Getting to Harry Potter from Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)


I recently had a comment from Dave on this page:

“How long from Disney resorts to Universal Studios, and what’s the cheapest way to get back and forth?”

I told him that it takes 20-50 minutes, depending on which resort and on I-4 traffic, and said that I’d find out about the cheapest way and post on it.

Here’s the post!


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not part of Walt Disney World—it is part of Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park.

To get there from Walt Disney World you have three paid options, plus another that’s discounted!

The first option is to use your rental car, or get one to use for the day from the Alamo site right in Walt Disney World (Alamo will pick you up from your hotel and bring you to their rental site, and also bring you back to your hotel when you are done with the car).  For Alamo, see this.

This option tends to be the most expensive, especially during busy parts of the year when rental car rates skyrocket.  You may be able to offset some of the cost by using the car to go food or drinks shopping, letting you spend less on these than you otherwise would.

The second option is to take a cab—this is more flexible and usually cheaper than renting a car. For cabs in Orlando, see or call 407 812-7000.

The third option is to arrange a shuttle pick up with Mears.  Mears shuttles will stop at your hotel and take you back and forth.  These are typically the least expensive options, but also the least flexible. For Mears’s website, see


My friends at Destinations in Florida recently let me know about a lower-priced option.

If you buy a one-day two park Universal Orlando ticket from them, not only will it be about $10 per person cheaper than getting tickets at the gate, but also they’ll throw their shuttle in for about $7 bucks per person less than list!!

Note that this is a two-park ticket—it lets you enter both of Universal’s parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

If you only want to go to the one park (Islands of Adventure) with Harry Potter, cheaper one-park tickets are available, but not with the free shuttle service.

Depending on how many people are in your family, it may be cheaper for you to get the one park tickets and take a cab or pay for Mears yourself.

To check out these tickets with lower-priced shuttle service from your Disney World resort to Universal Orlando and Harry Potter, click here.





1 Bay2BayGirl { 07.29.11 at 6:01 pm }

Hi Dave,
I’m trying to figure out a way to stay at Disney and Universal (primarily to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) while taking advantage of both Disney’s Magical Express (from the Orlando airport) and the Mears shuttle from Universal to Disney (or vice versa). The trick is that I want to stay in a Universal resort so that we can take advantage of the early hours available only to Universal guests. While I wouldn’t mind seeing both Universal parks, it isn’t necessary. Do you have any suggestions or am I just trying to get too much of a good thing? Thanks!

2 Dave { 07.30.11 at 3:49 pm }

The only way to make this work and still take advantage of the Magical Express is to double book a night–which is exactly what I recommend! See this:

3 Tom { 06.28.12 at 6:09 pm }

My experience with Mears is awesome. You just got to call one day before and while staying at Pop Century they had pick ups every hour from 6:30 until 10:30 in the morning and you had to call to arrange return (usually starting at 4:00 pm). The fare was 18 dollars per adult, IIRC, and kids under 6 were free. Coaches are big, with AC and with movies such as Nemo or Toy Story to entertain kids on their way to the park. I have used it for going to Islands of Adventure, Universal and Sea World and it’s a very good alternative.

4 Dave { 06.29.12 at 6:39 am }

Thanks Tom

5 Melissa { 07.27.12 at 12:13 am }

My family and I are planning a trip to Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, but its kind of short notice we are wanting to go in a week…So, which resort do you think would be better to stay at? Or would it be best to stay at a regular hotel? How much would the tickets be all together for a family of four? How many days should we spend at each park? Any other tips would be helpful. Thanks.

6 Dave { 07.27.12 at 8:44 am }

Hi Melissa…I can’t advise on hotels without knowing your nightly hotel rate budget, or on park days without knowing the ages of your kids…so reply with those and I’ll try to help!

7 Melissa { 07.28.12 at 10:29 pm }

The kids are 10 and 15 . And we don’t really have a budget. Maybe just which resort is cheaper or which one has better privileges for resort customers

8 kathy pope { 07.29.12 at 2:26 am }

We are planning a vacation trip to Disney World in October. Do you have any “cheap” ideas on how to eat while there? We have our travel plans made and our accommodations already.

9 Dave { 07.29.12 at 8:49 am }

Hi Melissa, the privileges are the same. What varies is kid appeal, convenience, theming, and amenities. Suggest you start here:

10 Dave { 07.29.12 at 8:53 am }
11 Derek { 12.23.13 at 5:04 pm }

Dave, I’ve checked out the Mears option and there are a couple things that I’m not sure about. First of all, when I try to book a ride from the hotel (inside Disney) to Universal they only give me an option of booking what looks like a taxi for $56 the one way trip for 2 people. From what I read (I know it’s an old post but still) the fares for the shuttle go for less than that, but they don’t give me the option to book a shuttle from their website. My second question is that the the FAQ in the Mears website says that the shuttles don’t have any carseats, but after that I understood that there aren’t any special sized seats, which one is correct?. Though I can’t book my ride yet, since I dont have the exact date in which we are going to Universal, so most likely I would book the shuttle the day before.

12 Dave { 12.24.13 at 9:53 am }

Derek, I don’t know, but will see if I can find out!

13 Dave { 12.26.13 at 1:16 pm }

Derek, I reached out to an expert from Destinations in Florida Travel. Here’s what they said:

“”Mears offers a shared shuttle service for $19 pp from most Disney resorts to Universal Orlando. That price may increase by a few dollars depending on the Disney resort. $19 pp is the price for ages 4 – adult. Children 3 and under are no charge. Car seats are not required by law in the shuttle and the shuttle seats cannot accommodate them.”

“I do not see an option to book the shuttle via the web site, but you can call Mears at 855-4-MEARS-NOW or 855-463-2776 and select the option for “Orlando Shuttle Assistance.” Guests can call this number to inquire about the seat type and specifics on the vehicle if desired. In my experience, operators are very friendly and helpful.”

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