On a vacation to Orlando, there are two sets of theme parks likely at the top of your list; Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
Depending on whether you’re staying on-site at the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Resort or elsewhere in Orlando along with the modes of transport you have accessible is likely going to depend on how you get to each of the theme parks during your trip.
Universal Studios is nine miles away from Walt Disney World and is best accessed by the I4 in a car with the journey taking around 20 minutes. If you don’t have a car the best way to get from Walt Disney World to Universal Studios is in an Uber or a Lyft – the journey costs around $22 each way.
While we personally choose not to drive while in Orlando, we’re incredibly lucky to have experienced journeys between Universal Studios Orlando and Walt Disney World on every mode of transport listed below.
As such were able to advise as to the best mode of transport for every party size and scenario to help you have an incredible (and stress-free) trip.[table “94” not found /]
⏱️ Time: 20 minutes
💵 Cost: $22 each way
💻 Book Hire Car: Discover Cars
If you have access to your own vehicle or a rental car then the easiest way to travel from Walt Disney World to Universal Studios is by car.
Given the size of the Walt Disney World Resort, the exact distance you travel will vary and this along with traffic will depend on how long the journey takes.
However, as a rough guide, you’re looking at around 9 miles with the journey taking around 20 minutes (be sure to allow for extra time if you’re travelling during peak hours).
The closest Walt Disney World parks to International Drive and therefore the quickest ones to travel to / from are Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
Meanwhile, the furthest parks away from International Drive and therefore the ones that often take the longest are Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.
Of course, when you arrive at Universal Studios Florida you will need to pay the parking fees in order to park your vehicle. Parking at the Universal Orlando Resort is done just outside of CityWalk and costs $25 per vehicle, per day.
While driving from Walt Disney World to Universal Studios is the most convenient, it’s often the most expensive given the cost of;
- Car Rental
- Parking at Universal Studios & Walt Disney World
- Parking at your hotel or resort (where applicable)
For example, prices currently start at $27 per day to park at the Universal Studios theme parks and $15 per night to park at Universal hotels.
Meanwhile, prices currently start at $27 per day to park at the Walt Disney World theme parks and $15 per night to park at a Disney hotel.
As such you’ll want to consider the total cost of hiring a car for your Universal & Disney World vacation and consider whether you’ll use the car enough to justify the cost.
⏱️ Time: 24 minutes
💵 Cost: $50 – $65
💻 Reserve Taxi: Hoppa
Given the increasing costs associated with hiring a car in Orlando (and the fact we travel internationally and therefore can’t bring our own), we’ve started to use taxis to travel between Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
While traditional taxis are available we’ve often found the most convenient and affordable services come from the ride-sharing companies Uber & Lyft.
We use Uber and Lyft for a couple of reasons;
- They are convenient – They will pick you up from Disney resort hotels and drop you off at any of the dedicated drop-off locations.
- They are flexible – You can easily upgrade to larger vehicles, nicer vehicles or vehicles with a car seat for kids at an extra cost.
- They are easy – You can easily schedule a pickup time and location in advance
While traditional taxis (such as Mears Connect) are also an option we’ve often found Ubers and Lyfts to be the easiest to use and the most affordable.
That being said, depending on the time of day you’re travelling (after the fireworks at Magic Kingdom for example) you may find that the wait time for ride-sharing services is significantly longer than usual given it’s the most popular option for those without their own vehicle.
In that case, depending on your budget and schedule you may want to consider getting a traditional taxi service instead since these are often available outside the ticket and transportation centre.
With Uber and Lyft how much you pay for your journey comes down to a combination of different factors including;
- The journey distance
- The demand for vehicles at that time
- Any toll rolls
- The style / type of vehicle you choose
As such the exact price you pay for an Uber or Lyft will vary even if you’re just doing the same journey in reverse (i.e. CityWalk at Universal Studios to Animal Kingdom and then Animal Kingdom back to CityWalk).
That being said, I know first hand when planning your Orlando vacation it’s always nice to have a good idea as to how much things cost, so feel free to use the prices below as a guide;
- Universal Studios to Disney Springs – $17
- Universal Studios to Magic Kingdom (TTC) – $30
- Universal Studios to EPCOT – $18
- Universal Studios to Hollywood Studios – $22
- Universal Studios to Animal Kingdom – $24
Prices are based on an UberX for up to four people. Expect to pay an additional 20% to 30% for Uber Comfort and an additional 50% to 70% for UberXL (up to six people) or UberX Car Seat.
The number of taxis that provide a car seat for a baby or child in Orlando is incredibly limited despite the fact the city is catered to families.
Meanwhile, lockers inside both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World are not large enough for you to store a car seat in throughout the day.
⏱️ Time: n/a
💵 Cost: n/a
💻 Buy Bus Tickets: Omio
While a traditional bus from the Universal Resort to Walt Disney World is often the cheapest option it’s also the longest and most inconvenient.
Another alternative you may come across during your research or during your time in Orlando is the popular I-Ride trolly which runs along International Drive (near where the Universal Parks are located).
However, sadly no routes offered by this service currently go into the Walt Disney World resort and instead would still require you to change onto a Lynx bus service.
As such, we would not recommend trying to take a traditional bus from Walt Disney World to Universal Studios.
However, if you’re looking for an affordable transport option we’d instead recommend you look to a hotel that offers complimentary transportation or paid shuttle transportation to either both or one of the parks (allowing you to take a ride-sharing service to the other).
Private Airport Transfer
⏱️ Time: 25 minutes
💵 Cost: $21 per person (age 12+), $16 per child (age 3-11), and free for children under 3
💻 Reserve Transfer: Hoppa
While you can visit Universal Studios while staying on-site at a Walt Disney World hotel, and visit Walt Disney World while staying on-site at a Universal Studios hotel the two do not operate any form of shuttle or transport to one and other given that they are in direct competition.
That being said, the independent shuttle firm Mears does offer this service however, the cost and lack of flexibility make it a poor choice in our opinion.
Round trip transportation with Mears from Walt Disney World to Universal Studios costs $21 per person (age 12+), $16 per child (age 3-11), and free for children under 3.
This makes it a cheaper option for solo travellers, but for two or more people Uber and Lyft is not only cheaper option but also a more convenient option given that it’s both flexible in that the taxi arrives as and when you’re ready and direct in that you’re able to be dropped off straight at your resort hotel.
If you do believe that a Mears shuttle is the best option for you then you can go ahead and schedule your pick-up time by calling Mears directly on 855-4-MEARS-NOW.
Shuttles pick-up every hour between 7am and midnight and call at all applicable Walt Disney World properties.
Private Airport Transfer
⏱️ Time: n/a
💵 Cost: n/a
💻 Reserve Transfer: Hoppa
There are several incredible Orlando hotels with a free shuttle to Disney and Universal Studios. These hotels range dramatically based on their location in Orlando, their star rating, their price per night, and even the frequency in which the shuttles run.
As such it’s highly recommended you research each of these hotels extensively to find the one that best suits your needs.[table “95” not found /]
Having stayed at hotels that offer shuttles to the parks previously we’ve often found that we use the shuttle in combination with Ubers and Lyfts to provide flexibility on a budget.
In most cases that means taking the first shuttle bus to the parks so we can get there as early as possible and maximise our time.
Then for the return back to the hotel, we’ll often take a taxi (in most cases an Uber or a Lyft) when we’re ready rather than hanging around for the bus or having to run for the bus because we’ve almost missed it having stayed late for fireworks etc.
Most shuttles travelling to Walt Disney World only do a single drop-off at the Ticket and Transportation Centre (TTC) across from Magic Kingdom. F
rom there you’ll have to take the complimentary Walt Disney World resort buses to the likes of Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, the monorail to EPCOT or the monorail / ferry over to Magic Kingdom.
This means you’ll often need to factor in plenty of time (upwards of one hour during fireworks) to get back from the theme park to the TTC for the bus back to your hotel.
Universal Orlando Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Orlando?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Orlando tickets. Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Orlando theme park tickets from AttractionTix. I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing Orlando theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
If you’re travelling to Universal Orlando for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Orlando, as the resort has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points. However, if Universal Orlando makes up the majority of your vacation, then you may want to stay on-site.
Staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort comes with several perks. Including complimentary transport from the hotel to the Universal Orlando theme parks. In some cases, you can even walk from your hotel straight to the theme park gates.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Orlando.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando?
If you’re spending the majority of your vacation at Universal Orlando, it’s a good idea to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel. Staying onsite at Universal Orlando comes with several perks, including;
- Early park admission
- Complimentary transport
- Complimentary Universal Express Passes (selected hotels only)
- Walking distance of the Universal theme parks (selected hotels only)
While staying onsite at Universal Orlando is great value for money, it can still be out of budget for many. Thankfully, there are several budget-friendly hotels close to Universal Orlando to choose from.
Meanwhile, if Universal Orlando only makes up part of your Orlando vacation, then you may want to stay elsewhere. Kissimmee, International Drive and Lake Buena Vista are all within a 40-minute drive of Universal Orlando.