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How to Plan a Trip to Disney World & Universal Studios Orlando in 2021-2022

I am a California girl that grew up going to Disneyland and Universal once a year, but never made it to Disney World and Universal Orlando. So, this past December I stepped out and wanted to experience Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando for my 28th birthday. We all know that planning a trip with an itinerary can be stressful, but fear not queens–We did just that and had a super successful trip. Here is a full breakdown of our trip for you in the hopes that you can use this as a resource when planning your future trip!

Pre-Planning Breakdown

I know y'all are wondering how we did it and when we started planning. Let me break it down for you with a timeline. Keep in mind this took months and I mean months of pre planning to have a smooth stress free trip, but it was all worth it!


We bought our airline tickets as soon as we made the decision to go. Getting to your destination is always the first thing to do especially if you know the dates you're trying to go in advance. This will help you get cheaper tickets and potentially cut costs. Let's be real, Disney is not cheap!


Booked Hotel and did a ton of park research (youtube videos, pinterest, tiktok, etc.) and booked park tickets. There are 4 Disney Parks inside Disney World and it’s important to know if you’re going to hit all the parks or just 1 or 2. If you’ve never been to any of Disney's theme parks I would get as much info on the parks as possible even during the process of booking your flights to make sure you’ve allotted enough days for the vacation.

OCTOBER (60 days out of the date you will be in the park):

If you want to eat at any dine in places in Disney make your reservations 60 Days out on the Disney Park App. Reservations are gone in 1-2 days, so this is important if you want this part of your experience. Note that outside of Epcot the only time you can drink in the parks is during these reservations.

NOVEMBER (30 days out):

Start Ordering our Disney gear! I'm talking all of your ears, themed sweatshirts, masks, reusable water bottles, etc.

Day Before Park:

Make sure you log into the Disney App and check out virtual line sign up times, use the Genie to plan your day, and check when opening times are for the Park.

If you follow this I'm sure you'll be set for your trip in no time!

Trip Breakdown

Thursday Breakdown

Thursday we had so much fun just getting settled in at our hotel. We booked a reservation for dinner in advance and let the other plans just develop naturally. I hate rushing into a trip with a lot of plans, so we made sure to make our first day easy peasy!

  1. Checked in at Swan Dolphin Resort and grabbed some quick food at the cafe inside the hotel.

  2. We walked to the Boardwalk (5 min walk from the hotel) and had a drink Abarcarbar (cocktail bar), dinner at Trattoria (booked a reservation), and late night drink JellyRoll (dual piano bar).

  3. Rested up, charged our devices, and checked the Disney App at night to make sure we were ready for our first day in the park!

Friday Breakdown

Day two was jam packed queens! We woke up early to get to Magic Kingdom Park 30 minutes before it opened. We purchased a lighting lane pass for the day on the Disney app and used the Disney Genie on the app to help us plan out the day, so we could do everything we wanted to! The app was our best friend all day.

  1. Got to Magic Kingdom 30 minutes before the park opens because they let people into the park early to wait in lines for the rides. Highly suggest you ride Jungle Cruise and Seven Dwarf's ride first because those lines never die down.

  2. We bought a lighting lane pass (short line access) for a majority of the rides for the day ($15/person) and paid for a lightning lane pass ($7/person) for the Space Mountain ride too.

  3. We made a dinner reservation at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen 60 days prior and enjoyed that we were able to sit for an hour or so and just enjoy drinks and food.

  4. Ended on the Enchanted Castle show and watched all the fireworks to end the night.

  5. The boardwalk stays open later than the parks, which was super convenient for late night food and drinks every night.

Saturday Breakdown

Saturday we headed to Epcot! This was my first time at this park, so I was super eager to do it ALL! This park should be for adults only because the focus is food and alcohol hands down. It screams experience over rides.

  1. We woke up at 6:30am to get into the virtual line for Ratatouille at 7am on the Disney App. We got group 26, so we were excited for that to be our first ride.

  2. We took the ferry (it's free!) from our hotel to Epcot and got into the park at 10am.

  3. Headed straight to France to ride Ratatouille and purchased a lightning lane pass ($15/person) for the day. We did all the rides in the first part of the day.

  4. The second part of the day we spent it drinking and eating around the world.

  5. We made a dining reservation at 8pm at Coral Reef, which has the 2nd largest tank in the world. We sat right next to the tank and the dinner was amazing!

  6. Lastly, we ended the night with Epcot's light show. France and China have the best view for this show.

Sunday Breakdown

Sunday we canceled our massages we had planned and headed to Universal Studios Orlando because we were seeking thrill and more rides.

  1. We took an Uber to Universal Islands of Adventures from our hotel.

  2. We bought a day fast pass ($75/person) and headed to Harry Potter World first.

  3. We rode Hagrid's Motorbike ride, bought a wand, and just fell in love with that corner of the park. We also LOVED the new Jurassic Park rollercoaster. Highly recommend it.

  4. We saw the Grinch show and took a ride on every thriller ride in the park.

  5. We ended the day exploring City Walk aka Downtown Universal after the park for drinks and late night food. It is very packed, so I highly recommend make a reservation for after the park.


Disney Gear Must Haves:

This is such a cute sweatshirt and perfect

for the evening time at Disney

You can’t go to Disney without your ears! You can always buy ears at the park but they can get pricey! Get some cute ones beforehand via Amazon or Etsy. You and your pockets will thank me later !

I know we want to be fashionable but let’s be real! Comfort over everything, especially with all the walking you’ll be doing. Converse Run Hikes are comfy and fashionable!

Hydration is key when you’re at Disney! They don’t allow plastic water bottles but a Hydro Flask is a must! It will keep cold water cold all day! I swear by it!

Disney is a park that requires a backpack! You can keep all your belongings safe and a backpack with many pockets and lightweight is such a help in the parks!



I can not stress enough how important this app is!

  1. The night before your park trip, open your app and set up your day with the Genie. It'll set up your day and even let you know what rides you should hit first.

  2. Please utilize the virtual line for corresponding rides. The ride I did was Ratatouille Adventures. For more info on virtual lines refer to this amazing guide we found that definitely helped : Virtual Line Guide

  3. If you hate lines, I would buy a lightning lane pass for the day. It'll definitely help navigate the parks with little to no wait times for rides. For more info see this resource : Lightning Lane

  4. For Universal we paid an extra $75 on top of our ticket for fast passes. It's a bit pricey but if you don't want to wait in long lines I would budget for it Queens! Trust me it’s always good to have a little extra splurge fun in place on these trips incase you want to do last minute things.

  5. Always get an early start! I know this type of trip can be exhausting, but if you want to hit everything an early start is needed!

I hope these tips and tricks are helpful!



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