Planning your next theme park vacation and trying to decide Hollywood Studios vs Universal Studios?
Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Florida are two renowned theme parks that attract visitors from all over the world.
These two theme parks offer a unique blend of thrilling rides, immersive experiences, and iconic movie magic.
Many people mistakenly think that these theme parks are the same or often confuse them with each other. However, they are most definitely not the same! One is a “Disney” park, while the other is a “Universal” park.
While both parks offer amazing entertainment, they have unique qualities that make them very different. Deciding between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Florida depends on what you like and what you’re interested in.
In this article, we will explore the special features and attractions of both parks so you can decide which one is the best choice for your vacation!
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Key Differences: Hollywood Studios vs Universal Studios
Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios are both super fun theme parks located in Orlando, Florida.
However, because one is a “Walt Disney World” park and the other is a “Universal” park they are quite different when it comes to theming and the characters you will find. Also, the rides, attractions, shows, and entertainment are quite different.
So, let’s now dive in and talk about the key differences between these two parks.
Both Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios theming revolve around “Hollywood” and “movies.” That’s why many people tend to get these two parks confused.
Hollywood Studios is a Disney park, so you’ll find theming with the classic Disney characters Mickey and Minnie. At Hollywood Studios you’ll also find Indiana Jones, Toy Story Land, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
So, if you’re a big fan of Disney or Star Wars, the easy choice would definitely be Hollywood Studios.
Universal Orlando Resort which includes Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure showcases a theming with a mix of popular movies and TV shows such as Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Marvel, Despicable Me, and The Fast and the Furious.
Both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios have characters appearing at the parks and even character meet and greets.
Because Disney and Universal are two completely different brands you will see completely different characters at these parks.
Characters at Hollywood Studios
Here are some of the characters you might find at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Mickey Mouse
- Minnie Mouse
- Daisy Duck
- Ariel (from the live-action movie)
- Buzz Lightyear
- Darth Vadar
- Kylo Ren
- Sulley (from Monsters Inc.)
- The Incredibles
- Fancy Nancy
- Edna Mode
- Chip n Dale
Disney’s Hollywood Studios also has character dining at Hollywood & Vine Restaurant. This character dining includes a character breakfast featuring Disney Junior characters and a character lunch featuring Minnie and friends.
Characters at Universal Orlando
Here are some of the characters you might find at Universal Orlando Resort:
- Spongebob Square Pants
- Patrick and Squidward (SpongeBob)
- Marilyn Monroe
- Betty Boop
- Doc Brown (Back to the Future)
- The Simpsons (various members of the Simpson family)
- The Transformers: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron
- Captain American
- Blue (Jurassic Park)
- Betty Boop
- Popeye and Olive Oyl
- Characters from Dr. Suess- The Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am, Thing One and Thing Two, The Grinch
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a park designed for families and people who love Disney, Pixar movies, and Star Wars. Additionally, this park is all about telling stories and bringing your favorite Disney characters to life.
Furthermore, Hollywood Studios has something for everyone, including kids, teenagers, and adults. It has exciting rides, shows, and experiences that make you feel like you’re part of a movie.
On the other hand, the target audience for Universal Orlando Resort is families, teenagers, and adults who enjoy thrilling-action-packed rides and immersive experiences based on popular movies.
Universal Orlando Resort is particularly appealing to fans of Jurassic Park, Minions, Transformers, and Harry Potter. Harry Potter is in fact a huge draw for Universal Parks because of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
ATTRACTIONS & RIDES
Both Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios offer attractions and rides for all ages.
However, Universal Studios has the edge in the number of thrill rides. So, for adrenaline seekers, Universal Studios is probably the better pick for you.
Some of the thrill rides at Universal Orlando Resort include Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, The Revenge of the Mummy, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Jurassic Park River Adventure.
Thrill rides at Hollywood Studios include Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Here is a complete list of all of the rides and attractions you will find at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Orlando Resort which includes Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
Hollywood Studios: Rides & Attractions
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours-The Adventure Continue
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Toy Story Mania!
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Muppet Vision 3D
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- Walt Disney Presents
Universal Studios Florida: Rides & Attractions
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- E.T. Adventure
- Fast and Furious – Supercharged
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Hogwarts Express
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- MEN IN BLACK- Alien Attack
- Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- The Simpsons Ride
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D
Islands of Adventure: Rides & Attractions
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster
- Hargrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Hogwarts Express
- Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
- Pteranodon Flyers
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- Storm Force Accelatron
- The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
- The Cat in the Hat
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Both Universal Studios and Hollywood Studios provide great shows and entertainment for their guests.
However, I really think Hollywood Studios shines in the “shows and entertainment” category. In fact, Hollywood Studios really blows it out of the water with all of their live stage shows!
Some of the live shows at Hollywood Studios include the incredible nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! and the Broadway-style musical, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. Frozen fans will love the sing-along show, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. Action movie lovers and fans of Indiana Jones will love Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Furthermore, toddlers and pre-schoolers at Hollywood Studios will love Disney Junior Play and Dance featuring their favorite Disney Junior characters.
But besides shows, Hollywood Studios also has parades featuring characters from Disney Pixar films.
In addition, below is a current listing of shows and entertainment you can find at Hollywood Studios and Universal Orlando Resort.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Shows & Entertainment
- Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage
- Disney Junior Play and Dance!
- Disney Movie Magic
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Green Army Drum Corps
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
- Wonderful World of Animation
Universal Studios Florida: Shows & Entertainment
- The Bourne Spectular (Universal Studios Florida)
- Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show (Universal Studios Florida)
- The Blues Brothers Show (Universal Studios Florida)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (Universal Studios Flo
- Animal Actors on Location!
- Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
Universal’s Islands of Adventure: Shows & Entertainment
- Poseidon’s Fury
- Frog Choir
- Oh, the Stories You’ll Hear!
- Triwizard Spirit Rally
You will never find yourself hungry at Universal Studios or Hollywood Studios. Both theme parks offer great quick-service options, table-service options, and delicious snacks.
And when visiting Universal Orlando Resort, you have the option of dining at one of the many wonderful options at Universal CityWalk; which is located right outside both of the park’s gates.
Here are some of the restaurants you’ll find at Universal Orlando Resort and Hollywood Studios.
Universal Studios Florida Restaurants
- The Leaky Cauldron: Step into the wizarding world of Harry Potter and enjoy traditional British fare at this iconic pub. Indulge in fish and chips, bangers and mash, and butterbeer while immersing yourself in the magical ambiance.
- Lombard’s Seafood Grille: This waterfront restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood dishes, including shrimp, lobster, and crab. Enjoy the charming views of the lagoon while enjoying your meal.
- Finnegan’s Bar and Grill: This lively Irish pub offers a hearty selection of Irish and American cuisine. Enjoy dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, fish and chips, and corned beef sandwiches while enjoying live music and a festive atmosphere.
- Louie’s Italian Restaurant: Dive into Italian flavors at this casual eatery. Indulge in pasta dishes, pizza, and Italian desserts while taking in the vibrant atmosphere of an Italian trattoria.
- Mel’s Drive-In: Transport yourself back to the 1950s at this retro-themed diner. Enjoy classic American favorites like burgers, milkshakes, and fries, all served with a side of nostalgic charm.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure- Dining
- Three Broomsticks: Immerse yourself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at this cozy tavern. Enjoy traditional British dishes like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and butterbeer while surrounded by the magical ambiance of Hogsmeade.
- Mythos Restaurant: Located within the iconic Mythos building, this award-winning restaurant offers a unique dining experience. Enjoy a diverse menu featuring Mediterranean-inspired dishes in a stunning setting, complete with waterfalls and intricate rock formations.
- Green Eggs and Ham Cafe: Inspired by Dr. Seuss’ beloved book, this whimsical eatery serves up a variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Don’t miss their famous Green Eggs and Ham dish!
- Captain America Diner: Channel your inner superhero at this patriotic diner. Indulge in classic American fare like burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes while surrounded by Captain America memorabilia.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Dining
- Hollywood Brown Derby: This signature restaurant is inspired by the famous Brown Derby in Hollywood. It serves upscale American cuisine, including steaks, seafood, and classic dishes in an elegant setting.
- 50’s Prime Time Café: Step into the 1950s at this themed restaurant where you’ll be served by “family members” in a nostalgic home-style setting. Enjoy comfort food like fried chicken, meatloaf, and milkshakes.
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant: Dine in a retro-style car while watching clips of classic sci-fi movies at this unique restaurant. The menu features American fare such as burgers, sandwiches, and milkshakes.
- Woody’s Lunch Box: Located in Toy Story Land, this quick-service eatery offers a playful and nostalgic menu for breakfast at Hollywood Studios, lunch, or dinner. Here you can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, snacks, and desserts like the famous Toy Story-themed “Totchos.”
- ABC Commissary: Inspired by a television studio, this quick-service restaurant offers a diverse menu of international cuisine, including salads, sandwiches, and rice bowls.
- Oga’s Cantina: Experience the lively atmosphere of a bustling Star Wars cantina at this popular spot in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Enjoy unique beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, while immersing yourself in the world of Star Wars.
Which is Better for the Family?
Which one is better for toddlers: Universal Studios or Hollywood Studios?
My favorite theme park for toddlers between Universal Studios and Hollywood Studios is Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios offers many great shows to entertain toddlers including Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior Play and Dance, Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, and Lightening McQueen’s Racing Academy.
Toddlers will also love meeting Mickey and Minnie and their favorite Toy Story and Disney Junior characters.
Now, at Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios is not the greatest park for toddlers, but its next-door park Islands of Adventure is. At Suess Land at Islands of Adventures toddlers can ride Caro-Seuss-el (carousel) and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (similar to Dumbo at Disney’s Magic Kingdom).
There are also a few toddler-friendly play areas at Islands of Adventure including Camp Jurassic. Here your toddler will enjoy digging for dinosaur fossils, playing on the jungle climber, and spraying the water cannons.
Which is better on a budget: Hollywood Studios or Universal Studios?
For families on a budget, you will find Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios are similarly priced.
Ticket prices can vary based on if you do a 1-day ticket, 2-day ticket, 3-day ticket, and so on. There is also a different cost if you decide to do more than one park per day.
But let’s look at the ticket cost for a 1 Day Ticket for 1 park. The one-day ticket can fluctuate based on the time of the year and season.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios– Children 3-9 from $104; Adults 10 and up from $109
Universal Orlando-Children 3-9- from $104; Adults 10 and up from $109
Also, you’ll be happy to know that both Disney and Universal offer budget-friendly accommodations. For those on a budget, Disney’s Value Resorts will be your most affordable option. For those on a budget at Universal, the Universal Value hotels will be the most affordable option.
And I do highly recommend staying on property when visiting these parks. There are so many benefits to staying on property at Universal and Disney.
Which is more fun: Hollywood Studios or Universal Studios?
Which is the most fun park Hollywood Studios vs Universal Studios depends on your family’s interests.
If you or someone in your family is a Disney person and loves the Disney brand, Pixar movies, or Star Wars, then you will most likely think Hollywood Studios is more fun!
However, if you or someone in your family is more into thrilling rides, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, or Marvel, Universal Studios may be the more preferable option!
Hollywood Studios: Best Things to Do
✔️Experience the Rides & Attractions
There are so many great rides and attractions at Hollywood Studios. Here are some of the must-do rides and attractions!
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Plunge into the eerie storyline of the Twilight Zone as you board a haunted elevator that drops and rises unexpectedly.
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: Join Mickey and Minnie on a whimsical adventure that brings a Mickey Mouse cartoon to life.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith: Experience a high-speed indoor roller coaster with twists, loops, and the rocking soundtrack of Aerosmith.
- Slinky Dog Dash: Join Slinky Dog on a family-friendly roller coaster adventure through Toy Story Land, featuring twists, turns, and fun surprises.
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: Step into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and take control as you navigate through an interactive smuggling mission.
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: Join the Resistance in a thrilling and immersive dark ride that puts you in the middle of a battle against the First Order.
- Toy Story Mania!: Compete in a series of 4D carnival-style games inspired by Toy Story characters, using your spring-action shooter to score points.
- Disney Junior Dance Party!: Little ones can join their favorite Disney Junior characters like Mickey Mouse, Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, and Timon in this interactive and energetic live show.
✔️ Explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is without a doubt one of the best things to experience at Hollywood Studios. It offers a truly immersive and out-of-this-world experience for Star Wars fans. Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, you will appreciate the incredible theming here!
Here are some of the best things to do at Star Wars’s: Galaxy’s Edge:
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: Take control of the Millennium Falcon on an interactive smuggling mission.
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: Join the Resistance in a cinematic adventure against the First Order
- Build a Lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop: Create your own custom lightsaber and become a Jedi.
- Build a Droid at the Droid Depot: Assemble your own astromech droid companion.
- Oga’s Cantina: Enjoy Star War’s themed beverages in a lively Star Wars cantina.
- Batuu Market: Explore shops and vendors selling unique Star Wars merchandise.
- Character Encounters: Meet and interact with iconic Star Wars characters.
- Black Spire Outpost: Immerse yourself in the detailed environment of this remote trading post.
✔️ Watch the Nighttime Show Fantasmic
Watching Fantasmic! is one of the best things to do at Hollywood Studios and a great way to end your day at this Disney park.
Fantasmic! is an incredible 30-minute nighttime show combining water, lights, music, and live performances for a magical experience. Mickey Mouse battles Disney villains and faces his fears in a stunning display of visuals and effects.
This show features beloved Disney characters, memorable scenes, and fireworks. During this show, you’ll see characters from Moana, Frozen 2, Mulan, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King.
PRO-TIP: Arrive early because the show fills up fast! Seating opens 90 minutes prior to the start of the show.
Universal Studios: Best Things to Do
✔️Ride the Rides
Universal Orlando Resort is known for its thrilling and immersive rides. Here are some of the best rides and attractions you can experience at Universal Orlando Resort!
- VelociCoaster (Islands of Adventure): VelociCoaster is an exhilarating roller coaster themed around Jurassic World, it features high-speed launches, inversions, intense airtime, and near-miss encounters with dinosaurs. With onboard sound, immersive theming, and spectacular views, VelociCoaster is an unforgettable thrill ride experience.
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida): Embark on a multi-dimensional adventure through the vaults of Gringotts Bank in this combination of dark ride and roller coaster.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure): Join Harry Potter and his friends on a journey through Hogwarts Castle, encountering magical creatures and iconic scenes from the Harry Potter series.
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure): Swing through the city with Spider-Man in this 3D dark ride, battling villains and experiencing thrilling effects.
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (Islands of Adventure): Join Hagrid on an exhilarating motorbike journey through the Forbidden Forest, encountering magical creatures and experiencing thrilling drops and twists.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure (Islands of Adventure): Take a raft through Jurassic Park, encountering lifelike dinosaurs and a thrilling 85-foot plunge at the end.
- Transformers: The Ride 3D (Universal Studios Florida): Team up with the Autobots in this action-packed 3D simulator ride, battling the Decepticons in a high-stakes adventure.
- Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Studios Florida): Plunge into the darkness on this indoor roller coaster, featuring special effects and intense moments inspired by The Mummy franchise.
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster (Islands of Adventure): Experience an intense launch and thrilling loops on this high-speed roller coaster themed after the iconic Marvel superhero.
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (Universal Studios Florida): Join Gru, his daughters, and the mischievous Minions in this 3D simulator ride filled with humor and mayhem.
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (Universal Studios Florida): Choose your own soundtrack and experience high-speed drops, loops, and twists on this adrenaline-pumping roller coaster.
✔️Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is one of the best things to do at Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal Orlando Florida has The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley and Universal’s Islands of Adventure has The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade.
Universal pays a lot of attention to all the little details, from the streets of Hogsmeade to Hogwarts Castle. It’s such a great place for fans to experience because it stays true to the books and movies.
The rides, like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, are also pretty incredible.
While at The Wizarding World of Harrry Potter you also have to grab a butterbeer and go shopping. There are even interactive activities like using wands to cast spells. It’s a magical experience that brings the Harry Potter world to life!
✔️Watch the Shows
Universal Orlando Resort offers a variety of exciting and entertaining shows for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the must-see shows at Universal Orlando Resort!
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: The parks feature several Harry Potter-themed shows, such as “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” at Diagon Alley, which brings beloved wizarding stories to life through puppetry and special effects. Additionally, the “Frog Choir” showcases Hogwarts students singing alongside live frogs in Hogsmeade.
- The Bourne Stuntacular: This action-packed live stunt show is based on the popular “Jason Bourne” film franchise. Audiences witness thrilling stunts, high-speed chases, and jaw-dropping fight sequences as they follow Jason Bourne on a heart-pounding adventure.
- Animal Actors on Location: This super cute show showcases the talents of trained animals from movies and television. You’ll be amazed by their skills as they perform tricks and interact with their trainers in a delightful and entertaining presentation.
- Horror Makeup Show: This comedic and informative show takes you behind the scenes of special effects and makeup in horror movies. It reveals the tricks of the trade and showcases the artistry that goes into creating terrifying creatures and gory effects.
- Blues Brothers Show: Inspired by the classic film, this energetic musical show features Jake and Elwood Blues performing iconic blues and soul songs. The lively performances, accompanied by a live band, are sure to get you clapping and dancing along.
- The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle: As the sun sets, Hogwarts Castle comes alive with a dazzling projection show featuring the magical world of Harry Potter. Spectacular light displays, music, and iconic scenes from the series create a breathtaking experience.
Hollywood Studios is part of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Universal Studios Florida is also located in Orlando and is approximately 13 miles from Hollywood Studios. It typically takes around 15-20 minutes to drive from Hollywood Studios to Universal Studios Florida, depending on traffic conditions.
Yes, Hollywood Studios part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are into the Disney brand.
With immersive movie-themed attractions, thrilling rides like the Hollywood Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, top-notch shows, character meet-and-greets, and delicious dining options, there’s something for everyone. From Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Toy Story Land, the park offers a magical experience that will create lasting memories.
The question of whether Disney World is better than Universal Studios is definitely subjective. Both parks offer unique experiences, with Disney World focusing on family-friendly attractions and magical storytelling, while Universal Studios offers thrilling rides and immersive movie-based experiences. The decision depends on personal preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking.
No, Hollywood Studios is not part of Universal Studios. Hollywood Studios is one of the four theme parks located within the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company.
Hollywood Studios showcases the magic of movies and features attractions, shows, and experiences related to Disney, Pixar films, and Star Wars.
Universal Studios is a separate theme park and entertainment company that operates Universal Studios theme parks in various locations around the world, including Universal Studios Florida.
When most people say “Universal Studios” they are referring to Universal Orlando Resort, which includes both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. So, if referring to both of these theme parks, then “yes” Universal Studios is bigger.
Both Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios are fantastic theme parks!
Hollywood Studios shines with its immersive storytelling, iconic movie-themed rides, and the magic of Disney.
Universal Studios Florida, on the other hand, boasts thrilling rides and the incredible immersive Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Choosing which one is better depends on what you like more. If you enjoy the magic of Disney, Pixar films, and Star Wars, then Hollywood Studios is the park for you!
However, if you are an adrenaline seeker or love Harry Potter, then Universal Studios is probably the park for you!
You might be wondering which one is my favorite. My favorite is Hollywood Studios because I am a true Disney lover! I have a special place in my heart for Disney and make it a point to travel to the parks at least once a year!
Whatever park you decide to pick, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time! Just pick the one that suits your interests and you will have a blast!