Are you planning a trip to Disney World and considering visiting both Disney and Universal? Both are great resorts with exceptional theme parks, so we have decided to look at how to do a Disney and Universal Vacation.
We have planned Disney and Universal vacations for our family in recent years. We will share our experiences of what we think is best to do so that you can plan for a fantastic Disney and Universal Vacation.
Table of Contents
What’s the Difference Between Disney World and Universal Studios?
Disney World and Universal are different in many ways. If you have children who are younger, they might enjoy Disney more than Universal. If you are planning a Disney and Universal vacation with teenagers, they will probably prefer Universal.
Disney World has Four Parks:
Plus, two water parks:
Universal has two parks:
Islands of Adventure
Plus, one water park:
Each Resort also has its own shopping and dining districts. Disney World has Disney Springs and Universal has City Walk. Disney Springs is much larger than City Walk.
You can find a Disney World Map Here and Universal Maps Here too.
There are obvious differences but also subtle differences too. We have already written about this subject and you can find the article link below. We go into more detail on the differences between Disney and Universal in Florida so do take a look.
Read our Disney World vs Universal Article Here
Disney World and Universal Vacation Options
When planning a Disney World and Universal vacation you have a few options when it comes to accommodation. Let’s take a look at them.
Stay at Disney World
You can stay at Disney World Resort which comes with its own benefits. This is the best option in our opinion if you will be spending most of your time on Disney World property. In our opinion the most magical accommodation option but can be the most expensive.
Stay at Universal
Universal Orlando Resort just like Disney has a variety of their own resorts that you can stay at. Again, like staying at a Disney Resort this is the best option if you will be spending more time on Universal property and it’s parks.
Stay off Property
Staying off property at a hotel, apartment or villa can save you some money. However, you will probably be located further away from the resorts during your Disney and Universal Vacation. This will possibly mean more travelling to and from each resort. You will probably need a rental car (or your own) to do so. This can be a popular choice for anyone wanting explore beyond Disney And Universal during their vacation.
Can You Stay at Disney and Universal During Your Vacation?
You can of course stay at both resorts during your vacation. You can either make these bookings yourself or use a travel agent. The benefit is mainly being on property as you enjoy each resort.
The key points to remember when staying at both Disney World and Universal are:
- What do you want to get done at each park.
- How much time will you need to achieve the above?
- How will you get between each resort?
- Establishing a budget for each resort?
- What extras would you like to add to your vacation?
- What benefits will you get from each resort?
- Would you like to start your vacation at Disney World or Universal?
How Many Days Do You Need to Spend at Universal Orlando?
I would recommend four to five days at Universal. This will give you time to enjoy all the parks including Volcano Bay without feeling rushed. If you are staying at a Universal Resort, it will also allow you to enjoy the resort facilities too.
How many Days Do You Need to Spend at Disney World?
I would recommend at least 10 days at Disney World. It is such a large resort compared to Universal and there is so much to see and do that you could spend a month there and not see it all. We have a free 10 page Disney World Parks Guide that you can get by signing up to our newsletter using the link below. This will give you a great overview of what to expect.
Get our Free Disney World Parks Guide here.
How Many Days for Disney and Universal?
Overall to enjoy a Disney World and Universal Vacation you will need to consider at least a 14 day vacation to fully enjoy both resorts and all the theme parks. 10 Days for Disney World and 4 days for Universal.
Getting to Universal from Disney World
Getting to Universal from Disney World and vice versa is fairly straightforward. Again, this is something we have written about previously. We usually use Uber but you can read more about it using the link below.
Find out more about getting Between Disney World and Universal here.
Staying at Disney and Universal During Your Vacation – Our Experience
When we last stayed at both Disney World and Universal during the same vacation we learned quite a lot. We had booked an 18 day vacation stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Our first full day fell on a Wednesday, so we decided not to visit the Disney Parks until the Saturday as we had 14 day park tickets.
For the first two days we spent time at Disney Springs and at our resort. On the Thursday and Friday we went to Universal. Two days was a bit of a rush, but we managed to do everything we wanted to at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. This was because we booked a one night stay at Hard Rock Hotel which included Express Passes that made getting on all the rides very easy.
In hindsight more days at Universal would have been better but the one night package for Hard Rock Hotel with park and express passes included made it a good deal. When we return will aim to spend a few more days at Universal.
I think going forward and looking at our future vacations we will be looking at staying at Universal whilst we enjoy Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. From there we will aim to transfer across to a Disney World resort to get the full Disney World experience which we very much love to do.
Tips for Doing A Disney World and Universal Vacation
Here are some of the main things we have learned from visiting both Disney and Universal during the same vacation.
1. Allow Enough Time for Disney and Universal
Clearly, we pushed ourselves to do a lot in the two days we spent at Universal. We got a lot done but honestly more time was needed as we completely skipped Volcano Bay. Do allow enough time to fully enjoy Universal especially if you have never been before,
2. Plan Your Food and Drinks Budget
Make sure you plan a realistic budget for food and drink at both resorts. Dining can be expensive on property at both resorts. On our last trip we had the Dining Plan at Disney so decided to eat quick and counter service meals at Universal which worked out ok.
3. Try Not to Book Reservations at Both Resorts on the Same Day
Try not to book reservations or even Fast Passes at both resorts on the same day. If you have your own transport, then you will probably be ok but it can just add a little extra pressure to your day. You are on vacation so try to make it as easy going as possible.
4. Do Disney Worlds After Universal
We prefer to do Universal first then enjoy Disney World. With Disney World being the bigger of the two resorts and with a lot more to do we feel it makes sense. Doing Disney World second also allows you to slow down a little towards the end of your vacation when you can start to feel a little tired.
5. Use Uber or a Universal Resort Taxi to get Between Resorts
We love using Uber in Orlando. The service is normally pretty quick and if you don’t have a car it is probably the most cost-effective way of getting around Orlando and between Universal and Disney World.
6. Get Universal Express Unlimited Passes
If you can get the Universal Express Unlimited Passes, then get them. They are the easiest way of getting on all the rides at both Universal Parks. They can be expensive to buy on the day so do shop around for deals before your vacation.
There are three options of Express Pass at Universal
Universal Express Unlimited (from $89.99 per person plus tax)
Allows you to skip the regular lines an unlimited number of times on participating rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Universal Express (from $69.99 per person plus tax)
Allows you to skip the regular lines one time per participating rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Volcano Bay Express (from $19.99 per person plus tax)
Allows you to skip the virtual line one time per participating ride at Volcano Bay.
You can find out more about Universal Express Tickets here on the Universal website.
The Complete Guide on How To Plan a Disney and Universal Vacation
I hope you have found this article on planning a Disney and Universal Vacation helpful. Both resorts are different experiences but if you decide to plan for both I am certain you will have a great time. Please feel free to share this article on social media. It helps us to reach others who are planning their vacation.
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Thanks for Stopping by.