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Five Reasons Why Disney Is Better Than Universal

Living in Orlando, the Disney vs. Universal debate is one that I hear all the time. There is a perception that Disney is for children and Universal is for adults. As an adult and the mother of an adult daughter (who is often my theme park companion) I don’t agree with that assessment at all. Universal may be for adults, but Disney is for everyone.

 

My daughter and I have annual passes for both places. We will head to Disney at least once a week, but often more. We might go to Universal once every other month. It just hasn’t drawn us in the way that Walt Disney World has. We like Universal, but we love Disney.

There are a couple of points that I need to give to Universal over Disney. If you like big, scary roller coasters, you’ll find them at Universal. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is also incredible. It’s beautifully themed, you really do feel as if you’ve stepped into the movies. The two Harry Potter areas are also packed, making it hard to explore unless you have plenty of time to spare. If you want to experience the Hogwarts Express, you’ll need to have a park to park pass. I think that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to benefit Disney fans in the long run, because it’s going to make Disney have to step up their game with any future development.

Here are five reasons why I believe that Disney is better than Universal. I know that not everyone will agree with my opinions. I’ve included some personal experiences when appropriate to help make my points. I’ve stayed away from hotels and restaurants here. I believe that Disney wins both of those battles hands down.

5) Special Events

Both parks have special events throughout the year. I would much rather visit Disney during the holidays than Universal. The decorations are incredible, and you can really feel the holiday spirit at Disney. I have never had the same feeling at Universal; I’d much rather celebrate Holidays Around the World than Grinchmas. Universal makes a big deal about their Mardis Gras celebration, but the concerts are packed and fans can get out of control during the parade. (You won’t see women selling jello shots before a parade at Disney!) A Celebration of Harry Potter pales in comparison to Star Wars Weekends. It’s a draw for Halloween, it depends on whether you want your event intense or gentle. I’ve attended Rock the Universe at Universal; never again. It was disorganized, they didn’t limit the number of tickets sold, and there was not enough crowd control near the stages. Disney limits the number of tickets sold for Night of Joy (held the same weekend), making it a better experience for the fans.

4) Cinderella Castle

Let’s face it, Cinderella Castle is the best theme park icon on the planet. Not only is it beautiful to look at, you can also see a show in front of it or dine inside. At night, the colors on the castle are going to make you pull out your camera once again. Cinderella Castle is the perfect backdrop for fireworks, and Celebrate the Magic is held evenings on the castle’s walls. Don’t forget the transformation of the castle each holiday season! There is nothing that comes close to Cinderella Castle at Universal.

3) Size

At Walt Disney World there are four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping and entertainment district, and more. Universal Orlando Resort has two theme parks and City Walk. The two theme parks are small in area, making them feel crowded even on a slow day. On a slow day at Epcot, you’ll almost feel like you have the park to yourself.

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2) Employees

There are some great employees at Universal, and some not so great employees at Disney. That said, in my experience the Disney employees are friendlier and more willing to go out of their way. I’ve left compliments for employees at Guest Relations at Disney countless times because I like to let management know when someone has gone above and beyond. I’ve only done it once at Universal. At Universal I also encountered the rudest theme park employee ever. Another thing about Disney; their employees are well trained before they hit the parks. The cashiers know where things are on the registers, the servers can make knowledgeable recommendations, and you’ll know where to park. The last time that I was at Universal the young woman at the parking gate was not fully trained. She was getting flustered, and the line of cars kept growing. It wasn’t her fault, she just wasn’t ready.

1) Characters

The best theme park characters anywhere can be found at Walt Disney World! You will find them in all four theme parks and also at character meals. The classic Disney characters have different costumes depending on the location, making you want to get more than one picture. There are character opportunities at Universal, but nothing can match the shear number of characters that you’ll find at Walt Disney World. You can start your day by having breakfast with your friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, actually talk to Mickey, see the other Disney classics in their side shows, admire Gaston’s greatness, and have dinner in a castle with princesses, and that’s just at the Magic Kingdom! That sure beats getting a quick picture with SpongeBob, if you can time it right. The Disney face characters will perfectly play the part, and the characters who don’t talk will still have their movements down. At Walt Disney World, character pictures aren’t just for the kids. Many adults say that finding characters ended up being one of the best parts of their Disney vacations. I have dozens of Disney character pictures. I have one from Universal.

 

 

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.