Disney vs. Universal: Where Will Your Dollar Go Further?By Amy Ziese, Thursday, February 9, 2017 02:29
Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando seem locked in a perpetual battle for the best and most affordable theme park vacation in Florida. If you’re on the fence between the two, there’s a lot to consider before making your decision. Price is no doubt near the top of your list, so here’s a close comparison of similar experiences at the two resorts. Are you ready to see how far your Disney dollars will stretch next to Universal?
Budget family vacation
2 Adults, 2 Children (Age 7 & 10)
Four-Night Stay in June
Your Walt Disney World Experience
Stay At: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Little Mermaid Standard Room
Play With: 4-day Ticket Admission, 1 Park per Day plus 1-day Water Park Ticket
Dine On: Disney Quick Service Dining Plan (2 full quick service meals per day, 2 snacks, refillable resort mug) plus Chef Mickey’s Breakfast, Character Dining
Disney’s Art of Animation offers the ultimate in kid-friendly experiences with its expansive Finding Nemo-themed pool, outstanding food court, and engaging rooms. The beauty of this pick is that even the standard Little Mermaid room pulls you under the sea with its immersive theming. No need to splurge on a more extravagant resort to get the full experience here.
This vacation gives your four days of single-park tickets so you can spend a day in each park. You’ve also got a water park ticket you can use on your day of departure for a little added fun before you head out. The quick service dining plan includes two meals and two snacks a day. If you eat a light breakfast, you can “snack” your way through this meal and spend little else on food. Since character dining is a big thrill for children, this itinerary also includes a breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey’s where you can meet the whole gang.
Your Total: $3,221
Your Universal Orlando Experience
Stay At: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Standard Room
Play With: 4-Day, 3-Park Ticket
Dine On: Universal Dining Plan – Quick Service & Coca-Cola Freestyle Souvenir Cup (1 quick service meal, 1 snack, 1 souvenir cup) plus One Quick-Service Meal Out-of-Pocket plus Character Breakfast at Royal Pacific Resort
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is its most laid-back option. The retro 1950s and 60s feel is ideal for a wholesome family vacation. On-site features like a lazy river, bowling alley, and character appearances add to the fun.
The new three-park ticket option that’s available to guests beginning 5/25/17 includes Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park in addition to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. A multi-park ticket is more important at Universal than at Disney because this is the only way to enjoy the Hogwart’s Express, which is a must-see for families.
Universal’s Quick Service Dining Plan is less comprehensive than Disney’s, so for this estimate we added another quick-service meal out of pocket, estimated at about $9 per person, which will get you a plate of tacos, slice of pizza, or burger and fries at various locations throughout the park. This package also includes a character breakfast at the Royal Pacific Resort.
Your Total: $2,702The Difference: $519 more at Walt Disney World
This is a moderate difference for a family of four, coming out to about $130 extra per person for the Disney experience. If your children are dying to meet Mickey or hug a princess, it’s worth the investment.