Universal Studios Hollywood vs. Universal Orlando Guide | TravelAge West (2023)

Editor's Note: This story from Sept. 27, 2017, was updated on June 29, 2021.

Just as there are similarities and differences between Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California, there are parallels and variations between the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood, Calif.

Sometimes choosing which one is right for clients is as simple as asking what they’re looking for.

“It’s amazing how many people think the parks are exactly the same until you start talking to them,” said Meredith Wallace of Minnie Memories Travel in Bedford, New York. “So, I always start with three questions: Are you hoping to visit Diagon Alley? You have to go to Orlando. Do you want to see active movie sets and maybe a star or two? You need to go to Hollywood. Are rollercoasters a must? You want to go to Orlando.”

Dennis Quinn, senior vice president of sales for Universal Studios Hollywood, noted that the biggest distinction between Orlando and Hollywood is not necessarily found in the qualitative difference between the parks, but rather that Orlando is a family theme park destination, whereas Hollywood is more about an L.A. experience.

One key component to that L.A. experience is certainly the fact that Universal Studios Hollywood is located within a real working movie studio. Because of this unique situation, park-goers have the opportunity to tour the studio and not only see how and where some of their favorite movies and television shows were made but also possibly see current projects being filmed on the backlot. In addition, two of the park's most impressive technological attractions — King Kong: 360 3-D and Fast & Furious: Supercharged — are incorporated into the studio tour, with the tram literally transporting visitors into the center of the action.

Another noticeable difference is the way the parks are constructed. In Hollywood, the theme park is built on multiple levels. The upper lot is where many family-friendly attractions are located, including DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (and the adjacent Super Silly Fun Land), The Simpsons Ride, and the park’s newest attraction, Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash.

(Video) Universal Studios Florida ATTRACTION GUIDE - All Rides + Shows - 2022 - Universal Orlando Resort

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This is also where guests can step into the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter and experience the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction as well as the park’s only outdoor rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff. The lower lot (at the bottom of a series of escalators) is where more adventurous attractions can be found, including Transformers: The Ride-3D, Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride, and Jurassic World featuring massive state-of-the-art animatronic dinosaurs. The lower lot is also the location of a highly-anticipated Nintendo-themed land currently under construction.

But if clients are looking for big coasters, they’ll have to go to Florida. There, two full parks — Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure — sit side by side. Islands of Adventure is home to the Incredible Hulk Coaster and the brand new “apex predator of roller coasters,” the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, as well as the kid-friendly Seuss Landing area and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Universal Studios Florida is where guests can ride the 65-mph Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and the charming E.T. Adventure. A third gate, the highly themed Volcano Bay water park, offers 20 attractions, from the relaxing Kopiko Wai Winding River to the exhilarating Krakatau Aqua Coaster.

Universal Studios Hollywood vs. Universal Orlando Guide | TravelAge West (1)

Though Universal Studios Hollywood can easily be experienced in one day, clients would be hard-pressed to do everything in the Orlando parks in a single day. One important fact for travel agents to point out to clients who may only be familiar with the California park: While most of their favorite Hollywood attractions can be found in Florida, they’re not all located in the same Orlando park, so a multi-park ticket is the only way to experience them all. Additionally, for Harry Potter fans, Hogsmeade Village is in Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios, so to enjoy both (and the Hogwarts Express train between them), a park-to-park ticket is a must.

“The Universal Studios Hollywood experience began as being inherently different than the Universal Orlando experience,” said Tom Schroder, vice president of corporate communications for Universal Parks & Resorts. “But from a Universal parks perspective … exciting growth is happening across all our destinations.”

Hotels at and Near Universal Parks

A significant difference between the destinations is that Universal Orlando Resort operates eight on-site hotels, while Universal Studios Hollywood doesn't have any — although the AAA Four Diamond Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City and the Sheraton Universal Hotel are both within walking distance.

RELATED: 4 Great Hotel Options for Universal Studios Hollywood

"One thing about the experience in Orlando, as opposed to Hollywood, is that your day doesn't end at the parks,” said Russ Dagon, vice president and executive project director for Universal Creative. “In Hollywood, when you finish at the theme park, you get in your car and move on to a separate experience at your hotel — even if it’s one of the hotels close to the park.”

(Video) An Idiot’s GUIDE TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

Clients who stay on-site at Universal Orlando can choose from themed properties that suit any budget, from the retro Cabana Bay Beach Resort to the Caribbean-themed Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to the modern Aventura Hotel, all with early park admission and complimentary transportation to and from the parks. Plus, guests at premier hotels — Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort — also receive complimentary Universal Express unlimited ride access.

“[Universal Orlando’s] relationship with the travel trade has evolved and developed in a very significant way,” Quinn said. “One of the key drivers to that was … the expansion of hotel inventory. Hotels are such an important part of a family vacation, which makes us a great partner for agents selling the Orlando experience — and let’s face it, that’s what travel agents really start with when they’re selling a destination.”

RELATED: Universal Orlando Introduces Its First Value Resort

While the California park doesn’t offer on-site hotels, clients can select one of the Universal Studios Hollywood preferred hotels, all less than 10 miles from the park, many of which offer complimentary shuttle service.

"Family and exceptional guest service are woven in the hotel’s fabric, and guests are treated like family,” said Scott A. Mills, general manager for The Garland, a Universal preferred hotel located 1.5 miles from the park. “With our close proximity to Universal Studios, we ensure that guests — and especially families — have a memorable experience, with family-friendly accommodations including family suites with bunk beds.”

Similarly, Cynthia Ordyke, vice president of sales and marketing for Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, notes that the hotel’s proximity to the park ensures a memorable vacation.

“Our hotel features amazing views from all guestrooms, but the most requested is the view of Universal Studios, including Harry Potter’s castle,” she said. “An additional benefit to reserving Universal Studios-view rooms is never missing the evening light show or fireworks."

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Comparing Crossover Attractions

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem:

The exterior facade is larger in Hollywood (don’t miss the interactive doorbells), and Super Silly Fun Land, with its kids’ Wet Zone, is not available in Orlando.

Universal Studios Hollywood vs. Universal Orlando Guide | TravelAge West (2)

Jurassic Park/Jurassic World Rides:

While the 85-foot-drop is the same on both attractions, Florida still has the original Jurassic Park River Adventure attraction, while Hollywood updated the ride (and surrounding area) in 2019, themed around the Jurassic World sequel franchise.

Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride:

The rides are indoor rollercoasters at both parks, but the tracks and special effects are different depending on location (check out the cool ceiling of fire in Orlando, and prepare to ride backward in Hollywood).

RELATED: Universal Orlando Introduces The Bourne Stuntacular

King Kong Attractions:

In Hollywood, King Kong: 360 3-D is a "drive-through" attraction on the backlot tram tour. But in Orlando, Skull Island: Reign of Kong is an immersive stand-alone experience.

Fast & Furious – Supercharged:

Like King Kong, this is part of the Hollywood tram tour. However, in Orlando, it’s an extended freestanding attraction at Universal Studios Florida. Also, in Hollywood, the action takes place in L.A., but in Orlando, the cityscape is San Francisco.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

Orlando has two Wizarding World lands — Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley — connected by the Hogwarts Express train, while Hollywood has only Hogsmeade with the iconic Hogwarts castle (and plenty of Butterbeer, of course). Harry Potter fans can also ride five Wizarding World attractions in Florida (compared to two in California), including Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

(Video) An Idiot's Guide to CITYWALK ORLANDO | Universal Studios Orlando

The Details
Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Orlando

FAQs

Is Universal Studios in Orlando or Hollywood better? ›

Universal Studios Orlando
  • Both Universal theme parks guarantee fun for the whole family, but if you're tight on time, we recommend Universal Studios Hollywood. ...
  • And while you can visit the Florida park in a day too, you'll be hard-pressed to see everything.
17 Feb 2022

What is the difference between Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando a lot? ›

More rides you'll find in California but not in Florida

Other attractions you can currently experience at Universal Studios Hollywood but not at Universal Orlando are Secret Life of Pets and the WaterWorld stunt show. Universal Studios Hollywood also has different walk-around characters than in Orlando.

Are the rides the same at Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood? ›

Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida aren't Universal's only parks in the U.S. Guests on both coasts can experience several of the same attractions, but other rides are unique to their location.

Which Universal Studios is best? ›

We find Universal's Islands of Adventure to be the best Universal Studios park for adults. It simply has the most exciting roller coasters and newest attractions.

Which park is better for Harry Potter? ›

When it comes to which Harry Potter park is better at Universal, Diagon Alley in Islands of Adventure is the clear winner. They have more shops, more merchandise, and the fun of trading your money for Gringotts bank notes. Plus, the younger kids will love the stuffed animals at the Magical Menagerie!

Is Universal Studios Los Angeles worth it? ›

Universal Studios currently sits in the #3 spot of Tripadvisor's top things to do in Los Angeles, so you are guaranteed an excellent day out! Take a comprehensive tour of the back lot, then devote a few hours to their thrilling rides, exciting shows, and delightful attractions.

What does Universal Orlando have that Hollywood doesn t? ›

Orlando has two magical Wizarding World lands — Hogsmeade Village in Universal's Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida — connected by the Hogwarts Express train; Hollywood has only Hogsmeade with the iconic Hogwarts castle (and Butterbeer, of course).

Which Universal park has better rides? ›

It is important to know that although Islands of Adventure has slightly more rides than shows, Universal Studios Florida does have more shows than rides. If you are contemplating Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios for adults, then you would consider Islands of Adventure more.

Can you do both Universal parks in one day? ›

The simple answer is: Yes! it's toadally possible to fit Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure into one day. What makes park hopping easy at Universal Orlando is the fact that the two parks are right next to each other.

Is Harry Potter world separate from Universal Hollywood? ›

Is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an entirely separate theme park? Nope, it's just a themed land—albeit an incredibly immersive one—in the middle of Universal Studios Hollywood.

Does Universal Studios Hollywood include Harry Potter? ›

See What Awaits You Inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it's all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, now open at Universal Studios Hollywood™.

Which Harry Potter ride is better at Universal? ›

1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. The highlight of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley, this attraction is truly the best ride at Universal Studios Florida. The queue itself is wildly impressive, with goblins that look like they're straight from the movies.

Is Universal better in Orlando or LA? ›

Universal Studios Hollywood is better for those looking for a one-day theme park experience and seeing behind-the-scenes live working set. Universal Orlando Resort is better for those looking for a theme park vacation, and to experience the Harry Potter Wizarding World.

Is Universal Hollywood fun for adults? ›

When it comes to finding a theme park that holds just as many rides and attractions that cater to adults as to younger visitors, you cannot beat Universal Studios Hollywood™.

Is Universal Studios Hollywood good for adults? ›

With both parks being heavily family-friendly you might be wondering which is the better theme park for adults. Universal Studios Hollywood is better suited to adults who prefer to see shows and want to have the real Hollywood treatment along with an evening of entertainment at CityWalk.

Which Universal park is best for kids? ›

The best park for toddlers is Universal Orlando. There's lots of play areas, character meets and a few rides. Plus my kids love the parades featuring Dora, Secret Life of Pets, Despicable Me etc. If you are going just for rides, then the best park is Islands of Adventure as they have Suess Land with lots of rides.

Is it worth riding the Hogwarts Express at Universal? ›

The main reason is this is the only way to make sure you see absolutely everything that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer. The other main reason we think the Hogwarts Express is worth it is that it's a convenient way to travel between the two parks and you can enjoy a different experience both ways.

What is the best month to go to Universal Studios? ›

So When Is the Best Time to Universal Orlando in 2023 and 2024?
  • Most days in September (minus the days around Labor Day)
  • Most weekdays in October (minus the days around Columbus Day)
  • Weekdays in November (minus the week of Thanksgiving)
  • Weekdays in December (minus the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Eve)

Is 1 day enough for Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

You 100% can make the most of Universal Studios Hollywood with only a single day. In fact, this is how most visitors tend to do it. Universal Studios Hollywood is a relatively small theme park compared to others, with a limited number of absolute “must do” attractions (in our opinion).

Can Universal Studios LA be done in one day? ›

Yes one day is plenty of time. Get the regular ticket then upgrade to Front of the Line tickets at 4pm as they become much cheaper (around $50 per person). Start your day by doing the studio tour, water show and the rides that don't have a long waiting time.

Why is Universal Studios Hollywood so popular? ›

As a leading global entertainment destination, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers highly themed immersive lands that translate to real-life interpretations of iconic movie and television shows.

What month is least crowded at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Here are the days we expect to have the lowest crowd levels at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023:
  • Weekdays in January (minus the week of New Year's Day and the days around MLK Day)
  • Weekdays in February (minus the days around Presidents Day)
  • March 1-10.
  • April 17-30.
  • Weekdays in May (except for Memorial Day)

What should I not miss at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Can't-Miss Experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood™
  • Jurassic World: The Ride. ...
  • The Studio Tour. ...
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ ...
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D. ...
  • The Walking Dead Attraction. ...
  • Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride. ...
  • WaterWorld. ...
  • Studio Scoops.
23 Mar 2020

Is Universal worth it if you don't like roller coasters? ›

Universal Studios Hollywood is still a great place to visit even if you don't like rides. There's plenty of activities that don't include simulation or rollercoasters such as the world-famous Studio Tour, shopping at CityWalk or meeting famous faces like Homer Simpson.

What is the scariest ride at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

1. Revenge Of The Mummy: The Ride. What is this? Topping our list as the scariest ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is Revenge Of The Mummy: The Ride.

Can you visit both Harry Potter parks a day? ›

Yes, it is possible to see both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one day. You will need a one-day two-park ticket to experience all that the Wizarding World has to offer, since Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure.

Is it worth it to do both Universal parks? ›

A Universal Studios Orlando park to park ticket is worth it if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express or do both Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure in one day. However, if you don't want to ride the Hogwarts Express or have 2+ days to explore the resort a park to park ticket isn't necessary.

Can you ride Hogwarts Express with one park ticket? ›

You'll need a Park-to-Park ticket to ride the Hogwarts™ Express and visit both lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. The train travels between Hogsmeade™ in Universal's Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley™ in Universal Studios Florida.

Which Harry Potter world is better Florida or California? ›

So, is the Harry Potter World in Florida bigger than California? And, very simply yes. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is much bigger in Orlando Florida as it is spread out between the two lands of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

Do you have to pay extra for Harry Potter at Universal? ›

There's no extra charge for Harry Potter. Once you have your tickets for universal studios and islands of adventure then everything is included. you can go to all the Harry Potter rides including hogwarts express.

What rides are at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Universal Studios Hollywood

How many rides are at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Universal Studios Hollywood has twelve exciting rides, one studio tour, and two shows. These attractions and rides are distributed between the Upper and Lower lots of Universal Studios Hollywood, connected by an escalator. The Lower Lot has three rides – Jurassic World, Revenge of the Mummy, and 3D Transformers.

What included in the Universal Studios ticket Hollywood? ›

Universal Studios Hollywood: Universal Express™ (California)

Includes Park admission and ONE-TIME express access to each ride and attraction and priority seating at select shows. Express access is a separate line with a shorter wait time at each ride and attraction and a priority seating area at select shows.

Is Diagon Alley at Universal Hollywood? ›

Diagon Alley is only found at Universal Orlando in the Universal Studios Florida theme park.

What is the craziest ride at Universal? ›

Given its wild stats, VelociCoaster is the most thrilling attraction at Universal Orlando. (Although, we have not included Volcano Bay's water park rides here, and the Ko'okiri Body Plunge, which is inside the volcano, may actually be scarier.) It features two magnetic launches, one of which propels it to 70 mph.

Can you walk through Hogwarts at Universal without riding the ride? ›

Absolutely yes. We have walked on the non- rider path through Hogwarts several times. It is a slightly different path that takes you a bit deeper into the castle and up a staircase with talking paintings that is not normally seen on the ride path.

What is the longest wait time for a Universal ride? ›

On these lean days, average waiting times are around 30 minutes. Saturday is the busiest day, with the longest queues in front of almost every ride and an average waiting time of 55 minutes.
...
Average waiting by day of the week.
Day of the WeekAverage Wait Times
Friday35 minutes
Saturday55 minutes
Sunday45 minutes
4 more rows

Is Universal Studios better in Florida or Hollywood? ›

Both Universal theme parks guarantee fun for the whole family, but if you're tight on time, we recommend Universal Studios Hollywood. You can breeze through that in one day! And while you can visit the Florida park in a day too, you'll be hard-pressed to see everything.

Is universal in California as good as Florida? ›

More rides you'll find in California but not in Florida

Other attractions you can currently experience at Universal Studios Hollywood but not at Universal Orlando are Secret Life of Pets and the WaterWorld stunt show. Universal Studios Hollywood also has different walk-around characters than in Orlando.

Is Hollywood studios better than universal? ›

We will say that Disney's Hollywood Studios does have more quality over quantity and is home to the most popular themed land in Star War's Galaxy's Edge. However on the flip side Universal Studios is also home to the very popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.

Is Universal Studios free after 6pm? ›

This is just what it sounds like: CityWalk offers complimentary admission all day, every day. After 6 p.m., parking is free as well, except during Halloween Horror Nights. And you'll never pay parking fees when you arrive on public transportation or stay at an official Universal Orlando Resort Hotel.

What day of the week is least crowded at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Least busy days at Universal Studios Hollywood 2022

Historically, weekdays in the morning to mid-afternoon are the best days to go to Universal Studios Hollywood 2022. Just remember, weekdays can still fall on certain holidays or special events, which would make them Universal Studios Hollywood peak times.

What age is Universal Studios Hollywood good for? ›

While Universal Studios Hollywood will be a hit with tweens, teens, and adults, what about young kids, like those that are 5 years old and older? With kid friendly rides like The Secret Life of Pets and play areas like like DinoPlay and Super Silly Fun Land, even young kids won't feel left out.

Is 2 days too much for Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Overall we don't recommend spending more than 2 days at Universal Studios Hollywood as it is a moderate size park with 20 rides and attractions. What is this? We recommended spending two days on a general park entrance ticket within the peak season or one day with an express pass ticket.

How long should you spend at Universal Studios Hollywood? ›

Most people would say 6-7 hours is the average time needed to see the best of Universal Studios, so pretty much one full day. You could certainly spend multiple days there seeing all the theme park has to offer but 6-7 hours should cover the main sights and experiences to get through that you are interested in.

What is the best Universal Studio in USA? ›

A clear Universal Studios winner

Based on the competing Harry Potter-villes alone, Orlando is sorting-had and dragon's-claw above Hollywood. It boasts Diagon Alley, a separate wizard-filled area boasting what is the best ride in the theme park.

Is Universal Studios in Hollywood the same as Florida? ›

Although Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) and Universal Studios Florida (USF) share some of the same attractions, the park experience itself is quite different. Both are excellent in their own ways.

Is Universal Hollywood or Disney better? ›

If you're travelling with young children then we'd recommend the Disney parks over Universal Hollywood since there are more rides & attractions for their height & interests. However, if you're on an adults-only trip or travelling with teens then Universal Studios is likely to be the better option.

How many days do you need for Universal Studios Orlando? ›

The simple answer is stay for three days if you can afford to and plan around that! No matter how long you stay at Universal Orlando if you plan your trip the right way you will have a great time. Ideal Length – 3-4 days is the best length if you are looking to visit all three Universal Orlando theme parks.

What's cheaper Universal or Disney? ›

2022 Disney Vs Universal Prices

And as a general rule of thumb, Universal is cheaper than Disney in almost every category from tickets, to theme park food, and the most noticeably being hotel rooms.

Is Universal Studios Hollywood better than Six Flags? ›

Is Six Flags or Universal Studios better? It depends on what you're looking for in a theme park experience. If you're looking for more thrill rides, Six Flags is the place for you. However, Universal Studios Hollywood is better if you're looking for a theme park beyond rides and perhaps some movie magic.

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