Area Codes -- The area code for Orlando is 407. Note: Because of its growth spurt, Orlando uses 10-digit dialing. If you're making a local call in Orlando's 407 area code region, even across the street, you must dial the 407 area code followed by the number you wish to call, for a total of 10 digits.
Automobile Organizations -- Motor clubs will supply maps, suggested routes, guidebooks, accident and bail-bond insurance, and emergency road service. AAA is the major auto club in the U.S. If you belong to a motor club in your home country, inquire about AAA reciprocity before you leave. You may be able to join AAA even if you're not a member of a reciprocal club; to inquire, call AAA (tel. 800/222-4357; www.aaa.com). AAA has a nationwide emergency road service phone number (tel. 800/AAA-HELP [222-4357]).
Babysitters -- Many Orlando hotels, including all of Disney's resorts, offer in-room babysitting, usually from an outside service such as Kid's Nite Out (tel. 800/696-8105 or 407/828-0920; www.kidsniteout.com) or All About Kids (tel. 800/728-6506 or 407/812-9300; www.all-about-kids.com). Rates for in-room sitters usually run $14 to $16 per hour for the first child and another $2 to $3 per hour for each additional child. A premium fee of $2 per hour (not per child) is often added for services provided during unusually early or late hours. A transportation fee of approximately $10 to $12 is usually charged as well. Several resorts offer child-care facilities with counselor-supervised activities right on the premises, including select Disney resorts (for kids ages 3-12; tel. 407/939-3463) and Universal Orlando's on-site resorts (for kids ages 4-14; tel. 407/503-2230, 407/503-2236, or 407/503-1200). This type of child care usually costs between $10 and $15 per hour, per child. Reservations are highly recommended and are often required for either type of service.
Business Hours -- Theme-park operating hours vary depending on the time of year, even on the day of the week. Although most open at 8 or 9am and close at 6 or 7pm, you should call or check the park's website for its most current schedule before arriving. Other businesses are generally open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Bars are usually open until 2am, with some after-hours clubs staying open into the wee hours of the morning (though the alcohol stops flowing at 2am).
Doctors & Dentists -- There are basic first-aid centers in all of the theme parks. There's also a 24-hour, toll-free number for the Poison Control Center (tel. 800/282-3171). To find a dentist, contact the Dental Referral Service (tel. 800/235-4111; www.dentalreferral.com).
Doctors on Call Service (tel. 407/399-3627) makes house and room calls in most of the Orlando area, including the Disney resorts. Centra Care has several walk-in clinics listed in the Yellow Pages, including ones on Sand Lake Road, near Universal (tel. 407/851-6478); at Lake Buena Vista, near Disney (tel. 407/934-2273); and on U.S. 192 (W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.), in the Formosa Gardens shopping center (tel. 407/397-7032). The Medical Concierge (tel. 407/648-5252; www.themedicalconcierge.com) makes "hotel house calls," has a walk-in clinic (listed in the Yellow Pages), arranges emergency dental appointments, and rents medical equipment.
Drinking Laws -- The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required and often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so it's always a good idea to bring ID when you go out. No liquor is served in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Alcoholic drinks are available, however, at the other Disney parks, at SeaWorld, and are quite evident at Universal Orlando's parks (even more so at its seasonal celebrations). Bars are required to stop serving alcohol at 2am, but don't necessarily close at that time. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption -- the police can fine you on the spot. Florida blue laws prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sundays before noon in Orange County and before 1pm in Osceola County. And nothing will ruin your trip faster than getting a citation for DUI ("driving under the influence"), so don't even think about driving while intoxicated.
Electricity -- Like Canada, the United States uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220 to 240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Downward converters that change 220 to 240 volts to 110 to 120 volts are difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.
Embassies & Consulates -- All embassies are in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Some consulates are in major U.S. cities, and most nations have a mission to the United Nations in New York City. If your country isn't listed below, call for directory information in Washington, D.C. (tel. 202/555-1212) or check www.embassy.org/embassies.
The embassy of Australia is at 1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202/797-3000; www.usa.embassy.gov.au). Consulates are in New York, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
The embassy of Canada is at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 (tel. 202/682-1740; www.canadainternational.gc.ca/washington). Consulates are in Buffalo (N.Y.), Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.
The embassy of Ireland is at 2234 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/462-3939; www.embassyofireland.org). Consulates are in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other cities. See the website for a complete listing.
The embassy of New Zealand is at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/328-4800; www.nzembassy.com). Consulates are in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The embassy of the United Kingdom is at 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/588-6500; http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk). Consulates are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Emergencies -- Call tel. 911 to report a fire, contact the police, or get an ambulance. This call is free from all public telephones and should be the first call made in case of any serious medical emergency or accident.
The Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, the state tourism promotions board, sponsors a help line (tel. 800/647-9284). With operators speaking more than 100 languages, it can provide general directions and help with lost travel papers and credit cards, minor medical emergencies, accidents, money transfer, airline confirmation, and more.
Gasoline -- At press time, in the U.S., the cost of gasoline (also known as gas, but never petrol), was once again on the rise, with prices hovering at around $3.79 a gallon. Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons. Fill-up locations are known as gas or service stations.
Hospitals -- Dr. P. Phillips Hospital (formerly the Sand Lake Hospital), 9400 Turkey Lake Rd. (tel. 407/351-8500), is about 2 miles south of Sand Lake Road. From the WDW area, take I-4 east to the Sand Lake Road exit and make a left on Turkey Lake Road. The hospital is 2 miles up on your right. To avoid the highway, take Palm Parkway (off Apopka-Vineland near Hotel Plaza Blvd.); it turns into Turkey Lake Road. The hospital is 2 miles up on your left. Florida Hospital Celebration Health, 400 Celebration Place (tel. 407/303-4000), is located in the near-Disney town of Celebration. From I-4, take the U.S. 192 exit. At the first traffic light, turn right onto Celebration Avenue. At the first stop sign, take another right.
Insurance -- The outlay for an Orlando vacation can be considerable, especially if you're buying a vacation package or renting a home while in the city. If you're traveling during hurricane season, have a medical condition, have to shell out a lot of money in advance of your trip, or if your vacation package is nonrefundable, do consider obtaining travel insurance. For information on traveler's insurance, trip-cancelation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, please visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Laundromats -- Stand-alone laundromats are not widespread throughout the tourist districts; however, there are two within a relatively close drive: Coin-A-Magic, 1415 John Young Pkwy. (at the intersection of Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy.), Kissimmee (tel. 407/933-1828); and Laundry Express & Cleaner (closest to International Dr.), 5360 S. John Young Pkwy. (tel. 407/345-4777). Several area hotels and resorts do have on-site self-service laundry facilities. Generally, these are coin-operated and charge about $1.50 to do a load of wash and another $1.50 to dry.
Legal Aid -- While driving, if you are pulled over for a minor infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as attempted bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail, or directly into the hands of the clerk of the court. If accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. In the U.S., the burden is on the state to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone has the right to remain silent, whether he or she is suspected of a crime or actually arrested. Once arrested, a person can make one telephone call to a party of his or her choice. The international visitor should call his or her embassy or consulate.
Lost Children -- Every theme park has a designated spot for adults to be reunited with lost children (or lost spouses -- it happens). Ask where it is when you enter the park (or consult the free park guide map), and instruct your children to ask park personnel (not a stranger) to take them there if they get separated from you. Point out what park personnel look like so they will know whom to go to. Children age 7 and younger should wear name-tags inside their clothing (if you're carrying a cellphone, put the number on the tag).
Mail -- At press time, domestic postage rates were 29¢ for a postcard and 44¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to 1 ounce costs 98¢ (80¢ to Canada and Mexico); a first-class postcard costs the same as a letter. For more information go to www.usps.com.
If you aren't sure what your address will be in the U.S., mail can be sent to you, in your name, c/o General Delivery at the main post office of the city or region where you expect to be. (Call tel. 800/275-8777 for information on the nearest post office.) The addressee must pick up mail in person and must produce proof of identity (driver's license, passport, and so on). Most post offices will hold mail for up to 1 month, and are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
The post office most convenient to Disney and Universal is at 10450 Turkey Lake Rd. (tel. 407/351-2492), open Monday through Friday from 9am to 7pm, Saturday from 9am to 5pm. A smaller location, closer to Disney, is at 8536 Palm Pkwy., in Lake Buena Vista, just up the road from Hotel Plaza Boulevard (tel. 407/238-0223). If all you need is to buy stamps and mail letters, you can do that at most hotels.
Always include zip codes when mailing items in the U.S. If you don't know your zip code, visit www.usps.com/zip4.
Maps -- Maps of the Orlando area can be found online at www.visitflorida.com and www.visitorlando.com, as well as at the official visitor center and at most area hotels. Maps of the Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld parks can be found on their respective websites, as well as at the theme parks themselves.
Newspapers & Magazines -- The Orlando Sentinel is the major local newspaper, but you can also purchase the Sunday editions of other papers (most notably, the New York Times) in some hotel gift shops or bookstores such as Barnes & Noble or Borders. Don't count on finding daily editions of West Coast papers, such as the Los Angeles Times, without making special arrangements. The Friday edition of the Sentinel includes extensive entertainment and dining listings, as does the newspaper's website, www.orlandosentinel.com. Orlando Weekly is a free alternative paper that has a lot of entertainment and art listings focused on events outside tourist areas.
Packing -- Airline baggage fees being what they are, packing light has become a financial requirement. There are, however, a few items that you should definitely pack: a sweater or sweatshirt (no matter what time of year, Orlando evenings can range from cool to downright cold, and when restaurants blast the air-conditioning, it can get quite uncomfortable to dine while shivering in short sleeves); a swimsuit; comfortable broken-in shoes and several pairs of socks (pounding the theme-park pavement in a pair of new shoes -- or shoes without socks -- will almost always result in painful blisters); a hat; and a big bottle of sunscreen (a must to protect from the strong sun). In an effort to make life a bit easier, most area hotels offer some sort of laundry service (whether self-serve or valet), so if you don't mind doing the wash, you can easily cut down on the amount of clothing you bring along. Leave room in your suitcase (if at all possible) to bring home souvenirs, or pack a small collapsible bag to accommodate your purchases on the trip home. Only a select few restaurants (such as Victoria & Albert's) and nightclubs carry a dress code -- otherwise casual clothing is in order, no matter where you go. For more helpful information on packing for your trip, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Photography -- Orlando is a magnet for shutterbugs. If you're still shooting film, 2-hour film processing is available at all major parks. Look for the PHOTO EXPRESS signs. You can buy film, batteries, and disposable cameras in all of the theme parks, but you'll save money on almost everything if you shop at drugstores, such as Walgreens, or local grocery stores. These places often run specials for discounted processing or free double prints, saving you a significant amount of money. They're listed in the yellow pages under "Photo Finishing." The parks carry only a small selection of memory cards for digital cameras; if you need rechargeable batteries, you will have to go to one of the many camera shops found just outside park property.
Police -- Call tel. 911 in an emergency.
Smoking -- If you're a smoker, light up where and when you can. Smoking is prohibited in many of Florida's public places. While some bars have smoking areas and most hotels have smoking rooms, many are eliminating them. You're still permitted to inhale in most outdoor areas, but these areas are limited to restricted spots at Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld parks. Note: Don't expect to light up during dinner. In 2002, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that bans smoking in public work places, including restaurants and bars that serve food. Stand-alone bars that serve virtually no food as well as designated smoking rooms in hotels are exempt.
Taxes -- The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city may levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks and airline tickets. These taxes will not appear on price tags. In Orlando, a 6% to 7.5% sales tax (depending on the local county you happen to be in) is charged on all goods, with the exception of most edible grocery-store items and medicines. Hotels add another 5% to 6% in resort taxes to your bill, so the total tax on accommodations can run up to 13.5%.
Time -- Orlando is in the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone, which is 1 hour later than Chicago, 3 hours later than Los Angeles, 5 hours earlier than London, and 12 hours earlier than Sydney. The continental United States is divided into four time zones: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), and Pacific Standard Time (PST). Alaska and Hawaii have their own zones. For example, when it's 9am in Los Angeles (PST), it's 7am in Honolulu (HST),10am in Denver (MST), 11am in Chicago (CST), noon in New York City (EST), 5pm in London (GMT), and 2am the next day in Sydney.
Daylight saving time is in effect from 1am on the second Sunday in March to 1am on the first Sunday in November, except in Arizona, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
For help with time translations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Tipping -- In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip the chamber staff $1 to $2 per day (more if you've left a big mess for him or her to clean up). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip the valet-parking attendant $1 to $2 every time you get your car.
In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment, and tip valet-parking attendants $1 to $2 per vehicle.
As for other service personnel, tip cab drivers 15% of the fare; tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage); and tip hairdressers and barbers 15% to 20%.
For help with tip calculations, currency conversions, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Toilets -- You won't find public toilets or "restrooms" on the streets in most U.S. cities, but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and service stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities. Restaurants and bars in resorts or heavily visited areas may reserve their restrooms for patrons.