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Universal vs Disney World

OpEd: Attendance Confirms Universal is the Cheaper Experience

Universal Orlando Resort appears to be living its best life at the moment, reveling in the release of attendance numbers that show more amusement Parkgoers chose to spend their money at their venues–Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventures–instead of the other Studios, Kingdoms and Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow further down I-4.

universal-orlando-resort-entrance

Universal Orlando Resort Photo Credit: FamilyVacationCritic.com

Read More: Universal Orlando Beating Out Disney Parks Per New Report

While this may be seen as a historic win that sends a clear message to the folks at Disney Parks, the statistics just confirm something most of us already know: Universal is a cheaper experience than Disney World. For a fraction of the price of a Disney World Theme Park ticket, Guests can visit two smaller Theme Parks that feature micro-themed lands that boast enough attractions to get through in maybe a weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, just because an experience is cheaper does not mean that it lacks greater value for its price. In Universal’s case, it is quite the opposite. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is its own kind of magical, Jurassic World is amazing, and the Hulk Coaster is an icon. There is no Theme Park Reservation System or limit on Park Hopping. If we are determining overall value in terms of experience quality for the price, Universal Orlando Resort is winning right now. I am a Disney man, but I have to admit that.

Jurassic Park, Universal

Credit: Universal

Related: Why Universal Studios will Always Win the ‘Short Game’ with Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort has become too much of a hassle for the experience currently available. We Disney World regulars have always known that it is more expensive than Universal because we got so much more for the extra cost than we could get at Universal. The rides were better. The food was better. The shows were better. The overall immersion family-friendly immersion was better. Even the Cast Members’ level of customer service seemed superior to Universal Team Members. Nowadays, that distinction is not so clear.

We also have to look at the available experience now compared to what it was before the pandemic. Universal’s Guest experience has only increased compared to what it was in 2019, from the opening of the Velocicoaster to the integration of Death Eaters in Hogsmede as a special Halloween experience for Harry Potter fans. Disney World’s Guest experience has only diminished. Annual Passholders are paying more for more blackout dates. The Park Hopper option for Theme Park tickets still costs the same–if not more–but only offers half of the time window it used to. FastPasses are no longer included with Tickets and Passes, and the Theme Park Reservation System restricts Guests’ ability to visit even further.

Disney Genie Plus Park Hopping

Credit: Disney/Clip Art

Related: Report: Annual Passholders Sue Disney Over Reservation System

Universal is still the cheaper experience, but its overall value is trumping Disney right now. Even if Disney World’s ambiance and attractions were cleaned up to look their best–which is at a level far superior to what is available at Universal–and the ongoing construction projects turn out to be as amazing as we hope, it will still be a “less for more” experience. Because people are still getting thanks, in part, to the termination of the Free FastPass+ system, and the nonsense artificial capacity shortages and Park Hopping restrictions enforced by the Reservation System.

If Bob Chapek, Christine McCarthy, and Josh D’Amaro can’t find the good sense to prioritize the value of their products, more and more people are just going to settle for the cheaper option.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.