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Disney/Universal Studios Trip in 2021

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  • Jul 27th, 2020 2:43 pm
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Apr 13, 2012
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Toronto

Disney/Universal Studios Trip in 2021

Hello all. My family is celebrating a momentous occasion next year and we're considering planning a Disney/Universal Studios combination type of trip, and right now we have either Florida, California or Japan as options. We are thinking of late 2021 for this trip so hopefully any possible restrictions will have eased by then. For those who have been recently, which would you recommend of the 3? There will be no younger kids going on this trip, it will be mostly adults and the youngest person going will be 13 by next year.

I keep hearing how DisneySea in Tokyo is unlike any other park in the world, also that new SuperNintendo World in Universal Japan is looking to open next year as well. Then again, apparently Epcot and Animal Kingdom in Orlando apparently have the best rides and attractions for adults. And you can't go wrong with Disney in California either.

Any thoughts about planning a trip of this magnitude? At the moment we're thinking of a 5-6 day trip. How much should we budget per person including airfare/tickets/food/etc.?
For example, will $3k be enough? This is all in pre-planning stage right now and we're still looking at all options but would love to hear some feedback. Thanks for reading!
11 replies
Sr. Member
Mar 8, 2004
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Kanata
Wouldn't a 5 to 6 day trip be too short for Japan?
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Aug 3, 2006
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On the assumption that COVID-19 is fully controlled by the end of 2020...

- Tokyo DisneySea is arguably the best or second best theme park in the world. It's like it was designed for grown ups but there's still plenty of attractions for kids and Disney themes in a lot of places. You don't feel like you're at a Disney theme park but at the same time you do. The park is so unique from the others even though half the attractions are at other parks. The Tokyo Disney parks have lower ticket and food prices than the other Disney parks. Tokyo the region has enough to do that this obviously wouldn't be a trip just for theme parks.
- USJ is in Osaka so you'll have to either fly or take the train from Tokyo. Other than Super Nintendo World, USJ is pretty much the same as Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure in Orlando.
- If rides and attractions is your priority, then Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando - either a park hopper or two day pass - would be better.
- Disney parks in Florida have the benefit of being a short flight away and in the EST. You could fly out in the morning and be on the ground having lunch in the park. It's rather expensive though given the high tourist numbers and Disney being Disney on pricing. You really could spend full days at each theme park, then add a day here or there if you also want to lounge at your hotel.
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Feb 7, 2017
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There are a lot of folks who LIVE for Disney
Visiting their theme parks all over the world
Many of these fans have been to them all

These same fans belong to Websites / Forums for all things Disney
(There are more than one such site ... GOOGLE : Disney Theme Park Forums)

Here are a few:

DISboards.com
ThemeParkInsider.com
MiceChat.com

I know there are a few such fans here on RFD ... hopefully they’ll see this thread and let you know which Forum they use / feel is best

CC - @AMlovesDisney
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Aug 12, 2004
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I went in Universal Studios in Osaka and it was an amazing experience, especially the Harry Potter area. Everyone there dresses up for the theme park, and it really helps with the ambiance.

Also doing the Jaws ride in Japanese is so fun. I have nearly no idea what's going on , but I love it. "Nani??!"

I would have loved to see DisneySea but we didn't go to Tokyo, next trip.
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rapsfan50 wrote: Any thoughts about planning a trip of this magnitude? At the moment we're thinking of a 5-6 day trip. How much should we budget per person including airfare/tickets/food/etc.?
For example, will $3k be enough? This is all in pre-planning stage right now and we're still looking at all options but would love to hear some feedback. Thanks for reading!
Having been to all 3, I would go with Disney World/Universal Florida in Orlando if you haven't been to Disney/universal as it caters specifically to theme park visitors. Whether you stay on-site in the Parks or outside everything is easy to get to/from. Also Disney World and Universal Florida will have the most current rides including Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

A 5-6 day trip barely takes in what's there to see and do as you need more like a 10-14 day trip if you want to cover all that is available in both Disney World and Universal Florida. For a 5 -6 day trip, I would just focus on Disney World.

Would $3,000 be enough? That all depends upon how many in your party, what time of year you go, how long you stay, what accommodations you enjoy, what dining options you enjoy, what transportation you use. Is it doable, yes. Note: additional days at Disney get cheaper and cheaper (Beyond 4 days it's about $20US for each additional day)

To maximize your experience you're going to need a lot of planning as there are so many options and you'll need to understand the ins and outs of using Fastpass reservations and making dining reservations, otherwise you'll be wasting lots of time standing in lines or not being able to get on rides you'll like to go on.
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I've never been to any of the theme parks in Japan, but have been to Japan. Went to the major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Japan is a total different experience, and is not comparable when visiting a US city. I went to Universal, and Disney in Florida a long time ago, when I was 11 years old. I don't remember which Disney Theme park we went to, but we only went to one. We did spend the whole day and night there though. Same goes for Universal Florida. From everything I've read, Florida theme parks are the bigger ones.

I went to Universal in California in November 2018, and thought it was ok. Got the fastpass, and pretty much did most of the rides/attractions I wanted to do. Although, when I went, Universal closed at 5 or 6pm, can't remember the exact time, but it was early. Went to Disneyland in Jan 2020. Got a 4 day pass. Didn't get a fastpass, but I was by myself, so I did the single rider lines, if the ride/attraction had them. This got me on a lot of rides really quick. However, if you're going with 5-6 people, this will not apply to you, unless you don't mind riding with other people, and braking up the group on rides. I went on the starwars ride like 6 times in about half about half an hour. Normal line was averaging around 45 min wait. The Disney app shows the approximate wait times. You download the app to your phone. I started my first of 4 days late. I would say it might take you 1 or 2 days to complete Disney California, Depending on the time of year you go. Obviously when I went, it wasn't peak season. Also if you go to California, there's California adventure park as well. I liked Disney better though. I pretty much did all the rides/attractions at California adventure park in half a day. You don't want to miss the World of Color water light show at California Adventure park. The show was much longer than I anticipated.

If it were me, and main reason for the trip was theme parks. I'd definitely choose Florida from what I've read. I don't think I'd ever fly to Japan for just theme parks, but that's me. Japan is definitely my favourite country I've ever travel to though. But I don't see anything wrong with flying to Japan, and throwing in a few days for theme parks, but would never make that my main reason for going. As for California, I travel there every couple years or so, just because I like it there. Definitely my favourite state in US.
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WetCoastGuy wrote: Also Disney World and Universal Florida will have the most current rides including Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.
Disney California has Galaxy's Edge as well. I don't know if its the same size as the one in Florida, but its there. I do agree, Florida would probably be the place to go for theme parks though.
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DisneySea is different, but I wouldn't say it's out of this world. It reminds me of better version of Epcot, which is prob. my least favourite park at DW. The good thing about the Japan one is ticket prices are like half the prices of the ones in DW. The bad thing is most of the dialogs are in Japanese.
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Nov 26, 2012
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Toronto
Been to Universal Orlando, DisneySea, DisneyWorld (all in last 2 years) and Disneyland (many years ago). Two adults!

DisneySea - I actually didn't find it to be that 'Disney'. The details and imagery is incredible but not actually based much on traditional Disney characters. For example, most of the unique, really well done theming were about Duffy Bear (adorable) and some undersea exploration stuff. The 'Disney' rides were the same as Disneyworld (think Toy Story and the Twilight Tower). And the shows are all in Japanese. lol. Disneysea is a great place to spend a side day in Tokyo but is not worth making a sole trip for.

Japan in general - 5-6 days is not enough time to go to Japan unless it is a side trip on your way to somewhere else or you are there for work (so already travelling to Asia). Between travel time and international dateline, you would only have 3-4 days. Personally think you need 3-4 days each for Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka just as an intro visit.

Disneyworld - I cannot imagine going to Disneyworld for 10-14 days - I don't have that stamina or sustained interest. If you go in high season (christmas, summer), maybe just because of the lines but I would avoid going to Disney at all costs in high season. Or if you are one of those people who leisurely spend a few days at the pool - which is fair but not my style. I did 6 days at Disneyworld in February and I was largely spent by day 4. Also as adults, a lot of the stuff is actually for kids (e.g. meet and greet with pooh or elsa or whatever). Yes its cool for adults to do it (I saw plenty) but is it worth 2 hours wait or a fast pass? Not for me.

I think, if your trip is shorter and far in the future, it is worth booking a stay at a Disney hotel. I stayed at the yacht club and pop century...the pop one was cheaper and more convenient for Star Wars. Better value for me. By staying on site, we were able to get all the big rides by getting the earlier fastpass booking date. This really helped us plan a more efficient trip and ultimately save money by not needing as many days to do the key highlights. and yes, for adults, animal kingdom is the best one. It was my favorite by far - pandora is great. Star Wars was very good even as someone who is not a fan. Epcot was the worst for me. All the stuff was dated and looked like it hadn't been updated since the 80s. And the world showcase was truly the worst part. A bunch of stereotypes of 'world culture'.

Universal Orlando - If you only go for harry potter you can do both parks in 1 day (again low season). I say that as a huge fan who did every single thing offered. If you want to leisurely do everything else in the parks, 2 days is enough. Majority of Universal rides are screen based which gets boring after a while. If you go high season, i'm told the lines are bonkers. Like 4 hours just for one harry potter ride.....

Disneyland/Universal California - can't comment as I have not gone recently. However, I've been told by people that have been to both that the Star Wars and Harry Potter parks are basically same as in Florida. 5-6 days would definitely complete both parks. Disney only has the one main park and california adventure. Universal is just one park.

$3k is for how many people? I would say for California/Orland, $3k for airfare, hotel/vacation rental and tickets, that would be enough (low season). For food, merch, other entertainment.....debateable.
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I'd go with 7 nights at Disneyworld and 3 nights at Universal, all in Orlando. Get a 4 day Disney pass, do each park once spread out every other day. Do them from 8 am through 12 am. Or take breaks throughout the day if you staying on site, which I still recommend but there is a lot of debate. If you are into fine dining, there are some really great spots around the property. For your really special occasion try the chef's table at Victoria & Alberts at the Grand Floridian. Then head over to Universal and treat yourself to one of their better on site hotels like Hard Rock or Port. Bay. Lots of to do at night at City Walk as well.

If doing Japan, it needs to be at least a 10-14 day trip to make it worth the distance.

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