It’s almost impossible to visit Orlando and not visit some of the theme parks! And unless you plan on visiting just one of them, transportation will be a huge and possibly expensive factor that you’ll need to consider. So, how far is Disney World from Universal Studios? This article addresses the actual distances as well as how long it can take on average to reach the parks or hotels plus how to get around whether you have a car in Orlando or need to rely on other methods of transportation.
Walt Disney World and Universal Studios are two of the area’s most popular, beloved, and fun tourist attractions. They’re so well-known, in fact, that many first-timers mistake them for being in the same location, which couldn’t be further from the truth!
Apart from a few similarities like comparable ticket costs, they are quite different from each other. Their size and ownership, for one, definitely set them apart. Plus, each one offers a different experience entirely, which means there’s no real reason to choose one over the other!
The good news is they are not that far from one another, which means the best of both worlds for visitors, right? Well, yes and no. The fact that the parks are so close to each other leads to fierce competition, which in turn can make commuting a challenge as neither theme park actively encourages travelers to visit their competitor.
However, this doesn’t mean you should feel discouraged. Not just yet, anyway! Between cabs, ride-sharing, shuttles, and rentals, there are still plenty of options to help you make the best of your Orlando travels.
Here’s everything you need to know to determine the best way to travel between Universal Studios and Disney World for your family. Our extensive list of choices along with the pros and cons of each choice will make your vacation planning simpler and your family vacation so much more hassle-free.
How far is Disney world from Universal Studios?
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The driving distance from Universal Studios to Disney World is just 8.6 miles. The distance from Disney World to Universal Studios, however, is a little bit longer at 9.2 miles. The distance both ways can increase up to 14 miles depending on where within the two resorts you’re traveling to and from.
The shortest and most direct route is the I-4 which runs along International Drive and takes anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes without traffic. This is a great option for families that want non-stop fun as International Drive has a wide variety of eateries, tourist hot spots, and entertainment opportunities which can make it an enjoyable drive.
As Disney World and Universal Studios are the most sought-after destinations in the area, traffic both ways is usually heavy and even more so on weekends and during the holiday seasons!
Allow extra time for park opening but particularly closing hours and rainy days. Rain can add a consider amount of time to journey and more expensive Ride Share options.
(If you are park hopping at Disney before moving on from Disney World to Universal, you realistically need to allow one hour from leaving a park to entering your next park after 2pm.)
Another thing to take into account is the difference in travel times each mode of transport provides. Public transport and shuttles are slower and halt at multiple stops, taking longer than private vehicles.
How to Get From Disney World to Universal Studios?
Mears Transportation Group offers a round-trip shuttle service from Disney World to Universal Orlando. The service is free for children under three years old but has a steep fixed price per person older than three, which can make it expensive when traveling in a big group.
Another issue with this option is that the bus stops at other locations, increasing the overall travel time. So unless you are a small group and the shuttle pickup times are convenient to you, this does not make the most efficient or cost-effective alternative.
Pro tip: Most hotels offer free shuttle services to both Disney and Universal Studios but not between the two theme parks. If your hotel isn’t too far you could always go back to your hotel from wherever you are and catch the next shuttle to Disney or Universal Studios. While it may take you a little extra time, it will save you money.
Taking a Taxi between Disney World and Universal Studios
A taxicab provides door-to-door service, and privacy, and saves time as it doesn’t halt at different stops. It also makes sure you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot or the hefty parking charges that come with it.
A Mears taxi might be the right option for you if you are looking for an old-school traditional taxi. You can either book one in advance or get one outside the theme park gates, whichever one you’re at. Keep in mind that this may be easier said than done during peak hours.
Considering the ride is only about 20 minutes in total, taking a Mears taxi is another option that can turn out to be expensive. However, it still may be cheaper than the per-person priced shuttle.
Ride-sharing services offered by companies like Uber and Lyft are crowd favorites among tourists for how convenient and economical they are. From a basic car for up to four passengers to an SUV for six, to luxury vehicles that hold up to 8 people, these platforms offer a variety of options to passengers right at their fingertips.
Both platforms also give you the option to refine your preferences and add a car seat if you’re traveling with your little one. Just remember to double-check with your driver before they arrive to avoid any unwanted surprises. The only downside to these services, in our opinion, is the surge pricing they impose on their rides during peak hours and high demand times such as rainy weather.
Pro tip: Avoid booking close to opening and closing times. We also recommend comparing prices on both apps to avail the best option.
Rent a Car to go between Disney World and Universal Studios
Renting a car is great for those who like having complete control over their commute. It’s also the most practical option if you plan on hitting other popular tourist attractions in Orlando apart from the theme parks in your own time. Just know that it most likely will not be easy on the pocket!
Sure, one way to make it more cost-effective is to include it in your vacation package when you book it yourself or through your travel agent at the very beginning. However, this doesn’t change the fact that renting a car simply isn’t the best choice if you’re only planning on visiting the major theme parks. Particularly when you take into account how far Disney World is from Universal Studios.
While short-term rentals are available, they’re quite expensive. Plus, since rentals usually end up being parked most of the time, they often end up inadvertently costing you more money than you first anticipate. Even if you were to overlook both Disney’s and Universal Studios’ guest parking charges, you’ll still have to factor in the cost of gas and the struggles of driving in peak traffic!
But, hold on now, it isn’t all bad news. Having your own car undoubtedly makes getting around easier and more fuss-free if you have kids. You’ll get to carry whatever you need and keep all of it with you the entire time.
Pack some extra clothes, a travel car seat, and some snacks and you’ll be set. Stopping along the way also becomes a possibility and if you’re someone who often enjoys straying from their itinerary, this option is ideal for you.
If you do choose to shell out a couple of extra bucks for comfort and customizability, you can rent a car from the airport. The Alamo office at the Disney World Car Care Center, if you haven’t already booked one in advance, is another place you can get your hands on a rental.
Book a Private car/ Limousine
If you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you and your kids and are willing to splurge a little, consider booking a private car or limousine. In fact, if you’re traveling in a large enough group, this might even turn out to be a cost-effective option! Just be sure to book it well in advance and avail offers and deals.
Take a Bus
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority offers LYNX bus services in Orlando. Orlando and its surrounding suburbs are serviced by dozens of bus lines, with the fares being as low as $2 a ride. They also offer all-day passes and weekly passes that are very economical.
Line 50 will take you from Universal to Disney World, whereas Line 302 will take you from Disney to Universal Studios. However, these are not direct buses. They require you to switch between buses midway and walk a significant distance to get to the theme parks. It is most definitely not a convenient option, especially when with the kids.
What’s the best way to get from Disney World to Universal?
The best mode of transport for you will depend on the size of your family, the duration of your vacation, and the kind of experience that you’re after. While ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft will be the first choice for most travelers, some others may prefer renting their own cars.
Whatever your preferences, we hope our comprehensive list has cleared up all your questions about the commute from Disney to Universal Studios, and if not, check out the FAQs below – you’ll probably find them there!
How far is Disney World from Universal Studios? FAQs
Are Walt Disney World and Universal Studios the same?
No. In fact, they are direct competitors and offer different themes and experiences.
Universal Orlando Resort has the following theme parks:
- Universal Studios – Harry Potter Wizarding World
- Volcano Bay Water Park
- Universal Islands of Adventure
Disney on the other hand has four theme parks
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Animal Kingdom
- and two water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard beach
How far is Disney world from Universal Studios?
The distance from Disney World to Universal Studios is 9.2 miles. The majority of the trip is on the I-4 highway with a travel time of around 20 minutes with minimum traffic. It takes longer during rush hour, early morning, weekends, holidays and when the parks close.
When is the best time to travel between the two theme parks?
Theme parks in general attract the most crowds over weekends and holiday seasons. Traffic is at an all-time high during these times. Plus, opening and closing times see even more traffic as well as crazy surge pricing for ride-shares.
The ideal time to travel between the two most popular theme parks in Orlando is on weekdays, either early morning before opening time or in the afternoons.
Is there a shuttle between Disney World and Universal?
No, there are no shuttles between the two parks. They are independent of each other. Your options are private car, taxi, or ride share. By local bus involves several changes and is not direct.
Should you carry your own car seats?
Unlike the laws in California and many other states, Florida law only requires booster seats or car seats for children younger than 5 years old.
For children younger than 5, however, you will need one, in which case your best option will be a travel-friendly booster seat. Note that you will need to have one handy if you plan to travel by public bus as well. The good news is that Lyft has options to request a car seat in Orlando subject to extra charges, as do many of the rental car companies.
How many acres is Disney World?
Walt Disney World Resort is spread over 25,000 acres which is double the size of Manhattan. It envelopes two cities in Florida – Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. With four theme parks, two water parks, about 20 hotels, a shopping district, and more, the property has multiple entrances, meeting spots, and exits.
It is important to enter at the correct entry point when traveling from Universal Studios. This will save you time and energy hopping about inside.
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