Six Ways Universal Studios Beats Disney’s Hollywood Studios Hands Down!

In case you didn’t know, we love all things Disney, with a vacation to Walt Disney World being a dream come true for us no matter how many times we’ve been.

The cover of A Pictorial Souvenir of Walt Disney World, circa 1972. [Chuck Schmidt]

However, not everything Disney does is perfect, and sometimes the World gets beat by its competition. 

Universal Studios vs. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios was Disney World’s third Park, and although it’s just a little over 30-years-old, the Park formerly known as MGM has undergone a multitude of changes over the years. For many visitors to the World, Hollywood Studios is a half-day (or no-day) Park (especially if they’re not into Galaxy’s Edge).

Hollywood Boulevard

With Universal Studios so close by it is easy to compare the two Hollywood-themed parks. Opening just one year after Hollywood Studios, there are a few ways that Universal Studios puts the Disney park to shame.

Universal Orlando

Layout of the Park

When Disney built Magic Kingdom they used the tried and true wagon wheel  design, but Hollywood Studios doesn’t follow that design. It started with a central location, but over the years it has evolved. Oddly. Especially with the addition of Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, it has become lopsided. Universal Studios, on the other hand, has a fairly straightforward rectangular layout. It is easier to get around and find where you are with their layout.

©Universal Studios

More Indoor Attractions

Hollywood Studios has some great attractions, but it is pretty much split evenly between indoor and outdoor attractions. On a rainy or particularly hot day, it can be uncomfortable to be stuck outside. At Universal Studios, guests find more indoor attractions and are able to stay cooler and dryer. If you are trying to stay out of the rain or sun, Universal Studios is a better choice for you.

Kang & Kudo’s Twirl n’ Hurl, one of Universal Studios’ only outdoor attractions

More Roller Coasters

If you are a roller coaster fanatic, then Universal is the better option. While Hollywood Studios has fan favorite coasters like Slinky Dog Dash and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, that’s all they have in the way of these thrill rides. Universal Studios has four different coaster rides of varying levels. For an intro to coasters, try Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster. For intermediate coaster fans there are the two indoor coasters: Revenge of The Mummy and Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts. For extreme roller coaster aficionados, there is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Coaster.

© NBC Universal

Vintage Sci-fi Attractions

Hollywood Studios may have Galaxy’s Edge and Star Tours, which we love, but Universal Studios has one of the most fun vintage sci-fi attractions we have ever ridden. We are, of course, talking about E.T. Adventure. If you haven’t ridden this one, it is a dark ride where you ride on a flying bicycle through the forest and then off to E.T.’s home planet. There are few rides that make you feel like you are in the actual movie more than E.T. Adventure.

E.T. Adventure ©Universal

Play Areas

Years ago Hollywood Studios had the wonderful Honey I Shrunk The Kids play area, but sadly it is no more. Universal Studios has a few great areas to let your little ones run off some of that pent up energy. In Fievel’s Playland and the Curious George Goes to Town play area, you can sit and take a load off and let your kids run wild for a few minutes.

©Universal Studios

Shopping and Nearby Food

Universal Studios has a shop that is unlike anything in Hollywood Studios. Williams of Hollywood is a shop that sells antiques and props from Universal Studios in the park. What they have regularly changes depending on what updates are going on in the park. You can get signs, statues, and all kinds of unique souvenirs. If you want to do more shopping, there are tons of other great shops right around the corner in CityWalk. Hollywood Studios has some great food, while Universal Studios in the park may not have the best food options, but nearby is a plethora of delicious restaurants in CityWalk. We recommend checking out Voodoo Doughnut.


Hollywood Studios may have the Blue Bantha Milk in Galaxy’s Edge, but it will never beat the frozen beverage in Universal Studios. In the Diagon Alley section you can get the most delicious frozen drink in the universe: Butterbeer. This frozen drink tastes like a frozen cream soda with butterscotch soft serve topping. It is very sweet, and we don’t recommend trying to drink more than one a day.


We love both of this parks and could easily spend all day everyday at either of them. And we know some of you have strong opinions!

What are some of your favorite differences between Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios? Let us know in the comments.

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5 Replies to “Six Ways Universal Studios Beats Disney’s Hollywood Studios Hands Down!”

  1. Of course you can have more than one butterbeer. I personally like the original and the hot one offered in winter over the frozen one, but Butterbear is not too sweet (I don’t like sweet drinks). Much less sweeter than the brew at Gaston’s in MK (although I like that one, too).

  2. I would rather see a comparison with Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Hollywood in California. Universal Florida is not a similar park and does not compare.

  3. I was just at Universal and it’s a pretty dismal park. A small, boxed in theme park consisting of various facade clad warehouses. It’s tiny, most rides consist of a screen and the crowd isn’t as upscale. The parking and entering the park situation is heinous not to mention the locker system and the inability to take photos on the rides. The theming can’t compare to Disney. Also, I’m not sure how you compare essentially Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (which is a very decent park) to Hollywood Studios? I did the Express pass at each Universal park and I did enjoy IOA, however the parks are tiny, the rides are on top of one another. Disney is so grand in scale and so large. Each section in a Disney park doesn’t visually interfere with another. Not to mention the Disney employees are far superior to the ones working at Universal in keeping with character and theme.

  4. Say what you want, but we have been to Universal several times and the biggest problem that we have is with the mandatory locker system. If you wear a hat, have a small bag, whatever…you must tolerate the beyond busy, standing room only, crazy locker rooms for all the good rides. We found that to be a major distraction from enjoying the rides and god help you if you have a bottom locker because rude people will walk all over you. Thank goodness Disney does not require such a chaotic system.

  5. You’re comparing essentially 2 parks that are side by side to only 1 park at Disney. I don’t think the comparison is fair. Universal Studios is so large it is difficult to really do everything in one day. You compare Butter beer to blue bantha milk but I would say Lefou’s Brew is better than both.

    ET is awful. I loved the movie as a kid, but the ride is so dated, it’s terrible, and the newer generations really know nothing about it. My kids hated it and felt it was a waste of our day.