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How to Get From SFB (Sanford Airport) to Universal Studios

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is usually one of the cheapest airports to fly into to get to Universal Studios because Allegiant Airlines flies into SFB. Though you may save money on the budget flights that use the SFB airport, you will be further away from the theme parks.

How do you get from SFB to Universal Studios?

Is the extra driving time or extra expense of the transportation to Orlando worth it?

Here are all of the transportation options from SFB to Universal Studios Orlando.

Where is SFB Located?

Though SFB is known as Orlando Sanford International Airport, it is definitely NOT located in the city of Orlando!

Sanford is a city outside of Orlando known for its natural attractions and less crowds, compared to Orlando. Which makes it nice to fly into, but you have got to get from the city to Orlando.

The Sanford Airport is located approximately 37 miles from Universal Studios Orlando. It is located northwest of the theme parks on the way towards Kennedy Space Center and Canaveral National Seashore.

How Long Does it Take to Get from Sanford Airport to Universal Studios?

It takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour to get from Orlando Sanford Airport to Universal Studios.

Depending on whether it is a holiday, a weekend, or rush hour, it could take longer than an hour in heavy traffic.

Sanford Airport vs Orlando Airport (MCO)

Why choose the Sanford Airport if it is farther away from Universal Studios?

SFB is a smaller airport, which means less crowds and faster times going through security.

Check In Area for SFB Airport

Along with fewer crowds and less stress, though, you will find less amenities, fewer food options (they are very limited at SFB) and not as many flights, which can be problematic if you are rebooking.

Allegiant Airlines flies into Sanford Airport and it is a major hub for the discount carrier. If you are trying to book less expensive flights on Allegiant, then you will need to fly into SFB. Allegiant does NOT fly into MCO.

As an Orlando resident, I would choose flights out of Sanford Airport instead of MCO when possible. Even when I was living across the street from Universal Orlando and MCO would have been much closer, since it is the closest airport to Universal Studios! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flown into and out of Sanford Airport over the years. I’ve lost track, but it definitely is my choice for less stress.

How to Get from SFB to Universal Studios

There are several ways to get from the Sanford Airport to Universal Studios Orlando, including:

  • Rideshare (Uber or Lyft)
  • Taxi
  • Shuttle Service
  • Renting a Car


The two ride share companies that operate from SFB are Uber and Lyft.

Insider Tip: Prices for Uber and Lyft are usually not the same and can vary greatly. It is smart to download both apps before leaving on your vacation so that you can compare prices.

Both ride share companies can provide cars for larger parties at a higher cost.

Uber offers the following upgrade options:

  • Vehicles with car seats
  • Pet-friendly vehicles
  • Electric or eco-friendly transportation options
  • Wheelchair accessible vehicles
  • Ride sharing with other passengers

When using a ride share program, the pick-up and drop-off locations are in designated spaces across the street (not a major street, the street that runs in front of the airport for drop offs and pick ups) from Baggage Claim areas 1-3.

Sanford Airport Map Showing Rideshare and Taxi Locations
The road to cross to get to the ride share location at SFB

As at any airport, you do not want to request a ride share until you are off the plane, through immigration (if flying internationally), and have collected your luggage from baggage claim. A driver will not wait for you more than 5 minutes or so (per the official rules of the program) and you will need to pay a fee if they show up and leave because you were not there.

Insider Tip: Using a ride share program can be great because the payment system is located in the app. Which means you don’t have to give your credit card to the driver to process payment or need to have U.S. cash on hand. Even the tip can be paid through the app.

Should you pre-book an Uber or Lyft? We personally would not. Pre-booking can result in higher costs (an insider tip shared by an Uber driver). Plus, there is no need since the airports are so popular there are usually always drivers available, even late at night.

See where the Ride Share Drop-Off Locations are at Universal Studios Orlando.


If you don’t want to use a ride sharing service, a taxi is also another great way to have a driver bring you to Universal Studios without needing to schedule a transportation time in advance.

In fact, using a taxi is the quickest and most convenient way of getting transportation from the airport to the theme parks because you do not need to request a driver or schedule a driver in advance. However, that convenience will usually result in a higher cost than other transporation services.

Mears officially operates taxis at the Orlando Sanford Airport.

If you are not familiar with Orlando’s transportation options, Mears is the biggest transportation company and has been in operation for more than 75 years. This is also the company that used to run Disney’s Magical Express from the airport.

Mears taxis departing from SFB cannot be scheduled from their website or app. You must get a taxi in person at the airport.

Taxis will be available in designated zones across the street from Baggage Claim areas 1-3.

Orlando taxis will take payment from a credit card or with cash.

Related Post: What to Pack in a Diaper Bag for the Plane (10 Essentials)

Luxury Car Service

If you want to drive in luxury from Orlando Sanford Airport to Universal Orlando, you will want to hire a luxury car service.

Mears offers Luxury Sedans, SUVs and Vans through their service known as Mears Luxe. You will have a chauffeur and a more comfortable vehicle compared to taxis or most ride share options.

Choosing a luxury car service definitely is going to cost more.

A recent price quote for a luxury sedan from Orlando Sanford Airport to Universal Studios Florida for two people with two bags was $176.

Compare that price with an Uber or Lyft and you can see that it is almost 3X as much.

However, luxury car service from Mears ranges from sedans to vans that will accommodate up to 8 people. This might be worth it for you if you have a large family and want peace of mind by scheduling transportation ahead of time.

Related Post: Universal Hotel Rooms for a Family of 8

The price quote for a luxury van for 8 people and 8 bags was the same as a luxury sedan for 2 people and 2 bags at the time of my booking.

Which breaks down to $22 per person for the luxury van for 8 people, while it costs $88 per person using a luxury sedan for 2 people.

Shuttle Service

Shuttle services can be more affordable ways to get transportation from SFB to Universal Studios, however they must be arranged in advance which can be frustrating.

There is a HUGE array of shuttle services that depart from Sanford Airport to Universal Studios. In fact, there are so many it can be challenging deciding which one to use.

The Universal Express shuttle bus service for guests of Universal Studios hotels does NOT operate from SFB at this time.

Mears does not operate a shuttle bus from Sanford International Airport. Their shuttle service is only from MCO.

Use this list to see what shuttle services are operating from SFB to Universal Orlando.

In general, shuttles are cost effective if you are a solo travel or a couple. When there are 3 or more people, the prices start to become more expensive than a ride share cost, plus there is the inconvenience of needing to arrange shuttles in advance and booking tickets.

Related Post: Hotels with Shuttles to Universal Studios

Rental Car

Renting a car at the airport to drive yourself to Universal Studios can be ideal if you will be traveling to many different areas in Orlando or if you want extra time to stop and go shopping for food or souvenirs.

However, renting a car will come with additional costs beyond the car rental fee and taxes. And you will need to navigate the often-congested Orlando highways and roadways.

You will need to pay for tolls on many roads in Orlando, in addition to possibly paying for parking at your destination.

At Universal Studios on-site hotels, there is a parking fee each night for hotel guests. There is also a parking fee for using Universal Orlando garage for the theme parks and Universal CityWalk.

Plus, you will need to pay for gas that is used during your visit.

Be sure to add up all of the money you will spend by renting a car before deciding on this option.

The rental car companies at Sanford Airport are:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National

If you need an accessible mini-van rental, those can be reserved through DiscountMobilityUSA.

Driving from SFB to Universal Studios

It is always best to use Google Maps or a similar navigation program to see the best way to get from Sanford Airport to Universal Studios. You will want to check for traffic delays and see which route makes sense at that time.

In general, you will need to start with taking the 417 from Sanford towards Orlando.

From the 417, you can choose to take I-4, which typically is very crowded and goes through downtown Orlando, or you can take the 528, a toll road which actually goes past the Orlando International Airport.

If you do decide to use MCO instead of SFB for your flights, here are all the ways of how to get from Orlando International Airport to Universal Studios.

No matter where you are flying, be sure to see these helpful guides: