Universal Orlando Attractions vs. Walt Disney World Attractions
By Lisa Fritscher
There are three major theme park destinations in the Orlando area: Walt Disney World, with four gated theme parks, Universal Orlando, with two, and SeaWorld Orlando, which has one gated park. SeaWorld is an entirely different style of park, with its focus on marine animals. However, comparisons are often drawn between Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. Many families wonder which to visit, or whether it would be worth seeing both.
Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World each have their own very separate and distinct flavor. Universal’s primary focus is on thrills and excitement, while Disney’s primary focus is on classic family entertainment. These are great generalizations, however, as each park also offers a number of elements from the other park’s “type.”
To truly compare the two parks, it is possible to do an “apples to apples” breakdown of each type of ride and show, and look at the offerings that each park provides in those categories. This will help you to look past the trappings and determine which park provides the experience in which you are most interested.
The Mummy (Universal Studios Florida)
Dueling Dragons (Islands of Adventure)
The Incredible Hulk (Islands of Adventure)
Walt Disney World:
Big Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Disney-MGM Studios)
Expedition Everest (Epcot)
Some rides are directly comparable. On these rides the storyline may be completely different or the effects dissimilar, but the ride vehicles and motions are similar:
Universal Studios Florida’s Storm Force Accelatron vs. Mad Hatter Tea Cups at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall at Universal Studios Florida vs. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios.
The Cat in the Hat (Islands of Adventure) vs. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Magic Kingdom).
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (Islands of Adventure) vs. Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom).
Men in Black: Alien Attack (Universal Studios Florida) vs. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom).
Caro-Seuss-El (Islands of Adventure) vs. Cinderella’s Golden Carousel (Magic Kingdom).
Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges (Islands of Adventure) vs. Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom).
Detailed above are just a few of the most direct comparisons between attractions at the two resorts. Dozens of other similarities exist as well. Ultimately, a comparison between Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World will come down to the overall “feel” for which you are looking.
Both Islands of Adventure and Animal Kingdom are groundbreaking new parks. Both utilize incredible new technology to take you places that you never before thought possible. However, they are very different. At Animal Kingdom, the best elements of a modern zoological facility blend seamlessly with high thrill rides and attractions in an incredible trip around the world.
At Islands of Adventure, amazing fantasy worlds are brought to life. From the pages of Marvel Comics to the pen of Theodore “Seuss” Geisel to the fantastical land of unicorns and dragons, be prepared for adventure at every turn.
Who is to say which is better? Both parks offer a similar blend of thrill rides, breathtaking shows, and awesome detail and theming. Which to choose ultimately comes down to what type of experience you would like to have.
Likewise, both Universal Studios Florida and Disney-MGM Studios are movie themed parks. Both take you inside some of the most classic films of all time. Both are designed to function as working backlots as well as theme parks, and both celebrate the Golden Age of film. The major differences stem from the catalogs of movies that are represented. As you may know, Universal is well known for its library of horror and action films. MGM is best known for classic romance and epics. Thus, while many attractions are similar between the two parks, the storylines are completely different. Which park you choose will largely depend on your personal taste in movies.
Both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World offer a wide range of attractions from high thrill to more sedate. Universal’s reputation as the bigger “thrill park” comes largely from the films and television shows in its library. Disney’s reputation as more “family friendly” is based on its heavy draw from its extensive collection of animated and family films and television shows. Comparing attraction for attraction, however, it is easy to see that many of the basic rides are similar between the resorts. Choose whichever park best fits your interests, or see them both if possible.