Disney or Universal? Theme Park Highlights and Planning Essentials

How to choose between Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, plus tips for navigating the Florida and California destinations

Rides, shows, hotels, shopping, dining, character meet-and-greets — there's a lot to consider when choosing between Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort. And it can certainly be confusing to understand all the differences between them.

In case you need some help navigating the vast world of amusement parks, TravelAge West has compiled a collection of content designed to make you a theme park insider. From top theme park attractions to convenient hotels, tasty treats, magical shows and more, you'll have plenty of recommendations for your clients' amusement park fun.

If you're really wondering where to start, check out our Travel Agent Guide to Matching Theme Parks to Family Clients.

Or, if you just want to know what's new, here's a look at Disney and Universal's big theme park updates for 2021.

Note: This page was updated on July 20, 2021. Some attractions and offerings featured in these stories may be temporarily altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check with the individual parks for the most up-to-date information.


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Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park make up the magical options at Disneyland Resort, along with three on-site hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district. Among the newest offerings visitors will find here is the Marvel-themed Avengers Campus, which opened June 4, 2021, at Disney California Adventure Park. If you or your clients haven't had a chance to visit yet, check out our Inside Look at the New Avengers Campus for a sneak peek.

Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. Credit: 2021 Disneyland Resort

Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. Credit: 2021 Disneyland Resort

Want to know more about Disneyland's attractions and offerings? Here are a few stories with helpful insight and tips:

Looking for Disneyland selling tips and unique trip ideas? We've got a few ideas for you there, too:

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Walt Disney World Resort

Between Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom Park (not to mention Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks; the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment district; and a slew of magical hotels), there's a near-infinite amount of fun to be had at Walt Disney World. While some park features can be found at both Disneyland and Disney World (including Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge), there are plenty of totally unique offerings, such as Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom — be sure to tell clients to try the bioluminescent beverages there!

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. Credit: 2021 Walt Disney World Resort

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. Credit: 2021 Walt Disney World Resort

Wondering where clients should stay for optimal exploring? Here are a few of the hotels in and near Walt Disney World:

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Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is home to three parks: Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and the Volcano Bay waterpark. Visitors can explore Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; test their nerves on the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster; indulge in endless dining, shopping and entertainment options as they wander Universal CityWalk; and much more. Travel advisor tip: Are you part of the U-Preferred Agency Program yet?

The Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Credit: 2021 Universal Orlando Resort

The Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Credit: 2021 Universal Orlando Resort

Not sure what to do at Universal Orlando? Here are a few key rides, shows and treats:

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Universal Studios Hollywood

From the dinosaurs of "Jurassic World" to the Minions from "Despicable Me," attractions and experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood run the gamut from kid-centric to adult-sized thrills. Iconic offerings include the park's famous Studio Tour, as well as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, CityWalk and so much more. And travel agents, don't forget to check out the U-Preferred Agency Program.

Here are a few helpful tips for planning a Universal Studios Hollywood visit:

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    Disney Attractions Around the Globe

    Clients looking for international theme park options can choose from Disney parks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Paris. Here's a look at what they offer:

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    Credit: 2021 Walt Disney World Resort

    Credit: 2021 Walt Disney World Resort

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