Disney VS Universal – How I Cheated on Disney with Universal

We went to Disney World for the first time in May 2012 and I instantly fell in love.  Everything about Disney was SO magical and I compared EVERY OTHER theme park to it.  I didn’t WANT to ever go to Universal.  There’s no way it could compare to my love for Disney.  I was wrong.  This post is about how I cheated on Disney with Universal…  Disney VS Universal!

Disney VS Universal?  How can you compare the two? 

Disney and Universal are two VERY different theme parks.  It’s really hard to compare them and I’m not sure you can.  I have noticed throughout the years that people who seem to really love Universal “don’t like” Disney and vice versa.  I WAS that person.  Things changed…

Disney was my only love for years.

It’s true.  Disney was THE ONLY place I wanted to go on vacation.  Luckily my husband was on board or we may have had problems!  Disney World was our first real family vacation together.  We have so many memories from all of our trips.  We’ve gotten to see our son grow up through the photos.  Disney was our happy place no matter what was going on in life…  it all froze while we were there.

family picture at disney castle
1st family photo in front of the castle!
precious castle picture
My favorite picture of my son in front of the castle!
turkey leg
The famous turkey leg!
tinkerbell hugs
He won’t meet the girly characters anymore… but back in the day he LOVED getting those hugs!

And then we went to Universal.

My brother & sister-in-law took their family to Universal in the Fall of 2016 and came back raving about how awesome it was.  I wasn’t a believer, but my brother-in-law said for my travel business I really should check it out.  He had me there.  I knew a lot of people interested in Universal vacations, but I really didn’t have the personal knowledge.

In the Spring of 2017 we went to Universal with my brother & sister-in-law and I tried to fight it…  but I LOVED Universal!  At first I felt like I was cheating on my best friend.   It was different, but in a good way.  Universal was a more “relaxed” vacation even though the rides were a little more intense.  I didn’t make any plans.  We just went and enjoyed it (thanks to Express Pass).  It was liberating to go on a theme park vacation and not have to plan out dining and fast passes months in advance!

We now have memories at Universal that are just as smile provoking as our Disney memories.  And really that’s what it’s all about for us.  Making memories together as a family.  That’s why we travel together as often as we can.  We’ll have these memories forever.

gringotts bank family picture
Family photo in Gringotts.
overcoming my ET fear
I over came my fear of ET… yes, I was afraid of ET.
city walk fun
He loves taking goofy photos!

Disney VS Universal

I’m not sure you can really compare the two.  Disney VS Universal…  they are just SO different.  However, here are my main thoughts on the two:


  • Disney definitely feels more “magical”.
  • We think Disney has better food.  Character buffets are our favorites.
  • I still think Disney is better for the little ones.  Universal has a kids section, but Disney is ALL for the kids really.  And adults who want to feel like kids.  Like me.
  • Disney has a lot more to do if you are staying for a while.  We’ve been to Disney 5 times and we still haven’t done and seen everything.


  • There isn’t as much planning required when you go to Universal.  It’s much more relaxed.
  • Express Pass Unlimited is amazing.  So amazing that it spoiled us.  3 fast passes at Disney is just not enough now.
  • I personally like the resorts better at Universal.  The beds are more comfortable and the rooms are more spacious.
  • It’s much easier to get around via water ways, buses, or walkways because it’s so much smaller compared to Disney.

What did social media have to say?

I ran a Disney VS Universal poll on Facebook and Twitter last week to see what my followers preferred.  I used to post ONLY Disney related material, and since we have been on a Universal kick I’ve been posting a lot about Universal.  It was fairly split in the middle for my Facebook followers but they favored Disney on Twitter.

disney vs universal facebook

disney vs universal twitter poll

Who has my heart?  Disney VS Universal?

Lately we have been on a Universal kick (we became Universal Season Pass Holders in October of this past year), but I have to say I’m missing Disney a little.  We are planning a trip to Universal in May of this year and we are going to take a day trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to get our Disney fix.  We also plan to eat dinner at Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.  It’s my husband’s favorite Disney restaurant.  Yep…  you guessed it.  They serve all-you-can-eat crab legs.

Overall, I could never say one was better than the other.  Disney AND Universal both hold places in my heart.  It’s the memories we make that bring a smile to my face.  We will keep going as long as we can…  and I hope that some day I will get to take my grandchildren there (a long, long time from now).  Until then…

Disney & Universal Faves

If you enjoyed my blog post, you may want to check out some other Disney or Universal posts!  Our favorite resort at Universal is Loews Sapphire Falls and our favorite at Disney World is Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort!  I’d love to hear what your favorite resorts are!


Disney vs Universal

Also check out our YouTube video where we discuss the differences between Disney & Universal!

For more information on Disney check out our Lau Family Travels’ Walt Disney World Guide!  OR for more information on Universal check out our Plan a Trip to Universal Orlando With This Ultimate Guide!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Nikida

    Great comparison of the two parks. I think they both offer something spectacular for everyone 😊

  2. Gen

    I think it’s hard to compare them but if I had to pick it would be Disney for sure 🙂

  3. Kristen Dundas

    I feel guilty going to Universal haha like someone is going to pop out and be like “HEY! YOU’RE A DISNEY LADY!” but I’m a GIANT Harry Potter fan, so I’ve been. I agree with you- Disney is just magical, it’s hard to compare it to anything else. Universal is really fun and has done a great job at NOT being Disney. I love their shopping area and restaurants, some really great choices!

    1. Taryn

      Haha! I felt the same way. I was SO against spending my money at Universal and then I loved it which made me feel even more guilty!! Haha!

  4. Kendra

    I’m going to make it over to Universal one of these days. I like the idea of less planning and walking for sure! You’ve gotten me one step away from the mouse!

    1. Taryn

      Yes! I really love the less planning part!! 🙂 However, I know from experience that after my 1 year affair with Universal that Disney still has my heart! <3

  5. Kayli Hahn

    How long did you stay at Universal? Is there a period of time that you feel would be “too long” to stay at Universal? I feel like you could spend 2 solid weeks at Disney and not see or do everything? Is the same true at Universal??

    1. Taryn

      When we go to Universal we typically stay 4 nights. That is usually enough for us. However my brother in laws family go for a week each time and just take it a little slower enjoying the resort as well as the parks. But there definitely isn’t as much to do as in Disney!

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