Living right here in Orlando, I’m always surprised at some things people ask me. But then I realize that not everyone deals with theme parks every week! I often get asked if Disney is part of Universal Studios. No, they are not, in fact they are big competitors of each other. So then I get asked the next question, which is, which one do I recommend?
Ouch! That’s a really loaded question, and it depends on so many things. So let me try to explain the fundamental differences between the two theme parks, and then you can decide for yourself. The biggest difference I think is the characters of the parks. Walt Disney World has all of the favorite characters of the Disney movies.
Snow White, Cinderella, Mickey and Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daffy Duck, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and all the other Disney stars are at,,,, Disney of course. Universal Studios has Marvel comics characters and Universal movie stars.
Like Spiderman, The X Men, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Cat In The Hat, The Grinch, The Terminator and so on. Universal also has more rides based on live action movies, like Jurassic Park, Men In Black, The soon to open Harry Potter, The Mummy and so many more.
Now, Disney is much, much bigger than Universal as far as total size and parks. Disney has 4 major theme parks plus water parks, shopping district, hotels and many other things. You could spend a full week at Disney seeing everything they have, maybe as much as 10 days!
Universal Studios has two main theme parks, a nightlife section, water park, The Hard Rock Cafe and it’s own hotels and other smaller things. You could see just about everything in,,,, 3 to 4 days I guess. But the main difference between them beside the characters and size is,,,, the rides!
Disney World has most of their rides based on their popular children movies, like Peter Pan. So many of their rides are for the small kids, which are gentle and slow of course. Now since they have four parks they do have some extreme rides, like The Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller coaster and a few more.
But you will find many rides at Disney geared toward the smaller kids, from 6 years to 12 or so. That also means they have more rides with a lower height requirement, something to think about if you have small kids. Disney also has more shows, musicals and parades than Universal Studios. They also have an Animal park, which Universal does not.
Universal Studios, on the other hand, is popular with teens! That’s because most of their rides are extreme, with awesome roller coasters, wild water rides, spectacular in-your-face effects, extreme stunts and more. It’s like a working studio with the most state of the art rides and special effects.
They do have some kiddie sections, but they are not that big. So, if you have small ones you will not be able to take them on most of the rides due to the higher height requirements. That in effect is what really separates Walt Disney World from Universal Studios.
Disney overall is for the little kids, around toddler to 14 or so. It’s more about meeting the Disney characters, seeing the shows, enjoying the parades and really getting into the fantasy of Princesses and make believe.
Universal Studios is a pedal-to-the-metal joy ride for the easy to get bored teens! Extreme roller coasters, load music, fire blasting stunts, drenching water rides and fantastic state of the art effects make this popular for the big kids.
But why choose between them? There is no reason not to take in both. If you just have teens they may get bored at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, but they would have fun at Animal Kingdom. Small kids would have fun at Universal’s Cat In The Hat area of Island’s Of Adventure and more.
So take in both if you have the time and money! But if you have to choose, then pick Disney for little kids, and Universal Studios for teens. Your sure to have the best fun of your life whatever one you choose!