Florida for Idiots: Summer 2010
International Drive
Sea WorldI've always felt that International Drive is split between a north and south part with the Convention Center separating the two. There are no good or bad areas here, it more depends on what you want to do on the "I-Drive", as International Drive is locally called. They all are reasonably close enough to the theme parks (but not walkable), but the north part is closer to Wet 'n' Wild, whereas it's Sea World you're closer to if you stay in the south part.

At the north end you will find the Holiday Inn International, Enclave Suites Resort and the Quality Inn International (where I stayed in 1994). In the south part, you might find the International Plaza Resort and Quality Inn Plaza.

You can certainly stroll along International Drive but during the day it can be a bit quiet (because everyone is at the parks) and don’t underestimate the fierce midday sun that can make a simple stroll something of a Saharan trek. Drink plenty, use sun screen and wear a hat!

At night it can be very busy but that’s what generates the atmosphere!
The traffic down I-Drive can be pretty intense. Don't ever try to cross the road except by using the traffic light / pedestrian crossings. The WALK / DON'T WALK symbol is obvious and if you get caught crossing the road when you shouldn't be you will get fined for jay-walking.

Here's a fraction of what you might find on International Drive north (that is, north of Sand Lake road) when facing north (towards Wet 'n' Wild)

MacDonalds (well they had to be here somewhere, right?) On the corner of Sandlake Road and I-Drive Left
711, Opposite MacD's Great (and I mean great) coffee and donuts. Oh, they sell petrol too. Right
Wild Jack's Steak & Ribs Open 5pm to 11pm Left
Titanic - The Experience Opposite Carrier Drive, next to Holiday Inn Left
Dowdy Plaza Opposite Wild Jacks Right
Crazy Grill   Left
Buffalo Wings   Left
Congo River Golf Miniature golf, you can feed the gators here Right
Ponderosa, Sizzler Great buffet restaurants. Take your coupon! Right
Wet 'n' Wild Famous Water Theme Park Right
Gift shops of all shapes and sizes Excellent to look around Left, Right
Angel's restaurant All you can eat lobster & seafood, about $20 pp without the lobster, $30 with lobster Left

This is just a small, random sample of what you might find there. You could literally do Disney and International Drive for the entire two weeks and never get bored. So on earth do you fit in Universal Studios, Sea World, Aquatica, WonderWorks, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Outlet shopping...

Planning is how. If you go to the Welcome Meet (the invitation will be given to you along with your hotel / car paraphernalia) the day after you arrive they will also suggest you plan your time to maximize your enjoyment. You can see my thoughts on the Welcome Meet here.

You can download a simple Microsoft Word planner document here; take plenty of copies because if you keep crossing stuff out as you change your minds then it will quickly become unreadable! Just change the days / dates to suit your actual holiday. I use this every time and it really works well. You don't have to complete it all at once but it is useful to mark fixed events (eg an evening show, or an excursion that leaves on a particular day, for example).

Disney and Universal are all day events (morning / afternoon) but that still leaves the evening for other stuff. However, trying to fit in a late evening show and get up early the next morning for Disney is a bit of a challenge for the best of us.

Enough! Now explore more on how to survive I-Drive from the menu, left.

I-Ride small map (main route plus stops and other information)

I-Ride full map (all route information including locations of shopping areas, eating places and hotels)

Lynx bus route no 50 (Magic Kingdom / Downtown Disney to Sea World where you can pick up the I-Ride back to your hotel)

Lynx main web site

Orlando Tourist Information Bureau.com (organised trips including to the Florida Mall)

Prime Outlets (north International Drive) website

Premium Outlets (south International Drive) website

Florida Mall information

Mall at Millenia web site

Pointe Orlando web site

Golden Corral buffet restaurant website

Ponderosa buffet restaurant website

TGI restaurant web site

Things to do along International Drive

Look guys, these are just links to other people's web sites. I'm not responsible for any content you may (or may not) find there. I just supply them in good faith to increase your holiday enjoyment!