Skip to Content

Can You Fly a Drone at Orlando, Florida Area Attractions

Orlando Florida, aka City Beautiful. Land of tourists, entertainment, and attractions galore.

Can You Fly Drones at Orlando Florida Area Attractions
Universal’s Volcano Bay – Image Credit: Dan Bayne

Orlando is known for having quite a few popular Theme Parks, Water Parks and local attractions such as the likes of:

  • Universal Studios
  • Volcano Bay
  • Seaworld
  • Gatorland
  • Fun Spot
  • Icon Park
  • …and the list goes on and on.

Orlando area attractions, however, aren’t just in the physical City of Orlando. There are many surrounding cities and towns that also make up the Orlando Area, such as Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake (think Disney World), Winter Haven (Legoland) Apopka, and others.

Although there are many Orlando Attractions that do not fall within manned airspace (no LAANC needed), it is advisable not to fly from within the grounds of any attraction, or over them, without special permission, whether in Orlando or elsewhere.

If you decide to fly near an Orlando attraction, caution and considerations must be exercised as we’ll discuss.


When deciding to choose where and when to fly, the old adage applies to me: Although I can do something, should I?

In the drone community (whether hobbyists or commercial operators), many are keenly aware of their rights as drone operators, with a serious grasp of the laws put forth by the FAA.

Although this may be the case, there are many local governments and municipalities that put in place their own rules and regulations pertaining to drones, some of which blatantly clash with what the FAA has mandated and our rightful understanding of said laws and mandates.

This being the case, many might feel that certain places of businesses, in this particular case, area attractions and Amusement Parks, have no rightful say, in many instances, where a drone can and should be flown.

Again, the old adage applies: although I can do something, should I?

When it comes to the question of flying at Orlando Area Attractions (or other cities’ attractions), there are quite a few considerations that must be taken first in an effort to keep the public safe.

We’ll consider these areas, as well as look at some information I have acquired, pertaining to drones, that has been gathered in certain popular areas and attractions in the Orlando area.

This information might make it easier for drone operators when deciding what Orlando area attractions can or should be photographed.


Before flying anywhere in Orlando, regardless of whether near an attraction or not, attention to manned airspace needs to be a top priority.

Many are not aware of this, however, Disney World has had a standing NFZ (no-fly zone) surrounding it for the past 19 years, meaning that drones and even helicopters and planes are not allowed to fly within 3 miles of Disney. Doing so can incur stiff fines and/or jail time.

» MORE: Can you Fly a Drone at Disney World

Due to its worldwide popularity and appeal, Orlando has many airports and helipads.

If you’ve ever visited or lived in Orlando, seeing airplanes (whether passenger jets, seaplanes, or smaller single-engine planes) and helicopters (especially tourist helicopters) is a normal and frequent occurrence.

You will be sharing the sky with them.

If you are planning to fly near an Orlando Area attraction when visiting on vacation, or even if you are a resident, be sure to always check if the airspace is safe to do so and apply for LAANC authorization (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) where necessary.

» MORE: How to apply for LAANC Authorization

Property Ownership

This is a very important aspect to consider when deciding where you want to fly, if near an attraction.

While we all know the FAA has complete authority over the airspace above us in the United States, businesses and homeowners have a say as to who can actually be on their property and if someone can launch a drone from there.

To put this in perspective, let’s say there is a lake you’d like to take pictures or video of.

However, all of the access roads to and from the lake are on private property with everyone having a “no trespassing” sign up. The air above the lake is under the authority of the FAA. Can you get images of the lake?

Yes, you can. What you are not legally able to do is access the lake from anyone’s private property, without the land owners permission, as this is illegal.

You can, though, launch from a public area and take photos or videos of the lake from above.

If you are wanting to get some good shots of a local attraction from a distance, while launching from public property, you can surely do so as long as you are flying in a safe manner and not over people.

The image of Volcano Bay at the outset of this article was taken during the pandemic from across the street from an empty public parking lot.

The picture was then zoomed in and cropped in post, giving it the appearance of being taken from within the park.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Destin, Florida?

Crowds and Gatherings

Another consideration would be if you are going to be flying around crowds of people or large gatherings.

This is also very important, especially any time you are planning on shooting anywhere there is a possibility of people gathered together. As we are aware, flying over people is a no-no.

Because Orlando is such a tourist hot spot, in addition to the laws in place by the FAA about flying over people, there are local laws that specify that if there are gatherings of more than 1000 people, drones are to stay 50 feet away from the said gathering, as well as have a permit from the City of Orlando to fly near these large gatherings.

This information is even useful for those planning on snapping a few photos or shooting videos of local festivals that may attract thousands of people.

The number of people gathered together in a certain area puts yet another consideration in the mix when deciding how close to an Orlando area attraction you would like to shoot.


As can be seen here, there are a few very important things to initially consider when deciding what attraction you would like to shoot near:

  • Airspace restrictions
  • Private Property
  • Crowd size

Of course, these are just a fraction of the things that should be seriously considered.

Next, we’ll be looking at a few examples of local attractions along with information personally gathered that might help when deciding what attractions to fly near or if flying over or through them is permitted.

These examples in no way cover all of the situations one might fly in but give a small idea of what to expect around Orlando Area attractions and the steps that a drone operator can take.

Universal’s Volcano Bay

When taking pictures of Universal’s Volcano Bay, as mentioned prior, all of the shots were taken while launched from outside of the Resort during Covid when no visitors or guests were either in Volcano Bay or at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which houses Volcano Bay.

Universal’s Volcano Bay – Image Credit: Dan Bayne

The shot above was taken while above the hotel on the property. To get the above shot, the drone was flown over the area where the resort is located and not over the waterpark itself.

After this flight, upon speaking with various managers and having an actual sit-down with the head of security, I learned the following information, which should prove helpful for those looking to get footage of Water/Theme Parks in general:

Although there are no NFZs (no-fly zones) over the park or anti-drone warning zones anywhere near the park, flying over Volcano Bay could easily fall under the “could vs. should” argument. Can you fly over the park? SHOULD you fly over the park?

The Head of Security told me that Universal has a staff-enforced “air envelope” or bubble of sorts over their rides and if a drone flies within that envelope, the employees are instructed to shut down the rides until either the drone is gone from the vicinity OR the drone operator has been located and asked not to fly over the park AND complies.

If the pilot refuses, even though flying off-property, Orlando City Police are called in and the officers ask the operator to desist.

Does the attraction owner have the legal right to initiate these steps, if the drone operator is not on their property? While this could be argued in court, is it worth it?

Much of Volcano Bay’s reasoning is from a safety aspect. Since drones can drop payloads, amusement parks generally fear that something could be dropped from a drone onto or into the ride or ride path and cause an accident, injury, or death.

Likewise, they fear drones malfunctioning and falling onto the rides or park guests.

Another part of Universal’s concern is of pictures being taken of new or under-construction areas of the park and then those images or videos being leaked to the public via social media.

They are also concerned that pictures and videos of areas of the park under construction, that are an eye-sore, once put online, might deter potential visitors from going to the park.

All of this information makes sense and I appreciated the opportunity to get a bit more insight into why water and amusement parks (not just Volcano Bay) take such a strong stance when it comes to drones in the vicinity.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando

Here we have a resort-style hotel located in Universal’s massive property area.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel – Image Credit: Dan Bayne, AISCF Photography

This picture, like the Volcano Bay images, was taken during Covid, while there were no guests on the property. This image was captured while launching from the sidewalk on Universal Blvd, a public area (see below).

In this instance there isn’t much to be said of the shot, other than this was an Orlando area attraction that crossed no property boundaries, was not over people, and was taken from a safe distance away on public property.

To further add to their being no problem with this shot, management at Lowes Portofino actually liked the photo so much they worked out usage rights with me and the image was promptly used in their online initiatives which included, in part, Facebook and Instagram.

This is an instance where there were no issues whatsoever about taking pictures of an Orlando area attraction. Had the picture been taken from directly above the property, there might have been discussions in the works about doing so.

The Wheel at Icon Park

Icon Park is located on International Blvd and is home to restaurants, museums, some amusement rides, and The Wheel – a 400-foot-high Ferris wheel.

The Wheel at Icon Park – Image Credit: Dan Bayne

The area is a social media mecca, with many many visitors taking pictures posing in front of various waterways and structures (especially The Wheel).

What is the policy for taking pictures or videos of The Wheel? The Wheel can and has been photographed extensively from the air.

Below is information I personally gathered from Icon Park’s Security Staff:

While taking pictures of The Wheel is not illegal, taking pictures of The Wheel from the Icon Park-owned parking structure (seen on the left in the above picture) is indeed prohibited. There are anti-drone signs all along the roof of the parking structure, attesting to this fact.

Interestingly to note, the parking garage roof is not only prohibited for drone photographers but anyone looking to take photos from the roof on a professional basis. Apparently, there are a lot of photographers that use the roof to take headshots and beauty shots for their clients.

The roof houses a plethora of security cameras and when a drone operator is spotted, per the security personnel I spoke with, a few security officers are deployed to make contact with the operator and escort them from the parking garage.

Again, while the air above the area is governed by the FAA, the owners at Icon Park are within their rights as to what can occur while on their property.

How would one go about getting photos of The Wheel?

This can be done by launching from any of the public areas on International Blvd, surrounding Icon Park. One popular spot is located behind Icon Park at a very large public-use field. This is where many drone operators launch from. This area, however, only provides a view of the back of The Wheel.

For safety reasons, it is not suggested to fly over Icon Park and take pictures of The Wheel from the front, while being positioned in that large field behind the Park.

Other drone operators I have talked to in the past launch from parking lots across the street from Icon Park, being sure to observe the laws prohibiting flight over people and cars.

This location is a case of there being no real regulations stating whether you can or cannot take drone pictures of The Wheel at Icon Park, but what is the safest way to do so if one chooses.

Lake Eola Park – Downtown Orlando

While not an Orlando area amusement park or water park, Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, with its 3 million visitors a year, is definitely a popular Orlando area attraction.

Lake Eola Downtown Orlando – Image Credit: Dan Bayne, AISCF Photography

The physical lake is 23 acres in size and sits in Lake Eola Park, surrounded by the Walt Disney Amphitheater on one side, a Chinese Pagoda and children’s park on the other, a popular fountain that changes colors at night in its center, and a few restaurants are located on the grounds as well.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne

Because Lake Eola Park is a public park, drone flights are permitted. However, the property is located squarely near a very active executive airport. Because of this, in order to legally fly at the park LAANC approval is necessary. Once instant approval has been granted, the maximum height one can fly would be 100 feet.

Here’s something else to consider. Lake Eola Park houses various festivals and open markets throughout the year. Because of this, the park can be swarmed by thousands of visitors at any given time.

Earlier, we talked about some of the local laws that are in effect in Orlando when it pertains to large gatherings. These will come into play at times of festivals and open markets.

In this situation, a public park that is also a major attraction, LAANC authorization, and the impact of flying near large crowds come into play in one’s decision to film the area.

Exploria Stadium (Orlando City Soccer)

Some may have questions about taking pictures or videos of the various stadiums found around the Orlando area.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne, AISCF Photography

Per the FAA, on game day, no-fly zones are placed around stadiums that house Major League Baseball Games, National Football League Games, NCAA Division One Football Games, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series Races, just to name a few.

Flying drones in and around any stadium that seats 30,000 people or more is illegal beginning one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of the event or game.

As seen above, I have had the opportunity to take a quick snap of Orlando City Soccer’s home stadium, Exploria Stadium.

This was done:

  1. From thousands of feet away, launching from the roof of a public parking structure.
  2. Not during any game or event.

Exploria Stadium seats 25,500 people. But to err on the side of caution, I took pictures of the stadium when there was no chance of being in violation of any laws, outside of LAANC which was required and approved.

There is another stadium about 2 miles away from Exploria that seats 65,000 people so that one surely should stay off of anyone’s filming list when games are being played.

» MORE: Drone encounters (Karens, Kevins and Police, oh my…)

Final Thoughts

As can be seen from these few examples, if one is looking to take pictures of Orlando area attractions, it may be possible if the airspace is clear, landowner permission is granted, photos are not taken over the attraction, local and city laws and mandates are followed, as well as following standard FAA rules.

When in doubt, it might be better to refrain from taking pictures of certain areas, especially if they can not be done safely and legally.