OK, so it’s only a month late, but Happy belated Valentine’s Day! Hope everyone had a delightful and loving day with their family and/or significant other. Here’s a happy little fun gift I gave Steve (DOS) for Valentine’s. We haven’t been to Disney World in months, so I thought I’d bring a little Mickey to DOS!
For us, Valentine’s Day, (like Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s etc) is a special time when we want to share a nice dinner together, but honestly eating out at restaurants on these holidays, is not always the best time to go, due to everyone else wanting to eat out as well. In short, even at nice places (if you can get a reservation), service can be rushed or alternatively very slow due to staffing and/or turning over tables quicker due to the high demand, as well as possibly running out of your favorite dish. Also elaborate “Valentine’s Specials” can be a bit foo-foo fancy with things we have no interest in eating, or worse yet for me, too high in sodium. Normally on Valentine’s we just fix a nice meal at home, and celebrate a meal out a day or two later, without the hectic Valentine’s Day obligatory pressure of dining out.
This year, Steve (DOS) did want to take me out (celebrating Heart Day), but couldn’t find a decent place still accepting reservations. As we had a couple Hyatt Hotel award nights that were expiring at the end of February, we decided to stay overnight at the Hyatt Regency Orlando (MCO) Airport. We’ve stayed there many times, but normally when we are arriving late or departing for a flight. It’s an excellent hotel, and super convenient as it’s located pre-airside in the main terminal, super convenient for getting some rest before or after flights.
The main terminal now has a monorail-like tram that just opened connecting it to the new Brightline Train Station and new International Terminal; more on that in a moment.
As we checked into the Hyatt MCO in the early afternoon, we had plenty of time to get our daily walking exercise done. Like walking in a mall, the airport is huge and great for walking (pre-airside since we weren’t flying anywhere). Walking around Orlando Airport is always fun, with all of the Disney Murals, Universal Studios, Sea World, NASA and others. Great photo ops!
We walked around the main Terminal that leads to Terminals A and B for a while, which we know very well as we normally fly out of Terminal B.
And here’s where it gets a bit confusing. Terminal C just recently opened, and it is the largest terminal in Orlando (MCO) Airport. At the time of this post, Terminal C handles some (but not all) of the international flights and all Jet Blue flights (both their domestic and international ones) as well. So if flying out of Orlando (or even if you’re just picking someone up), you need to pay close attention to what terminal the airline flies out of, preferably before you get to the airport.
Here is a link to Orlando International Airport (MCO), showing which airlines fly out of which terminal.
Here’s a pic I took on the tram that shows what airlines depart from which terminal. This is accurate as of this Feb 14 post, but subject to change over time, so definitely verify with the airline or airport as to your airline’s departure terminal ahead of time.
For all domestic flights (except Jet Blue), passengers still use Terminal A and B. For now, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, Westjet, Copa, and several other International Carriers and flights still use either Terminal A or B. Terminal C, which now handles many of the international flights, however, is located quite far from the existing Terminals A and B, and even has a different parking garage, so it’s best to go to the correct terminal to start with, instead of trying to figure this out when you get to the airport dragging your luggage around.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Even as I was writing this, the airlines departing Terminal C was confusing, both via a Google search, and even sections of the Orlando Airport site itself, due to flight numbers and updates. Pay close attention to your Airline’s flight number as it may be a CODE SHARE with another airline (this would be noted often in small print “operated by Airline, i.e. British Airways or other”).
For example American Airlines continues to fly out of Terminal B, however it offers codeshare flight numbers with British Airways, which actually flys out of Terminal C. If you had are on a codeshare booked American flight, but it is OPERATED nonstop by British Airways, you would fly out of Terminal C (not American’s Terminal B). Similar codeshare arrangements are with United, Lufthansa (and others) who codeshare flights. You need to make sure you are checking in at the correct airline and terminal to save valuable time waiting in line only to be told you’re at the wrong airline. This is especially true with code-share connecting flights; i.e.a British Airways flight number that connects in New York for example, but the outbound flight from MCO is on a domestic American flight out of Terminal B (not C, which would be correct for a British Airways NONSTOP flight out of Orlando.). Confusing as heck I know, and I don’t like code-shares for this reason, among others, not just in Orlando but any international destination as well.
The tram to Terminal C is located next to Terminal “B” on the Delta side of the terminal and is a bit confusing as you walk to the tram entrance to the right of where the Delta/Virgin Atlantic passengers are exiting from Terminal B. If you happen to be walking towards the Terminal C entrance when a terminal B tram just arrived you may feel like you’re going the wrong way with the rush of arrival travelers hurriedly heading your way. This happened to us, and even though we knew where we were going, it would be a pain trying to circumvent all those travelers with your checked luggage; like driving down a busy one-way street the wrong way! In my humble opinion, they should at least have a rope divider so the deplaning tram passengers exit away from the incoming tram C passengers.
Note: The new C Terminal is not airside from the Main Orlando Airport Terminals, as TSA security is performed at the C Terminal itself. Per the airport’s overhead sign, the total transit from “B” to “C” takes about 14 minutes via the combined monorail-like tram to the Train Station and Terminal C parking garage, and then the continued walkway to the actual Terminal C.
To get to the new Terminal C, there is a tram that takes you (part of the way there) linking the Main MCO Terminal on the Delta Airlines “B side” to the new Brightline Train Station and C Terminal Parking Garage. From the Train Station, however, you still have a bit of a walk to the actual Terminal C. Why the airport didn’t extend the tram all the way to Terminal C, or even put in a moving sidewalk is a mystery to us?
I didn’t start this post to be a review of the new Terminal C, but the more I thought about it, I thought I’d post some photos of the new terminal, and offer some tips and advice for navigating it. First of all, the new Terminal C is GIGANTIC! It’s like they built the terminal for the next century of growth, although as it stands now, it feels quite excessive, with lots of empty space, and no moving sidewalks to speed along the journey in-between the tram and the terminal.
Terminal C definitely feels modern and spacious with high ceilings and multi-levels, although as some of the workers I talked to there there said, “it was opened a bit too soon before it was completed”, which I tend to agree. Terminal C really does feel like a lot of wasted space, and at least pre-airside there aren’t very many seats for such a mega amount of space, and it is definitely lacking the food and other concessions that are available in the Main Terminal, pre-security.
International passengers arriving in Terminal C gather their bags and clear Immigration and Customs “back stage” in Terminal C, and exit via a different set of doors for International Arrivals, than the domestic Jet Blue arrivals. Jet Blue domestic arrivals reclaim their luggage in the public Terminal C area, which is actually on the top floor, so it’s a bit more convenient to take cabs, shuttle buses, Uber etc, as well as the bus to the Main Terminal.
There are various escalators and elevators leading to check-in, gates, arrivals, and baggage claim, but as Terminal C is so large this may leave you wondering where you are supposed to be for what. If you know you are flying out of Terminal C, it is best to be dropped off directly at Terminal C, and if driving your car, park in the Terminal C garage for convenience.
Please note that for now, Virgin Atlantic, Delta International flights and a few other International carriers still utilize Terminals A and B. I mention that because Virgin Atlantic has several flights daily and is located in Terminal B (along with Delta), while British Airways is now in Terminal C, in case you have a group of friends arriving or departing on one or both carriers which service lots of UK passengers.
There is a shuttle bus to take you from Terminal C to Terminals A and B, which you will need to use if you get a rental car other than National, Budget, or Sixt.
These three rental car companies have their cars located in the garage at Terminal C, while all the others (at least at the time of this post) require you to shuttle back to Terminal A or Terminal B to pick up your rental car. Some of the other rental car companies such as Hertz, Thrifty, Dollar and others have check-in counters in Terminal C and you may drop your car off there on return, but you still have to take either take the tram shuttle/walk over to Terminals A or B use the complimentary intra-terminal bus to pick up your car. If you have luggage it would be advisable to take the shuttle bus back to the Main Terminal rather than walking/taking the tram.
Maybe it’s just me, but after a long international flight, I would pick one of the three car rentals (National, Budget, or Sixt, at least for now until the rental car garage is finished, just for the convenience of not dragging my luggage a fairly considerable distance to the shuttle bus and then going to a different terminal to pick up your car. You can walk to Terminal A/B, via the Train Station and monorail-tram from there, but it’s a 14 minute transit, and surprisingly for such a modern terminal, there are no moving sidewalks either. If you are terminating in Terminal C, there are taxis, Uber/Lyft, hotel shuttles, etc and unlike Terminals A and B, the arrivals area for C is actually on the top level (vs the bottom level for the other terminals).
Anyway, enough of that. The new Terminal C is very nice, but it can definitely be a bit overwhelming for even seasoned travelers like us trying to navigate it for the first time, and fortunately we didn’t have any luggage to deal with. DOS and I are so exited, however, about the new Brightline high-speed train that will soon begin operating from Orlando (MCO) Airport to Miami (and later Tampa), with stops in West Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale. It will be so much easier and quicker than driving 3 1/2 hours to Ft Lauderdale or 4 to Miami for a cruise out of there, or even flying there from Orlando by the time you check-in with the airline, go thru security etc.
The Brightline Train Station connects to the C garage and the tram to terminal B, and like the Terminal C itself, it is mega-large and spacious, although it too seems to have an inadequate amount of seats relative to the massive space, at least for now. Also for such a massive terminal, the rest rooms were quite small in comparison. Hopefully more seats and concessions will be added prior to the Brightline service beginning this year, but the terminal passenger area looks to be competed.
After our walk-about thru of Terminal C and the Train Station, we headed back to our 10th floor (top floor) hotel room at the Hyatt Regency, conveniently located in the Main Terminal.
Back in our room, we could see part of the tram tracks heading to Terminal C from our balcony. Terminal C is located quite far from the other terminals, and the tram to it makes a sharp turn after leaving the Main Terminal, and the C terminal and C Garage could not be seen from our balcony. Still, we overlooked the Delta/Virgin Atlantic Airlines side of Terminal B, and two of the airport’s four parallel runways. We always love watching the planes landing and taking off from our runway-view balcony at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, or any airport for that matter.
Later on Valentine’s evening, DOS and I took the hotel elevator down to the lobby level, McCoy’s Restaurant, and had a nice and quiet dinner, and with no wait to be seated. The Orlando Hyatt Regency Airport (MCO) has two restaurants, Hemisphere’s (the fancy one on the 9th floor with a foo-foo fancy menu, and the more casual McCoy’s Restaurant on the 4th floor lobby level.)
We enjoyed the old Hemisphere’s from years ago (before it went through an extensive remodeling and exotic menu change), but don’t care for it now, even though it has a great view of the runway and sunsets. Hemisphere’s used to serve a nice breakfast buffet which we would always have when staying at the MCO Hyatt, but breakfast in Hemisphere’s ceased operating during COVID, and now breakfast (minus the buffet) is served in McCoy’s.
We choose McCoy’s for our Valentine’s Dinner, as there were no reservations until 9pm at Hemisphere’s, and we actually like the traditional American menu and know several of the servers at McCoy from going there many times. But truthfully, I’m not a big fan of Octopus, Mushroom Toast, Duck Wings, Beet Salad, Crawfish Chowder etc, that’s on the fancy-foo menu at Hemisphere’s! Even the entrees I enjoy (such as Salmon or Filet) are accompanied by side dishes I do not like such as “SMOKED ONION SOUBISE DEMI, SWEET POTATO FEIJOADA, FIRE RED PEPPERS, SEA ISLAND RED PEAS, ROASTED MUSHROOMS, PEPPADEW RELISH”, etc.
While no offense to people who like these fancy dishes, I’m more of a simple meat and potatoes guy, and I wish Hemisphere’s would at least have some more ‘normal’ appetizers such as Ahi-Tuna, Shrimp cocktail, simple Cesar Salad, and simple veggies etc along with their fancy items. Especially for a hotel restaurant in Orlando that has many families with small kids passing thru, I would think they would at least offer some more simple offerings along with the fancy stuff, not to mention business travelers who might not care for the menu, or in a hurry after coming in on a evening flight. Just my two cents though; DOS and I love nice restaurants, but the meal has to be something we would like!
I made DOS a photo card, with the front photo in the shape of a heart, a dual-meaning to Love and Thanks for all of the care he provided during my major open heart surgery last year, as well as my ongoing recovery days.
We had a nice and leisurely meal at McCoy’s with appetizers, entree, salad, and red wine, as well as excellent service without the Valentine’s Day rush. And great food, without the fancy-foo foo items I mentioned above!
After a leisurely dinner, we went back to the room, and I gave DOS a massage! Well, not that kind of a massage (LOL!); I gave him a massage device I bought on Amazon that supposedly helps relax your neck and shoulder muscles, and relieve lower back pain. From these pictures though, it actually looks like he was more in pain from using it!
The next day we got a late check-out, (Hyatt allows a 4pm checkout for Globalist members) and had a leisurely breakfast, again at McCoy’s, before heading home via the 30 minute drive. I had a huge breakfast of pancakes, and for the first time in months, a side of bacon, which I shared with DOS as I really only wanted a single slice of bacon. The bacon was a huge splurge for me due to the high sodium content, but with just a taste or two it was a treat.
Our Valentine’s overnight airport location was close to home, yes, but as an overnight stay-cation it felt so far away! And this time we weren’t even flying anywhere!