If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, Florida but you’re not sure what to do when you arrive, then this guide is for you. You probably are travelling to visit one of the many amusement parks Orlando has to offer which is great because there’s such a wide selection. It may seem confusing at first with Disney’s 4 parks, 2 waterparks, Universal’s 2 parks and water park, Seaworld, Legoland, etc. The list keeps going!
The two biggest theme parks belong to Disney and Universal, and so these are typically the busiest and most popular among locals and tourists. There have been debates over which is better which considers rides, food, entertainment, etc. Equally, both parks are great and I’ve been to them multiple times so I wouldn’t skip out a chance to visit them both!
If you want to know more about each park or which one to choose here’s an informative guide to help you decide which park is best to visit on your next trip to Orlando:
Growing up, I constantly traveled to Disney World with my family because it’s such as great amusement park for all ages. Everything from the sidewalks to the lamp posts is decorated according to a Disney theme truly making every visitor feel welcome.
Out of the 4 Disney parks, Magic Kingdom is the most popular, and most expensive. No other park can compete with Magic Kingdom’s six distinct lands full of some of Disney’s best rides and coasters. This park hits home for Disney as it is one of the most successful parks worldwide. Many people visit Orlando to visit the Magic Kingdom where you can meet princesses like Cinderella or Mickey Mouse and his friends. This is a great park for close interactions with Disney characters on a one-on-one basis. The other three parks are still fantastic and worth checking out. Each with a select theme: Animal Kingdom (animals, exotic cultures), Epcot (11 pavilions of international countries), and Hollywood Studios (music, movies, entertainment).
Disney World food is typically different than other amusement park food as you would find around Universal. From exotic dishes to local American food you can find what you please around the Disney area. This resort is also great for food allergies which I found a big problem at Universal.
The rides are great for every age. Meaning that they may lower your expectations in comparison to Universal. Nonetheless, I love all Disney rides as I mainly go for the Disney experience than high-speed coasters.
Pros: Disney always has a new ride; definitely an innovative park.
Cons: Disney is generally a bit more expensive than Universal but only by a few dollars.
Best park for: food, allergies, characters, parades, interactive and enjoyable rides, customer service, merchandise and shopping.
After years of going to Disney when I was a teenager, I finally got the chance to go to Universal Studios. I was blown away upon entering. It’s similar to Disney as both are over the notch decorated and dressed from head to toe, but in a good way. I thought it was a nice change from Disney as Universal owns many different franchises such as Harry Potter, Simpsons to Dr. Seuss. Universal has dedicated a lot of time to creating unique themes. When you enter the Jurassic Park it automatically makes you feel like you’re at Isla Sorna with the theme song on replay and the lush growing jungle that surrounds you.
I loved how close these two parks are to each other allowing each transportation either by the new Harry Potter Hogwarts Express or by a quick walk. Universal definitely gains double points for this feature.
The rides are of course incredible. I found Universal big on 3D/4D rides such as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Transformers: The Ride – 3D and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. The other coasters and shows are must-sees. Try The Incredible Hulk Coaster or Jurassic Park River Adventure.
The food, on the other hand, could definitely be improved. You can mostly only find American amusement park food at both parks. Not much in diverse choices other than Mythos Restaurant. If you have food allergies or want to try something new save yourself and bring in food yourself.
Pros: Everything at Universal is connected; Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are only footsteps away from each other. Both are also right in front of CityWalk making transportation super easy.
Cons: Universal has only two theme parks in comparison to Disney’s four.
Best park for: high-speed coasters, theme, entertainment shows and price.
Both Disney and Universal are great for the young and old to immerse themselves in creating a world for everyone to escape into. Each is unique in it’s own aspects so if you get the chance check them both out.