Which Orlando Park is Better: Disney or Universal

Long summers full of beautiful thunderstorms, golden sunshine all year round, and lakes everywhere. Not to mention world-class theme parks! Orlando cannot be beaten.

Known as “The City Beautiful,” Orlando is a mecca for theme park visitors. With world-class shopping malls, golf courses, and nightlife. So, which is better, Disney World or Universal Studios? While there is no clear answer, there are clear benefits to each. Read on to find out the best parts of Disney World or Universal Studios.

Universal Studios Orlando Resort Parks

We all love to watch movies, follow actors on social media, and show off our acting prowess in charades. Universal Studios is a fantastic opportunity to indulge your inner film buff.

Family riding Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Orlando - Orlando, FL USA

Universal Studios Florida

This theme park is a legendary behind-the-scenes look at iconic Universal movies. This theme park is a cinema lover’s fantasy. Although it was once used in the filming process, the park is now all yours to enjoy.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Universal Orlando Resort: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Organized into seven themed areas around a large lagoon, the park is a sight to behold. Check out: 

  • Production Central
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • London
  • Diagon Alley
  • World Expo
  • Springfield
  • Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone
  • Hollywood

Get your heart racing with the rides, shows, attractions, character appearances, dining, and shopping!

In addition, Universal Studios is home to the infamous Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. The most popular of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions.

exterior of shop during nighttime with colorful lighting in Knockturn Alley in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Off TMSM via Facebook

Islands of Adventure

As the name promises, this park features major adventurous attractions!

Take the Hogwarts Express to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade,” where serious delights await you. Revel in the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village, and even fabled Hogwarts Castle.

Head to Jurassic Park to experience all the thrill and exploits of the first movie. Escape from these giants and hide where you can!

Related Post: What to Bring to Orlando: The Ultimate Packing List

Top up your gratification with a visit to:

  • Marvel Super Hero Island
  • Toon Lagoon
  • The Lost Continent
  • Seuss Landing

Volcano Bay

A tropical paradise awaits you at Volcano Bay. Are you ready for this ecstatic excursion?

Right here in the heart of Florida is a glittering beach lined with palm trees and sits in the shadow of a mighty Volcano.

Inspired by the Polynesian islands, Volcano Bay is organized into four themed areas:

  • Wave Village
  • River Village
  • Rainforest Village
  • Krakatau Volcano

Fun Fact: Ko’okiri Body Plunge at the Krakatau volcano is the tallest water slide in America!

Aerial view of the pool and different slides at Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay on a sunny day in Orlando, Florida, USA

Walt Disney World Resort Parks

Want to step into an enthralling land of elves, fairies, dinosaurs, space, and enchanting fantasy characters? Let’s go to Disney! Keep reading to decide, Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando: which is better. 

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World®: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Magic Kingdom

Synonymous with Disney World is Magic Kingdom. It’s often called “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”

The Magic Kingdom is where the fairy-tale begins, made up of multiple themed areas, rides, attractions, and dining. Fantasyland is where you will meet Belle, the Little Mermaid, Storybook Circus, and oh so much more!

View of Cinderella's Castle and bridge at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: • Another World • via Facebook


Ever wondered if anyone tried to build a real “Utopia” from Thomas More’s book?

Your question is answered in the existence of EPCOT! Walt Disney himself designed it as a prototype city of the future.

While Walt Disney’s death changed the course of EPCOT, it gave the world a city that celebrates human achievement. Popularly called the “world’s permanent fair,” this is the ultimate showcase of cultures and innovations from around the world.

Head over to EPCOT to enjoy the World Celebration, Discovery, World Nature, and Showcase!

Pro Tip: EPCOT hosts an incredible and unmissable International Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring!

close up view of Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World's Epcot in Orlando, Florida, USA

Animal Kingdom Park

Another one of Walt Disney’s passions was animal conservation, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom is built on that principle. Featuring a giant “Tree of Life, this park is resplendent with Asian tigers, African lions, and many other exciting species.

Fun fact: The “Tree of Life” in Discovery Island is a man-made baobab tree!

In keeping with its theme of animal conservation, Animal Kingdom provides an environment agreeable to its inhabitants. You can expect to use biodegradable dining equipment and no fireworks.

Related Post: Surviving Disney World in the Summer: The Ultimate Guide

Organized into several themed areas, Animal Kingdom is the second most frequented park at Disney World. Pick from the expanses of:

  • Oasis
  • Discovery Island
  • Pandora
  • Africa
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  • Asia
  • DinoLand U.S.A.

While they are all unique and offer different attractions, each is stunning.

Trees and Plants at Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney World's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Avatar via Facebook

Disney or Universal: Thrilling Rides

Universal Studios and Disney World are plentiful in rides of all thrill levels! There is something for everyone.

So, what’s better, Disney World or Universal studios? Here are a few of our favorite rides:

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios

Ever wondered what it felt like to stand in the stunning interior of Gringotts Bank? To escape from the dragons, Voldemort, Bellatrix, and trolls?

Related Post: Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure: An Inside Look at Universal Orlando’s Theme Parks

Now you can experience it all! Fire breathing dragons atop Gringotts serve as a reminder of the danger that lurks within. So hop on to this high thrill ride and let the waves of excitement carry you back to Diagon Alley.

Fun Fact: The four chandeliers in Gringotts Bank have a combined 62,000 crystals.

Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney World

Located within the Animal Experience section, this is an utterly otherworldly ride. So climb aboard your very own mountain banshee and head off on a thrilling expedition. Meanwhile, earning your stripes as a Na’vi.

Get a close look at this moon’s amazing landscape, imagine all that can be, and soar away!

Pteranodon Flyers at Universal Studios

A ride the little ones will adore, Pteranodon Flyers gently soars like the flying dinosaur.

Riding below the 10-foot wings of this prehistoric bird, children will enjoy amazing views of the entire park. No sudden movements or turns make this ride ideal for a stable viewing experience.

Close up of the sign for Pteranodon Flyers with a large rock behind it at Universal Orlando in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: David Chapman via Facebook

Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World

An iconic adventure like no other, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a ‘can’t miss.’ Riding aboard a barge, you will sail past Dead Man’s Cove, navigate cannon fire, and even meet Captain Jack Sparrow!

Related Post: The Most Iconic Rides at Disney World

Steel your nerves to survive a world ruled by rogues, rapscallions, and buccaneers that set seaside towns aflame.

Men in Black Alien Attack at Universal Studios

Believe in aliens? Want to protect the Earth from them?

Head to Men in Black in the World Expo section to fight the scum of the universe. So put on your sleek black glasses, your most confident walk, and show them who’s boss!

Frozen Ever After at Disney World

Ready to let it all go?

Arendelle and all its lively residents come alive as you board a Nordic Vessel to their mesmerizing land.

Gently rock and ride your way through the willow forest. Then, head up to Elsa’s frozen castle and help her see how much you love her. Then join the “Summer Snow Day” celebration to sing along to your favorite tunes.

View of the Anna, Elsa, and Olaf animatronics on the Frozen Ever After ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Fafaraway Travel via Facebook

Universal Studios VS Disney World: Water Parks

The weather in Florida really makes water parks a necessity! After running between various attractions, everyone will find themselves longing for a dip to cool off. 

At Universal Studios, your water rides are at Volcano Bay and Islands of Adventure. Enjoy attractions such as: 

  • Honu of the Honu ika Moana
  • Dudley’s Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-rat Barges

Related Post: What to Do in Orlando at Night: 10 Ways to Have Fun

At Disney World, it is Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach* that you want. With a combination of roller coasters, high thrills, small drops, and other numerous options, you’re assured a great time! We think you’ll love these:

  • Gangplank Fall
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Splash Mountain
  • Snow Stormers
  • Cross Country Creek

*Blizzard Beach is temporarily closed for renovations

Close up of a family riding Miss Adventure Falls with water falling on their heads on a sunny day at Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Epic Adventures Travel Co. via Facebook

Universal Studios and Disney World Tickets

Universal Studios Tickets

Tripster understands that options can mean a lot when planning a theme park vacation. Therefore, we bring you the following fantastic ticket options:

Related Post: Insider’s Guide to Universal Orlando Resort™

  • 1-Day Ticket for 1 or 2 Parks
  • 2-Day Tickets for 2 or 3 Parks which also features a 2-Park 3-Day ticket with two days free
  • 3-Day Tickets for 2 or 3 Parks where the 2-Park 3-Day and 3-Park 3-Day tickets also come with free days 
  • 4-Day Tickets for 2 or 3 Parks
  • 4-Day Tickets for 2 or 3 Parks

Pro Tip: Skip the lines at the enormous queues at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure with the Express Pass!

External view of Harry Potter's Castle at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Universal Orlando Resort via Facebook

Disney World Tickets

One can not expect to cover everything at Disney World within a day. However, there are so many ways to visit Disney that you can build your ticket package!

Related Post: Current Festivals and Events at Disney World Resort

Follow these quick steps to identify the best deals:

  • Select the dates you plan to visit
  • Pick the age and number of visitors in your family or group
  • Marvel at the variety of options that appear before you and pick the best one!

Disney parking and Universal Studios parking will always cost something. Thus, it is always wise to check the options and charges.

Best Vacation Packages for Universal Studios and Disney World

Amidst all the excitement to book your trip, don’t forget to snap up the best offers! Wrapped and bundled together like gifts, these package deals will have you jumping for joy!

Related Post: Current Festivals and Events at Universal Orlando Resort

Ultimate Universal Orlando resort deals:

Ultimate Walt Disney World Resort deals:

Neither park makes it easy to decide if you should stay at Universal Studios or Disney World!

Shopping & Dining at Universal Studios and Disney World

Disney Springs

103 shops, 63 dining options, and 25 entertainment areas, Disney Springs elevates the fun level of your trip to infinity.

Bordered by Lake Buena Vista to the North and organized into four main spaces, Disney Springs is a delight!

Head to The Marketplace for American-style restaurants and dining. Enjoy the transportation hub and marina-style resplendent in this fictional town. Eating and shopping options abound here, and you could easily spend half a day enjoying it all!

Pro Tip: Try an amphibious automobile cruise around Lake Buena Vista at The Boathouse

Don’t miss the Town Centre and West Side to experience buzzing city culture with Spanish Revival architecture.

Ground view of Disney Springs shops at night in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Disney Springs via Facebook

Disney World Dining

With more than 200 places to find something to eat within the parks, you’re never too far away from your next bite! We love a few places in particular:

  • Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square
  • Be Our Guest in Fantasyland
  • Via Napoli in EPCOT
  • Les Chefs de France in Epcot
  • Oga’s Cantina and the Milk Stand at Galaxy’s Edge
  • Dawa Bar

Universal CityWalk

CityWalk is abundant in shopping, entertainment, and dining options, a pretty exciting preview of the day to come.

Related Post: The Ultimate Universal Orlando CityWalk Restaurants Guide

You have to try the food at Vivo Italian Kitchen, Bend the Bao, and Cinnabon. Buy your souvenirs at Universal Legacy Store and Universal Studios Store. Conclude a fabulous time at Citywalk with a performance at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Bob Marley, or CityWalk’s Rising Star.

Hard Rock Café Orlando at Universal Orlando's CityWalk - Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Universal Orlando Resort Dining

Whether you head to Springfield or Universal’s backlots, you’ll find something to eat that everyone will enjoy. A few of our favorites are:

  • Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
  • Lombard’s Seafood Grille
  • Mythos Restaurant
  • Confisco Grille

Orlando’s attractions and weather are a holiday maker’s dream. So much so that annual visitors to Orlando can exceed the population of Atlanta! With the longest coastline in the continental USA, Florida is scenic beyond belief. Orlando is buzzing with excitement, filled with theme parks such as Universal Studios, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, and Disney World.

With this guide of what you will find all there is to know about Universal Studios VS Disney World, you can try to decide which parks to visit. Although we don’t see how you’ll choose, we’ve never been able to!

 Universal Studios VS Disney World FAQs

When it comes to comparing the size of Universal and Disney, it’s interesting to note that Universal Orlando spans a relatively compact area of 840 acres. This figure pales in comparison to the vast expanse of Walt Disney World, which covers a whopping 25,000 acres. Hence, while both offer their own unique attractions and experiences, it is evident that Walt Disney World outranks Universal Orlando significantly in terms of sheer physical size.

If your aim for the trip is to enjoy thrilling, large-scale rides, sip a drink, or get on rides with minimal waiting, Universal Studios is the park for you. Disney is an ideal choice if you have a liking for fine details, don’t mind being around a greater number of children, like experimenting with different cuisines, and prefer more choices of parks. Rest assured, whichever you choose between the two promises a unique and captivating experience that guarantees your enjoyment.

Which is Better? Universal Studios VS Disney World?

Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

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Written by Sarina Byron

Sarina Byron is a California-based writer whose work has been featured in leading publications such as  Authors Publish, Introvert, Dear, Thrive Global, Book...

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