My clients often come to me wanting to plan the perfect Orlando getaway but question which theme park is the best fit for their family. Both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World offer unforgettable experiences and tons of fun for everyone, however, they are unique destinations with many differences. While the decision can be difficult, I’m here to point you in the direction of your perfect vacation!
One of the main differences between the resorts is the size.
Walt Disney World is much larger than Universal Studios. Some people love the endless possibilities, while others find this overwhelming. If you fall into the latter category, don’t let this discourage you! You will not be able to see everything Disney has to offer on your first visit. Disney becomes more manageable if you make a list of must-dos before your trip. The attractions you choose will depend on the ages of the travelers in your party. For example, many attractions targeted at younger kids won’t be appealing to your teenagers. Meanwhile, other rides are too thrilling or have height requirements, so toddlers will have to wait until their next visit to experience. Parties consisting of mostly adults may choose a more laid back trip, focusing on signature dining experiences, days on the golf course, and lazing by the hotel pool. That is one of the amazing things about Disney. There is so much to see and do that each trip has the opportunity to be completely unique! If transportation from place to place on Disney property is your concern, don’t worry! Disney provides that too.
Universal is more compact and can easily be experienced in a shorter amount of time. If you are the type of person who doesn’t feel satisfied until you’ve seen and done everything, Universal is the park for you! Don’t let its size fool you. There are still plenty of attractions to keep your family entertained for days. The compact design makes it easy to walk from place to place and ensure you make the most of your time.
Another difference is the theming and content of each of these destinations. If your family has favorite movies, characters, or attractions in mind, I recommend checking with a Me and The Mouse travel specialist to ensure you are selecting the right travel destination and theme park(s).
If your family is looking for a magical experience full of princesses, pirates, and pixie dust, look no further than The Walt Disney World Resort. Walt Disney World consists of four uniquely themed amusement parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom is home to the famous Cinderella Castle and beloved classic attractions such as It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, and Space Mountain... This is also where you will find your favorite Disney Princesses and other classic characters such as Mickey, Minnie, and friends. EPCOT is always an adult favorite due to its seasonal festivals where you will find some of the best international cuisine, stunning garden displays, and musical entertainment Orlando has to offer. Hollywood Studios is the place to step into some of your favorite movies. It is home to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge where you can immerse yourself in the planet of Batuu and Toy Story Land where you can shrink down to the size of a toy and explore Andy’s backyard. Animal Kingdom is home to Kilimanjaro Safari where you can take a jeep tour of the African savanna and get up close and personal with your favorite animals. It is also home to Pandora - The World of Avatar.
If your family is looking for excitement, thrills, and adventures, you will want to visit Universal Studios Florida. Universal Studios offers two unique theme parks - Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal offers many roller coasters and intense simulators for the thrill-seekers in your family! It is also home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you can immerse yourself in the magical worlds of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. It is like stepping into your favorite Harry Potter film. Universal is also home to attractions based on other favorites such as Jurassic Park, The Simpsons, Marvel Superheroes, Men In Black, and other classics. Your little ones won’t be left out. There are also attractions featuring children’s favorites such as the Minions, Dr. Seuss, Shrek, Barney, and Curious George.
In addition to the main theme parks, both resorts offer other amazing entertainment options. The Walt Disney World Resort offers two themed water parks, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach. Additionally, it is home to Disney Springs; a large state of the art shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, which can easily be an entire day’s worth of fun. If you want a relaxing break from theme parks and crowds, Disney also offers award-winning golf courses, mini-golf, boating, private tours, and more! This makes it a great choice for longer trips and big groups because there is sure to be something for everyone.
Universal Orlando is also home to its own water park, Volcano Bay. For nightlife, dining, and shopping options don’t forget to check out CityWalk, Universal’s entertainment area. City Walk is much smaller than Disney’s entertainment area and geared toward an older audience.
Both Disney and Universal offer wonderful transportation options. Each offers transportation to and from Orlando International Airport. The difference between the two is that Disney offers complimentary transportation when staying at an on-site Disney resort property, while Universal offers transportation at an additional cost.
While Disney property is very large, Disney offers complimentary, easy to use, transportation between theme parks, waterparks, and resorts. Guests can travel by bus, monorail, water taxi, and their newest transportation option, the Skyliner, a gondola ride giving you a birds-eye view. Universal is smaller, making getting around easy. The theme parks and CityWalk are all within walking distance of each other. Complimentary water taxis and shuttle buses are available to take guests between the resorts and theme parks.
If you are planning a trip to Orlando and need help deciding which theme park location is best for your family, your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist is available to help! If choosing between these two wonderful resorts is too difficult maybe you should consider a split-stay to experience the best of both worlds. Hope to hear from you real soon to start planning your next theme park visit.