Orlando is the theme park capital of North America. You have Sea World, Lego Land and of course Universal Studios and Disney World. Universal Studios and Disney are the most prominent. There is a healthy competition between Universal and Disney, however they are two completely different experiences. Each park brings its own flavor, theme, cast of characters, and benefits. Universal may have a few different options which you can’t find anywhere on Disney property and vice versa. In the end, it really comes down to if you prefer to hang out with Harry Potter or Mickey Mouse.
More Park Options – Disney comes complete with four theme parks, two water parks, a few dozen hotels, and a slew of golf courses, and finally Disney Springs for shopping, dining, and other activities. Universal Studios has two theme parks (a 3rd is being built now), 7 hotels, Volcano Bay water park, and the Universal City Walk. With so many options, both Disney and Universal have ample opportunities for enjoyment!
Need for Speed – Ever since Disney rolled out the free FastPass system, guests have been forever thankful. Universal does something that (in my opinion) is much better in some cases with the Universal Express Unlimited. But it comes with a price, an expensive one thought it is free for guests who are staying at a Premier level Universal Resort. Universal offers the Universal Express Unlimited where you can ride any attraction (outside of a few which are easily the most popular), as many times as you’d like, with no wait. However it almost costs as much as the ticket PER PARK, to do so. If the extra cost isn’t prohibitive, Universal may be the better option for your family.
Technology – Both Disney and Universal have interactive apps which allow guests to monitor wait times, dining options, maps and more. They’re both pretty user friendly.
Family Fun – Disney may have the upper hand when it comes to appealing to young children. The friendly water rides through The Little Mermaid Ride or It’s a Small Ride or singing along with Disney Junior friends will have your preschooler squealing in delight. Universal has a few options which are geared towards the younger audience namely Dr. Seuss themed rides and a Minion’s attraction (who doesn’t love Minions?). What it may come down to is to decide which park to visit based on your little one’s favorite TV shows/movies. Disney or Universal?
Price, Price, Baby – Everyone wants to save a dollar or two when heading on vacation. It is human nature and considering some of the costs associated with it, I don’t blame them. Ticket prices change frequently at Orlando parks throughout the year but prices for a Disney or Universal park ticket are generally close in price with a one day pass at Disney costing around $109 and Universal charging $115 per day. Neither of these tickets include parking fees or food so you’ll have to factor that in.
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Mickey Mouse or Harry Potter – There are a few times in life you really can remember vividly, and meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time is one of them. The experience while on a Disney property meeting all the characters you and your kids watched on TV growing up is second to none. I’m sure most would agree they’d rather meet and hang out with Minnie Mouse than Marge Simpson right? The mystique behind ‘The Mouse’ and everything that goes along with Disney truly does trump anything any other theme park in the world has to offer. That being said, Harry Potter is hugely popular and someone who has read the books and seen the movies will not want to miss the immersive experiences awaiting enthusiasts at Universal Orlando.
Choosing between the parks may be a challenge. Weigh your options taking into account your family members preferences… are they into Disney Princesses and Star Wars – then Disney is your best bet. If your kid sleeps with his Harry Potter wand, then Universal is right for you. If your family is comprised of thrill-seekers, then Universal provides more hair raising roller coaster experiences. If you are a family or couple looking to get away and experience a magical few days with each other, Disney is the place to go. Maybe you can do a little bit of both parks or Disney on one visit and Universal on another trip. In the end it’s all about YOU!
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