There’s no doubt that the price of a theme park family trip has skyrocketed. Figuring out whether you’ll save the most by staying at a Universal or Disney hotel is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when planning your vacation at Universal or Disney. When looking at the numbers, Universal hotels are cheaper across the board than Disney. Staying at a Universal hotel can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your trip. Below, we break down the pricing details, amenities, and the value Universal and Disney hotels provide.

Note: This pricing information is from February 2023 and is for general information purposes only. Prices may change at any time. To get an accurate and free quote for your Disney or Universal vacation, contact our friends at The Vacationeer.

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Disney and Universal Hotel Overview

Before deciding whether Universal or Disney hotels will give you more bang for your buck, let’s break down what Disney and Universal hotels offer.

Walt Disney World Resorts

Number of hotels: 31

Hotel Categories and Price Ranges:

  • Value $113 – $259 per night
  • Moderate $270 – $472 per night
  • Deluxe $667 – $1,025 per night
  • Deluxe Villas $466 – $1,279 per night

Benefits of Staying at a Disney Resort:

There are a few perks of staying at an on-property Disney resort. These include:

Early Park Entry

Enter Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios 30 minutes earlier than regular park guests every day of your stay.

Extended Evening Hours

In addition to getting into the parks early, guests staying at a Deluxe resort can stay at Magic Kingdom or EPCOT up to two hours later than day visitors. Extended evening hours are usually at EPCOT on Mondays and Magic Kingdom on Wednesdays. As a part of extended evening hours at EPCOT, you also get an additional opportunity to get in the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind or TRON: Lightcycle Run.

Free Parking

Disney now offers complimentary overnight parking and free parking at the theme parks for registered Disney Resort guests.

Included Transportation

Disney resort guests can take advantage of various transportation methods around Disney property, including buses, the Skyliner, boats, and the monorail. Some Disney resorts are within walking distance of select theme parks, also.

Universal Resorts

Number of Hotels: 8

Hotel Categories and Price Ranges:

  • Value $113 – $278 per night
  • Prime Value $164 – $503 per night
  • Preferred $181 – $422 per night
  • Premiere $374 – 739 per night

Benefits of Staying at a Universal Resort

Here are the benefits of staying at a Universal Hotel for your vacation:

Early Park Admission

Universal Hotel guests get into Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure one hour early every day. A limited number of attractions are available during this time, and they rotate every few weeks. The rides included in Early Park Admission are usually some of the park’s most popular rides, like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™, VelociCoaster, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™. View a list of the currently offered attractions here. You can also get into Volcano Bay up to 30 minutes early to ride select attractions.

Included Express Unlimited Passes

Guests who book a stay at a Premiere level hotel get complimentary Universal Express Unlimited passes, allowing you to skip the lines at various attractions at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Hotels that include Express Unlimited Passes are Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel®, and Loews Portofino Bay.

Free Transportation

Universal resort guests enjoy complimentary transportation between the theme parks. While most Universal hotels are within walking distance of the parks, there is also bus transportation. Some hotels offer boat service, as well.

Merchandise Delivery

This convenient perk allows you to make purchases at merchandise locations throughout the theme parks and CityWalk and have them delivered to your Universal hotel the following day.

Curious about which resort is right for you? Contact our friends at The Vacationeer for a free quote on your vacation.

They’ll ensure you get the best rate on your vacation package. If a discount becomes available after booking, they’ll apply it automatically!

Plus, their services are free to you! It’s no wonder The Vacationeer is one of the best travel agents for a Universal Vacation.

Disney vs. Universal Hotel Cost Comparison

Now that we have a solid understanding of what each resort offers hotel guests, it’s time to crunch some numbers. Below, we provide real-life trip examples and compare costs between Universal and Disney hotels. Let’s find out which one has a better value.

Example 1: Value Resorts

In this scenario, we chose to compare two resorts in the lowest pricing tier for a week in September after Labor Day. Mid-September is historically one of the cheapest and slowest times to visit Orlando theme parks. We also chose standard rooms, the most affordable room type at each resort.

Disney Value Hotel

Disney's All Star Movies Resort

Disney’s All Star Movies Resort

Resort: All-Star Movies

Sample Trip Dates: Sunday, 9/10 to Saturday, 9/16

Room Type: Standard

  • Sleeps 4
  • 1 queen, 1 queen table bed
  • 260 sq feet

Room Total: $1,131.62

Universal Value Hotel

Exterior nighttime image of the pool at Universal's Endless Summer Resort

Endless Summer Resort | Image © Universal

Resort: Endless Summer Resort – Dockside

Sample Trip Dates: Sunday, 9/10 to Saturday, 9/16

Room Type: Standard

  • Sleeps 4
  • 2 queen beds
  • 313 sq ft

Parking: $15 per night

Room Total: $925.90

Cost winner:

Universal. In this scenario, you would get a less expensive room with more square footage by staying at Universal — even when you factor in the nightly parking fee.

Example 2: Deluxe/Premiere Resorts

Now that we compared the least expensive resorts at each park during the cheapest time of year, we’ll compare the most expensive hotels during the busiest (and most expensive) time of year: the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Disney Deluxe Resort

DIsney's Grand Floridian Resort hotel

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Resort: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Sample Trip Dates: Tuesday, 12/26 to Monday, 1/1/24

Room Type: Outer building with a garden view

  • Sleeps 5
  • 2 queens, 1 day bed / 1 king & sleeper sofa
  • 440 sq feet

Room Total: $7,789.50

Universal Premiere Hotel

Universal Orlando - Pet Friendly Hotels - Portofino Bay

Loews Portofino Bay

Resort: Loews Portofino Bay

Sample Trip Dates: Tuesday, 12/26 to Monday, 1/1/24

Room Type: Bay View

  • Sleeps 4
  • 2 queen beds
  • 450 sq feet

Parking: $15 per night

Room Total: $4,894.20

Cost winner:

Universal by a landslide. Staying at a Universal hotel would save you nearly $3,000 on this sample trip. To adequately compare Disney and Universal hotels in this category, you would also need to factor in the cost of buying Genie+ (Disney’s Express Pass equivalent) for each night of your stay at the Disney Resort — since Universal provides Express Passes for Premiere-level guests. This would increase the cost of a Disney hotel even more!

Other Comparison Points

When planning a theme park vacation, numbers aren’t the only thing to consider when deciding which hotel to stay at. Here are some other factors you’ll want to compare when selecting a Disney or Universal hotel.

Theming / Quality

Regardless of whether you choose a Disney or Universal hotel, you’ll get fantastic quality and world-class amenities. Disney and Universal hotels offer some of the best hotel experiences in the Orlando area, so you’ll never have to worry about the quality of the resort. In terms of theming, every resort is top-notch. You may find the theming more subtle at Universal hotels than at Disney, which tends to fully immerse you in the hotel’s theming from the moment you step into the lobby. There are also more opportunities for Disney touches in your room, whether it’s a Disney-themed specialty suite or a hidden Mickey on the wallpaper. Some may welcome this immersive experience, while others may want a break from the bold theming at the theme parks.


Besides the actual hotel cost, the resort’s atmosphere is one of the other most important considerations when choosing a hotel. One of the reasons many guests choose Disney hotels is the enjoyment of being fully immersed in the Disney experience throughout their entire stay, commonly referred to as the “Disney Bubble.” However, recent Disney resort updates, like retiring the Magical Express airport transportation service, have burst this bubble for some guests. Since Universal hotels are operated by third-party companies, like Loews and Hard Rock, this “bubble” doesn’t exist. The atmosphere between going to the parks and resorts is different. However, Universal resorts offer unique theming and themed suites that incorporate Universal characters like Minions and Jurassic Park.

At the moment, Universal’s overall atmosphere is less-stressful than a Disney World resort vacation. Disney’s Park Pass Reservation and Genie+ system add a level of pre-planning many guests would rather do without. Universal does not require guests to make reservations before visiting the resort, and the Express Pass service is much more user-friendly than Genie+.

Transportation Options

Disney and Universal resorts offer several complimentary transportation methods to get you from your resort to the theme parks. Disney offers more transportation options, such as buses, boats, the Skyliner, the monorail, and walking trails. Transportation options vary by hotel.

Disney Skyliner

The Disney Skyliner offers bird’s-eye views and quick transportation at Disney World

Universal Hotels provide three types of transportation: walking, buses, and boats.

Universal Orlando Water Taxi

Water taxis carry guests from the best Universal Orlando hotels to the parks

While there are many more transportation options at Disney, traveling these various ways can be time-consuming and less efficient than driving a car. At Universal, transportation is easier to navigate and sometimes faster, as the distance between the hotels and the parks is much closer than many Disney hotels.

Tips for Getting the Best Price for Your Hotel Stay

Regardless of whether you choose a Disney or Universal resort, there are several ways you can ensure you get the best value. Having flexible travel dates is one of the easiest ways to save on a Universal or Disney hotel. Use our Disney and Universal crowd calendars to find the slowest times of the year to visit, which are also typically the cheapest. Booking early is another way to save on your resort stay. If you’re looking to save the most on your hotel room, opt for an interior or standard room with a parking lot view, which is generally cheaper than rooms with pool or theme-park views.

The best way to get the most value is to book your room as part of a vacation package that includes theme park tickets. Disney and Universal offer specials and discounts for booking vacation packages that can save you hundreds. You’ll also get more value the longer you stay, as daily park ticket and room pricing decreases as the length of your stay increases.

Final Thoughts: Is it Cheaper to Stay at Disney or Universal?

As we’ve shown above, when comparing Disney World and Universal Orlando hotels on price alone, Universal is cheaper than Disney. In some cases, Universal hotels cost thousands of dollars less than Disney hotels. When planning a theme park vacation, though, price isn’t everything. Depending on your desires for your vacation, you’ll want to consider the value that each resort offers. For instance, if you decide to stay at a Universal hotel but end up commuting to Disney for most of your trip, you may find the extra travel time isn’t worth the savings. For some, the experience of the “Disney Bubble” is well worth the price. Others may decide to get the best of both worlds and do a split stay, spending a few nights at both a Disney Resort and Universal Hotel.

For more resources about Universal and Disney hotels, check out our guides for the best Universal hotels, the cost of a Universal trip, and the cheapest resorts at Disney. Learn more about budgeting for your Disney vacation with our budget resource guide.

For a personalized analysis based on your trip plans and travel party, rely on the Orlando vacation experts at The Vacationeer.

Their agents are happy to help you compare the cost of a Universal Studios vacation to a Disney World vacation, and look at the total value of each (beyond the price tag).

You’ll have one dedicated agent from start to finish. No giant call centers and no waiting on hold to speak to someone! That’s especially important when you’re trying to compare offerings from two different vacation resorts.

Whichever you choose, they’ll help you find the best hotel at the best price and will keep looking for even better deals that can be applied after you’ve booked! Plus they’ll handle theme park tickets, dining, and more — it’s like having your own personal assistant for your Orlando Vacation.

Best of all, their services are completely free! Your vacation won’t cost a penny more than it would’ve cost if you booked it yourself. It might even cost less!

So connect with The Vacationeer right now for a free cost comparison and let someone else do the math for you!