Friday, June 30, 2017

Universal versus Disney - What's the Difference?

Universal works a little differently than Disney in a few areas. 

Park Tickets
 This is similar as you have a single park per day option or a two Parks in one day option. You must have the Park to Park ticket to ride the train between the two Harry Potter worlds.  Both Disney World and Universal have an option to add on visits to a Water Park. 

Meal Plan
If you are staying at one of the Universal hotels,  you can add a meal plan that includes one full service meal (entree, drink, dessert), one quick service meal (entree and drink), one snack and one non-alcoholic drink. The pricing is built into the package. 

You can also purchase basically a coupon for $19.99 plus tax that includes a quick service meal, one drink and one snack. This can be a savings depending on what you are ordering. For instance, we had lunch at Three Boomsticks. My entree and drink were around $17.99. If I had purchased the meal plan coupon,  I would have gotten an extra drink and snack for free. 

Fast Pass
Universal does not have an included fast pass option. Instead, they have Express Passes. The pricing depends on how busy the Parks are expected to be. You can choose between an Express Pass and an unlimited Express Pass. The Express Pass is good for one time per ride. The Unlimited Express Pass can be used an unlimited amount of times on each ride. When you use your Express Pass, you go to a separate faster line - just like using a Fast Pass on a ride at Disney. For the shows, you are able to enter the theater first.  Currently, none of the Harry Potter attractions qualify for an Express Pass. 

Single Rider Lines
Most of the rides have a single rider line - including the Harry Potter attractions. Thought I do recommend going through the main line once for the Harry Potter attractions. 

Memory Maker 
Universal also has an option for an included photo pass - Photo Connect Start Card. This is really just for photos at the entrances and photos from the rides as Universal doesn't have photographers around in the Parks the same way Disney does.  Pricing depends on how many days you'll be there and if you wanted an printed photos included. If you just want digital, we bought an annual photo card for $100. One feature I love is that it connects to an App on your phone so you can see your photos right away and share them on social media. You still have to physically go to the photo booth at the ride and have the photo linked to your account. 

Disney Springs
Universal has its own version of Disney Springs - Citywalk. Actually, I think Citywalk was the inspiration for Disney Springs. Citywalk has a great restaurants, nightlife, movie theater, and mini-golf. We have found that the best full service restaurants are outside the Parks at Citywalk or the resort hotels. 

You have to pay for parking both at the resorts and the Parks. 

Perks for Staying at a Universal Hotels
Universal has two categories of hotels: Moderate/Value and Deluxe. 

The Moderate/Value hotels are Cabana Bay and Sapphire Falls.  

The perks for staying there are: 
- Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 
- Complimentary Shuttle to the Parks 

The Deluxe hotels are Loews Hard Rock, Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino Bay 
The perks for staying here are: 
- An unlimited Express pass for each guest. 
- Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 
- These resorts are close enough to walk to the Parks. They also operate water taxis that connect the resorts to CityWalk and the two Parks. 

The Unlimited Express Pass is a huge perk here if you are interested in going on a lot of rides. 

Feel free to contact me at to plan a great Universal vacation for you and your family. 

1 comment:

  1. The Unlimited Express pass you get from staying at the Deluxe hotels is terrific. No perk at Disney can compare to that if you are there for the rides.