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How To Enjoy Universal and Disney On The Same Trip

How To Enjoy Universal and Disney On The Same Trip

Are you thinking about adding a visit to Universal Orlando to your Walt Disney World Vacation? Here is a guide for everything you need to know and consider in order to maximize your joy if you visit both parks.

Adding On To Your Disney Vacation

Credit: Kate

Sometimes, people who are traveling all the way to Walt Disney World want to experience more of what Central Florida has to offer beyond the magic. Of course, any Walt Disney World fan can tell you that there is so much to do in Walt Disney World that you can’t possibly see and do it all in one visit (or even 100 visits). Even so, there are a multitude of reasons that people may want to diversify their visit to Central Florida by bringing in other experiences.

One of the biggest draws is Universal Orlando. Universal revolutionized its approach to theme parks by introducing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And, lately, it seems as if Universal is going to work even harder to step up its game! The announcement of Epic Universe, which is set to open in 2025, will most likely draw even more fans to Universal Orlando, including new audiences.

So, it is no wonder that visitors who are planning a trip to Walt Disney World might want to tag on a visit to Universal Orlando while they are in the area. And, if that is what you wish to do, we are here to help you! Here are some considerations, tips, and tricks for adding Universal to your Disney vacation.

How Long Do You Need at Universal

Credit: Katie

How long you need at Universal largely depends on your time frame and what you want to do! Keep in mind that all of this will likely change in 2025 with the opening of Epic Universe.

If you want to visit both Univeral Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios AND Volcano Bay (the water park), then you might want to visit for a full 2-3 days, perhaps even longer. This is especially true if you want to enjoy the offerings at City Walk, Universal’s shopping, dining, and entertainment area.

However, if you only have a day or two to devote to Univeral, you may be wondering if it is even worth trying to visit. The answer is, almost definitely yes! I have personally done both Islands of Universal and Universal Studios in a single day more than once and felt like I had to make very few compromises in terms of what I wanted to enjoy.

Credit: Katie

For example, if all you want to do is visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and catch a few other attractions while you are there, you can easily accomplish everything in a day with Park-to-Park tickets and a solid game plan for prioritizing your must-dos.

It is HIGHLY possible to do everything you want at Universal in a single day.

Which Park is Better?

Credit: Katie

You may feel you only have time to enjoy a day at just ONE park. HERE is our guide for choosing between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure if you need help deciding.

BOTH Universal Orlando and Universal’s Islands of Adventures have fun experiences to offer. Both have Harry Potter attractions, and both have coasters.

What If You Have Small Children

Photo Credit: Heather

Also, if you have small children in your travel party, you might want to limit your time in Universal Orlando for now. Right now there are only 2 attractions with NO height requirements at Universal Studios Florida and 5 at Universal Islands of Adventure. Your little one will have more enjoyable experiences in Walt Disney World, and you will devote less time to swapping out who rides and who waits.

This may change once the Dreamworks-themed area opens, but as it stands, there is very little in terms of attractions for smaller visitors to enjoy. For now, Universal Orlando is very much a place geared toward older children, teenagers, and adult guests.

In the meantime, we have a guide for visiting with a baby. You can check it out HERE.

Picking the Correct Tickets

Credit: Universal

If you are only planning to visit one park, picking tickets is easy. Just make sure you select the correct park! That said, if you want to visit BOTH parks in one day, you need park-to-park tickets. This will allow you to hop between the two parks as you like.

Also, if you do decide that you want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and you want to enjoy Hogwarts Express, you will HAVE to purchase park-to-park tickets even if you are spending multiple days in the parks. You cannot use the train unless you have park-to-park. If you do not care about Hogwarts Express, you can visit one park per day and save money.

Where to Stay

Credit: Universal

First of all, you will want to consider whether your decision to divide your time between Disney and Universal will impact where you stay. Some travel parties like to stay in one place for an entire trip. Others don’t mind switching hotels.

If you happen to be interested in a Universal Orlando hotel, we have a guide for you. Click HERE to learn about all of your options and the benefits.

Maximizing Your Time

Early Entry
Credit: Katie

You can increase your odds of enjoying the parks in a shorter timeframe through the use of various strategies. You will simply need to pick your must-do attractions and focus on those. Then, any remaining time can be spent exploring other areas of the parks.

Need help? You can read our guide for what to skip when visiting Universal within a short time frame HERE. You can also greatly maximize your time through the use of the Universal Express Pass. We have a full guide for you HERE.

Getting Around

Universal Water Taxi
Credit: Universal

If you will have your own vehicle or you plan to rent a car, you are set to go. Just be aware of any parking fees you will need to pay. If you will not have a vehicle available, you will need to carefully research your transportation options.

Some non-Universal and non-Disney resorts offer shuttles to either Disney or Universal or both. Check before you book, and be sure to check the shuttle schedules as they are not always ideal if you plan to arrive early and/or stay late.

Credit: Katie

If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you will have complimentary transportation to and from the Disney theme parks and Disney Springs. However, Disney does NOT offer complimentary transportation to Universal.

Conversely, if you are staying at a Universal resort, you will enjoy complimentary transportation to Universal Parks and City Walk. However, getting to Disney will be something you do on your own.

Final Thoughts

Credit: Universal

Overall, if you do not have a chance to visit Central Florida frequently, and you want to enjoy as much as it has to offer as you possibly can, you will not regret adding a visit to Universal Orlando to your Walt Disney World trip. It’s hard not to have a good time if you are looking to have fun!

Are you planning to combine Disney and Universal or other Central Florida attractions? Let us know if you have additional questions in the comments. And, feel free to share this guide with anyone you know who is planning a visit to Orlando.

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