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Credit: Universal (left) Disney (right)

Universal Still Has A Lot to Learn From Disney

There’s no denying that Universal has incredible theme park Resorts. And while each of them differs in pretty much the same ways the Disney theme park resorts do to one another, it’s fair to say that you can tell the difference between a Universal theme park Resort and a Disney one.

Photo Credit: FamilyVacationCritic.com

Many people believe that Disney wields more magic than Universal, while the latter is far more action-packed. And though we’re not here to say that either one is better than the other, we do feel that Universal could learn a thing or two from Disney – or five. And here they are!

Atmosphere

We’re not suggesting that Universal has no atmosphere – this would be untrue. When you consider the likes of themed areas such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Springfield, Universal gives Disney a run for its money – and that’s saying something, considering Disney boasts the likes of Pandora – The World of Avatar, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Avengers Campus.

Superstar Parade

Photo Credit: Orlando Informer

The atmosphere is typically conjured up by things such as music, tone, and anything that evokes nostalgia. And Disney has it in spades, largely because many of its rides, characters and even architecture are things people associate with certain times in their lives. The parks also have a very ‘festive’ feel to them, whereas Universal’s overarching ‘blockbuster’ theme can feel a little hollow at times, even if it does feel ‘cooler’ than Disney.

Credit: Universal

Themed Lands

It’s not all about themed lands, but they do convey atmosphere with their fantasy-inducing music, aesthetics, and other intricacies. But does Disney have better-themed lands? Well, ultimately, Guests want to feel like they’ve stepped into a “whole new world,” and Disney does offer that sense of pure escapism, while Universal, though brilliant in its own right, can fall short of this at times.

Pandora Navi River Journey

Photo Credit: Disney

So, what other themed lands could Universal conjure up then? Well, the key to unlocking even more magic at Universal might not necessarily be more themed lands, but perhaps expanding upon existing ones, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Springfield, all of which are already worthy of their own theme parks. A 1920s New York teeming with fantastic beasts, anyone? Yes, please.

Credit: Universal

Characters

Disney Parks are home to a wealth of characters, including the classics like Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy, and characters from Star Wars, Pixar movies, and beyond. Universal Parks also boasts its own impressive rosters, whether it’s Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, SpongeBob, The Simpsons, the Minions, or Scooby and Shaggy (all of whom are loved by those pesky kids).

Credit: Universal

However, where’s Harry Potter himself when it comes to key areas at Universal, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park? Is Dr. Grant busy digging up dinosaur bones somewhere? And what about John Hammond – Universal’s very own Walt Disney (though not nearly quite as successful). Given the effort put in to make these areas so immersive, it begs to question where their iconic characters are hiding.

Variety

It’s unfair to say that Disney is better in every single sense when it comes to attractions – after all, both Universal and Disney each have a huge variety of rides between all their theme park resorts. But Disney Parks do offer a wealth of different attractions, whether they’re dark, 3D, 2 ½ D, airborne, river-bound, animated, simulations, superhero-themed, galactic, or vintage. The list goes on and on.

Credit: Disney

Looking at Universal attractions, there is undoubtedly a variety of great ones on offer; however, the fact that they’re predominantly based around action-packed blockbuster movies such as Jurassic World, Trans-Formers, Fast & Furious, and The Mummy is what dominates the overarching theme or ‘vibe’ of the Resort. And the trouble is that, as is the case with blockbusters themselves, sometimes less is more.

Size

If we’re speaking Disney World strictly, then there’s really no contest when it comes to size. But even when we look at all the other Disney theme park resorts, they feel a lot more spacious than Universal. Yet, somehow, they also manage to fit a lot more in, whether it’s attractions, characters, experiences, shows, stores, restaurants, major events, or Resort hotels. It’s also pretty easy to feel lost at Disney – which is in no way a bad thing.

Credit: Disney

But it isn’t just about the size – Disney just feels a lot more ambitious than Universal, which is probably why it’s the first theme park Resort that pops in your head when thinking of such places. Disney Parks are also very distinct, each with its own identity. Many struggles to remember exactly how Universal is broken up into different areas, which can also be confusing.
Shrek 4D

Photo Credit: Orlando Informer

Ultimately, we think it comes down to IPs, and even though Universal and Disney each have the rights to several iconic ones, it seems that Disney has managed to weave a little more magic from its library than Universal. With that said, I believe neither one owns better IPs than the other. After all, I think Disney is in desperate need of Hogwarts (goodbye, Cinderella Castle), while Universal would probably benefit from faraway galaxies and talking toys from time to time.

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