Visiting Walt Disney World and Universal Florida in one trip is tempting. It’s also challenging. But not impossible if you plan well.
It can be a grand vacation where each day is exhilarating, and who wouldn’t want that? The planning tips for doing Disney and Universal in one trip will be very handy!
Here’s the list of successfully doing Disney World and Universal Orlando in one trip:
- Decide the duration of your stay and budget for it (four days is essential, seven ideal)
- Decide which parks to skip if short on time
- Create a detailed itinerary for each day of the trip
- Shop around for tickets, hotels, flights, etc., to save money
- Stay at or near the park where you’ll spend most days
- Use express access services for rides
- Choose and book restaurants in advance
- Use travel agents that offer the best packages for both
This article lists tips and tricks to plan a trip to Disney World and Universal in Orlando. Some of the suggestions I’ll make are supposed to help you make the most of your trip, but that comes at a cost. Don’t feel obligated to spend more than you need to!
10 Tips To Do Disney and Universal in One Trip
Here are some tips that will surely help you plan your journey through Disney and Universal in Orlando smoothly:
1. Decide How Long You Want To Stay First Thing
The foremost thing you must do in your planning is deciding how many days you’ll stay in Orlando, Florida.
Consider taking a longer vacation as you plan to visit Disney World and Universal. I’d say seven to ten days are good enough to explore both destinations in Orlando.
With a 10-day vacation, you can even take rest days in between to enjoy your resort or Orlando.
But not everyone may want to or have the budget to do a long stay. You can cut down a few days and skip a few parks (most likely in Disney World, as it has four).
Your budget will be the main deciding factor here, as the more days you spend, the more expensive it gets.
But realistically speaking, you should plan a five-day trip, one day for travel and four days to visit the parks.
2. Stay Where You Plan To Spend More Time
The most important decision you’ll make for your Disney-Universal trip is where to stay, which will have greater implications than you think.
Staying at Disney and Universal is your choice, but it will be expensive, not to mention all the hassle and time of moving from one hotel to another.
So what should you do? Should you decide to stay at an on-property resort, stay where you’ll spend more time.
Say you’re spending three of five days at Disney, and choose a hotel in Disney World. You can travel from your Disney hotel to Universal when you visit those parks.
If you stay off-property in Orlando, use the same strategy again. Stay near the park where you’ll spend more days.
Depending on where you stay, the drive can be 30 minutes to an hour between the two theme park resorts.
You can find high-end and budget hotels near both Disney and Universal.
3. Check for Crowds
You’re pressed for time if you want to do both Disney and Universal in one trip. So ideally you would want to visit when there aren’t many crowds.
To put it simply, more crowds mean longer waiting times for rides. And longer wait times mean you get on fewer rides.
You can’t avoid crowds when visiting during busier seasons like peak summer vacation time or holidays like Christmas.
But at other times of the year, you may be able to book admission for days that likely won’t attract as many people.
If you have the luxury of choosing a less crowded month or week, do it, and you’ll be able to cover more each day.
You can find online crowd calendars for parks that tell you which parks will likely be more crowded with guests on which days.
4. Compare Prices When Buying Tickets
You’re considering an expensive trip if you visit Disney and Universal in the same week. Tickets alone can be expensive. So if you want to get the best deal, shop around.
Buying directly from Disney and Universal is typically expensive. You can get a discount from another website.
Compare prices for the same dates on different websites. Make sure to buy from an authentic website!
5. Decide Which Parks To Skip (if Making a Short Trip)
It’s time to make some sacrifices. If you’re making a shorter trip, it’s best to skip a few parks and spend a full day in the park you like the most.
I’d suggest skipping a park or two at Disney World because there are four parks, and should you decide to do all four; you may not have enough time (or energy) left to do the two Universal parks.
Choosing which parks to skip depends on which rides you want to experience and which you don’t care for. It also depends on who is traveling with you.
For instance, some attractions are a must for kids. Yes, I’m talking about Magic Kingdom!
6. Do Universal in One Day (if Short on Time/Money)
Another way to do more in a shorter trip is to do both Universal parks in one day.
It’s possible to visit both the parks at Universal because they are right next to one another and smaller than Disney World parks.
Yes, you may not be able to get on all rides, but at least you’ll experience both the Universal parks.
Universal offers 1 Day, 2 Parks Admission package that lets guests hop in and out of the two theme parks on the same day.
On the other hand, it’s completely fine to visit just one and skip the other. Just choose the one you find more interesting!
7. Create a Detailed Itinerary
Set aside a weekend to research, learn about the parks you plan to visit and the attractions they offer, and make a detailed itinerary.
And when I say detailed, I mean hour by hour and ride by ride. Have some flexibility in your day-to-day plan, as things can happen (like bad weather).
However, having a detailed itinerary will help you not waste time guessing what to do next.
With a documented plan, you know exactly which parks you’re visiting on which day, how you’re getting there, which rides you’re doing first, which rides you can do if you have more time, and where you’re dining for meals.
At Disney World, the My Disney Experience app will come in handy for creating a day plan and checking for updates in real-time to make any necessary adjustments to your itinerary.
Similarly, at Universal Orlando, use the Universal Orlando Resort app to do everything, from checking wait times for rides to ordering food at restaurants.
8. Make Use of Line Skipping Services (Lightning Lane at Disney and Universal Express at Universal)
One of the best ways to reduce wait times, especially for popular rides, is through express entry services.
Disney offers the Disney Genie+ service, which includes Lightning Lane passes. With Lightning Lane, you can visit one of the selected attractions at a time and skip the regular queue.
Besides Genie+, you also have the option to purchase Individual Lightning Lane passes for select rides. Both these services are paid so that they will increase your visit cost. However, on busier days, you’ll find them worth it.
At Universal, you have several Universal Express Pass options, including Universal Express Unlimited, which allows you to skip regular lines for eligible attractions an unlimited number of times.
Like Disney Genie+, Universal Express passes are also paid and more expensive than the Disney counterpart.
9. Make Advanced Dining Reservations
Reserve spots in advance if you visit any fine-dining Universal or table-service restaurants at Disney World. More specifically, character lunches and dinners need an advanced reservation.
This will ensure you get a table on the day of your visit and save you time once you’re in the park, as you know exactly where you’re dining and when.
There are many dining options at Disney and Universal, so take your pick. It would be best to consider dining in the park you’re visiting and book according to your planned itinerary.
10. Use a Tour Company That Works With Both Disney and Universal
Planning a trip to one Orlando theme park is challenging, let alone two. So it’s understandable if you want to work with a tour company and book a vacation package that covers both the parks.
However, you should choose a company that doesn’t just specialize in one theme park. They should be able to offer you a comprehensive package that doesn’t favor one park over the other.
I’d suggest asking them to tailor the package to your liking so your wishes guide the vacation package, not the other way around.
Tell them what you want to do and where you want to stay, and let them work out a package that covers everything and allows you to relax and have fun.
A trip to Disney and Universal requires a lot of research and careful planning. My tips will help you create a wholesome trip to enjoy Disney World and Universal Florida in a single journey.
You can save money this way by not having to make two separate trips.
Make sure to plan your stay and visits to the parks in detail. And fix a feasible budget for the whole trip so there are no surprises later.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Universal Offer Transportation to Disney?
While Universal offers transportation within its premises and to/from the Orlando airport, it doesn’t offer transport to any Disney World parks or resorts.
If you want to travel to Disney World from Universal Orlando Resort, you can use Uber or Lyft. The journey takes half an hour or longer.
Which Is More Expensive, Disney vs. Universal?
Even though prices vary based on demand for both Disney and Universal when compared head-to-head, Disney hotels are typically more expensive than Universal.
However, Universal has been increasing its prices lately, which makes it comparable with Disney prices at times.
Park tickets and food are comparable between Disney and Universal. However, Universal hotels are cheaper than Disney’s and offer many complementary facilities.
How Long Do You Need for Disney and Universal?
You need at least a week to visit all Disney and Universal theme parks.
However, it’s possible to do Disney World and Universal in less than a week (four to five days) if you skip parks or do both Universal theme parks in one day.
Ideally, plan a week-long trip to cover both Disney and Universal parks and spend a full day at each theme park.
You may need to take longer to visit the water parks or enjoy other offerings, such as golf.