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Don’t Choose: How to Include Disney and Universal in ONE Orlando Vacation

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you’re waffling over the Disney vs. Universal debate, STOP. Both are located in sunny Orlando, Florida so why pick just one? Best accomplished with four or more days, a dual-resort vacation isn’t as tricky as it might seem. Add a little extra planning to your vacation and you can have it all in one action-packed visit.

Choose a home base…or two!

Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation

You maximize your vacation perks when staying at a hotel on property. Disney resort hotel benefits include:

  • Complimentary transportation to any destination on property by bus, boat, or monorail
  • Extra Magic Bands that double as your room key
  • Merchandise delivery from resort gift shops to your hotel
  • Access to the Disney Dining Plan
  • Earlier access to FastPass+ and Disney dining reservations
  • Extra Magic Hours with special park access before or after regular hours
  • Complimentary airport transportation

Simply put, it’s easier to enjoy all that Disney has to offer when you’re staying on-site. While there are other area hotels that offer free shuttles, they rarely operate as often or as reliably as those at the Disney resorts. Cost-saving packages that roll your tickets, dining, and room into one are only available to resort guests.

So what to do about your time at Universal? You’ll get the most benefits if you split your vacation time in two and switch to a Universal Resort for that part of your stay. Universal resort perks include:

  • Free Universal Express Unlimited with stays at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Priority restaurant seating with stays at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay
  • Complimentary transportation to Universal parks and CityWalk via shuttle bus or water taxi
  • Merchandise delivery to your room from resort shops
  • Charging privileges with your room key
  • Club-to-club access to select Universal CityWalk locations

All that’s left is to choose the two resorts that best fit your needs. Disney and Universal both have richly themed options with lots of great amenities.

Make transportation arrangements

Disney boat transportation

Snag a taxi or Uber to move between resorts if you don’t have a car (honestly, if you stay at both resorts you won’t need one!) If you’re bringing a car, be prepared for the fact that you’ll have to pay to park at your Universal hotel, though Disney resort parking is free.

Though you’ll sacrifice complimentary airport transportation for the portion of your stay that’s at Universal, you can arrange for Mears airport transportation from Universal hotels for a moderate fee. Do make arrangements with Disney’s Magical Express for a free ride to or from the airport, depending on your timing.

Give yourself extra time

Universal Express Line

Staying on-site will help you pack a little more park time into your stay with perks like Extra Magic Hours. However, you’ll still want to add a little extra time to your vacation to account for your hotel swap. Fortunately, Universal is an extremely compact theme park resort. You can walk between parks (or take the Hogwarts Express!) so you won’t spend a lot of time on transportation for the sake of park-hopping, like you do at Disney.

Give yourself the appropriate number of days at Disney, then count the day you switch resorts as a half-day at Universal. If you’re pressed for time, you can easily hit all the highlights of Universal with one more full day at their parks. If you’re a big-time Harry Potter fan or have other special considerations, you may want another day or so at Universal, but these parks rarely take long.

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We usually stay at Disney and drive to Universal but this last time we stayed at both Universal & Disney Hotels. After leaving Universal we were able to check in at our hotel at Disney at 9am & off we went to the parks. (we were lucky)We also added other places to see in Orlando area We are doing it again next year

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