Which theme park is better, Disneyland versus Universal Studios Hollywood. Wondering which park to visit on your trip to Los Angeles? I compare Disneyland and Universal Studios in 10 different areas. EXPAND DESCRIPTION FOR MORE.
1 - Park Themes:
Disney: characters and setting from the Disney movie franchise with a large emphasis on their animated films, Mickey, and Minnie Mouse. But Star Wars is coming soon! Many rides for fans 2-10 years of age. And hard-core disney fans, and loyalists.
Universal: Inspired by popular films plus, the movie industry in Hollywood and film production itself with tours of the working studio included with the park’s general admission. Gear to a more mature audience than Disneyland
2 - Park Location:
Disney: Anaheim, California -- Orange County. 34 miles south-east of LAX Airport. About the only thing worth visiting in Anaheim is Disneyland…. And a bunch of things that cater to people who go to Disneyland. LOTS OF HOTELS!
Universal: Hollywood, 10 miles north-east of downtown LA, on a hill overlooking LA. 26 miles from LAX Airport. 36 miles from Disneyland.
3 - Park Layout:
Disney: 2 Theme Parks, Downtown Disney, Disney Hotels on Property, Monorail, Parking Far Away (parking tram or bus), multiple days to see it all
Universal: Split-level themepark that is pretty small, Universal City Walk, Hilton + Sheraton, Parking Close By, LA Subway, studio tour tram, can do it all in one day
4 - Crowds:
Disney: Usually it’s packed, all the time. Parking can take forever. Security and park entry lines can be long. Ride lines can be long, 60-90 minutes.
Universal: Way less people most of the summer (summer can be rough). An hour before park closing time of 9pm lines for many rides were 10 minutes. Easy to get in to parking, short lines for park entry.
5 - Skip the line:
Disney: Fast pass, Max Pass
Universal: Pay for Express Pass, skip each line once (good if you have limited time)
6 - Kids:
= Younger Kids, more strollers
= Height limit on many rides is 44 inches
= Child Switch via Fast Pass Return
= Older Kids, not too many strollers
= Height limit 40 inches
= Child Switch Rooms
7 - Characters:
= Long Lines for character meet and greet, but long time with the characters
= Characters act “classy”
= Shorter lines for character pictures, but maybe not known to kids
= Characters will interact and joke with you walking by
= Minions, Transformers, Simpsons, Beetlejuice, Kung Fu Panda, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob
8 - Costumes:
Disney: Ears, Hats, Matching Shirts
Universal: Harry Potter Robes
9 - Attractions/Rides:
= Amazing theming on the rides, want to ride again and again
= Best Land: Cars Land
= Lots of motion projection rides (barf!). Once and never again.
= Many rides feel like they aren’t “done”
= Best Land: Wizarding World of Harry Potter,
= Best Ride: Studio Tour
10 - Shows:
Disney: Parades, Frozen, Fireworks, Fantasmic, World of Color
Universal: Waterworld, Animal Actors, Special Effects Show
Price: About the same for 1 day tix. Annual Passes at Universal are cheaper.
Age: Disneyland better for ages 2-10
Location: Universal better for LA attractions
Time: Universal done in a day (15 attractions). Disney 2-3 days (100 attractions)
Theme: Disneyland is for Disney lovers and it’s very immersive and well done. Universal is for “movie” and Harry Potter fans.
I like Disneyland best. Amazing Experience and atmosphere...You can wander around Disneyland and have a good time without going on a single ride. There's music and entertainment, exhibits, etc. Go early in the day, and use fast pass.
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