Disney Vacationers Switching to Universal After Latest Developments

in Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

Universal and Disney

Credit: Universal (Left)

Recent developments at Walt Disney World Resort have left many vacationers switching over to the competition.

There’s no doubt that there’s something magical about visiting Disney World. Known as the “most magical place on earth,” Disney World is home to iconic attractions and four world-class theme parks in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

However, many Disney Park Guests have begun to notice issues arising and this has led to many switching over to the competition, in particular, Universal Orlando Resort.

Cinderella Castle 50th Anniversary lights
Credit: Disney

Troubles at Walt Disney World Resort

There’s no doubt that there are plenty of magical moments waiting at Disney World. Iconic attractions like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and plenty of others draw millions of Guests every year.

However, the “issues” that many Guests point to have to do with Disney’s inception of the Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane features, as well as offerings that they’ve perceived to be “less than” what they used to be in the past.

Some Guests have talked about trash issues that weren’t present in the past. Others have spoken about problems within the Lightning Lane itself where the line queue has filled up. CEO Bob Chapek has shouldered much of the blame from fans, but there’s still plenty of reason to believe that Disney has much to offer Guests.

space-lightning-lane
Credit: @tinymallet

This has some deciding to switch to the competition in Universal Orlando Resort.

“I was going to go to Walt Disney World last September, but due to costs and the “conveniences” of staying on property being changed I opted to go to Universal instead,” one fan said in a recent Reddit thread. “Ended up getting the Military Freedom Pass and stayed at Cabana Bay. Paid way less to for the week at Universal then I would have at WDW. I could see it being viewed more favorable, but there will still be the Disney faithful that will still go to Disney like nothing has changed.”

Another Walt Disney World Annual Passholder of six years said that they “refused to visit Disney in its current state,” while others noted that they felt they had “more value” at Universal Orlando.

“Just spent 4 days at Universal and stayed at Royal Pacific. Spent 5 days at Disney and stayed at Yacht Club. Had ExpressPass Unlimited and Genie+. Disney cost 50% more for a lesser experience. I know where I’ll be focusing my time and money on the next trip,” they said. 

DCA Lightning Lane
Credit: Five Fires Twitter

Another longtime Disney fan said that they have “wiped Disney off their vacation destination shortlist.”

“My family already prefers UO to Disney. With all the changes Disney has brought (reservations, lightning lane, genie, and higher prices), my family just wiped Disney off our vacation destination shortlist. In 2021, we went to UO for the first time for 7 days and had a blast. That trip was originally pencilled in to be a Disney trip. For the extra money that it would cost to go to Disney over Universal, I do not see myself going back to Disney for a long time. We loved Universal and are hoping to make it back next year (we live in Ohio).”

Universal Orlando Heating Up The Competition

While Disney has continued to do some expanding, Universal Orlando has been upgrading its Parks and Resort exponentially over the last few years.

Universal has added four new hotels in the last decade and opened up Universal’s Volcano Bay– its water park– in 2017. The two theme parks– Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure– have continued to add attractions, including Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure, and there are plans in the works to add another Minions attraction and a rumored Minions Cafe at Universal Studios.

Perhaps, the biggest “competition heater” for Universal Orlando is the Epic Universe, which is set to open in 2025.

The theme park will be the largest Universal Park in the world and will feature Super Nintendo World. In addition, there are rumored lands that include How To Train Your Dragon, Universal Classic Monsters, an addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and much more.

Credit: Universal
Credit: Universal

Universal Orlando Resort Benefits

Why a Universal Orlando Resort vacation?

Universal Orlando has three unique theme parks– Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay– for Guests to enjoy, as well as a unique night-life attraction in Universal’s CityWalk, which has restaurants, a movie theater, dance clubs, shops, mini-golf, and much more.

What are the different types of Universal Orlando hotels?

Universal Orlando offers three tiers of Resorts with unique benefits: Value Resorts, Prime Value Resorts, and Preferred Resorts.

The Value Resorts are Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites.

The Prime Value Resorts are Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

The Preferred Resorts are Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Credit: Universal

Do the Universal Resorts provide shuttles to the Parks?

Yes! All Universal Orlando Resorts provide transportation to the Parks. The type of transportation, however, will depend on where you stay.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort all offer bus shuttles that run between the Resorts and the Parks, stopping at the bus stop entrance to Universal’s CityWalk.

The Preferred Resorts– Loews Sapphire Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel– have a water taxi that takes Guests directly into Universal’s CityWalk on the water. In addition, Guests who stay at the Preferred Resorts can walk to Universal’s CityWalk if they desire, but the path might be fairly long distances depending on where you stay.

All Resorts also provide shuttle transportation to Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Royal Pacific Resort at Universal
Credit: Loews Hotels

What other benefits are included in a Universal Orlando Resort stay?

In addition to transportation, all Universal Orlando Resort Guests have the opportunity to enter the Parks one hour early to enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Guests who stay onsite can also send items that they purchased in the Parks directly to their rooms, which is a great benefit for those who don’t want to carry around merchandise all day.

Finally, Guests who stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel are treated to Universal Express Passes, which allows them to go through the express line on attractions rather than wait in the regular queue.

Epic Universe
Credit: Universal

The Epic Universe and Its Impact

The Epic Universe will draw millions more to Universal Orlando each year, but there’s no doubt that Disney has a plan moving forward looking ahead to 2025.

The Motley Fool reported that Disney may look to take advantage in adding new attractions to help fend off the competition. A portion of the report reads:

With its theme parks business bouncing back a lot faster than anyone expected, the real shame is that it wasn’t able to stick to its original 2023 debut. Rival Disney(NYSE:DIS) is knee-deep into an 18-month celebration of the 50th anniversary of its Disney World resort in Florida. It will be drawing a lot of attention until the festivities conclude at the end of March of next year, including a pair of highly anticipated themed roller coasters opening in the next year and change. 

Disney World will likely take a breather in 2023, and that would’ve been an ideal time to strike the Central Florida market with a brand new theme park. Pushing Epic Universe out another two years will likely mean Disney World cranks out new tourist-luring attractions by then. The House of Mouse doesn’t stand still for long.

The competition between the two Resorts has always been healthy and while it’s heating up, it’s unclear if many of these vacationers who are switching to Universal will make a major impact in how the competition will unfold.

Have you stayed at Universal Orlando Resort? Let us know in the comments!

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