It’s a rivalry almost as old as time itself–the one that exists between theme park titans Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. And though Disney has come out the winner in the race to earn visitors’ theme park dollars, Disney’s days may be numbered as Universal is doing something neither theme park giant has done before.
Disney Theme Parks vs. Universal Theme Parks
Disney World opened in Central Florida in 1971, and Universal Studios Orlando Resort didn’t make its debut until 1990, but that hasn’t stopped Universal from fighting the good fight.
Ultimately, however, at the end of the day, Disney World simply has more to offer guests than Universal Studios does.
Disney World is home to four individual theme parks, including Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
There are so many rides, attractions, live entertainment offerings, and dining venues at each park that guests can spend an entire day at each Disney World theme park–and even then, they might not see every single part of the park.
Universal Studios, on the other hand, offers half as many theme parks. Though Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure offer exciting rides, attractions, live shows, and dining venues, the number of those offerings pales in comparison to Disney World’s offerings, largely because there are half as many theme parks to visit.
Additionally, the size of Universal’s theme parks means that guests can see both parks in one day, if they choose to do so.
The Theme Park Giants’ Water Parks
When it comes to water park fun offered by Disney World and Universal Studios, Disney once again has Universal beat by double. Disney World is home to two water parks–Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon–whereas Universal Studios is home to only Volcano Bay.
This can be another downfall for Universal Studios, especially since water parks play a big role in theme park entertainment in the state of Florida.
A “More Complete Vacation”
According to The Street, Disney World simply seems to offer “a more complete vacation experience than Comcast’s Universal Studios:”
Roller-coaster fans may argue that Universal Studios has more intense coasters that enthusiasts will happily ride multiple times, but for families, Universal’s Orlando Park lags behind Disney World.
…Still, you can experience the two Universal theme parks in two days. Add a day at the water parks, and one enjoying your hotel and/or the City Walk shopping and dining section, and you’re still only at four days.
Walt Disney World simply offers more. You can spend one day at each theme park, a day at a water park, one day at your hotel, or visit the Disney Springs shopping and dining neighborhood. That’s six days, which is the number of full days you generally have on a seven-night vacation.
But a new tactic by Universal Studios Orlando Resort may change that dynamic once and for all.
Universal Pulls Out All the Stops
Universal’s newest theme park, Epic Universe, is slated to open in 2025, and with each passing week, news about the new park, as well as aerial images of construction progress at the site, only add to guests’ anticipation over what the new theme park experience at Universal might be like.
Though Universal has not released a fully outlined list of attractions and experiences that will be part of the new Epic Universe theme park, expectations and speculations are high.
Epic Universe is expected to feature a third Wizarding World of Harry Potter location, and Universal Studios has confirmed that the new theme park will also feature SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, a How to Train Your Dragon-themed area, and an area devoted to Universal’s classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and others.
In this aerial photo of Epic Universe
1 Portal of How To Train Your Dragon land
2 Portal of Super Nintendo World
3 A water side restaurant near features at front of the park
4 Arrival plaza of the park entrance pic.twitter.com/vaBU0zAOcH
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) December 9, 2023
But what’s being constructed near Epic Universe shows Universal Studios’ dedication to taking down Disney World once and for all.
Universal is Listening to Guests About Pricing
Two new stunning hotels will also open near Universal’s Epic Universe.
“Featuring tranquil accommodations, Universal Stella Nova Resort is inspired by distant galaxies, new stars, and mysterious black holes, while Universal Terra Luna Resort is inspired by the massive and diverse planetary elements of the universe,” Universal Parks and Experiences has said of the new resort hotel complexes.
Universal Stella Nova Resort and Universal Terra Luna Resort will both be located within walking distance of the new Epic Universe theme park.
But perhaps the best part about the new hotels is that though Universal is going all out in the development of the new resort hotels, they aren’t going all out on the nightly rates for the hotels.
According to The Street, the new hotels show that Universal “understands that pricing matters” to guests:
“Universal Stella Nova Resort and Universal Terra Luna Resort will each feature 750 guest rooms in the resort’s Prime Value category – bringing the total number of guest rooms across the destination to 10,500 – and are slated to open in early 2025,” the company said in a news release.
“Prime Value” at Universal isn’t the company’s cheapest category, but it is a category that offers “amenity-rich,” comfortable hotels with several perks, which include early access to Universal’s theme parks.
Even More Value For Guests’ Stays
Per Loew’s Hotels:
Universal Terra Luna Resort represents another world in Universal Orlando Resort accommodations. Inspired by the thrill of exploring the unknown, pushing the limits of discovery, and stepping into new landscapes, it opens on February 25, 2025.
…Terra Luna Resort is much more than your launchpad into amazing adventures at the parks of Universal Orlando; it’s also your landing zone for relaxation and recharging between the fun.
…Here, guests enjoy exclusive theme park benefits like being able to breeze into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Volcano Bay an hour before everyone else. With complimentary transportation, it’s a quick hop between the parks and the hotel.
Just when guests thought Universal would attempt to lure them away from Disney World with a bustling, interactive, and massive new theme park, they now know that Epic Universe was only part of the new “lure.”
In the end, it may be the more affordable–but brand-new–resort hotels that win would-be Disney World guests over to the Universal side–and perhaps once and for all.
After all, when was the last time Disney World built an affordable, more pocketbook-friendly hotel?