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Considering a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood or Disneyland and wondering which one is better? Both theme parks are wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy visiting both. However, they are very different and one might be better for your family than the other. In this post, I’ll cover the rides, themed lands, atmosphere, and ticket prices for both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland Park. This article will give you a good idea of what you can expect at each amusement park and help you decide which is better for your family.
I’ve got a link to discounted tickets for both theme parks! Please don’t pay the full price for your tickets!
Don’t miss my podcast episode about Universal Studios VS Disneyland. Check it out!
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I start off this episode by reading some reviews and talking about events and ride closures at Disneyland in March. Then, I share some Disneyland news and my opinion about why Disneyland has done away with the virtual queue for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
After the break, I compare Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood to help you decide which is right for your vacation. If you’d ever considered a visit to either park, this episode is for you!
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In This Post
The Disneyland Resort has two theme parks. Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. You can experience both parks in one day if you have a park hopper ticket. Or, you can purchase a one-park-per-day ticket and spend a full day at each park. There’s so much to see and do at both of these Disney theme parks. I recommend a full day(at least) for each park.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Hollywood has one park. So, no need to worry about trying to fit two parks into your vacation. Universal studios Hollywood is much smaller than Disneyland. You could do the park in one day, but I prefer a two-day ticket because I enjoy taking my time and like to see and do everything at Universal Studios Hollywood!
Disneyland Resort Location
Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California. 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim California 92802. The most popular airports when flying into Disneyland are Los Angeles(LAX), Long Beach(LGB), and Santa Ana/Orange County(SNA). Here’s more information about airports near Disneyland.
Universal Studios Hollywood Location
Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Hollywood, California.100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608. The most popular airports when flying into Universal Studios Hollywood are Burbank(BUR), Los Angeles(LAX), and Long Beach(LGB).
Disneyland Resort Rides
There are tons of rides/attractions between the two Disneyland Resort Parks(Disneyland and California Adventure). Disneyland has far more rides/attractions than Universal Studios. There are rides for all ages to enjoy. From babies and toddlers all the way up to Grandparents. There is something for everyone at Disneyland.
Young children will enjoy Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, “it’s a small world”, all the Fantasyland rides, and many more. Here’s a guide to Disneyland attractions that are best for babies and toddlers.
Older kids and teens will love the roller coasters like Space Mountain, Incredicoaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Indiana Jones Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy are also popular with thrill seekers.
Everyone will enjoy attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Monsters Inc.
Disneyland has a few 3D rides that may cause motion sickness in some guests. Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Web Slingers.
Universal Studios Hollywood Rides
Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t have as many rides/attractions as Disneyland. Their rides are geared towards older kids/teens and adults. There’s not much for little kids/babies/toddlers to do at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The Studio Tour is a great attraction that perfect for guests of all ages.
Older kids/teens/adults will love the Forbidden Journey, Revenge of the Mummy, and Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
Universal Studios Hollywood rides are heavy on special effects/3D experiences. Many(if not most) of their rides require 3D glasses which may cause motion sickness in some guests.
Here’s a full guide to all the rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Disneyland Resort Themed Lands
Disneyland California has some pretty amazing themed lands. Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and Frontierland are wonderful. Star Wars fans will love Galaxy’s Edge! Toontown is amazing too and complete with a wonderful attraction; Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Over in Disney California Adventure are two amazing themed lands. Carsland is pretty impressive and may be one of the best-themed lands in any of the Disney parks worldwide. Marvel fans are going to be so impressed by Avengers Campus!
Disney does a great job with their theming and their attention to detail is unsurpassed.
Universal Studios Hollywood Themed Lands
Universal Studios Hollywood has some pretty impressive themed lands. The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is probably my favorite. If you have a Harry Potter Fan at your house, you must visit! They’ll love the unique experiences you can only find in the Wizarding World.
There’s also Super Nintendo World that has Nintendo fans everywhere excited! Jurassic World is pretty fun to explore(watch out for Raptors!) and Springfield: Home of the Simpsons is so fun for any fan of The Simpsons.
You might not think that Universal Studios would be a place for themed lands, but they are and they do a great job immersing their guests into different worlds.
Characters at Disneyland
Disneyland is famous because of its Disney characters! Did you even visit Disneyland if you didn’t get a picture with Mickey Mouse? You’ll find characters everywhere ready to take a picture with you. In addition to Mickey Mouse and his friends, you’ll find Disney princesses, Disney villains, Star Wars characters, Avengers, and characters from your favorite Pixar films. Here’s a full guide to finding characters at Disneyland.
Characters at Universal Studios Hollywood
You might be surprised to know that there are lots of characters to meet and interact with at Universal Studios Hollywood! You may see Sponge Bob Square pants, some classic monsters from old horror films, or Optimus prime or Bumble Bee from the Transformers. You’ll find Mario and Luigi in Super Nintendo World too! Don’t be surprised if you get to meet a full-grown raptor or a baby triceratops from Jurassic park in Jurassic World.
There’s lots of delicious food at Disneyland and so many dining options. You’ll find table service options and a variety of quick service options too. Make sure you take advantage of mobile ordering your meals at Disneyland. This will save you lots of time.
I love eating at Carnation Cafe, Plaza Inn, or Bengal BBQ. Lamplight Lounge is also at the top of my list! You can find more information about dining at Disneyland here. You can also find lots of great dining options at Downtown Disney. Keep in mind dining reservations are recommended for most table service options. I like to use Mouse Dining to help me book hard-to-get dining reservations.
Universal Studios Hollywood Food
You’ll find lots of delicious food options at Universal Studios Hollywood. All the dining inside the parks is quick service and no mobile ordering or reservations are available. If you’d like to make reservations or have a table-service dining experience, there are tons of options at the Universal Citywalk right outside the park.
I love eating at the Three Broomsticks(great place for a butterbeer!) Jurassic Cafe or the Toadstool Cafe. If you’re a Simpson’s fan, make sure you grab a Donut from Lard Lad Donuts!
Check out my guide to the best dining at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Entertainment at Disneyland
Disneyland has so much great entertainment! There are parades, cavalcades, shows featuring the princesses, live musical performances, broadway-style entertainment, and more! Plus, they have amazing nighttime entertainment that often includes fireworks. There is always something going on at Disneyland and all the entertainment is included with your park ticket.
Entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood
There’s not much entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood. They do have a WaterWorld show that is full of special effects and spectacular! Don’t miss it. Sometimes they’ll have a nighttime projections show on the Hogwarts castle.
Atmosphere at Disneyland
Disneyland is filled with Disney magic. It’s everywhere. Everything from the sights, the smells, the music, and the cast members contribute to the magic. You feel like you’re part of a magical adventure when you’re visiting. Everything is family-friendly and appropriate for guests of all ages.
Atmosphere at Universal Studios Hollywood
The moment you step into Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll feel like you’re on a movie set. There are props from old movies, and characters from your favorite films. You can even visit locations where movies have been made! There’s a fun, vibe at Universal Studios Hollywood that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into your favorite movie. Some attractions/experiences might not be appropriate for younger guests.
Park Hours At Disneyland
Park hours at Disneyland vary by the day and season, but you can expect Disneyland to usually open by 8 am or 9 am. It usually closes between 10 pm-12 am. Check the Disneyland website for park hours.
Park Hours At Universal Studios Hollywood
Park hours at Universal Studios Hollywood vary by the day and season, but you can expect Universal Studios to usually open by 8 am or 9 am and close between 6 pm- 10 pm. Check the Universal Studios Hollywood website for park hours.
Disneyland Ticket Prices
Ticket prices for Disneyland vary depending on how many days you’re visiting and what type of ticket you are purchasing. Tickets to Disneyland are almost always more expensive than tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood. Please don’t pay the full price for your park tickets! You can purchase discounted park tickets and hotels using the link below.
Universal Studios Hollywood Ticket Prices
Ticket prices for Universal Studios Hollywood vary depending on how many days you’re visiting. Tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood are almost always cheaper than tickets to Disneyland. Please don’t pay the full price for your Universal Studios Hollywood park tickets! You can purchase discounted park tickets and hotels using the link below.
Express Pass/ Genie Plus
Genie Plus At Disneyland
Genie Plus at Disneyland has replaced the old fastpass/maxpass system. Disney Genie Plus starts at $25 per person per day and allows you to make return time using the Disneyland app for select attractions. When it’s your turn to ride, you can enter the attraction via the “Lightning Lane” and avoid waiting in long lines for the most popular attractions. I think Genie Plus is well worth the money. You can find more information here.
Express Pass At Universal Studios Hollywood
The Universal Express Pass starts at about $99 per person per day. It allows you front-of-the-line access to each attraction and preferred seating at one time per attraction/show per day. The Universal Express Pass is a nice way to skip long lines, but it is expensive and I’m not sure it’s worth the extra cost.
Best For Young Kids?
Which park is best for young kids? Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood? Hands down, Disneyland is much better for younger kids. There’s so much for all ages at Disneyland. Even babies and toddlers can ride many of the attractions at Disneyland. There are shows and entertainment geared toward little ones. Disneyland is the perfect theme park vacation for people with young children.
Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t have much for young kids to do. They will be stuck in their stroller or sitting on the sidelines for most of the day. I don’t recommend taking kids to Universal Studios Hollywood until they are 48 inches tall and can enjoy all the rides and attractions.
Best for Older Kids/Teens?
Which park is best for teens older kids/teens? Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood? You can’t go wrong with either park for older kids or teens. They would love either Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood. My kids(ages 12-19) love Disneyland, but now that they’re older they prefer to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. If you have older kids or teens that are huge Harry Potter or Mario fans, then Universal Studios Hollywood might be perfect for you.
Can I do both parks in one vacation?
Wondering if you can do Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in one vacation? You totally can! However, keep in mind that they are not close together. Once you factor in LA traffic, they are about an hour and a half to two hours apart. So, driving back and forth may not be a good option.
If you do decide to visit both parks during one vacation, I recommend switching hotels. When you’re visiting Disneyland, stay near Disneyland. When you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, stay at a hotel near Universal Studios Hollywood. This will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Disney planning help
I’ve got bunches of information on planning a Disneyland trip that will be so helpful for you! Start with my complete guide to visiting Disneyland. It’s a step-by-step guide for planning your vacation that will be helpful. Check out my top 10 Disneyland tips and my guide to when to visit Disneyland to help you pick the best time for your vacation! I’ve also got a post on rope dropping at Disneyland that’s very helpful.
Make sure you check out my downloadable touring plans if you’d like a step-by-step guide to the parks!
I have a planning phone call that’s super popular! In this phone call, I can answer all of your Disneyland vacation questions and give you lots of tips and info tailored just to you and your group!
I hope this guide to Universal Studios Hollywood VS Disneyland was helpful to you! If you’re visiting Southern California for your vacation, either of these theme parks would be a great choice. So, hopefully, this helped you narrow it down and decide which one is right for your family.
Make sure to check out my podcast for lots of Disney planning information! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search for “Mix In Some Magic” Follow me on Instagram for lots of theme park tips and fun!