Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
Hotels. If you are going on a splurge here, go with Loew's Portofino Bay Hotel if staying at Universal and Disney's Grand Floridian or Disney's Wilderness Lodge if staying at Disney. All three hotels are great.
Loews Portofino Bay transports you to Portofino, Italy, all of the architecture highly detailed. You have many nice restaurants and shops here along with water, bus, and bike transportation to the Universal parks. The parks are also a 5 minute walk away. Staying here gets you free front of the line access to all Universal Orlando attractions at both parks just with your room card and 1 hour early entry into Islands of Adventure for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa is a luxurious hotel with 19th century Floridian architecture. The hotel includes a white sand beach, spa, restaurant s and shops, and water/bus/monorail transportation to the Disney parks right from the hotel. Included benefits are the Extra Magic Hours where each day, 1 Disney park will stay open either 1 hour early or 3 hours late!
Disney's Wilderness Lodge was voted on the website as the best theme park hotel of 2010. It is themed to a Yellowstone National Park feel (that is a national park in the western United States) even with its own geiser! This allows you to get the tast of another area of the U.S. while visiting. This hotel had many nice restaurants, shops, and water/bus transportation to the Disney parks along with the Extra Magic Hours benefit.
Now onto the parks. Since you have 2 weeks, here is how I would suggest you plan your visit if you stay at Disney:
April 9: Arrival
April 10: Magic Kingdom
April 11: EPCOT
April 12: Hollywood Studios
April 13: Animal Kingdom
April 14: Sea World
April 15: Universal Studios Florida
April 16: Islands of Adventure
April 17: Busch Gardens Tampa
April 18: EPCOT
April 19: Animal Kingdom
April 20: Hollywood Studios
April 21: Magic Kingdom
April 22: Departure
An here is what I would suggest if you stay at Universal Orlando:
April 9: Arrival
April 10: Universal Studios Florida
April 11: Islands of Adventure
April 12: Sea World Orlando
April 13: Busch Gardens Tampa
April 14: Magic Kingdom
April 15: EPCOT
April 16: Hollywood Studios
April 17: Animal Kingdom
April 18: EPCOT
April 19: Magic Kingdom
April 20: Universal Studios Florida
April 21: Islands of Adventure
April 22: Departure
Disney's Magic Kingdom- The Magic Kingdom is classic Disney: Main Street U.S.A., Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, Adventureland, and Frontierland. All of the Disney classic attractions such as Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and more can be found within this great park. A detailed tour plan is highly neccessary here however, as this park experiences the most crowds of any other park in the world.
EPCOT- Here you can go into see the latest and greatest in the future or travel around the world in a single day. EPCOT features Future World and World Showcase. Future World has popular attractions such as Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Mission: SPACE, Soarin', and Captain EO. World Showcase features 11 countries including United Kingdom, Canada, Morocco, France, Italy, American Adventure, Germany, China, Japan, Norway, and Mexico. To finish off each night, EPCOT shows IllumiNations, a firework spectacular. this park is not as crowded as Magic Kingdom but needs 2 days to be completly experienced.
More to come later.
The parks are fun, but you will get burnt out going to one after another, especially if it's a first visit. You may need a vacation from the vacation!
What were you thinking in regards to hotels? I would choose Disney because you are likely to spend more time there and you can get the in resort perks!
You can easily do Universal parks in a day, especially if you do IOA on a weekday. The Universal Studio crowds are light even on the weekends thanks to Harry Potter. Should defintely put a water park in the middle of the trip to relax a little. Have fun!
If they are going to spend most of their time at Disney, they should stay at Disney. It gets a bit hairy when you are commuting back and forth between Disney and Universal.
Unless they have a car, Disney and Universal are not really that near each other and can get a bit on the expensive side to travel between the two.
-Extra Magic Hours
-Disney's Magic Express Transportation
-CityWalk Party Pass (Access to everything CityWalk for free)
-Unlimited Express Pass (which is FAR better than FastPass)
-30 min. early entry into USF
-1 hr. early entry into IOA
-Free Breakfast At Three Broomsticks
They even throw in a Commemorative ticket showing you visited WWOHP!
But, if transportation is a problem, stay onsite at Disney, the hotels make up for the perks as the theming is magnificent (which are still good, just Universal has more perks and better perks)
Perhaps you can stay at two hotels, Universal and Disney perhaps. Then you get the best of both worlds and transportation is not an issue.
I am not sure how this works on an international flight, but Disney does have a "Magical Express" that takes you from the Airport to your Disney resort. They also pick up your bags. If you really really are not getting a car, this might be a good option.
I would highly consider getting a rental car. You can look online for them. Here are a few of them, but you should "shop around" to see who can give you a good deal:
If you are going to get a rental car though, do your research and look at every rental car vender before going right in and purchasing a rental car.
Finally, thanks again for the help, if anyone needs advice on visiting the uk I will happily help.
Universal Studios Orlando has Mardi Gras Saturday nights that will be in operation during your visit. This is included with the daily entrance ticket and does not cost anything extra to attend. USO really does this well, has major music acts in concert and has a Mardi Gras parade through the park. I've been to the real New Orleans Mardi Gras and USO's version is a fun theme park imitation absent the naughty bits.
As for shows, which do you mean? Theme parks have many shows that are regular attractions that are included in the daily ticket cost and are usually first come first served as regards to good seats. Separately ticketed shows on theme park resort property but not in a park are like all theatre events, buy tickets in advance and get assigned seats.
You're staying off theme park resort property which saves a lot of money but you don't get extras that the parks offer in order to get people to stay on their property. Disney offers Extra Magic Hours which are hours before and after the park is open to general visitors (like you appear to be), free theme park parking, and free transport from the airport to the resort. Universal offers front-of-the-line access at most rides and attractions (but not Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey or Olivanders Wand Shop).
You have a lot of time to plan, which is fun in itself. As you visit this site over the weeks ahead, after you got into the details of your trip better, ask more specific questions and hopefully we can give you more specific answers.
If you do not wish to visit the parks during your two weeks, then the 7 day or 5 day pass is the best option. I am fairly sure these expire after the two week period also but you can ONLY visit the parks 5 or 7 times.
As for the Orlando Flex Ticket, you are able to visit any of the other main theme parks in Orlando but I have never used this so cannot be of much help. I have just paid at the gate for these parks as I don't want to visit them all.
Finally, theatre shows at the parks are entirely free and are included with the admission cost. However to see another show outside the parks you need to pay. If you are interested in one then I advise you look into at the start of your holiday.
Hope this helps! If you have any further info then I would be pleased to answer :)
EDIT You can only purchase the Disney tickets in the UK so if you want to purchase them, then you have to do that here. Again, not sure about Orlando Flex Ticket but if it is for UK citizens then you can only buy that here also.
Also for access to Sea World, Aquatica, Wet & Wild and the Universal parks, choose the Orlando FlexTicket (Standard) for unlimited access to these within the 14 day window. Available in the US and UK, but it is better to prebook.
If you wish to do Discovery Cove & Busch Gardens, also choose the Discovery Cove Choice of Adventure package which includes Dolphin Swim, Discovery Cove entrance and entrance to Busch Gardens. Once again you MUST prebook as Discovery Cove has limited availability.
I hope this makes it clearer for you.
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort