A Case for Locals Visiting Universal Orlando Over Disney

Moving closer to the magic of Disney has been a long term dream for many. However, loving Disney and being a loyal fan isn’t without disappointment these days. There have been a lot of changes recently and many of them affect local’s ability to wholly enjoy a place they love. I never thought I would write an article like this. However, if you’re disappointed is some of the current changes at Disney World, there is lot to be said for visiting Universal Orlando right now. This is especially true as a Florida local. Here are some thoughts as to why you might want to consider your next theme park day a day at Universal.

No Park Pass or Park Hopping Restrictions

We visited Universal very recently to take advantage of their holiday offerings. It was honestly a very freeing feeling to wake up in the morning, decide to visit Universal for the day, and go. We didn’t have to look to see if there were park passes available to find out what park we could visit. Nor did we have to plan this day several weeks in advance to ensure we could get in. Universal seems to be operating at a normal capacity and even showing up late in the day was no issue. In addition, we could visit either park and hop to the other whenever we were ready. It felt spontaneous, fun, and care-free. On a side note, their seasonal décor is great and the Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is fantastic. Halloween is coming up and if you’re into scares, Halloween Horror Nights is definitely worth considering.

Decorated Entrance, Universal Studios

Express Pass is Easy to Use

Universal Express Pass is definitely pricier than Disney Genie+ on its own. However, Express Pass has several things going for it. First, it’s easy to use. You don’t have to book your ride times or hope there are times open for you to book. You just show up to the ride you want when you want with your pass and you’re good to go. Yes, it’s more expensive than Genie+, but for most people, they would spend less per ride.

If you have the unlimited Express Pass, you can do this as many times as you feel. While there are a few new rides not included as of currently (Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and VelociCoaster), most everything else is included. For the top tier passholders, they get Express Pass after 4pm (3pm on days the parks close earlier). There is no messing with an app on your phone and trying to get into certain rides. Express Pass is easy to use and frustration free.

Great Thrill Ride Options

If you’re looking for thrills, Universal Orlando has some of the best. This is especially true with the opening of the VelociCoaster joining the ranks of the other high speed thrills and drops available. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit reaches up to 65mph, the Incredible Hulk reaches up to 67 mph with seven inversions, and the VelociCoaster reaches 70mph with four inversions and two high-speed launches. Needless to say you can definitely get your fill of adrenalin at Universal. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is also a great ride with a record breaking seven launches.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Islands of Adventure

Affordable and Available Annual Pass Options

Universal has a variety of annual pass options with discounts for Florida residents on them all. Passes start at just $324.99 for Florida residents for the Seasonal Pass for two parks. The Power, Preferred, Premier Passes have no block out dates for Universal Studios and Islands on Adventure. Florida residents can also choose the Flex Pay option for all passes. Check out our Universal Annual Pass Guide for Florida Residents for more detailed information.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney and we have made it quite obvious it is a huge part of why we moved. But with everything going on, it’s worth exploring other theme park options sometimes. Universal Orlando has a lot to offer Florida residents and is worth considering, especially if you are looking for a fun day that doesn’t require much stress or planning.

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Amy Krieger

Amy loves all things Disney from the theme parks and resorts to the beloved films. She and her husband, Paul, are originally from Wheeling, West Virginia. They now live in Central Florida with their two fur kids, Odie the greyhound and Hermes the Spanish galgo. As Disney Vacation Club members and Disney World Annual Passholders, they visit Disney World and other Disney properties as often as possible. Full time, Amy is the Manager of Loan Origination for Monera Financial, a World of DVC company where she helps buyers finance DVC contracts. She is also a contributing writer for a few DIS websites.

2 thoughts on “A Case for Locals Visiting Universal Orlando Over Disney

  • Great article Amy. Went to Universal for the 1st time this October and enjoyed it. The past 20 years we visited WDW several times a year from Ohio but this year we stayed off property for the 1st time and only went to WDW 2 days out of our week in Oct. I can honestly say I enjoyed staying off property and will be doing it again next visit as we are extremely disappointed in all the negative changes Disney has made.
    Kind of have a love hate relationship with WDW now.

  • My next Florida trip will be to Universal and Seaworld. I am a DVC owner and was disappointed with our last WDW vacation. Too much stress making reservations and getting up at 7 am to try and plan the day with Disney Genie.


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