Florida Trip Time Allocation

Edited: November 28, 2016, 5:43 PM

Hey everyone,

I am currently in the early phases of planning a trip to Florida for spring 2017 (looking at late April to mid May). While I am not yet 100% sure I'll be doing the trip (that will be determined in Jan/Feb), I'd like to start making some tentative plans and getting a budget together. As I've never been to Florida before, I thought it might be helpful to solicit advice from those who have.

At the moment, I am expecting to have 7 or 8 days for the trip, likely from a Saturday to the following Saturday or Sunday. Due to flight schedules, I probably won't be able to do much on my arrival day, but I should have a morning and afternoon to do something on departure day. As this is my first trip, I'm looking to do more of an overview of everything, with special priority given to anything that has the potential to close in the near future. Future trips will focus on the things I like the best, as well as anything I miss on this trip.

The following are the parks I consider must visit on this trip:

-All four Walt Disney World Theme Parks
-Both Universal Orlando Theme Parks
-Busch Gardens Tampa
-SeaWorld Orlando
-Fun Spot America (Orlando location)

If time permits, I would also like to visit:

-Legoland Florida
-Blizzard Beach
-Typhoon Lagoon

I'm also interested in going to the Kennedy Space Center. However, I am fine skipping that or any of the above parks if it would compromise time at one of the must visit parks.

My main question at this time is the following: How should I divide up my time to get the most enjoyment out of everything without feeling like I missed something? In other words, how much time should I spend at each of the parks? To help, here are a few guidelines and notes:

-When visiting a theme park, I usually arrive at opening and stay until closing, with the only breaks being for meals.
-At theme parks, I usually try to do all dark rides, flume rides, roller coasters, and any other rides that are unique to the park. I am fine skipping more common attractions, such as flat rides. With the exception of roller coasters and unique thrill rides, I rarely re-ride attractions on a single visit.
-I typically try to see all nighttime spectaculars and continuously running shows. For shows that only play at designated times, unless the performance is particularly notable I'll see them if the schedule works out and skip them otherwise.
-Unless a restaurant is somewhat special, I usually opt for quick service dining inside a theme park in order to allow more time for rides.
-While accommodations have yet to be determined, it is likely I will be staying off property to save money.
-I will have my own rental car for the duration of this trip.
-I have no problem visiting multiple parks in the same day (even if they aren't adjacent), and I have no problem splitting a single full-day park over multiple partial days as long as it won't increase the ticket cost.
-I live in Southern California, and as a result I visit the Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, and SeaWorld San Diego regularly. I am fine skipping anything that is a near duplicate of something offered at those parks.

I think that's about it. For now, I'm mostly concerned with the trip as a whole, and I'll probably post another thread with more specific park questions at a time closer to the trip. I welcome any input and suggestions anyone has, and I only ask that you don't offer advice if you haven't visited Florida yourself.

Replies (12)

November 29, 2016, 9:59 AM

I'd say one park per day except you should combine Animal Kingdom and DHS. Also, do FunSpot on an arrival/departure day, or combine it with your SeaWorld day.

Edited: November 30, 2016, 7:50 AM

I will preference this by saying this is only my opinion....

So let’s figure this out, you have 7 days to visit the following.

All four\three Walt Disney World Theme Parks – well at 1 park per day you are already at 4 days. I would Skip One of the Disney parks (Probably Epcot or Hollywood Studios) and save that day. Now you have used 3 days. Maybe visit 2 parks for one long day saving you another day.

Both Universal Orlando Theme Parks – I like to spend a full day at each of these great parks therefore you are now at 4 to 5 days.

Only Two to Three days left to visit: Busch Gardens Tampa = Full day.

SeaWorld Orlando = Full day…

Fun Spot America (Orlando location) Skip this….

If time permits, Maybe somehow visit One of these, I prefer Aquatica or Typhoon Lagoon.

We also like a rest day\resort day, but your aggressive schedule will not permit that.

Have a great Trip!!!!

November 29, 2016, 6:27 PM

I'll probably be able to write a more lengthy response later today or on Friday but for now I'll just say these things

-I like Brian's plan but I think its better to fit 4 Disney World parks into 3 days then to simply cut a park out
-If you are going to cut a WDW park out, it has to be DHS. DHS is by far the weakest park. It's theming is extremely "meh" and I know you've already ridden rides like Rock N Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, and Midway Mania.
-I know that you said that you prefer to do quick service but at WDW that'd be a mistake. I feel like a major part of WDW, especially EPCOT, is the great food.
-Skip Figment at EPCOT, Stitch at Magic Kingdom, and the Conservation Station at Animal Kingdom

Edited: November 29, 2016, 10:01 PM

First off, I would skip Legoland altogether - I don't think you fit their demographic, unless you are traveling with some little kids. That settled, I would set aside one day for Magic Kingdom (as a Disneyland native you owe it to yourself to fully explore this similar, but very different version of Walt's original theme park), one day for Epcot (it is a huge park, and very different from other theme parks - take your time and explore it the way it was intended to be explored - leisurely), and one day for BGT (it is a little out of the way, so it won't be easy to combine with another park - plus it has enough big boy stuff to differentiate it from the family-centric Orlando scene). Everything else can be park hopped.

I would combine a morning at Typhoon Lagoon with an afternoon and evening at Animal Kingdom (of course you need to visit Everest, Dinosaur, and the Safaris, but make sure to also take in the Nemo and Lion King shows), Blizzard Beach with DHS (you have to ride the Florida version of Tower of Terror!), IOA with USO (stay at Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, or Portfino for the Express Pass perk, and plan for multiple rides on Spider-Man, my favorite Universal attraction), Aquatica with Seaworld (just make sure to hit Kraken, Manta, and Mako - they are the only real "coaster boy" coasters in Orlando), and hit Fun Spot on your leave day just to get your White Lightning coaster credit.

This commando schedule won't be very relaxing (except for your day at Epcot if you do it right!), but it should get you your "best of" tour, with no issues.

NOTE: If Pandora is open when you visit, skip Typhoon Lagoon and do a full day at DAK.

November 30, 2016, 4:14 AM

My thought is Disney World can be done in three days. If you're skipping rides already at DLR, and without Pandora being open yet, this should be doable (with maybe a water park) as long as its not crazy busy.

Universal parks could be done in a day with the express pass, particularly since a lot of their rides are duplicated between parks . IoA has Hulk, spiderman, Hogwarts express, Popeye, Dudley Do-right and maybe Dragon challenge. Universal has Gringotss,MiB, Rip'Ride'Rockit and some shows. I think that's doable.

I don't know the other places so I'd withhold comments

December 1, 2016, 5:29 PM


Favorite Disney Park.

I'm guessing you are a credit counter? Is that why you want to go to Legoland? That park can be done in a few hours.

December 1, 2016, 7:07 PM

Thanks for the input, everyone. All of it is extremely helpful. I welcome any additional contributions, but I'd like to respond to a few things based on what has been said so far...

Walt Disney World: I am NOT willing to skip any of the four theme parks and will be allowing a minimum of a half day for each. One of the main reasons for doing the trip now rather than waiting until Avatar/Star Wars/Toy Story is all finished is because I want to see the parks as they are now. While I don't know anything for sure, based on rumors I've got a feeling the parks are going to look significantly different in 5 years. If I was forced to skip a park, it would likely be Magic Kingdom due to similarities with Disneyland, but I would rather cut any other park on the list except Busch Gardens than cut one of the four Disney parks.

Universal Orlando: Assuming I don't have Universal Express, would it still be possible to do both parks in one day? I am not opposed to only giving one day for both parks, but I don't want to do it if it would require missing something. Between the two parks, I count 15 attractions I consider must-do and another 8 I'd like to do, so I don't know if that's typically possible in one day without Universal Express.

SeaWorld: Does this still need a full day if I skip most of the shows? As I visit SeaWorld San Diego somewhat regularly, I don't really care about seeing Blue Horizons, One Ocean, etc. as I assume the shows are mostly identical between the two parks. I was thinking about doing this park on departure day (which would probably give me from opening until about 3 P.M.), but I could do it at a different time if necessary.

Fun Spot: I'm too much of a coaster enthusiast to completely skip this place, plus they've got Florida's best wood coaster. I really probably only need about 2 hours here, however, and would be fine just hopping over after a Universal day (if I remember right, they usually close around 7 P.M. outside of summer and Fun Spot is open until midnight).

Rest Days: I generally don't include a rest day in a trip unless it is 10 days or more, so I'm not planning to include one here. I will likely try to schedule the Epcot day for Wednesday or Thursday to make that a slower paced day in the middle of the trip.

Waterparks: I would like to do a waterpark if time permits, but I probably will stick to doing just one waterpark. Between the Disney World waterparks and Aquatica, which is the one to do if I can only do one?

Dining: I definitely want to do a full service meal at Epcot, and I also want to eat at Mythos. Other than that, I'll probably try to stick to quick service dining, but I may be open to doing one or two other full service meals depending on time and budget. This will be determined at a later time.

Legoland: While I do count credits, that is not why I would like to include Legoland. The biggest reason I'd like to visit the park is because I visited Legoland California a lot when I was younger and I'd like to compare the two parks, plus Legoland Florida has some unique attractions (Quest for CHI, Island in the Sky, and I think one or two others), as well as Ninjago, which I have not experienced in California. The other main reason for visiting is simply that I'm a bit of a completionist and would like to visit all of Florida's major parks. Legoland is not a priority for this trip, just something I'd like to do if time permits (much like the waterparks).

Based on the recommendations so far, as well as my own research, I'm currently thinking something along the following lines for a 7 day trip:

-3 days at Walt Disney World (combine DHS and DAK into one day)
-2 days at Universal Orlando, with a couple hours at Fun Spot one evening
-1 day for Busch Gardens
-1/2 day for SeaWorld on departure day

If I have an 8th day, I'd add a 4th day at Walt Disney World and do each park on its own day (which is actually ~$60 cheaper due to the Magic Ticket). I'd likely do a waterpark on either the DHS or DAK day, and possibly do Legoland on the other (depends on the status of Avatar). Thoughts on this schedule?

Thanks again for all the input, and I welcome any more that anyone has. Also, I've made a note of any attraction recommendations posted. I'll likely post some detailed priority lists much closer to the trip for input on attractions and advice on park plans of attack, but I'm trying not to think about that part yet (I tend to be a bit of an extreme planner).

December 2, 2016, 10:39 AM

You should map out the attractions you want to see so you can make advanced plans. Take advantage of Disney's Fastpass and single rider lines. You might want to stay at Universal's hotels to bypass the lines. You sound like a single. There's no one to slow you down. I done parks when I was single and went by myself. I was able to finish a park in record time. Now, I barely able to do half a park in a full day.

December 2, 2016, 1:33 PM

Thanks for the Update AJ.

I like two days at Universal. Make sure you check the closing times also, they are not always the same every day.

Busch Gardens is great for coasters but as you know it is about an hour from Orlando..

December 2, 2016, 8:22 PM

Anon, I'll be making step by step touring plans for Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. It's far too early to do that at this point, but once the trip is 100% confirmed I'll get to work on that part. Also, I have yet to determine how many people will be in the group, but it will be anywhere from just me to perhaps a small group of 4 or 5 depending on if any Florida friends can meet up. Everyone in the group will be in their 20s or 30s, and for the most part I expect we'll tour at a moderate-fast pace.

Brian, I'll be sure to check closing times closer to the trip. From historical patterns, it appears Universal usually opens at 8 or 9 A.M. and closes anywhere from 6 to 9 P.M., so if one of the days I'm there has a 6 or 7 P.M. closing it will be easy to do Fun Spot afterward. Otherwise, I'll have to squeeze it in elsewhere. Doing a day trip to Busch Gardens from Orlando is not a problem either...I do a day trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain at least once every few months and that is often 2 hours or more each way due to LA traffic.

December 4, 2016, 1:03 PM

Tip for Epcot: FastPass Frozen, Rope Drop Soarin, Single Rider Test Track. Recommended secondary FastPasses: Spaceship Earth and Mission SPACE (even though they don't ever need it, it's better walking on then waiting 10 minutes). Even if you single rider Test Track, there is a 90% chance you will be with at least one other person from your group.

December 4, 2016, 4:25 PM

Thanks for the tip, Jaiden. Because Soarin' exists in California, I will likely use my Fastpass for either Frozen or Test Track (depending on availability) and head directly to the other at opening. I do want to go through the regular line on Test Track once for the opportunity to create a car, but if I re-ride I'll likely use single rider. Soarin' is not a priority for me, but if the line is under an hour (unlikely from what I've read) I'll give it a ride once I've done the priority attractions since it does have a different ending scene.

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