Park overrun with limos, shuttle vans, ride-sharing drivers

Some parkgoers uncomfortable, want drivers to wait at airport

ORLANDO, Fla. – It was once a peaceful, quiet Orlando park, but now it is overrun with limos, shuttle vans and ride-sharing drivers.

News 6 investigated complaints of airport drivers taking advantage of a public park, using it as a waiting lot, instead of parking at the airport, and some people say it's creeping them out.

Like any park, at this one, you'll hear children playing, kids practicing and engines running.

"Every time I come here, they're just sitting here," said parkgoer Brenden Kirk.

Unlike other parks, Airport Lakes Park, at the edge of Orlando International Airport, is more like a parking lot. But the people who park aren't here to use the park.

"They'll be sitting in front of their car in a beach chair," said Kirk.

"Beach chair?" asked News 6 anchor Erik von Ancken.

"Yes, sir. Like, literally sitting in a beach chair. I don't know what they're doing," said Kirk.

The vans, limos and town cars are all waiting.

"Because it's close to the airport," said Erik, an Uber driver.

Many commercial drivers picking up from the airport have figured out that Airport Lakes Park is probably the closest, nicest and shadiest spot to sit. It's free and right off Semoran Boulevard, and it's less than 3 miles from the main terminal.

"The airport is too busy. Around the airport is too hot," said another Uber driver.

"We got as much right to be here as anybody else does," said Erik.

That doesn't make it right, say the people who live around there. Most didn't want to go on camera. They said they feel like they're being watched by the drivers camping out in their cars.

"You've been here an hour and a half so far?" asked von Ancken.

"Maybe one hour," said a driver.

"Especially if there's a lot of kids around, it's like, 'What are you doing? You're just sitting there, are you just waiting on somebody? Or are you looking at the kids?' I don't know, it's just suspicious," said Mistic Caley.

"I'd tell them not to worry about it because we're not watching them, we're waiting for our clients," said Erik.

The airport said drivers should wait on airport property because OIA made space for UberX and Lyft drivers in the B52 Memorial Park and commercial drivers in the South Lot, where News 6 found hundreds of available spaces. The airport says all drivers should be aware of this.

"Nobody's told me anything. I think those people may have too much time on their hands. Nobody's ever complained to me," said Erik.

"If someone complained to you, would you go somewhere else?" asked von Ancken.

"Probably not."

The city of Orlando said it'll ask police to patrol the park more so everyone can feel comfortable. If anyone is uncomfortable, they can talk to an officer. The city recommends that drivers park at the airport, but does say the park is public and anyone can park or wait there.

The airport also told News 6 it has gotten complaints like this before, where drivers were waiting at other off-site areas, like hotels or gas stations. Each time, the airport says it has reminded drivers there are designated spots on airport property and asks the drivers to use those, instead.

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