Should You Skip Disney World and Go to Universal Orlando Instead?

Orlando is home to some amazing theme parks. Trust us, we visit them all the time!

Universal Orlando Resort

There are a LOT of die-hard Disney World fans out there (we’re some of them!), but that doesn’t mean there’s not a great time waiting just a quick drive down the highway. Yep, we’re taking a look at whether a trip to Universal might be more right for you than a trip to Disney!

Should you skip Disney World and head to Universal instead? Let’s find out!

Stay at Disney if you’d rather be around people wearing masks inside.

With the current global health climate, you might feel uncomfortable in a crowded theme park space — especially indoors. If you’d feel more comfortable with other guests wearing masks when you’re inside, you’ll want to stick with Disney World.

Sign with the latest face mask guidance in Disney World

Disney World currently maintains a mask mandate for guests when indoors. Universal encourages guests to wear masks indoors, but it is not required. So at Disney, it’s a guarantee that masks will be worn indoors. We’ve noticed that many folks opt not to wear one inside at Universal.

Head to Universal if you enjoy MAJOR thrill rides.

Disney World has some amazing attractions, but if you’re a thrill-seeker, you might have more fun at Universal. Sure, Expedition Everest and Tower of Terror might be thrilling, but Universal has WAY more thrills to offer.

VelociCoaster

From The Hulk to Velocicoaster to Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure to Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall, thrill-seekers are in for a blast at Universal.

Stay at Disney if you’re looking for more chill, story-based dark rides.

On the other end of the spectrum, Disney has a lot more for families and those who prefer a relaxing ride and a good story. You’ll have a good time on E.T. Adventure in Universal, but the story-based dark ride pickin’s are thin.

Peter Pan’s Flight

At Disney, there are so many slow-moving rides with amazing stories and designs. If that’s more your jam, stick to Disney.

Head to Universal if you want more bang for your buck.

It’s no secret, theme parks are expensive. If you want more bang for your buck, head to Universal. Disney World tickets, food, and merchandise tends to come at a slightly higher premium than the same things at Universal.

Universal Orlando Resort

Plus, if you stay at certain Universal hotels, you can get Express Pass included and skip the lines. That’s a pretty great perk to get for free!

Stay at Disney if you have young kids.

If you have littles, they might have a better time at Disney. The offerings for kids are much broader in Disney World than they are in Universal.

Belle distanced meet and greet in EPCOT

Unless your little ones love E.T., Harry Potter, or Minions a lot, Disney is probably going to have more rides and characters that appeal to them.

Head to Universal if you’ve done Disney a bunch before.

If you tend to be a Disney aficionado, consider mixing things up and heading over to Universal! Just because these parks are different doesn’t mean you can’t have a totally fun and new trip by going to Universal.

Magic Kingdom Entrance

Sometimes it can be great to revisit Disney World as often as possible, but Universal’s got some amazing attractions too. If you’re looking to switch things up, plan your trip for Universal.

Stay at Disney if you’re looking to chow down.

Universal does have good food (in fact, we think it might be a little underrated), but Disney still wins in the eats department. If you’re a foodie, stick to the mouse.

Lunch Spread

Disney has over 400 dining options so there’s a significant variety, and many of the restaurants are award-winning or even run by celebrity chefs. Though we love a meal at Universal, the food is a winner at Disney.

Head to Universal if you love Harry Potter.

Universal’s best land in the eyes of many is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Both the Hogsmeade side in Islands of Adventure and the Diagon Alley side in Universal Studios have been wowing guests since they debuted.

Diagon Alley

If you absolutely love Harry Potter, a trip to Universal is almost a must. Skip Disney this time, and get your magic fix in the Wizarding World.

Stay at Disney if you want more options.

If you want more options in general, head to Disney. Yep, Disney has more food options but there are also more parks, more rides, and more hotels. You can have a very different vacation every time you visit Disney World.

Hop on the monorail for easy access to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT from several hotels!

Plus, the parks are bigger. A Universal trip doesn’t need to be nearly as long as a Disney World one to be able to experience everything. If you want more options, stick with Disney.

Head to Universal to avoid Disney crowds.

But Disney World is so crowded. Universal has spikes in crowds, too, but a big piece of attendance there is locals. If you head to Universal on a week day, odds are it’s going to be much less busy than Disney World.

EPCOT Crowds

If you want to skip the crowds, head to Universal.

How do you decide whether to head to Universal or Disney? Tell us in the comments!

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10 Replies to “Should You Skip Disney World and Go to Universal Orlando Instead?”

  1. I used to love WDW but between the planning and the reservation system it’s way too much of a hassle for a get away. Getting up at 7am to get a ride😂😂😂 I will stay at Universal Studios 😊

  2. Disney is amazing. But there’s a reason Universal has been ranked the best theme park in America on Trip Advisor like six year in a row. If you’ve not done Universal, you really are missing out.

  3. Add: Stay at Disney if you’re plus-sized. Universal has lots of thrill rides, but if you’ve got a big waist, you’re not getting on them. Disney is much more accommodating.

  4. On my next trip to Orlando, I am going to stay 3 to 4 days in WDW and 3 days in Universal. My wife typically likes to go to WDW for 10 days. That is not going to happen anymore based on the changes in WDW and the fact that one of my sons is 12 now. Also, not having to wear a mask inside is reason to not go to WDW.

  5. I totally agree with Joe.

    I would add that if you want to stay at an onsite hotel, choose Universal. I only go to Orlando once a year, but typically stay for 5+ days, so I have the Universal Annual Pass. Given the APH discount, it is cheaper for me to stay onsite at Loews Portofino Bay during the high season than at Disney’s Caribbean Beach! There is no comparison in room quality, amenities and hotel food – Universal wins by a landslide.

    To Gra’s point about doing both, I just tried a split stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Universal/Loews Portofino Bay and used each park’s transportation options. I regret doing a split stay – it was too much trouble/hassle and expense. Next time, if I decide to visit both parks, I will make Universal’s Portofino Bay my base and just take an Uber/Lyft to Disney as needed. It will be much cheaper overall and the accommodations will be so much better. I don’t see much value in staying onsite at Disney – they don’t have the perks that Universal offers.

  6. Why choose, just visit both. We have to fly for 9 hours and often change flights at hub airports to get here and so in two weeks we can see Disney and Universal. Bok Tower, wekiva springs, Crystal River and a day at Winter Park or Mount Dora as well. This time might fit in Fantasy of Flight as well.

    1. That’s what we do. We can spend 5 days in Disney Parks with a couple of days at Blizzard Beach and 3 days ay=t Universal over two weeks. We stay at offsite condos which cuts cost on lodging and food, and that allows us a longer trip. Wife and I are teachers, so we have the time to do this in the summer.

  7. The past three times I’ve skipped WDW. Partly because the kids are teens now, partly due to availability of rooms, partly due to Volcano Bay, and partly because WDW is just too damn expensive.