Unlike the rest of the Southeast, Florida is a state of toll roads and turnpikes. This, combined with a massive roadwork project on Interstate 4, makes traveling into Orlando seem a little daunting, especially with 2 million locals and 2 million visitors on the roads during any given day. But not to worry, we have some tips and information to get you to your vacation destination in the easiest and least-stressful way possible.
Toll Roads/The Turnpike
If you plan to do a lot of driving in town, it might be worth getting a SunPass sticker before you arrive. (Most rental cars have this already and are included in your rate.) For $4.99, SunPass will mail the sticker to your door within 7 days. The transponder is linked to your credit card, so you can drive through the SunPass express lane without stopping to pay a toll. This is a big time-saver. Otherwise, be prepared with exact change (quarters are best), and get ready to stop at various toll booths along your route.
- The 429 runs from Apopka on the northwest side of town south to I-4 at Reunion near Disney.
- The 417/Central Florida Greeneway starts at I-4 in Sanford north of town, swinging east around the city by the Orlando International Airport, ending at I-4 in Celebration near Disney.
- The 408/East-West Expressway runs east from Gotha through downtown and past the 417.
- The Ronald Reagan Turnpike runs from I-75 near Ocala southeast through Orlando and then parallel to I-95 toward Miami.
- The 528 Beach Line Expressway runs east from SeaWorld Orlando to I-95 and Cape Canaveral.
Interstate 4 cuts through the state, connecting the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast. I-4 starts at I-95 near Daytona and runs southwest to Tampa, going right through downtown Orlando and the theme-park areas. It is undergoing a massive transformation along a 21-mile stretch of the interstate, affecting Universal Orlando Resort at Kirkman Road all the way north of downtown. Most of the road work is being done at night, but construction sites at the shoulders and in the medians, along with temporary lane changes, are causing slowdowns.
- Download Waze free on your smart phone for real-time updates from travelers, including where to expect an accident, a police car, or a slowdown on the road.
- Call 511 from a cellphone or go online to www.fl511.com for information on traffic, weather and construction.
- Keep in mind there are several rush hours in Orlando. There is the morning and evening work commute from 7:30-9:30 am and from 4:30-6:30 pm, and there is also the 11 am check-out time and 3 pm check-in time, where many travelers are on the roads.
- In the summer months, daily afternoon showers coincide with hotel check-in times and evening rush hour, so avoid these times when possible.
- Visit Where Traveler for information on public transportation, shuttles, taxis, rental cars and more.
- If you are stuck in traffic, try to keep in mind that you'll be beside your resort pool with a cold drink in hand very, very soon.
Safe travels, everyone!