Planning 101 Universal Studios Orlando Vacation Planner Walt Disney World

Disney and Universal In One Trip? How Does It Work?

December 27, 2022

Although there are far more options than just Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, they are the 2 most popular destinations.

Most people only have 1 week of work-free bliss to dedicate towards a family vacation. But, with so many things to do at both destinations, is it possible to visit both within this limited amount of time?

How does it work? And how can you plan your trip without leaving you feeling completely worn out?

Plan For Rest Days

It is possible to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando in the same trip. It’s also possible to have just as much fun at one Resort as you do at the other.

But, if you’re planning to be in the Parks from open to close for days on end, I’ll warn you right now. You’re going to be miserable. Yes, the Parks are amazing. But, they’re also exhausting.

That’s why I tell my Clients to plan for some downtime. Spend a day by the pool. Book a spa day. Rent a boat. Sleep in a day or two. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy yourself so much more when you’re not completely exhausted.

No matter how much time or planning you do, you’ll never get to do all the things you want to. There will be crowds. There will be ride closures and delays. These attractions run 365 days per year. So, malfunctions and closures happen. It’s just a part of the business.

It’s easy to forget about rest and relaxation when you’re thinking about all there is to do in the Parks. But, it’s important to take care of yourself.

At the end of the day, what do you want to remember more? Is only thinking about hours spent in line something you want to remember? Or do you want to tell your friends and family about the relaxing afternoon you spent renting a boat on the Seven Seas Lagoon?

I promise you. If you take care of yourself, you’ll enjoy you trip so much more.

Mom and boys with Krusty the Clown in Universal Studios Orlando

Tickets Will Determine Your Itinerary

In an ideal situation, you’d have enough time and money for all 6 Parks. Disney has 4 Theme Parks and Universal Studios has 2 Theme Parks (until Epic Universe opens). And that’s not even counting the 3 Water Parks between the 2 Resorts.

The problem is that most of us have a one week timeframe and a budget that we need to stick to. So, we have to be smart when planning our Itinerary.

Park Reservations

The first thing you should always look at is Disney’s Park Reservation calendar. Why? Because if there’s only a few days available, that will automatically determine what days you can go to those specific Parks.

Luckily, Park Reservations stick around for a long time. So, unless you’re planning a last minute trip, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Date-Based Tickets

Both Disney and Universal Studios have date based tickets. This means that prices will changed based on the date you want to go.

To make things “easier,” the Parks charge you the same amount each day, based on what the price is on Day 1. Fortunately, this can work to your advantage if the price increases throughout the week. But, it also works the other way around.

So, if you’re able to be flexible with your dates, move your days around to see if you can get a better price.


When it comes to ticket promotions, Universal Studios absolutely comes out ahead. Unfortunately, Disney doesn’t normally do discounts on tickets. Disney primarily focuses their promotions on their Resorts.

Unless you’re only planning on visiting Universal Studios for 1 day, I suggest looking at their discounts before making any concrete plans.

Free Tickets

One of Universal Studios’ most popular promotions includes free tickets. They know you’re also planning to visit Disney. That’s why their ticket promotions are downright genius.

Many times, they’ll give you 4 days of tickets for the price of 2. And now that you have 4 days filled with Theme Park fun, are you going to have time to also visit Disney? Most likely, no.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good way to convince anyone on a budget to only visit Universal Studios.

Discounted Express Passes

If you’re planning to get Express Passes, there’s another promotion that I highly suggest thinking about. However, it’s something that I’ve only seen by working with a Travel Agent. Personally, I’ve never seen it advertised anywhere else.

If you’ve ever considered Express Passes, you know how expensive they are. I’m talking $100+ per person, per day. And that doesn’t include the cost of your Theme Park Ticket.

But, some Travel Agents have a bundled Theme Park Ticket and Express Pass option. Comparing it to the cost of purchasing them individually, it’s a significant discount.

If you only want Theme Park Tickets, this is not the deal for you. They are more expensive. But, if you’re going to be buying Express Passes anyway, this is the deal you want.

Not only is it a great deal, you get will Unlimited Express Passes for your entire trip. And more Express Passes means more ride time.

Taking My Own Advice

Thanks to Travel Agent discounts, I get a great deal on tickets to Universal Studios. Although we wanted more time at Disney, the deal is too good to not take advantage of. And, honestly, I’m not even mad about it. We love Universal Studios.

Since my Travel Agent discounts at Universal are a set price, I looked at Disney’s calendar to see when it would be cheaper for us to go. The prices were slightly cheaper at the end of our trip. That’s why I chose to do the Universal Parks first.

So, after pricing everything out and confirming Park Reservations at Disney, this is how I planned our Itinerary.

  • Days 1 and 2: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (with Park to Park Passes)
  • Day 3: 1/2 day at Volcano Bay
  • Day 4: Rest Day / Breakfast at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Dinner at Disney Springs
  • Day 5: Hollywood Studios / Magic Kingdom (with Park Hoppers)
  • Day 6: Epcot / Animal Kingdom (with Park Hoppers)

Our youngest son was under 1-year-old at the time. So, this gave him a few days in the middle of the craziness to catch up on some sleep, get out of the heat, and play. As a result, he was a very happy baby and did amazing!

Is 2 days ever enough for the Disney Parks? Absolutely not. But, due to our limited time and budget(as well as what we thought would be best for our son), this is what made sense.

Plus, we’ve been to the Disney Parks many times. We go in with a plan and know what we want to do. So, it’s easier for us to leave the Parks to Park Hop vs someone going for the first time.

The front of a Walt Disney World Ticket

Where To Get Tickets

You have 3 options options of where to purchase your Theme Park Tickets.

  • Directly from Disney and Universal Studios
    • Easiest option overall
  • Through an Authorized Ticket Retailer
    • Best place for slightly discounted tickets
  • Through your Travel Agent
    • Best option if you’re not sure how to plan your trip or which tickets would be best for your family
    • We may be able to get you deals that aren’t advertised anywhere else

Theme Park Tickets are going to be one of the most expensive part of your trip. Unfortunately, tickets to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando are expensive.

Buying tickets to Universal Studios is straightforward. But, if you’re not sure how many days or if you should or shouldn’t get Park to Park tickets or Express Passes, you may want to reach out to a Travel Agent for help.

Admittedly, it’s a lot harder to plan a Disney vacation. So, where you buy Disney tickets has a lot to do with how knowledgeable you are with My Disney Experience.

  • Do you know how to link tickets to your My Disney Experience account? And do you know how to make Park Reservations?
  • Are you booking on your own and staying on Disney property?
    • Book a package. Your tickets will automatically link to your account. However, you will still need to book your Park Reservations on your own, unless you purchase 1 Day tickets. 1 Day tickets automatically come with your Park Reservation.
  • Have you used My Disney Experience before?
    • If the answer is yes, you may be able to save some money by buying them from a reputable retailer and linking your tickets yourself. Remember to also book your Park Reservations.

Where To Stay

You have 3 options when choosing to mash your Disney and Universal Studios vacations into 1 trip.

  • Stay at a Disney or a Universal Studios Hotel
  • Do a split stay and take advantage of Perks at both Resorts
  • Stay off property

As with every decision, there are pros and cons to every choice.

  • Do you want to take advantage of Early Entry into the Parks?
  • Do you want 7AM bookings for Individual Lightning Lanes at Disney?
  • Do the Perks for staying at an on-site Resort/Hotel outweigh the cost?
  • What are the transportation costs for getting to/from the airport and Parks?
  • If you have a car, how much will it cost to Park at the Parks and/or Hotels?

These are just some of the things to think about when making your decision.

Normally, we stay at a Disney Resort. But, this time, we chose to stay off property in a 3 Bedroom Condo in Reunion Resort.

Why? Because it was important we stayed on budget. And despite it being a much larger place, it was also cheaper than any Value Resort at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Plus, we got free Parking at the Condo and an amazing deal on rental minivan (more on that below).

We didn’t get any on-site Perks. But, it was still a win for us.

photo of an old car steering wheel


Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando are located about 15 minutes away from each other. But, you’re still going to have to find a way of getting from one Resort to the other.

If you’re on a tight budget, remember to account for all transportation costs. There is no more Magical Express. So, there is a cost to every transportation option you choose.

Are you staying at a Disney Resort?

  • If you have a car, you will need to pay to Park at Universal Studios Parking Garage
  • Booking with a Travel Agent? Ask about shuttle options from MCO and from Disney Resorts to Universal Studios Parks
  • Using a Rideshare service like Uber or Lyft? Check the estimated costs on their websites

Are you staying at a Universal Studios Hotel?

  • If you have a car, you will need to pay to Park at the Disney Parks
  • Booking with a Travel Agent? Ask about shuttle options from MCO and from Universal Studios Hotels to Disney Parks
  • Using a Rideshare service like Uber or Lyft? Check the estimated costs on their websites

Staying off property?

  • If you have a car, you will need to pay to Park at the Disney Parks and the Universal Studios Parking Garage
  • Are there any Parking fees at the Hotel/Rental Home you’re staying at?
    • Also ask if there are any Resort fees and if they’re included in the cost of your stay or it’s a separate cost. Many Hotels surrounding the Theme Parks have Resort fees and some can be as much as $40+ per night. Don’t get surprised with a large bill at the end of your vacation!
  • Booking with a Travel Agent? Ask about shuttle options
    • If there is a Resort fee, it usually covers the costs of any shuttles they may have. This is why they will say it’s “free.” You’ve already paid for it.
  • Using a Rideshare service like Uber or Lyft? Check the estimated costs on their websites

Thinking of renting a car?

Unfortunately, renting a car can get expensive. But, there are ways to get the price down.

If you’re considering getting your Theme Park tickets from Undercover Tourist, you’ll also qualify for a 50% discount on your Rental Car when you bundle your Tickets and Rental Car together. That’s exactly what I did and I managed to get a minivan for under $400.

screenshot Undercover Tourist Rental Car

Plan on using a Travel Agent or purchasing your Theme Park Tickets directly with Disney and Universal Studios? Fortunately, you can find deals online. But, as a frequent Amazon shopper, I like the deals where I get a discount PLUS an Amazon Gift Card when I rent a car.

If you want more information on either of these deals, please visit The Best Deals on Rental Card Right Now.

Have questions? Feeling anxious? Don’t know where to start? That’s where we step in.

We know what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do. We’ve done the training, we’ve made the mistakes, and have learned from them, And that’s what makes us the perfect people to help you.

From perfectly curated itineraries to direct access to your Travel Professional, our goal is to take the stress out of planning your vacation.

Simply fill out whichever form works better for you, and we’ll discuss your options.

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