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How to Do Universal and Disney in Three Days

  • June 27, 2018
  • By Jackie
  • 2 Comments
How to Do Universal and Disney in Three Days

Jackie Giardina Photo Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle Orlando Florida Walt Disney World How to Do Universal and Disney in Three Days

I know what you’re thinking…Universal AND Disney in THREE DAYS…you have to be out of your mind! Well I can’t exactly say you’re wrong, but when you’re on a mission, can only take one day off of work and are DYING to visit both theme parks you make it happen! I will say one thing, if you’re with kids I don’t suggest having this packed of an itinerary, but if this is an adults only trip and you want to make the most out of a short period of time in Orlando I’m sharing exactly what we did and how we did it!

We spent a long weekend in Orlando (Friday night to Monday night), we flew in on Friday night on a 7:00pm flight, landed around 10:00pm, took an Uber to our hotel and went to sleep! We debated on flying in on Saturday morning, but it ended up being the same price flying out the night before (even with one extra night in the hotel)! We booked our whole trip (flight + hotel) through jetBlue Vacations and got a great deal! We stayed at the Caribe Royal (Guys it’s pink! And you know us bloggers can’t pass up a pink hotel!), and it was perfect for everything we needed. Our room was huge, there was a coffee shop right in the downstairs of our tower which was great for breakfast, the staff was very helpful, and the pool was beautiful (even though we didn’t get to enjoy it).

Caribe Royal Orlando Florida Pink Hotel Walt Disney World
United Kingdom Epcot Phone Booth Photo Mickey Ears Red Polka Dot Crop Top Minnie Style Disney Outfit

Day 1: Magic Kingdom & Epcot

We made sure to eat breakfast at our hotel before we left and took an Uber over to Magic Kingdom. We started in Tomorrowland and worked our way around the park. While waiting in line at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin we downloaded the My Disney Experience app and started booking FastPass+! You can actually book them up to 30 days in advance, but since this was a spontaneous trip we didn’t do that. (Also worth noting, you only get three Fast Passes a day and they all have to be used at one park, so be strategic!) We were able to get FastPass+ tickets for Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for later in the day so we changed our itinerary a little bit.

We rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, “it’s a small world” and the Haunted Mansion, then we took the monorail over to Epcot! On the way over we made a reservation at San Angel Inn Restaurant in the Mexico Pavilion for dinner. When we arrived we rode Spaceship Earth, walked (& had a few drinks) around the world, ate dinner then rode Soarin’ Around the World! By the time we were done the park was just about to close and we headed back to Magic Kingdom to ride Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain at our FastPass+ times. Walking around Magic Kingdom at night is “magical” pun intended, and I’m so glad we ended up going back at night! If you plan on cramming both Universal and Disney in three days I suggest leaving a full day (or almost a full day like we did) for Magic Kingdom, it’s the biggest park and the rides have the longest lines so it can take up a lot of time.

Jackie Giardina Photo Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle Orlando Florida Walt Disney World How to Do Universal and Disney in Three Days
Magic Kingdom at Night Cinderellas Castle Walt Disney

Favorite rides in Magic Kingdom:

  • Space Mountain (FastPass+ Available)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (FastPass+ Available)
  • Haunted Mansion (FastPass+ Available)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (FastPass+ Available) (The wait for this is usually HOURS so if you can get a FastPass+ I highly suggest it, we couldn’t get one when we went and the line was over 2 hours all day so we sadly had to skip it!)
  • “it’s a small world” (FastPass+ Available)
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (FastPass+ Available)

Epcot World Ball Walt Disney World Orlando Florida
Epcot World Ball Walt Disney World Orlando Florida

Favorite things in Epcot:

  • Soarin’ Around the World (FastPass+ Available)
  • Spaceship Earth (FastPass+ Available)
  • San Angel Inn Restaurant in Mexico! I always say I’m going to eat somewhere else in Epcot and always end up back here. It’s honestly so good and the atmosphere is even better! It’s inside the Mayan Temple in the Mexico Pavilion and just all around awesome!

Dole Whip Dairy Free Walt Disney World Frozen Treat

Must Do:

    • Get a Dole Whip Soft Serve to eat! We got them at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom and they were amazing! Whenever I hear about dairy free treats I need to try them and these do not disappoint! Whether you’re lactose intolerant or not, don’t skip this snack! (I also loved that so many stands had chocolate covered bananas! Another ice cream alternative that I can eat)
    • Take your picture in front of the castle! Bonus points if you have mouse ears on!
    • Walk & drink around the world at Epcot! We didn’t drink at all 11 countries, but if you’re over 21 and you didn’t drink at at least one did you even go to Disney!?

Jackie Giardina Photo Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle Orlando Florida Walt Disney World How to Do Universal and Disney in Three Days

Day 2: Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure

Not going to lie I was SO excited about going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The last time I had been to Universal Orlando was way before the time of Harry Potter (I think around 2001) and it was number 1 on my list of things to do in Orlando. We bought Single Day Park-to-Park passes, which gives you access to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Island of Adventure! I without a doubt think you could easily do both of these parks in one day (The lines seem to move WAY faster than any lines in Disney)!

One secret I will give you that saved us SO much time and made it possible for us to get on every single ride we wanted to go was utilizing the SINGLE RIDER LINE! All of the popular rides in Universal have a separate line for single riders and if you don’t care about sitting by yourself or potentially with people you don’t know then DO IT! Myself and my 2 friends got on the single rider line on every ride it was available for because the wait was a fraction of the regular line, you got to wait in line with each other, AND 9 out of 10 times we ended up sitting together anyway once we got on!

Harry Potter Universal Studios Outfit Love Potion Diagon Alley
Hogwarts Nighttime Wizarding Lightshow World of Harry Potter Universal Studios Island of Adventure Orlando Florida
Hogwarts Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios Island of Adventure Orlando Florida

Favorites rides in Universal Studios:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Hogwarts Express (save this ride for last because it takes you from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure and visa versa)
  • Transformers: The Ride-3D (Single Rider Line Available)
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Revenge of the Mummy (Single Rider Line Available)
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • Men in Black Alien Attack (Single Rider Line Available)
  • E.T. Adventure

Vintage Old Yellow Cab Universal Studios Florida
Mel's Drive In Universal Studios Florida

Favorite rides in Islands of Adventure:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Single Rider Available)
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster (Single Rider Available)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Single Rider Available)
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Simpsons Duff Universal Studios Florida Photos

Must Do:

    • Walk through Diagon Alley in Universal Studios! Get a video of the fire breathing dragon, drink a Butterbeer and take it all in!
    • Buy candy in Honeydukes in Islands of Adventure. I suggest the Peppermint Toads, but Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs are probably the most popular!
    • Check out Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure. Even though geared towards kids it’s just SO well done that you have to walk through it!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Butterbeer
Sugarplums Diagon Alley Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios

Day 3: Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios

We took our time in the morning because we had to pack our suitcases, have the concierge hold our things and check out of the hotel. Then we headed over to Animal Kingdom. Since Pandora – The World of Avatar was so new we didn’t get to go on any of the rides (the lines were over 2 hours and there were no FastPass+ available on any of the days we were there), but we did get to walk through it. It was so cool and if you’re a big Avatar fan this is definitely worth seeing!

We explored a little more then headed over to Hollywood Studios to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, both of which we had FastPass+ tickets for! These rides are what people go to Hollywood Studios for so if you can score a FastPass+ I highly suggest it! Parks like Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom aren’t too big so you definitely don’t need to allot a full day at either. And if we were staying that night you could probably even do Epcot again at night for dinner, that’s the beauty of the Park Hopper passes! I’m so excited to go back to Hollywood Studios in the next couple years with so many new things opening like Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!

We left Hollywood Studios and went back to our hotel to get our things and headed right to the airport to go home!

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life Photo Walt Disney World Orlando Florida
Kilimanjaro Safaris Giraffe Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World
Pandora The World of Avatar Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World

Favorite rides in Animal Kingdom:

  • DINOSAUR (FastPass+ Available)
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (FastPass+ and Single Rider Available)
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris (FastPass+ Available)

Hollywood Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World
Sunset Ranch Market Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World

Favorite rides in Hollywood Studios:

    • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (FastPass+ Available)
    • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (FastPass+ Available)

Planet Hollywood Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World Palm Trees

Other things to note that made our trip super smooth:

      • Download the theme park apps! They give you access to EVERYTHING and make looking things up so simple! From waiting time at lines, to booking fast passes, to making dinner reservations, these were a life saver and so convenient to have!
      • While you’re downloaded apps you might as well download Uber also (if you don’t already have it)! Since we didn’t stay on Disney property getting to and from the parks was a little bit harder and the shuttle at our hotel only ran once an hour. Once we got to the parks we used complimentary Disney transportation (like the Monorail and buses) to get from park to park, but in the morning and at night we took an Uber! The Uber drivers we were lucky enough to have also gave us so many tips! For example, Uber technically can’t drop you off at Magic Kingdom, but instead of getting dropped off at the Transportation Center (which can get a little crazy), get dropped off at one of the resorts next to Magic Kingdom, like the Polynesian, Grand Floridian or Contemporary, then take the monorail over!
      • While you are in the parks though take advantage of the free Disney Park Transportation. Experiencing everything in Universal and Disney in three days is a LOT, but not having to worry about getting from park to park once we were on Disney property was awesome. Between the monorail, boat and bus it’s easy to navigate around…and free!
      • Also worth noting, you don’t have to use Disney tickets on consecutive days! We bought 2-Day Park Hopper passes to Walt Disney World and we used them on Saturday and Monday (we went to Universal on Sunday).

Jackie Giardina Photo Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle Orlando Florida Walt Disney World How to Do Universal and Disney in Three Days

Were we tired after packing Universal and Disney in three days? Absolutely, but it was 100% worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat (maybe next time I’ll make it 4 days and spend one day relaxing at the pool and giving my poor feet a break)! Also make sure to check out the Florida Highlight on my Instagram stories to watch all of my videos from the trip!

Shop all my Florida outfits + the camera I used for my outfit pics here:

Disclosure: I was provided with 2 1-Day Park Hopper Passes to Walt Disney World.

By Jackie, June 27, 2018
  • 2
2 Comments
  • Sheri Ann
    July 13, 2018

    Hi Jackie! Love this post!

    As a cast member at Walt Disney World, I just wanted to let you know that you get three Fast Passes to start your day. Once you’ve used up all three, you can book one new Fast Pass at a time – even if you’re park hopping! I just wanted to throw that in there because it’s a common misconception that you only get three for the full day. I tell guests to always get Fast Passes as close together as possible so that they can take advantage of a full day!

    So happy to hear that you had a magical vacation!

    • Jackie Giardina
      July 17, 2018

      SO good to know!!! Updating that in the post ASAP =)

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About Me
Hello everyone, I’m Jackie, a newly turned 30 year old from Westchester, New York! Welcome to Living After Midnite!
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