If you are a theme Park maven that frequents Orlando, chances are you have visited Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios Orlando. These Parks are different in many ways, from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to classic Universal Pictures-themed rides and Magic Kingdom Fantasyland. The differences between these staple Orlando Parks are striking. Some would argue that these Parks attract different Guests entirely. I think theme Park folks are excited to visit Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios during an excursion to Orlando, Florida.
While I’m solidly a Disney gal, I am still a fan of Universal Studios Orlando. Butterbeer, 3D rides, and rollercoasters are some of the highlights that I love at Universal Studios. There are a few things Universal Studios details Walt Disney World could take hints from. Here’s what Disney needs to learn from Universal Resort.
If you’ve read the rundown of what Universal Orlando Resort could learn from Disney World Resort, you know that I think Disney has locked down storybook rides as their area of expertise. Disney Parks are fantastic at storybook rides that walk Guests through a story with exquisite detail and without too many thrills or drops that may bother some Guests.
On the other hand, Disney could take a few pointers from Universal Studios regarding thrill rides. Sure, attractions like Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or Rockin ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios are hair-raising. Disney’s Animal Kingdom staple attraction Expedition Everest is super scary, but overall, Disney tends to do less in the way of thrill rides.
Conversely, Universal Studios Florida delivers on ride-induced screams. With coasters like Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, The Incredible Hulk Coasters, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Guests have no shortage of thrill rides to choose from. Even a fun Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, has a bit of a thrill factor with sideways ride patterns, even though I would broadly classify this attraction as a storybook ride.
It’s non-negotiable; Universal Studios Florida does thrill rides bigger than Walt Disney World Parks. This does not make one Park better or worse- just different. The number of thrill rides at Universal versus Disney World means some people automatically think Universal Studios is the best Park for older kids leaving Disney Parks to the younger crowd. I would not necessarily agree with this, but I encourage Guests to look at Park websites before purchasing tickets to ensure the attractions will be enjoyable for your travel group.
While I know that Butterbeer is not the official beverage of Universal Studios Orlando, Butterbeer does come to mind when this Park is mentioned. You can purchase this fruity, frothy beverage from restaurants at Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventures and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and from the Butterbeer cart. There is no way I am leaving the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without a butterbeer and a butterbeer Insta-photo.
EPCOT is the place I think of when signature Disney drinks come to mind. Who doesn’t love a La Cava Avocado from La Cava del Tequila or a Violet Saka in Japan when visiting World Showcase? During EPCOT Festival season, Guests can indulge in a slushy and sweet Violet Lemonade. But otherwise, Disney World lacks tasty, alcohol-free drinks that are an iconic part of the Parks.
Disney needs to take a hint from Universal Orlando Resort and develop a signature drink that all Guests can enjoy (read: alcohol-free) in Disney Parks. How awesome would it be to have a must-have drink on the menu in Magic Kingdom? Sure, we have Dole Whips and Mickey Premium Bars on the menu, but we also need a signature drink that delivers on Disney Park theming, magic, and flavor!
Technically this is a seasonal event, but Halloween Horror Nights are too epic not to mention. It’s intense and not for the faint of heart. Still, if heart-pounding scares during a night of thrill rides and haunted house hopping sounds like the perfect fall evening, you need to add this event to your to-do list. Halloween Horror Nights run each year at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood and provide brave Guests an opportunity to enjoy these Parks in a new way. This is a ticketed event, so additional costs do apply.
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Gory, scary, and thrilling, Halloween Horror Nights is the best option for Guests looking to get scared for Halloween. Some might say Disney World could take a few pointers from Universal Studios on this scary event. I tend to think that the two Halloween parties in town at Disney World and Universal Studios serve different groups of Guests looking for different fall experiences.
If you are looking for a themed fun event that is not scary – you should try Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Magic Kingdom Park. This Halloween Party is also a ticketed after-hours event where Guests of all ages trick-or-treat in the Park and enjoy shorter wait times for favorite attractions, unique character meets, and exclusive parades or performances in the Park.
Are you on team Universal Studios or team Walt Disney World? What is your favorite part of vacationing at each of these Parks?