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The Biggest Differences Between Universal vs Disney | Explained

There are many fantastic parks that can be found in Florida, and sometimes it can be hard to choose which one to go to.

In this page, we will cover the differences between Universal vs Disney.

Table of Contents

Parks Offered

Both Disney World and Universal Orlando offer a variety of parks that each offer something unique.

Visitors are able to buy a single park ticket or park-hopper tickets (for Disney) and park-to-park tickets (for Universal), where they are able to visit more than one park during the duration of their ticket.

animal kingdom safari disney world

Disney World Offers:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • Blizzard Beach Water Park


Disney characters such as Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Toy Story, the Lion King and even Peter Pan.

Universal Orlando Resort Offers:

  • Universal Studios
  • Islands of Adventure
  • Volcano Bay Water Park


Universal characters including Harry Potter, the Simpsons, Spongebob, Cat in the Hat, Spiderman and the Hulk.

universal orlando diagon alley

Size of Parks

Disney World is a total of 27,000 acres in size, while Universal Orlando is 541 acres in size.

Disney is essentially its own city within Orlando, as there are large capacity transportation services including a monorail and a service that transport guests between parks.

Although Universal is much smaller, make no mistake about it it's still a fantastic park that guests are seamlessly able to walk from Universal to Islands of Adventure.

Shopping & Dining Outside of the Theme Parks

If you don't feel like spending your day at the park, but want to have a more laid-back experience exploring nearby, Disney offers Disney Springs and Universal offers CityWalk, which are both free of charge to all guests.

You will have to pay for parking at CityWalk however, where parking is free at Disney Springs.

Disney Springs is a 120 acre old-fashioned district that is designed for guests of all ages to walk around and have unique experiences. There are shows, a theatre, , a bowling alley, plenty of restaurants, the famous House of Blues, water tour and a train ride for the kiddos.

  • AMC Dine in Theatre
  • Aerophile - The World Leader in Balloon Flight
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • Coca-Cola Polar Bear Photo Op Experience
  • The Edison Live Entertainment
  • Fall at Disney Springs
  • House of Blues Music Hall
  • Marketplace Carousel
  • Marketplace Train Express
  • Raglan Road Live Music
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes
  • Vintage Amphicar
  • Waterview Park

CityWalk features shopping, dining, and entertainment options right near the water, and the best part? It's right next to IOA and Universal Studios.

minions at universal orlando resort

Park Themes

You really can't go wrong with either park as they both offer something unique for all age groups.

The only difference is the theme, as Universal has Harry Potter and a themed Harry Potter area known as Hogsmeade and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as Springfield, tailored around the Simpsons.

Disney World on the other-hand has themed sections around the movie Avatar (Pandora - the World of Avatar), and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.disney world fireworks

To top things off both parks even offer amazing firework shows at the end of the night, that are unlike any other firework show you've seen, and can even be seen from Disney Springs.

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