How to do Magic Kingdom and Epcot in one day

December 29, 2019, 5:51 PM

For spring break me and two of my friends (aged 20-21) are debating going to islands of adventure/universal studios OR magic kingdom/epcot in one day. None of us have been to Disney since we were kids, so that could be cool, but I know universal like the back of my hand so I know I could make it happen in a day. Whereas Disney might be stressful/impossible. Any advice is welcomed.

Replies (9)

December 30, 2019, 1:27 AM

If you are visiting during spring break and only have one day to visit parks, I would highly recommend picking either Magic Kingdom or Epcot and doing a full day at that park. Even during low season, it would be difficult to do a highlights tour of both parks in one day, so during spring break you'll likely barely get to experience either one with this plan. If picking one, Magic Kingdom is your better bet if you're more of a ride person, more into Disney characters and stories, or want to do all the classic Disney attractions. Epcot is better for more modern attractions, food, shows, or just taking in the theming. If you and your friends are looking for thrills, neither is a good pick...just go with Universal in that case. I'd also recommend Universal if you're not particularly into Disney.

If you must attempt both parks in one day, I'd suggest starting at Epcot and doing as much as you can in 3-4 hours, then hopping to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. The main targets at Epcot are Frozen Ever After, Mission: Space, Soarin', Spaceship Earth, and Test Track, which can probably all be completed by about 1 P.M. if you arrive at opening and move fast. At Magic Kingdom, I'd say Haunted Mansion, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Space Mountain are probably the highest priority, followed by whatever else you and your friends are most interested in. I'd suggest using your Fastpass+ selections at Magic Kingdom for Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan, Splash, or Thunder (whichever two are the highest priority among your group). I'll defer to those with more current knowledge of the parks for more detailed advice.

Overall, it's not impossible to do a brief visit to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot in one day, but I'd strongly recommend against it as you'll only be able to see a fraction of each park. I think you'd find one full day at either park more enjoyable, especially since these are both parks that really take two full days to fully tour when crowded. If this is likely your one opportunity to visit for 5+ years, it may be worth it to try both parks. Otherwise, I'd opt for either one park or the Universal option.

Edited: December 30, 2019, 3:37 AM

If you must do two parks in a day, I'd say do Universal. With the Hogwarts express and close entrances, you could treat the two parks as one.

Otherwise, I'd agree with AJ. Pick one, do it properly, otherwise you'll be left disapointed that you missed a good chunk of the park. In a full day at MK I was so focused on Adventureland/Frontierland/New Orleans Square that I didn't get to experience tomorowland properly, and barely entered Fantasyland at all.

Edited: December 30, 2019, 7:30 AM

With your comment, you say two things that impact my response. You say your friends are 20-21 and you use the word stress. This tells me me you may be willing to stay up late, but is your priority to experience as many attractions as possible?

If thrill rides are what you want and you want to experience as many attractions as possible with very little stress, then go to Universal, stay at either the Hard Rock or Royal Pacific Hotel since both of them have the Universal Express Pass and are very close to the parks (walking distance), and you get front of the line access for everything but the big Potter attractions.

If Disney is what you want and rides are not the priority, then do Magic Kingdom. Just be aware that the crowds will be insane and you will need to get to the park and hour before it opens. Figure out a plan, and whatever attraction means the most head in the crowd towards that direction first. For example, if you want to ride Space Mountain, head towards the crowd nearest Tomorrowland. Getting up early may not suit your age (a possible improper assumption on my part), but it is essential. Use the dreaded FP+. At that time of the year if you are not staying on site it will be difficult to get certain attractions. On site is 60 days out, off site is 30. Get them the second you can. This means getting up before the crack of dawn when available unless you use a travel agent experienced in making these reservations for you. Get them for times from 10 to 1, then use the app to get additional ones, which at that time of the year will be for things like Small World or Laugh Floor. Again, I am assuming you can stay up late due to your age, so you can ride Pirates and Haunted Mansion later in the night. The app will show you wait times, and when something gets under 30 minutes at that time of the year, that is the time to get on it.

If you really want to do EPCOT, then the time to do it would be after 2 when Magic Kingdom gets packed, but you will likely not be able to do much in the way of the big attractions, but the World Showcase is terrific. You could spend three hours or so there just soaking in the sights and maybe catch a circle vision show or two then head back to Magic Kingdom.

Understand, at this time of the year, with the Universal Unlimited Express Pass, you can get on about 25 attractions in a day if you go crazy followed by about 10-12 at Disney. Disney will open much earlier and stay open much later. If you don’t get the Express Pass at Universal, the lines will be bad, but about 60-70% of Disney, which is still bad. Universal will close much earlier in the evening. If you are a rabid Disney fan and can deal with the frustrations of pre-planning and the app and can manage a being in a park from 7 in the morning until midnight, then Disney is great. I have done it several times at that time of year. If you are a huge Potter fan or love thrill rides and don’t want the hassle of crowds and planning, then Universal is the better option assuming you can get the Unlimited Express Pass.

You have said you have not been to Disney since you were younger, and that may have been before FP+. That has changed things, especially around spring break. This was when my family was yearly visitors. That and the crowds has made us alter how we visit Orlando. You can’t just pop into Disney anymore without a plan at that time of the year, so keep that in mind.

Edited: December 30, 2019, 7:46 AM

It really depends on when your "Spring Break" is. If it is during the week either prior to or after Easter, then you're going to be in the eye of the storm. If you have a more common Spring Break during a random week in March, then it might not be so bad.

My concern with your plan here to visit 2 parks in the same day would be cost/value. A 1-day ticket for WDW is expensive enough as it is (over $130), and then to add the park-hopping option, you have to tack on an extra $60 to that ticket. That's a lot of money for one day even if the parks weren't packed to the gills.

If cost isn't an issue for you, I do think it's pretty easy to do a highlights tour of both parks even during the busiest days assuming you follow a very careful plan. The most important thing to do would be to make sure to get FP+ reservations for some of the biggest attractions. Unlike, AJ, I would probably recommend starting your day at MK, because the attractions in that park will be easier to experience via FP+. I assume that since you only have 1 day to visit that you will not be staying on-site, so you will only be able to make FP+ reservations 30 days in advance. That means it's unlikely there will be any available times for 7DMT. However, it's likely you will be able to get FP+ reservations for other top attractions during the morning hours (Space Mountain, BTMRR, Splash, Haunted Mansion, Pirates, etc...). If you arrive at MK 45-60 minutes prior to park opening, you should be able to ride 7DMT when the park first opens with minimal wait (assuming there's no early EMH for MK). Then you could explore the park as you ride the attractions you have FP+s for. If everything goes well, and you've been able to schedule all 3 of your FP+ reservations for the morning, you should have experienced at least 5-7 of the best attractions in MK before lunchtime. If everything works well, you could hop over to EPCOT for lunch or have lunch in MK before hopping to EPCOT on the monorail. Of course, while you're traveling between the 2 parks or eating lunch, you can grab a FP+ for whatever attraction may be available in EPCOT at that time. TestTrack has a single rider line, so if you don't absolutely need to ride with your guests, you can expedite you experience for that attraction (the single rider line usually cuts the wait in half if not even better sometimes). Mission: Space is the most likely attraction to have FP+ availability, but you might also get lucky with a Soarin' FP+ later in the day. It shouldn't be too difficult to see most of the Future World attractions by dinner time, at which point you can start walking around the World Showcase. If you're really into this plan, you could already have a dinner reservation at one of the World Showcase restaurants, because if you want to have a nice sit-down meal, it will be important to make those reservations far in advance (you can make restaurant reservations 180 days in advance). After dinner, you could then decide to continue touring around the World Showcase, and wait to see EPCOT Forever (the new/temporary nighttime lagoon show), or hop back to MK to see Happily Every After.

Doing both MK and EPCOT in the same day is definitely possible, even on the busiest days. However, you will be limiting the number of attractions you can experience, which of course will already be limited because of heavy crowds. Personally, we've done all 4 WDW parks in a single day (though with both morning and evening EMH hours that gave us 20 straight hours of park time from 6 AM to 2 AM the next morning), but it was a really LONG day and it wasn't our first visit to WDW. Park hopping on a first visit is probably not the best way to introduce yourself to WDW, but it's certainly an option if you're up for the challenge and have the stamina, patience, and planning foresight to make the most of it.

December 30, 2019, 1:24 PM

Please note that our spring break is often one of the off weeks that is one of the lesser crowds of spring break, and we always find it difficult to get additional fast pass selections at any park other than MK. So it is unlikely that you will get one for Frozen, Mission Space, or anything at EPCOT at a midday that does not disrupt a use. You might get a Speceship Earth at 10pm but that would hinder a return to MK.

January 4, 2020, 11:15 AM

Thank you guys! I feel bad because I never went back to check this page. I think I am just going to do universal because the Disney crowds are intimidating and most of y'all said that's the best option for people just looking for a lot of thrill rides.

January 6, 2020, 2:14 PM

Universal is a much better Option than Disney based on your age... Disney is Great but gets sooooo over-crowded and add in a few child melt-downs...

I do love AK in Disney but Universal is our favorite by far.

Enjoy your vacation and come back to tell us about it..

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a blast but still has a long wait.. Try the single rider line or pay up for the express pass..

January 6, 2020, 2:42 PM

Last I heard, there was no Universal Express option on Hagrid's.

January 6, 2020, 2:53 PM

Beware of the single rider line .... it can be as long, or even longer than the regular queue.

If you do go to Universal, and decide to brave the single rider line, here's a tip. If it's outside the building, forget it. Turn back and get in the regular line. The best single rider line I was lucky enough to find, was one that was at the bottom of the stairs inside the building. Even then it took 30-45mins to get on the ride.

Last time I was there was mid-December and there was no Express pass available

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