Before entering theme parks and major entertainment areas, everyone passes through metal detectors and bags are searched. To speed processing, approach staff with all enclosures unzipped, unbuttoned, and ready for inspection.

Drawstring bags are quicker to search than zipper-laden ones, but you’ll save the most time if you don’t have a bag because you’ll bypass some screening lines.

Banned: Booze, glass containers, selfie sticks, wheelie sneakers, costumes on anyone age 14 and over. And weapons, duh.

Privacy: To validate your ticket at theme park gates, you must place a finger on a clear plate. That fingerprint is “married” to your ticket so that no one else can use it. Disney swears your personal information is eventually expunged from the system, but what it doesn’t publicize is that if you do not wish for your fingerprint to be scanned, you may use standard identification instead, right there at the gate.

Parents can use their own finger in place of their child’s—if you do that, just don’t forget that you did, and keep using the same finger each time.

Common Ailments: Sun/Elements/Extreme Weather Exposure -- Limit your exposure to Florida's strong sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and, thereafter, during the hours from 11am to 2pm, when the sun is at its strongest. Use a sunscreen with the highest sun protection factor (SPF) available (especially for children), and apply it liberally. If you have children under a year old, check with your pediatrician before applying sunscreen -- some ingredients may not be appropriate for infants.

The hot Orlando sun (coupled with high humidity in the summer months) can easily cause you to overheat, even to the point of dehydration. Drink plenty of liquids (water is preferable to sugary or alcoholic drinks) throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty, to prevent any ill effects.

Dehydration can sneak up on you very quickly. Water fountains are free and plentiful.

If you are prone to chafing in humid conditions or after long walks, remember to wear appropriate clothing. 

Seek protection indoors or in a safe location during the city's not-infrequent summer electrical storms. Central Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., and while the storms are often stunning to watch, you do not want firsthand experience with a lightning strike.

Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld all have at least one first-aid station (usually staffed with medical personnel who can provide basic medical care) at each of the parks. If you feel ill or get injured while at your hotel, call tel. 911 if the situation is life-threatening; otherwise the hotel concierge will be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate medical personnel and/or services. Select hotels, including the Grande Lakes Orlando resort, have their own on-site doctors.

What to Do if You Get Sick Away from Home: Always carry a list of phone numbers that includes your hometown physician, your hometown pharmacy, and your insurance provider, as all will likely be necessary if you find yourself in need of medical attention while away from home. If you suffer from a chronic illness (or even if you're just under the weather prior to your departure), consult your doctor before leaving home. Always pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage (so they are readily available even if your checked luggage isn't), and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels, otherwise they may not make it through airport security.

If you do need medical assistance while traveling in or around Orlando, there are several options. Emergency rooms are available at the institutions listed under "Hospitals," in Fast facts. Centra Care ( operates walk-in-care facilities in Lake Buena Vista (12500 S. Apopka-Vineland or S.R. 535, near Downtown Disney; tel. 407/934-2273), and in Kissimmee (7848 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy. or U.S. 192, in the Formosa Gardens Plaza; tel. 407/397-7032). Additional centers (slightly farther from the tourist district) are listed in the local yellow pages. A free pickup service (tel. 407/938-0650) for those in need of transportation to one of these facilities is available, as is in-room care for minor injuries and ailments (tel. 407/238-2000).

Another good source in the Orlando area is the Medical Concierge, a division of the EastCoast Medical Network (tel. 407/648-5252;, with board-certified physicians available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for good old-fashioned house calls in the comfort of your hotel room. They also provide same-day emergency dental appointments as well as medical equipment rentals. Insurance receipts, insurance billing, and foreign-language interpretation are provided.

Keep in mind that if you require medical assistance while traveling, it is always best to contact your hometown physician (or pediatrician) as well as your insurance provider as quickly as possible, preferably before you seek outside medical attention, to ensure that you are fully aware of what is covered, what is not, and what your financial responsibility will likely be. Many insurance companies require some type of preapproval for out-of-town services, or they may not cover any or all of the expenses incurred.


Just because Minnie, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy all live here doesn't mean that a few seedy characters aren't lurking about as well. Even in the most magical place on earth, you shouldn't let your guard down; Orlando has a crime rate that's comparable to that of other large U.S. cities. Stay alert and remain aware of your surroundings. It's best to keep your valuables in a safe. Most hotels today are equipped with in-room safes or offer the use of a safety-deposit box at the front desk. Keep a close eye on your valuables when you're in public places, including restaurants, theaters, and even airport terminals. Renting a locker at the theme parks is always preferable to leaving your valuables in the trunk of your car. Be cautious, even when in the parks, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash in a backpack or fanny pack, which could easily be accessed while you're standing in line for a ride or show. And don't leave valuables unattended under a stroller -- that's pretty much asking for them to be stolen.

If you're renting a car while in Orlando, read the safety instructions provided by the rental company. Never stop for any reason in a suspicious, poorly lit, or unpopulated area, and remember that children should never ride in the front seat of a car equipped with air bags.

Look Both Ways -- Traveling on foot anywhere in Orlando, especially on International Drive, can be tricky. If you have to walk across a parking lot or street, be careful. The Surface Transportation Policy Project's pedestrian safety report has named Orlando the most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians. Many drivers here are from other countries or are distracted by families and unfamiliar surroundings. Though walking up and down the sidewalks on I-Drive or U.S. 192 can be an enjoyable way to get to a restaurant or minigolf course without having to pack up the car, you need to pay strict attention when it comes to crossing the street, and you should avoid crossing multiple-lane roads altogether.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.