres it is also one of the largest airports as well.

Traveling through the Orlando Airport can be a bit daunting due to the size and crowds. Consider it something that should be researched ahead of time – just like you plan your Disney World vacation! This helpful guide will lay everything out for you!

In addition to this guide, consider downloading the MCO app. It posts current TSA wait times, parking location reminders, the ability to track multiple flights, and more.


Credit: Susan

Let’s start with the most important: security. Security can be very intimidating at the airport depending on when you travel. During busy seasons, the airport will be busy 24/7. Plan to arrive 2-3 hours early if you will be waiting in the traditional TSA line. And, as always, be sure you are following all TSA rules and regulations.

If you have TSA pre-check, this will decrease the time you spend waiting by a lot. Even if the pre-check line looks long, it moves pretty quickly. Pre-check is typically available from 4:00 am to 8:30 pm daily, but pre-check lines may be open outside of those normal hours as well.

Credit: Monica

The CLEAR program is also utilized at MCO. This pre-clearance process (similar to TSA pre-check) allows passengers to enter dedicated lines. It’s much more expensive than the TSA pre-check program, so you may not need it if you are not a frequent traveler.

MCO Reserve, powered by CLEAR, is a free program that allows travelers to book an appointment time to enter the reservation lane. After reserving your slot and arriving at the dedicated MCO Reserve lane, simply scan your issued QR code and move directly to TSA to screen your boarding pass and ID. Then, proceed to the standard TSA physical security.

Terminals A, B and C all have dedicated MCO Reserve lanes with a limited number of slots available each day. Travelers may book their time slot up to 72 hours in advance. Read about Jaelyn’s experience HERE.

Terminal A

Credit: Monica

MCO is divided into three terminals: A, B, and C. Terminal A is home to Gates 1-29 and 100-129. On Level 1, you will find ground transportation and rental cars along with the USO Lounge. Level 2 is where you will pick up your bags and use ride share. There is also a Starbucks on this level.

On Level 3, this is where you will enter the airport to get on your flight and go through security. This is also where you will find most of the shopping and dining options.

Speaking of shopping and dining, there are dozens of restaurants and shops before and after entering security. Most notably, there are two Magic of Disney stores in Terminals A and B before entering security.

Credit: Monica

Once you get through security, you will board a monorail tram type vehicle to get to the gates. A new monorail comes every few minutes, and it’s only a couple minutes to your gate once you get on one.

Past Gates 1-29, you will find restaurants like Burger King, On the Border, and Coldstone Creamery. The Club at MCO Lounge is located here as well. Past Gates 100-129, stop for a bite to eat at Chipotle, Green Leaf’s, Starbucks, and more.

Credit: Monica

Here are the airlines that utilize Terminal A:

  • Spirit
  • Frontier
  • Avianca
  • Avelo
  • Copa
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Air Transat
  • Southwest

Terminal B

Credit: Monica

Terminal B is home to Gates 30-59 and 70-99. You will find layout for Terminal B is the same as Terminal A in terms of levels. One thing that is important to note is that Terminal A and Terminal B share security checkpoints and some shopping/dining. Like Terminal A, you will board a monorail tram vehicle to get to the gates in Terminal B.

Past Gates 30-59, there is a Ruby Tuesday’s, Qdoba, and Wendy’s (among other eateries). This is also where the American Airlines Lounge and United Airlines lounges are located. You’ll find Outback, Natalie’s Candy, Burger, and more dining as well as lounges for Delta Airlines and the Club at MCO past Gates 70-99.

Credit: Marisol

The Hyatt Hotel is also located in the shared space for Terminals A and B. It is located before security checkpoints, so it can be utilized by both travelers and non-travelers. You can find the lobby between Gates 70-129. The Hyatt Hotel is also a great option for day-use only. This gives you a central base and a place to enjoy amenities without staying overnight.

You can read more about the Hyatt Hotel in MCO in Marisol’s post.

Here are the airlines that utilize Terminal B:

  • Alaska
  • Breeze
  • Silver Airways
  • United
  • American
  • Air Canada
  • Volaris
  • AeroMexico
  • Swoop
  • WestJet
  • Delta
  • Sun Country
  • Bahamasair

Terminal C

Credit: MCO website

Terminal C is the newest terminal to open. According to the MCO website, Terminal C brings a new level of customer convenience and amenities to MCO:

  • Up to 20 aircraft at 15 gates, accommodating both domestic and international flights
  • Facial recognition technology which provides faster and more secure boarding
  • Security screening lanes feature an automated bin return system
  • Checked bags are fed into an RFID Tote Baggage Handling System for efficient tracking
  • International arrivals are “Bags First” – passengers retrieve their checked bags before proceeding to U.S. Customs and Immigration
  • 23 food and beverage options and a variety of shops
  • Adjacent to MCO’s Train Station with Brightline inter-city rail service to south Florida beginning in 2023
Credit: MCO website

Level 1 is ground transportation and shuttles. Then, Level 2 is where you will depart – check-in, security, etc. On Level 4 (there’s no Level 3), you will find Parking Garage C and the Terminal Link to Terminal A and B (more on that soon). Finally, Level 6 is arrivals – bag claim, customs, and immigration.

Terminal C offers more upscale dining that includes a lot more sit-down table-service options. You’ll notice familiar names like Chef Art Smith and Wine Bar George. You can also find Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld merchandise shops as well as the Plaza Premium Lounge.

Here are the airlines that utilize Terminal C:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Azul
  • British Airways
  • Caribbean Airlines
  • Discover Airlines
  • Emirates
  • GOL
  • Icelandair
  • JetBlue
  • Lufthansa
  • Lynx Air
  • Norse
  • Sunwing Airlines
Credit: MCO website

If you are connecting between Terminals A/B and Terminal C, there are two options:

  • The Terminal Link (APM) operates 24 hours per day, but requires a walk of approximately 1,200 feet, from Terminal C, Level 4 through Parking Garage C to the Train Station
  • The shuttle bus service operates 24 hours a day. Pick-up and drop-off is at:
    • Terminal C: Level 1 (Ground Transportation) at Space C276
    • Terminal B: Level 1 (Ground Transportation) at Space B29


Credit: Brightline

The Orlando Airport is also home to Brightline and other train transportation services. According to the MCO website, the Train Station consists of approximately 1.3 million square feet of terminal space accommodating the Terminal Link (APM) Station and up to three regional rail systems. This includes SunRail commuter rail, Brightline inter-city rail, and possibly a third system serving the International Drive/Convention Center area.

In addition, it also supports ground transportation activity including taxis, shuttle buses and public bus operations. Brightline is ready to get you to all the best spots in South Florida with stations in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura, and Miami.

Photo Credit:

Also, SunRail currently operates over a 49 mile system with 16 stations through Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties and a bus link to MCO. The direct rail link to MCO is a priority for the City of Orlando and the airport, and although no date has been published, it is part of the future development plans for SunRail.

Unfortunately, Brightline will no longer run to Disney World.

I hope this guide helps you as you prepare to travel through MCO! What other questions do you have about Orlando International Airport? Ask them in the comments below!

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