Orlando tourism officials ring bell for traffic-beating trolley

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ORLANDO -- International Drive, the city's seven-mile tourist corridor, can be intimidating, confusing and difficult to navigate.

A first-time arrival might describe it as neither pedestrian- nor vehicle-friendly.

But the I-Ride Trolley could be the solution.

The 33-seat trolley eliminates the need to rent a car and has the potential for expanding agent sales, according to a spokesman.

The newly upgraded system consists of 13 air-conditioned trolleys that travel more than 14 miles in a continual loop up and down International Drive, stopping at 60 locations.

"I-Drive" is home to the second-largest convention center in the U.S., with 375 shops, 150 restaurants and five theme parks (SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure and Wet 'n Wild.)

Luann Brooks, executive director of the International

Drive Improvement District, a quasi-governmental organization funded by a tax on I-Drive businesses, said that agents can do their clients a big favor by explaining the trolley system, which "provides an added value after guests arrive," she said.

The I-Ride Trolley travels the length of International Drive, stopping at five major theme parks, the convention center and numerous shops and restaurants. Other Central Florida tourist areas, such as Highway 192 in Kissimmee-St. Cloud and downtown Orlando, either provide such a service or have one planned.

"But no one is going to the extent we are," Brooks said, referring to the number of vehicles and stops.

The service operates seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and runs from Belz Outlet Mall to SeaWorld and back.

Ten-foot-tall markers, sequentially numbered and color-coordinated, denote each of the stops.

A further expansion of the route and more trolleys are in the works to accommodate a planned convention center expansion and two new hotels .

"By October, we will be able to provide service to 35,000 to 36,000 rooms, more than 90% of our hotels," Brooks said.

The single ticket price for a one-way ride is 75 cents for adults. Seniors age 65 and older pay 25 cents, and children ride free with an adult. Exact change is required.

One-, three-, five- and seven-day passes are available. Prices range from $2 for a one-day pass to $7 for a seven-day pass.

Agents can purchase the passes in bulk and resell them for face value. The discount for quantities of 100 to 2,500 is 15%; 2,501 to 5,000 is 20%, and 5001 and more is 25%.

Purchases accumulate from year to year to make the maximum discount easier to reach.

A spokesman advised agents to tell guests about the trolley system at the outset because "it can help in selling International Drive attraction tickets and rooms if they are paired with the trolley pass."

A campaign to promote the destination includes a just-published Official Visitors Guide with discount coupons.

To order, call (866) 213-7483 or visit I-Drive District's Web site at www.internationaldriveorlando.com.

For more on the service or to purchase passes in bulk, call Zina Talsma, district sales and promotions director, at (407) 248-9590, or e-mail her at [email protected].

The trolley Web site is at www.iridetrolley.com.

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