This is a mall as much as an airport. Orlando International Airport (airport code MCO) works hard to make your airport experience as entertaining as any Orlando tourist spot. The two-sided Main Terminal has shop-lined corridors, and a lush, foliage-filled Atrium complete with a fountain and plenty of comfortable seating. There are 36 shops, 23 restaurants, 6 bars, a microbrewery, and a hotel. MCO also is a place to see nightly fireworks displays, space shuttle launchings, and panoramic views of Orlando. We recommend flying into this airport from the UK with Virgin Atlantic.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk through the entire Main Terminal, and onto one of the shuttle trams that take passengers out to the gates. Information centers are at the 2 gate entrance areas. To get your bearings, pick up a terminal map, an airport art collection guide, and a shops and services brochure. For US$2, luggage carts can be rented from numerous machines, accepting cash or credit cards.
Food, Fitness, Beauty Care, and Lounging About
For fine dining with a ninth-floor view of airfield and of space shuttle launches, go to the Hemisphere restaurant in the on-site Hyatt Regency Hotel at the east end of the terminal. The hotel also has a less formal restaurant called McCoy's.
Or just to relax, head to the eight-story Atrium in the Hyatt Regency. You'll find comfortable seats and fountains that can lull you to sleep. If you need a more serious nap, ask about the hotel's day rate, as low as US$60 depending on the level of demand. Day guests also get access to the hotel's health club.
Profiles Express Hair Salon (on the B side of the mall corridor) is a full-service unisex salon offering hair styling, pedicures, and massage therapy. (Tel. +1 407 825-6485.)
For serious business tasks, visit the staffed business center in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Laptop Lane also rents fully-equipped mini-offices by the minute, in the hotel Atrium. A self-serve business center is on the east side of the Main Terminal, adjacent to the security checkpoints for gates 60-99. Fax, telephone, mailing, photocopying, computer, and internet-access services are located here, along with several small alcoves. Telephone dataports and internet kiosks are located throughout the airport.
A Window Shopping Experience
Caution: you might find yourself so swept away that you'll forget to catch a plane. Even if you're not buying, the shops are entertaining. Two corridors of shops and concessions connect the Main Terminal areas. "Street pricing" is in effect, so souvenirs cost the same (or less) as at the area malls.
The Great Hall is the central area that includes the Bow Wow Meow pet memorabilia, Disney Magic, and the Universal Studios Store. At the Warner Brothers Studio store, an oversized Bugs Bunny sports tourist duds. The SeaWorld shops have huge aquariums filled with colorful fish.
The North Walk connects the Great Hall to the Hotel Atrium on the A side of the terminal. Here you'll find Altitunes for CDs, a Bon Voyage Travel Store, an Eletronics Boutique, a large Discovery Channel Store, Toobs Toys and Games, and numerous jewelry, perfume, souvenir, and watch shops.
The South Walk connects the Great Hall to the Hotel Atrium on the B side. This features The Museum Store which has a large toy section, The Body Shop, Wilson Leather Goods, and Speedo Authentic Fitness.
An extensive public art collection features works from such renowned artists as Jacob Lawrence, Miriam Schapiro, and Edward Campos. The new concourse area for gates 100-129 is decorated with impressive stained glass windows and a mosaic floor imbedded with images of Florida's native flora and fauna.
There are numerous noteworthy sculptures. In the Main Terminal, be sure to look behind the potted plants by the elevators near the security checkpoint to gates 1-59. That's where Duane Hanson's realistic life-size bronze statue, The Traveler, is stashed. The sculpture is of a stereotypical tourist who's fallen asleep. (He used to be out in the open, but too many people kept touching him as if to wake him up.) And don't skip the parking garage, where sculptures of armadillos, pelicans, eagles, and other animals help you remember where you parked.
For genuine extraterrestrial rocks, be sure to examine the glass display cases located along the moving walkways in the mall corridor on the B side of the terminal. They're filled with items on loan from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
For free panoramic views head to the 10th floor of the terminal-top parking garage. From here you can see the airplanes taking off, the Orlando skyline, the Epcot Center's Spaceship Earth, and the numerous nightly fireworks displays at the theme parks.
Favorite activities for children include inspecting the space rocks and NASA souvenirs on display in the mall area. And if you're lucky, you might be on time to watch a diver feed the fish in the SeaWorld Store aquariums. The theme park stores are an obvious home run, and there's a game arcade on the A side of the mall corridor. Very small children can work off some energy at the children’s play areas located several places. Seating areas in the Main Terminal also feature low chairs designed to make the airport's younger customers feel welcome.