We love Walt Disney World, as you have probably gathered if you read my blog a lot. We had season passes when I was young and I grew up going to Disney World all the time. And now I love passing that on to my children. Family days at Disney World are so much fun.
We had season passes for 2 years and then this year we decided to take a break and try some new things around Florida because there is just so much to do in this fun, sunny state.
One of the things we decided to do this year was Busch Gardens passes because they have a deal that ended in May where preschoolers (Ages 0 to 5) get in for the whole year for free. So we have been going to Busch Gardens and I did a comparison to Disney World in a different blog post. Find out more about if you should do Busch Gardens or Disney World here.
We also decided to do a weekend at Universal Orlando resort…aka Universal Studios. I got some feedback from readers that my comparison between Disney and Busch Gardens was helpful for them in deciding which one to do, so I decided to do another comparison between Disney World and Universal Studios. So which should you do? Disney World or Universal Orlando? Here are my thoughts…
Walt Disney World ticket prices
- A one day, one park ticket for either Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom costs $121.47 (non peak day) and $129.93 (peak day)
- A one day, one park ticket for Magic Kingdom is $126.74 (non peak day) and $137.39 (peak day)
- A park hopper (which will get you into any of the four parks in one day) is $185.31
This is subject to change so check out Disney’s website before heading there depending on these ticket prices! You should also know that special after hour events are priced differently than a regular day admission ticket.
Universal Studios ticket prices
- A one day, one park ticket costs $115
- a park hopper ticket for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (which includes the Harry Potter train ride) is $170
Universal Studios and Walt Disney World both offer Florida resident discounts. However, Universal Studios offers additional discounted deals now and then where Disney does not.
Walt Disney World park hopper
I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s nice to have the option but we hardly ever go to two parks in one day because it’s just too much with transportation getting over to the other place, getting into the car, or waiting for the monorail or bus, etc. There’s so much to do in one park that you could spend all day and even a second day and not get to everything. I personally suggest doing one park a day. That extra cost for a park hopper isn’t really worth it to me.
Universal Studios park-to-park tickets
I personally think it’s overpriced. The only thing you really get with a park hopper is the Hogwarts Express (A.K.A. the Harry Potter train ride) and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with it. I mean, it was cool and I’m definitely glad I experienced it once but I probably wouldn’t get a park-to-park ticket again. A lot of people told me how great the train ride was and how it was totally worth the extra money of the park hopper but I just didn’t agree with that. I could be the minority on that though.
What I think is really nice is that there’s part of Harry Potter World in Universal Orlando and part of Harry Potter World in Islands of Adventure. So you can do one day of each with a one-park ticket, save money and still experience all of Harry Potter World (except the train ride).
If you do decide to get the park-to-park ticket (AKA park hopper between Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure) the parks are literally right next to each other so you don’t have to re-park or anything which is really nice. That is not the case with Walt Disney World parks. It takes a lot of time to switch between Disney parks.
I think both parks have pros and cons when it comes to their rides. It depends on what you’re looking for. I prefer the Walt Disney World rides over the rides at Universal Studios. However, a lot of people really like thrill rides at Universal offers.
Disney World rides are mostly family friendly. There are some that you have to be a certain height to get on but for the most part my kids can ride the majority of the rides. I never really get sick or anything on any of the rides at Disney World (besides the tea cups!).
We did an adult weekend at Universal Orlando, but I feel like if I took my kids, they wouldn’t have been able to ride very much. Most of the rides have a height requirement that my four and six year old wouldn’t exceed.
Also, if you are wondering what the rides are like at Universal Orlando, the majority of the rides require 3D glasses and after three or four of those types of rides I was starting to get really motion sick. And I never, ever get motion sick so that was different for me. Maybe I am just getting older- whaaaa!
The rides at Universal Orlando were really cool, but my body couldn’t handle many of them because of the motion sickness. The Harry Potter World rides were amazing! But again, I couldn’t really enjoy them because I was getting so sick with the motion video…they are the kind of rides where you feel like you’re moving but you’re actually not….if you know what I mean.
There are motion rides like this at Disney World, but there are not very many so I don’t really get sick at all.
One pro for the Universal rides is that many of their wait lines are inside in the air conditioning. That is not always the case at Walt Disney World. A lot of the time you’re waiting outside.
The food at Universal Orlando was priced higher than at Walt Disney World. However, they offer a Dining Plan that was very reasonable and they also do these awesome refillable cups. You buy the cup and can refill for free all day. Totally worth every penny!!! Especially if you go in the summer…trust me you will be drinking a lot! Stay hydrated and get the cup!
Walt Disney World does not do a refillable cup like this so we end up spending a lot of money in drinks.
You can bring your own snacks and drinks into both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando which is really nice especially with kids. They snack a lot!
I love the parking at Universal Orlando because it was in a parking garage and I wasn’t in the full sun when we were walking in or out of the park.
On the other hand, there was no tram to take us straight to the park. But I never take those anyways because I always have a big stroller. In this case, though, we didn’t have the kids so I actually could have taken the tram for the first time ever, but because they didn’t offer one we couldn’t.
At Walt Disney World, the parking is outside and very large so if you walk to the gate you have a far walk. But they do offer a tram service so you can ride to the front of the park.
I will be honest, I am partial to the staff at Walt Disney World. I have never met a single disgruntled staff member at Disney. NEVER. At Universal Orlando, on the other hand, I met several in my two day experience.
Many of them were very nice at Universal Orlando, but I had a bad experience with two co-workers arguing during a parade and then another co-worker was a little unprofessional when we were getting our drinks. Definitely not anything that would keep me from going back, but it’s just nice that we don’t deal with that at Disney. Walt Disney World is just amazing when it comes to customer service because they make every customer feel special no matter the age or what is going on. I love that! They always go the extra mile.
Overall, we enjoyed Universal Orlando. It was a fun adult weekend with friends and family so the company definitely made it a blast. And I am glad we went and had the experience. I don’t think it is the kind of place I would go once a month…that’s just my opinion and everyone is different. I truly don’t know if I will go back anytime soon. When my toddlers are older, I will probably take them to Universal Orlando because they will be able to experience the rides, but for now, I think we will stick with Disney. Disney is definitely more our cup of tea!
Tell me your thoughts- Disney or Universal Orlando? Let me know in the comments.