Orlando, Florida is the theme park capital of the world. You can’t go far without seeing something about one of the parks. Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort are the two main contenders. Both have multiple parks, on-site hotels, and a shopping, dining, and entertainment district. Both are vacation destinations. There are plenty of differences as well. Here are ten things that Walt Disney World has that Universal Orlando Resort doesn’t.
10. Disney’s Magical Express
With Disney’s Magical Express, if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World resort they will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel for no extra charge. They’ll take you back to the airport when your vacation ends. Since Disney has great transportation on property, you won’t have to rent a car! It also means that you won’t be able to drive to Universal, but that’s beside the point.
9. Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings
Weddings are a big deal at Walt Disney World. They’re so important that there is a wedding chapel on property. While it’s probably possible to get married at Universal, can you then get into a pumpkin shaped coach that is drawn by white ponies? Weddings at Walt Disney World can make lifelong fairy tale dreams come true.
8. Free FastPass+ for All
FastPass+ allows you to skip the standby line. It’s free to anyone who is visiting, no matter what type of pass you have or where you’re staying. At Universal Orlando Resort, their front of the line program is Express Pass. It’s free if you’re staying at certain hotels, or have the most expensive Annual Pass. Everyone else has to pay for it.
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Pixar has changed the face of animation. It has also changed Walt Disney World. Toy Story Land is the most obvious way, but there are other Pixar touches as well, and more will be at the parks soon. If you are a Pixar fan, Walt Disney World is the place for you.
6. Victoria & Albert’s
There are some great restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort. They do not come close to Victoria & Albert’s. It’s a AAA Five Diamond Award winner for years, and is considered one of the best restaurants in the entire country. It’s not just a restaurant, it’s a dining experience like none other.
The Universal Orlando Resort theme parks feel crowded, even on a day that is not all that busy. They feel small. While you could argue that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the same way, that is in the process of changing. You can’t say that the other Walt Disney World theme parks feel small, even on the most crowded days of the year.
Walt Disney World has its roots in magic and fairy tales, and princesses are part of both of those things. There are characters at Universal, but there is something special about seeing a young child give Cinderella a hug for the first time.
3. Star Wars
Universal Orlando Resort has Harry Potter, and the two lands based on the stories are incredible. But Walt Disney World has Star Wars. It’s a franchise that has been around for over 40 years, and a third generation is falling in love with a galaxy far, far away. There are plenty of Star Wars related offerings at Walt Disney World, and with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars is prevalent now more than ever. It’s unlike any other theme park experience anywhere.
As already mentioned, Walt Disney World wins on characters. A special shout out needs to go to Mickey Mouse. He’s been with us for 90 years now, and he’s more popular than ever. None of the characters at Universal can make the same claim. Mickey is found as a character, on t-shirts, on kitchen towels, in plush form, as ice cream, and even on a huge line of hats. Mickey is so popular that his likeness is hidden all over Walt Disney World. No one looks for Hidden Hulks at Universal.
Universal Orlando Resort would not be in Central Florida without Walt Disney World, but the opposite is not true. A man and his crew came into an area that was filled with swamps and citrus groves, and transformed it into one of the most popular vacation destinations on the planet. Walt Disney did not live long enough to see his vision come to fruition, but it’s doubtful that he would have been able to imagine how much he would change an entire state.