Getting around International Drive
Wherever part of I-Drive you end up in, the dedicated bus (coach) service called the I-Ride Trolley runs the length of International Drive from the Prime Outlets International Orlando (to give it its full name) right at the top (north) to Sea World in the south every 20 minutes. It then proceeds to the Orlando Premium Outlets shopping area. It starts at 8:30am and runs until 10:30pm.
Watch out though! There are two I-Ride services: a red one (goes along International Drive) and a green one (goes along Universal Boulevard although unfortunately not as far as Universal Studios when going north).
You can switch between the two services where they meet, at Sea World bus stop 33 for example (see the star bus stops on the I-Ride PDF map). Just get on the right bus when away from International Drive.
The I-Ride services costs just $1.25 for a single journey (whether for 1 stop or the entire length of International Drive). You need the exact change or you will be denied access!
But even better value is the $4.00 1-Day pass or even the 14-day pass for just $17.00. You can buy these in advance from their online store or at selected locations along I-Drive [opens in new window], such as hotels incl. the Enclave Suites. You can’t get them on the bus – you just give him the pass receipt and he will exchange it for the pass.
Incidentally, kids under 12 ride free when accompanied by an adult.
One way to get to Disney is to use the I-Ride (south) to Sea World (get off at bus stop number 33, both red and green services) then jump on a nearby Lynx bus number 50 to take you to the Disney Magic Kingdom transportation hub (which then links to all other Disney parks).
After Sea World, still going south, the red route stops at Aquatica theme park (bus stop 34) before continuing to the Premium Outlets. The green route doesn’t stop here and just continues south to the Premium Outlets.
Whist you’re zipping up and down International Drive, jump off at bus stop red 24 north or 12 green south for The Pointe Orlando, a chic shopping uncovered mall with a great diner. The Pointe is open from 11am daily. The nearby upside down house, Wonderworks is open from 9am and you get off on the green 12 or red 23 bus stop when travelling south.
Or continue south and get off at red and green bus stop 41 for the Orlando Premium Outlets which is as far south bound as the I-Drive goes before turning round and heading back up International Drive (north bound). Remember, when returning from Sea World you need the red route for International Drive and green route for Universal Boulevard. But if you’re staying at the Enclave Suites you can get off at red bus stop 12 north or green bus stop 6 north, either is as close to this hotel as the other!
The Lynx bus service
The Lynx pink bus service has many different routes, starting at 5:30am until 1:00am the next morning. Several bus services (numbers 8, 24, 42) runs down International Drive every 10 to 15 minutes.
They all start from the direction of the Prime Outlets (at the north part of I-Drive), and stop right outside Wet ‘N’ Wild near the Enclave Suites and Holiday Inn International (bus stop 9 North and South).
If all you want to do is go up and down International Drive then any of these buses will do instead of, or as well as the I-Ride Trolley.
But to get to Sea World you will need the 8 bus (south) which then continues to the Orlando Premium Outlets in the southern part of I-Drive, as does the 42 bus (which doesn’t visit Sea World).
At Sea World you can get the Lynx 50 bus to take you to Disney’s Magic Kingdom where you should get off to use the internal Disney transport system (mono-rail). This trip is quite exciting as it goes down the I-4 motorway for a few minutes.
The Lynx also offers cheap rides: a single journey anywhere costs $2.00 and a 1-day-pass unlimited travel is $4.50. When you think that they go far further than the I-Ride this is good value. If you need to change bus routes the cost is covered (NB: ask for a ‘transfer’ when buying your single journey ticket). A 7-day Lynx pass costs $16.00. These passes can be purchased from their partners; on International Drive that means from the Official Visitors Center (Orlando/Orange Convention & Visitors Bureau) at 8723 International Drive, Ste 101, about 1km south of Sand Lake road and bus route number 8 conveniently stops here. Ask the driver to make sure you get off at the right stop.
Either using I-Drive and Lynx (or just Lynx alone) can be considerably cheaper than taking the bus offered by your hotel to Disney, which you'll probably have to book the day beforehand anyway. From the hotel, it may cost you about $12 for the round trip (return journey) but they only leave 2 or 3 times in the morning and then pick up again in the evening at 2 or 3 different times, at exactly the same place they dropped you off, possibly Epcot because it's quieter there (you can then jump on the free Disney transport monorail to get you to your required Disney park).
If you want to come home from Disney during the afternoon, your only options are the bus combo route (Lynx, then I-Ride) or a taxi. The Lynx 50 leaves every 30 minutes or so from Magic Kingdom transportation center but also from Downtown Disney (Marketplace) behind the white tent of the Cirque del Soleil. It even has seats if you need to wait. Just look for the Lynx paw bus stop sign.
A Chequered taxi is expensive and may cost $35 for a single trip - although this is the same whether for one or 5 persons, so you can share a taxi if you can find others going your way. Be brave and tout around for tourists wanting to get back to International Drive and save money!
A Mears taxi bus (mini-bus) may be touting for passengers too and charges about $16 per person so you may be lucky in finding spaces there, especially during the day. Just ask the driver if he has spaces. Simple. You can book a Mears shuttle from your hotel (and may be what the hotel uses to get you to Disney). To book a Mears taxi from Magic Kingdom to/from International Drive is about $35 -- not something to be done on a whim!
As a backup plan for the hotel buses I'd use the Lynx and/or the I-Ride buses as it's an enjoyable part of the Florida experience and only costs perhaps $2 a day if you buy the 7 or 14-day passes. Just bear in mind that you will be waiting in a very warm climate with hot sun (or torrential rain!) so do take your poncho and sun cream.
It can take a fair bit longer than travelling by car (it has to stop at bus stops, drat those pesky customers). But I followed a Lynx 50 from Sea World to Disney and it was as fast as going by car, ignoring the occasional stop for other passengers. If nobody wanted to get on at a particular stop, and no-one wanted to get off then it didn't stop.