1. Both have something for everyone
Walt Disney World has always been regarded as the ultimate destination for family vacations. That said, Universal Orlando Resort can certainly hold its own.
Both parks offer unique experiences for any age group: from young children and teens to adults and couples without kids. There’s really something for everyone at these resorts.
Universal may have a slight edge with teens and thrill-seeking adults because it claims a higher percentage of fast-paced rides.
Disney World has more variety for young families and multi-generational family vacations as far as rides, restaurants, and resorts go. From sushi to burgers, buffets to fine dining, character dining to sports bars, and roller coasters to kiddie rides, Disney World has something for everyone.
Disney World is a better place to stay than is Universal. There are dozens of resort hotels on Disney World property, all with their own themes, amenities, and price ranges.
*See our Compare Disney World Hotels for more information.
2. Each resort has multiple theme parks
Walt Disney World has four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are also two water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
Universal Orlando Resort has two theme parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal has one water park, Volcano Bay.
Both resorts have a studio-themed park. Otherwise, the themes of each park are quite different.
Overall, Walt Disney World is much more expansive with many more attractions, restaurants, and hotels to choose from.
At both resorts, guests can buy separate tickets for each individual theme park or pay a little more for a ticket that’ll allow you to move freely between the parks. Disney calls its multi-park ticket the Park Hopper pass, while Universal Orlando just calls their ticket a two or three park ticket.
3. The cost of tickets is pretty comparable
When it comes to the cost of theme park tickets, both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have some similarities.
For one, the price of the ticket will vary depending on the season and the day you choose to go.
A one-day adult ticket (to a single park) will cost you just over $100 at both resorts, and multi-day tickets are priced on a sliding per-diem scale.
In other words, the more days of tickets you purchase, the less money you will spend per day on each ticket. The per-day cost of tickets drops significantly as you add more days, but even more so at Universal.
Disney’s “Park Hopper” option and Universal’s “2-Park – 1-Day Ticket” allow you to enter more than one theme park on the same day. These tickets will cost you considerably more (at both resorts) for this luxury.
Overall, Disney World is slightly more expensive than Universal Orlando, but not by much.
4. The ticketing systems are similar in many ways
Universal Orlando has a ticketing system called the Express Pass which gives you the chance to experience shorter lines.
It’s free for guests staying at a Universal Orlando hotel, but everyone else must buy an Express Pass if they wish to take advance of this perk.
The standard version of Express Pass allows you to use the Express line one time for each ride. If you stay at a Universal hotel – or if you pay extra to upgrade your standard pass – then you’ll have unlimited Express Passes.
Disney’s ticketing process – called My Disney Experience – bundles just about all aspects of your Disney World vacation together in one place.
It’s easy to use and makes locating information and changing reservations a snap.
Once a trip is booked, guests can purchase a MagicBand if they choose. MagicBands are a colorful rubber bracelet with an embedded computer chip that stores all the components of your trip.
Your MagicBand will act as your room key, theme park tickets, dining reservations, PhotoPass, and your resort charge card.
You can also manage your Disney Genie+ reservations via the Disney Genie app (which is integrated with the My Disney Experience app).
The Disney Genie app is a free tool that gives you real-time wait times and makes suggestions based on these wait times as well as your stated interests. Disney Genie+ is a paid service that gives you access to the quick Lightning Lane entrance, so you can jump the normal lines and spend more time on the rides. Disney also offers Lightning Lane passes on a few high-demand attractions on a pay-per-ride basis.