Saturday, 14 December 2013

Universal or Disney?

USA Trip 2013: Blog Post #5

I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse” - Walt Disney 

Simpson's Land - Universal Studios

Just as there is competition between the two companies, there is also competition amongst the fans.  On the online forums posters can become quite passionate in their discussions over what is better - Disney’s four parks or Universal’s two. 

Having visited both now, I’m not convinced the answer is that clear cut.  Forced to choose which team to bat for, I would probably join Team Disney.  But perhaps that is because I am the mother of a young child.  Once I’m the mother of a teenager, I might change my mind.  Also, even with a young child, I think it would be a mistake to visit Orlando for a once in a lifetime trip and not spend at least a day or two at the Universal Resort.

All 6 parks have clever theming, and all are the result of successful movie industries, but as far as amusement park attractions go, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The feeling you get while you’re at a Disney park is hard to describe and quantify.  There are a few thrill-seeker rides, but mostly the aim seems to be one of escapism and child-like fantasy.  Universal, meanwhile, has more of a serious, grown-up feel with rides that are so big and scary that I was far too much of a coward to try them out. 

Up close and personal with the animals - Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park

Universal has also come very close to mastering the art of theme park technology.  The technical elements of the Forbidden Journey and Transformers rides are unrivalled by any ride at Disney. 

Jaws at Universal Studios
Interestingly, my two favourite rides of the whole trip came from both companies and are a good example of how the two sets of parks are so different.  Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was a relaxing ride where I became fully immersed in my surroundings and the beautiful theming.   The Transformers ride at Universal Studios was fun and exhilarating, with effects that were extremely realistic.

While Disney generally has the bigger share of the theme park market, Universal has been posing some serious competition by introducing great new attractions almost every year.  This year it was the Transformers Ride and Simpson’s Land.  Next year it will be the second Harry Potter Land – an extension which is already forecast to bring insanely large crowds to Universal’s parks.

So, to cut a long story short, try to find the time to visit both sets the parks.  Besides, it’s not as if anyone ever needed 
an excuse to spend more time having fun.

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