Walt Disney World or Universal Studios? Here’s How to Decide

disney world or universal studios

Here’s the situation, you’ve got limited time in Orlando, Florida, and you need to decide between visiting Walt Disney World or Universal Studios. Though we hope visitors always leave enough time to do both, we realize it isn’t always possible! If you do find yourself in this tricky scenario, perhaps our quick guide explaining the main differences between the two will assist you in choosing!

Disney World or Universal Orlando – Things to Consider

Before we begin it’s important to note, both parks are wonderful, and you’ll have an amazing time at either! Hopefully, you aren’t stressing over this choice as it’s a win, either way!

Consider How Much Time You Have

Often, the choice becomes easier once the amount of time you have available is accounted for. Universal Studios is half the size of Walt Disney World, which means you’ll be able to see a greater percentage of it in two days than you will at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World is comprised of four theme parks and two water parks; two days will barely scratch the surface. If you want to check off as many rides and experiences as possible in two days or less, then Universal Studios is the way to go.

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Another consideration here is how badly you want to see other sights and attractions aside from the theme parks. Say you only have three days, and going to the Kennedy Space Center, for example, is a high priority, then again we would recommend Universal Studios for two days, and the third for the Space Center.

To summarize, carefully consider how many days you have to explore and enjoy, and then determine which park makes more sense.

new attractions disney world - mickey's royal friendship faire

Image source: Disneyworld.com

Which “Themes” Are You Most Excited About?

Die-hard Disney fans are going to chose Walt Disney World regardless of any other factor, the same way avid Harry Potter fans will race to Universal. For those who could be persuaded either way, here’s a quick breakdown of popular park themes at each venue:

Walt Disney World

All Disney animation such as Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, etc.

Star Wars

Pixar, we’re talking Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, etc.


Pirates of The Caribbean

Universal Studios

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


The Simpsons

Marvel’s Avengers

Fast & Furious

Jurassic Park

Despicable Me

What Thrill Factor Are You Looking For?

Walt Disney World does have some incredible thrill rides and roller coasters but generally speaking it’s a more conservative park when it comes to adrenaline. Universal Studios, on the other hand, goes all out to ensure some level of thrill and excitement occur at every single ride. There are quite a few roller coasters to choose from at Universal, each ranging in thrill level. To summarize, Universal is a great choice for those vacationers who enjoy thrill rides and adrenaline rushes.

disney world or universal studios

Age Group/Height Requirements

Nearly all of Walt Disney World’s rides do not have a heigh requirement, making it relatively easy to bring kids of all ages. Generally speaking, Disney is designed for all ages, and especially caters to the little ones. Universal Studios has many rides that have height requirements since it’s geared towards tweens, teens, and adults. Please note, both parks have ample rides for ALL age groups, so this won’t necessarily be the deciding factor for your group.

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Wait Times

Disclaimer, both parks have long lines at the popular rides. The main difference between the two parks here is that at Walt Disney World you can get up to three FastPasses per person, per day, included in the price of your ticket. At Universal Studios, you can purchase a Universal Express pass that will let you skip lines all day long.

After considering each of these five points, we’ve no doubt you’ll be able to make a choice you feel great about! Our final tip to you is to choose a hotel or resort near the park you choose. The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando is within a five-minute drive from Walt Disney World and is about thirty minutes from Universal Studios Orlando. Happy planning!