Greetings Star Wars Fans!
With the Christmas period now fully behind us, we turn our attention to Star Wars Celebration in Orlando Florida. Now with this being the 40th Anniversary, it will be an experience like no other.
Now I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would an Irish man give us advice about Celebration and Orlando Florida? Well this article is aimed at those of you travelling from Europe, or indeed anyone who has never been to Orlando or Celebration. I’m blessed to call Orlando my second home and having been a regular visitor as far back as I can remember, I hope to be able to share with you some thoughts and tips that will allow you to make the most of your experience.
When travelling to Orlando, I advise you all to make yourselves aware of the individual rules and regulations that govern each individual airline. Different airlines will have varying policies with respect to baggage allowance and the transportation of props and costumes. I advise anyone with questions to contact their airline as soon as possible.
Now before you travel to Orlando, those of you making the trek from Europe will need to complete an ESTA Form. There are plenty of false websites that will charge you can extra fee for doing this, but click here for the official website. Please be aware that being approved during the ESTA process DOES NOT guarantee you entry into the USA. Final approval will be granted by the immigration agents. Those of you flying out from Dublin, you can of course do this at Dublin Airport.
Upon arrival you will land at MCO (McCoy International Airport)
MCO is an enormous airport and can be a little daunting at first getting around. I can assure you it’s extremely easy to find your way. The Staff are so friendly and signs are posted both above your head and on numerous screens as you pass through the terminals.
For international guests, you will land at the outer terminals and be transported by an automated shuttle train to the main terminal You will be guided to the immigration section upon arriving at your destination. Please see below a simple guideline map of MCO:
Immigration queues can get a little crazy so please give yourself enough time to complete the process and don’t forget to allow for the time difference between the country you are travelling from and your eventual destination.
During the Immigration process I would strongly recommend you know the exact address of where you are staying and how much spending money is in your possession. Being asked such questions can seem a little intimidating and personal, but rest assured the agents are just doing their job and following protocol.
More commonly known as I-Drive, the home of the Orange County Convention Centre which will be the host of Star Wars Celebration Orlando. International Drive is a bustling area filled with shops, restaurants and wonderful hotels/villas we call home for the duration of our stay. It stretches just over 11 miles and is seen as the main tourist strip of the area.
Cute little fella isn’t he? The I-Drive Trolley is the most popular way to get around the International Drive Area. This bus will take you from one end to the other. You can get tickets from any of the little nick-nack shops along the strip, or from the drivers themselves. You may also enquire at your hotels concierge desk as they may offer deals on tickets. The usual cost is as follows:
One Day Pass: $5.00 per person
Three Day Pass: $7.00 per person
Five Day Pass: $9.00 per person
Seven Day Pass: $12.00 per person
Fourteen Day Pass: $18.00 per person
You may also pick up the Lynx bus which will give you access to other parts of Orlando, you can find more information here.
Things to Do
If you plan on doing some sight seeing, International Drive has some of the best tourist attractions around:
Orange County Convention Centre Complex
The Home of SWCO
Click here to find the address and GPS codes for individual concourses.
The Pointe Orlando Shopping Complex:
Here you will find various shops and dining options.
The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and The Orlando Sea Life Aquarium are at your fingertips in this classy mishmash of wonderful food and attractions.
Orlando Premium Outlets
For those of you who enjoy shopping, You can find everything you need at either end of International Drive.
The Orlando International Premium Outlets ( 4951 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819)
The Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets (8200 Vineland Ave, Orlando, FL 32821)
The closest theme parks to The International Drive Area are Universal Studies/Islands of Adventure and Seaworld Orlando
Universal Studios is located at 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
Seaworld Orlando is located at 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
There are WAY too many good options to run through on International Drive. Everything from Caribbean, Seafood, Steakhouse, Italian and Chinese is within walking distance. My personal favourites are The Longhorn Steakhouse, Millers I-Drive Ale House and Keke’s for breakfast.
If you would like to see some detailed reviews of the above restaurants and more, head on over to TripAdvisor and search for Floridian_Fanatic. I’m a level 6 reviewer with years of travel and reviewing experience.
Star Wars Celebration Orlando will be a convention like no other! I hope I’ve given you some helpful thoughts and information that can make your trip a whole lot easier. I will at some point be doing a Q&A session maybe on Facebook/Twitter where I will answer the burning questions my European colleagues have been asking about Orlando.
I will also be doing an article focusing on your convention bag, where I will give you a detailed look at what comes with me to the convention each day. I hope you’ll find this useful and hopefully it will allow you to pick up some tips along the way.
If you have any questions about anything discussed in this article or would like more detailed information, head on over to Twitter or Facebook and search for the Star Wars Celebration 2017 fan page. You can of course get in touch with me via the website.
Until next time,
May The Force Be With You.