When it comes to theme parks, Disney and Universal have always been competing for the "best" title. Whether guests are visiting the California or Florida locations, it's evident that even with their proximity, these two entertainment giants are constantly trying to one-up the other. Disney has a few more decades under its sleeve in terms on theme park experiences, but Universal changed the game when it brought in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010.
The completely themed areas of Hogsmeade and Diagon Ally are easily Universal and Islands of Adventures most popular sections. It truly brings the world of The Boy Who Lived to life on a platform unlike any other constructed by theme parks. While Disney tries to play catch up by adding in new lands such as Avatar and Star War' Galaxy's Edge, Universal is busy perfecting Harry Potter'ss world that visitors still have very little to complain about.
That being said, there are still a few departments that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lacks. And in naturally "friendly" competition, Disney has worked to combat those downfalls by doing them better in their own theme park. So if you're trying to decide which theme park to visit during your upcoming travels, here are five things that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter does better than Disney-- and five it doesn't.
10 Better: Immersive
If there's one thing that can be said about Universal's Harry Potter land, it's that they went heavy when it comes to detail. The Wizarding World is the most immersive theme park experience any guest could hope to come by. From the window details to the employee wardrobe's everything is meticulously detailed with thoughts on how it can distract its guests and make them think that they actually did just step foot into Diagon Alley.
And while Disney is wonderfully themed, nobody is second-guessing whether they stepped into the future when they enter Tomorrowland.
9 Worse: Space
One of the downfalls to making the Wizarding World so immersive was the creative team's decision to make places like Diagon Alley to scale. Diagon Alley is based on a real-live market square in England that is only wide enough to hold a few small shops and pedestrians. Universal took this literally, making their streets and shops in tight quarters. While it's a cute idea in theory, once you're in the park, there is nothing more infuriating than being sardined into Ollivanders trying to get your wand.
Disney, on the other hand, accounted for its large foot traffic. And while both parks get equally busy, you feel less trapped and claustrophobic inside Disney parks.
8 Better: Details
As mentioned above, Universal went above and beyond with its theme park details. This is all in the hopes to give guests a real wizarding experience and suffice to say that they made those dreams a reality. Even the Hogwarts Express itself was roughed up and beaten to make it appear as though the train had traveled thousands of miles over many years to bring students to and from Hogwarts.
Disney does its due diligence to bring hidden Mickey's and tiny details into their parks, but definitely not on a scale on a par with Universal.
7 Worse: Ride Options
The Harry Potter-themed rides are magical, to say the least. However, the number of ride options (between both parks, mind you) can be counted on one hand. The two most popular attractions, Escape from Gringotts and the Hogwarts Castle ride, are state-of-the-art rides, to be sure, but they're basically the only ride options for adults. There is an upcoming roller coaster being built into Hogsmeade next to the kiddy roller coaster, but there's not room for much else.
Disney, on the other hand, offers a bevy of tier-leveled rides that appeal to both adults and children. From Space Mountain to it's a small world, Disney has no shortage of rides to enjoy.
6 Better: The Beverages
One of the most celebrated themed options that came with the park was the decision to include Butterbeer. The sugary, frosty delight comes in various different options from frozen treats, hot Butterbeer, to Butterbeer flavored ice cream. And even though Butterbeer is alcoholic in the books, Universal offers guests Hogsmeade-themed cocktails like the Wizard's Brew beer stout and Fire Whiskey.
Disney has only recently started giving the option to purchase adult beverages and they even came up with a competitor to Butterbeer with the introduction of LeFou's Brew at Gaston's Tavern. However, the spiced apple cider drink still isn't comparable to the general idea of Butterbeer.
5 Worse: The Food
One thing that Disney definitely does better is their food options. There are tons of voices to be heard when it comes to the seemingly unlimited food, snack, and dessert options at Disney parks. The mouth-watering delights can be found at just about every corner with almost nothing but positive reviews coming from guests.
The Wizarding World, unfortunately, isn't getting such stellar reviews in its food department. While their candy is applauded for simply bringing them to fruition from the books, meals at locations like The Three Broomsticks leave little to be desired.
4 Better: Fun For Adults
Universal has always been known as the theme park for adults. There are definitely options available to children, but adults appreciate the wonder and themes coming from Universal more so than what Disney has to offer. When visitors walk into Disney, it's 100% obvious that they are tailoring the park for the children.
Even when designed the Wizarding World, Universal made sure to include plenty of options for adults. Considering that the audience who grew up with the boy wizard are all adults now, it seems like a wise choice on Universal's park to cater more to the older crowd.
3 Worse: Character Meet Ups
Universal has little to no character meetups. Sure, kids can visit the students from Durmstrand and the Beauxbaton girls after the Triwizard Spirit Rally, but is that really what guests want? At Disney, kids and adults alike are eager to meet their childhood heroes like Princess Jasmine and Mickey Mouse. You name a Disney character, and chances are that guests will have the opportunity to meet them during the visit to any Disney park.
Wouldn't it be spectacular if Harry Potter fans could be greeted by Hagrid on Platform 93/4 or see the Order of the Phoenix strolling through Diagon Alley? Sadly, none of the pivotal characters are available to meet at Universal's parks and there are no current plans to bring these characters into the Wizarding World.
2 Better: Merch For Adults
Whether you're looking for a wand, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, or a Hogwarts Robe in your house colors, Universal offers these to both children and adults. In fact, adults are probably the ones who make up the majority of the Wizarding World's daily purchases. There are costumes, t-shirts, and relics of all kinds to add to the Harry Potter enthusiast's collection, and it seems as though adults are the ones who can't go home with enough souveniers.
1 Worse: Prices
To be fair, both Disney and Universal's prices fall under the "outrageous"m spectrum. However, if you look at their top seller items, Universal's Wizarding World is definitely pricier. Disney guests go-to souvenir are the Mickey Mouse ears, start off at about $15 a pair. Meanwhile, Universal's key seller is the wands, which cost start off at about $45 for the non-interactive type.