Four airports serve the Orlando area. Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB), Orlando International Airport (MCO), and Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB). Technically there are five, but as Orlando Executive Airport only serves private-plane passengers, it won’t apply to many travelers to and from the area.
Of these four options, however, you will likely have two options in total. You will either be looking at flying to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) or Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB).
If you’re looking to travel for work, to visit the theme parks, or to enjoy the nightlife, knowing where to touch down is important. You will want to suit your needs and budget, which is why we have put together this guide to help you learn the pros and cons of each Orlando airport.
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
The closest airport to Disney World and the closest airport to Universal Studios is Orlando International Airport. It is only 9 miles away from Orlando itself, 17 miles from Universal Studios, and 18.8 miles away from the Walt Disney World Resort.
It sees about 35 million passengers a year and is a massive 23 square miles in size. As the third-largest airport in the United States of America, it offers great options and facilities and even has the capabilities to accommodate Class 6 aircraft, the largest planes flying into the sky today.
Orlando has one main terminal building and satellite or airside terminals where flights leave from. Each airside terminal has all the features you could want, from free high-speed Wi-Fi to restaurants, bars, and shops.
It has recently undergone a massive $946m refurbishment as well, improving its systems and amenities for travelers everywhere.
From here, you can easily get into Orlando by renting a vehicle or using public transport. If you plan on staying off-site out of the resorts then renting a car with us is going to be your best bet, as it gives you the freedom to get where you are going on your own time.
Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB)
Orlando Sanford International claims it is the most user-friendly airport in Central Florida, which considering the massive maze of terminals that MCO features could be very well true, especially for first-time travelers.
SFB is further away. It is, on average, 27.9 miles outside of Orlando’s city center and it is 36 miles away from Disney World and Universal Studios. That being said, it is more closely located to the beautiful landscapes of Florida, so if you aren’t in town to visit the theme parks and instead to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty and a relaxing trip away then SFB is certainly the way to go.
SFB is ideal if you intend to travel up towards one of the world’s most famous beaches, Daytona Beach, but you will also be within an hour’s drive of New Smyrna Beach, Port Canaveral, and Cocoa Beach.
SFB prides itself on being stress-free, offering convenient parking, short walking distances and good prices for its amenities and flights. It’s a great option for beach-goers and those who don’t mind the long drive.
Which Airport is Right for You?
If you are heading into Orlando to visit either Disney World or Universal Studios, then Orlando International Airport is going to be the most convenient option. From Universal Studios, Orlando MCO is only 17 miles away, whereas Sanford International Airport is more than twice the distance at 36 miles away. This will be the best option regardless of whether you are flying from an international destination or domestically.
If you are planning on traveling throughout Florida, then the cheaper prices at SFB will be attractive to you. Similarly, many people find the layout of MCO very confusing and sometimes difficult, and if a simple, streamlined experience is more suited to you, then SFB should be your top choice.
In the end, it will depend on whether the price is right. At their distance from Orlando, both options are easy to get to, whether you are taking public transport, taking a taxi, or renting a vehicle. You will naturally have more options available to you at MCO than you would at SFB, as it is the larger of the two airports, but you will have an enjoyable time at either airport.
Choose depending on the flight cost and the distance to your accommodation or your destination. Suiting your needs is going to be the most important component.