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Help planning Orlando trip August 21-28

I'm from Puerto Rico and I need some help planning my Orlando trip which includes visits to all Disney/Universal parks.

From Javier Rivera
Posted June 24, 2010 at 7:29 AM
Hello, I'm going to Orlando for vacation with my girlfriend from August 21-28, 2010. I'll be staying at the Pop Century Resort and I'm planning on visiting all 4 Disney parks, plus Universal and Islands of Adventure. I'm looking for tips on planning my days at the parks. This is my first time and I want to make it memorable. Here's my tentative schedule:

Saturday 21: I'll arrive at Orlando around 10 am, after going to the Hotel I plan to check out the Magic Kingdom.

Sunday 22: Magic Kingdom

Monday 23: Animal Kingdom

Tuesday 24: Universal Studios

Wednesday 25: Hollywood Studios

Thursday 26: Islands of Adventure

Friday 27: Epcot

Saturday 28: Epcot

Any tips or comments would be greatly appreciated, especially the Islands of Adventure day as I want to experience the whole park, but also don't want to miss Harry Potter and I'm scared I'll miss out on something because of the crowds. Thank you guys!


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From James Rao
Posted June 24, 2010 at 8:21 AM
What time does your flight leave on the 28th?

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 24, 2010 at 8:38 AM
Sounds good to me, but one thing that you should consider is Magical Hours which are only for Disney Resort guests (you!). Usually, on a certain day during the week, a park opens an hour early or stays open two or three hours later. This is very good for EPCOT and Magic Kingdom since they have the most items that are open for the late nights.

I would do Early Magical Hours at Animal Kingdom because the park closes usually around sunset (5pm-7pm). The park also opens earlier than the rest so make sure to try and do that! AK has many underrated aspects that many overlook! Also, the night that you do AK, you can explore Downtown Disney or some of the Resorts which are a bit of an attraction to see (such as AK Lodge and the Boardwalk).

From David L.
Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:36 AM
Are you using Park Hoppers? How many days are you willing to go to IOA and Universal?

From Javier Rivera
Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:34 PM
Thanks for the responses guys!

James- My flight on the 28th leaves at 7pm

Anthony- Thanks for your input! I'll definitely consider those options.

David- I am using Park Hopper, the main purpose of my trip is Disney, so I think I'll just do one day at Universal and one day at IOA.

From James Rao
Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:50 PM
Based on your dates and what we "traditionally" know about Magic Hours (and trying to avoid them - sorry Anthony), I would make the following changes to your itinerary:

Sat 21 Magic Kingdom (or relax and swim)
Sun 22 Animal Kingdom
Mon 23 Epcot
Tue 24 Islands of Adventure
Wed 25 Hollywood Studios
Thu 26 Universal Studios
Fri 27 Magic Kingdom
Sat 28 Epcot.

You will probably miss Fantasmic at DHS with this itinerary (since they only show it a couple nights a week), so you'll have to decide how important it is to you.

When I get a chance (when I am not at work!), I will see about drawing up some touring plans to help, if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

PS You should not need Park Hopper as all your days will be filled. Save some $$$.

From Manny Barron
Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:52 PM
I was at IOA on the opening day of Harry Potter. It was crazy but after we rode the rides inside the land and decided to see the rest of IOA we never really waited. We did Hulk,Spider-Man,Cat in the Hat,Suess Trolley,Dudley Do-Rights, and the JP river adventure and then the park closed. I spent an absurd amount of time to get into Potter land that day but crowds will most certainly not be like that when you go so u can do even more stuff at IOA, still very important to get there early though.

From Neil Reece
Posted June 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM
I agree with James with one exception. USF is less crowded on the weekends than Magic Kingdom, I'd switch those two. USF can be done easily in one day on the weekend ( maybe 3/4 of a day on the weekend even).

From David L.
Posted June 24, 2010 at 3:44 PM
OK... i don't know if this is true but you might have to use Disney tickets in a row. If it isn't true, then do this. IF you use park hoppers(and what's metioned above), here's what I would do:
21- Magic Kingdom (see wishes OR the Nightastic show OR go to bed for crazy day at IOA)
22-IOA
23-Epcot in morning and Animal K. in evening(AK EMHs)
24-DHS in morning, Epcot in evening(WS and Illuminations and EMHs)
25-Epcot in morning and DHS in evening(Fantasmic and EMHs)
26-Universal Studios
27-Animal Kingdom morning and MK in evening( EMHs and fireworks)
28-ANY disny park BUT AK(early EMHs and busy)

IF you have to use tickets in a row(like US and IOA together and disney parks together) here what i would do:

21-Universal Studios
22-IOA
23-Epcot in morning and AK in evening(EMHs)
24-DHS in morning and Epcot in evening
25-Epcot in morning and DHS in evening
26-Any disney park BUT MK
27-AK in morning and MK in evening
28-MK

if you want to save money then follow James' plan. Hope you have a great trip!
BTW, this is the extra magic hour schedule.

From James Rao
Posted June 24, 2010 at 5:07 PM
David, I believe the tickets are good for 14 days after first use, so it should not be a problem.

As for evening magic hours, I have found little benefit for the main headliner attractions (Everest, Test Track, Toy Story, etc) as they are usually packed until closing. However, some of the other attractions are walk on (Spaceship Earth, Pirates, Figment, etc). If you are going to use Magic Hours, the morning magic hour is the least busy, but then you will need park hopper to leave that park by 11 AM by which time it will be the busiest park of the day.

Whatever you decide, just make sure to have a plan of attack, and move in an alacritous fashion (with cheerful eagerness!).

As for the plan of attack at Disney, try these personalized touring plans I built on touringplans.com:

Animal Kingdom
Epcot Day One
Epcot Day Two
Hollywood Studios
Magic Kingdom

Will let someone else address Universal as it has been a few years since I visited those parks and my info is probably a bit out of date.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted June 24, 2010 at 8:51 PM
I gotta defend my Extra Magical Hours plan, but James concerns are real as well.

The park with Extra Magical Hours tend to be more croweded, especially for opening late. This is obvious at DHS and AK, but with MK and EPCOT's Size, its barely noticable. I personally like them, especially at MK because most of the rides have short wait times. AK's early Extra Magical Hours also work nicely because AK usually works best leasurely and allows you to see all the shows!

I will say, the AK shows are NOT to be missed! Flights of Wonder, Finding Nemo, and Festival of the Lion King are some of the best Theme Park Shows out there!

From Javier Rivera
Posted June 25, 2010 at 2:41 PM
Thank you all for the overwhelming response! I have a clearer picture now as to how to form my plan of attack. Once again, thank you all!

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