Disney World Versus Universal Studios Florida – Getting the Biggest Bang For Your Vacation Dollars

Ticket Price/Feature Comparison

To many, Walt Disney World Resort is perceived as uber expensive. However, if we look at the cost of a one day, adult ticket for other well known U.S. theme parks we can see that the price of a one day Walt Disney World ticket is comparable.

Six Flags – $60

Sea World – $75

Busch Gardens – $70

Walt Disney World – $75

But, let’s compare Walt Disney World Resort with its nearest competitor, Universal Studios Florida. We’ll start with a side-by-side comparison of prices and features of admission media for both.

Both Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) and Universal Studios Florida (USF) offer 1 Park/1 Day tickets:

USF base price* $75

WDW base price $75

These prices are what you would pay at the gate for an adult, not including tax.

Fast Passes, allowing express admission to participating rides, are free to all WDW guests; they are limited only by time, typically you can only get one pass within a two hour period, and availability, more popular rides run out early in the day. USF’s equivalent, Express access, is free to on-site hotel guests only and is valid for use only one time at each participating attraction. For off-site guests, the Express access may be added for $20 – $46 based on date of use. Adding the Express feature makes the USF ticket equivalent to the WDW ticket, but bumps the price up to $95 – $121.

USF offers a 2 Park/1Day ticket allowing admission to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day. Disney offers a 1 Day ticket with Park Hopper feature which allows admission to the 4 major theme parks on the same day.

USF 2 Park/1 Day price – $90 includes 1 admission to each park on the same day, does not include Express access

WDW 1 Day Park Hopper – $125 includes unlimited park-to-park admission to all 4 major Disney theme parks on the same day plus free Fast Passes and on-property transportation

Again, these prices are for adult admission and do not include tax.

To add the Express feature to the USF ticket would increase the price to $116 – $141 depending on date of use. Or, you could purchase the USF 2 Park/1 Day VIP Express ticket which includes Express access, Park Hopper equivalent and on-property transportation for $150.

USF 2 Park/1 Day VIP Express – $150 adult price excluding tax, includes unlimited park-to-park admission to both Universal theme parks on the same day and Express access

WDW 1 Day Park Hopper – $125 adult price excluding tax, includes unlimited park-to-park admission to all 4 major Disney theme parks on the same day plus free Fast Passes and on-property transportation

Say you want to take two days to do the two USF parks, you can buy a 2 Park/2 Day ticket for $120. This ticket allows the guest to visit both parks on the same day and is valid for admission to select Universal CityWalk Orlando clubs and venues for 7 consecutive nights. Both days must be used within 7 days of first use. To include the USF Express access will cost $20 – $46 per day. For the two days this would bring your total cost to $160 – $212. WDW’s 2 Day Park Hopper is $199 and allows guests unlimited admission to the 4 Disney theme parks for 2 days which must be used within 14 days of first use. The WDW ticket also includes Fast Passes as well as transportation between parks.

USF 2 Park/2 Day plus Express access – $160 – $121

WDW 2 Day Park Hopper – $199

Visit USF’s 2 parks for 7 consecutive days for $125. This ticket includes unlimited park-to-park admission, as well as admission to select Universal CityWalk Orlando clubs and venues for 7 consecutive nights. Express access is not included. You could, however, purchase the 2 Park Express VIP ticket which includes Express access for $260. The Express VIP ticket can only be purchased online and requires date selection at the time of purchase. There are only a limited number of tickets for sale for each date and are available only through August 31, 2009.

WDW’s 7 Day Park Hopper ticket costs $278. This ticket allows unlimited park-to-park admission to the 4 Disney theme parks for 7 days which must be used within 14 days of first use. Fast passes and transportation between parks is included.

USF 2 Park Express VIP (7 Day) – $260

WDW 7 Day Park Hopper – $278

Although, the WDW Park Hopper is $18 more than the USF Express VIP ticket, if these prices are broken down by number of parks to get the price of admission per park, the price of admission per park for the Universal parks would be $86.67 ($260 divided by 3), and per park admission to the Disney parks would be $69.50 ($278 divided by 4).

Want more fun? For $280 the Orlando Flexticket Plus offers admission for up to 14 consecutive days to:

Universal Studios Florida

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

SeaWorld

Aquatica

Wet’n Wild

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Free access to select live entertainment venues at Universal Orlando Resort’s CityWalk entertainment complex (must be 21 or older for some venues)

Included is unlimited free bus transportation to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, 75 miles away. Not included is Express access or on-property transportation.

For an additional $50, the Water Park Fun & More option can be added to the WDW base Magic Your Way ticket for admission for 14 days from the first use to:

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom

Blizzard Beach

Typhoon Lagoon

Disney Quest

Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex

Oak Trail Golf Course

The longest period of time for which these tickets can be purchased is 10 days and the number of visits to the water parks and other venues is based on the number of days of your base ticket. You could purchase a 7 Day ticket with the Water Park Fun & More option for $278 which would give you admission to the 4 major parks, one park per day, for 7 days, plus 7 visits to the water parks and other venues which you would have 14 days from the first time the ticket was used to take advantage of. To add the Park Hopper option, giving unlimited park-to-park admission for 7 days would be another $50, bringing the total to $328; $48 more than the Orlando Flexticket Plus. The WDW ticket does include Fast Passes and on-property transportation.

Orlando Flexticket Plus – $280 adult price, tax not included, 14 consecutive days admission to 7 venues plus transportation to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

WDW 7-Day ticket plus Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More – $328 adult price, tax not included, unlimited admission for 7 days to 4 major theme parks plus 7 visits to other specified Disney venues within 14 days from first use. Also, includes free Fast Passes and on-property transportation.

What this comparison shows is that Walt Disney World Resort’s admission prices track with those of other theme parks, and considering what WDW has to offer it is the biggest bang for the buck.

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