We added a couple of days at Universal Studios to our recent trip to Disney World – although we enjoyed some of our time there – there’s quite a few reasons we wouldn’t go back.
We have recently returned from our first ever trip to Florida which included a week in Walt Disney World and three days at Universal Studios. While I would return to Disney in a heartbeat I’m not so sure about Universal. It certainly beats Disney on the big Roller Coasters but other than that it didn’t have masses to offer (Harry Potter world aside) and just seemed to lack that magic that Disney World exudes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful we could even afford to go – but if you’re on the fence and not a Harry Potter fan then you might be better off sticking with Disney.
Here are six reasons NOT to visit Universal Studios.
1. The Staff are really rude
In Disney World every single member of staff we encountered was lovely. From the staff at the gates, to waitresses in the restaurants and the ride assistants we felt well looked after and valued as customers. Unfortunately the same could not be said at Universal Studios. The greeters at the gates were lovely and friendly but it was all downhill from there – yes a few staff were nice – but they were certainly in the minority and this was really noticeable after spending a week in Disney. In particular the staff on the rides just couldn’t seem to care less.
2. The food is really expensive
Having been on a Disney Dining Plan for a week the food at Universal seemed so, so expensive – close to $50 for 3 very average burger meals. I realise this is probably true of most Theme Parks, Disney included but it still came as a bit of a shock to be honest. Everyone in the U.K always seems to go on and on about how cheap food in the U.S.A is – we just didn’t find this to be true at all – even at place that we would usually consider cheap like Burger King, food still came to over $50 for three of us.
3. The layout is odd at Islands of Adventure
We felt that Islands Of Adventure has a really weird layout and that it was a bit tricky navigate. It feels like they created a load of themed ‘islands’ and stuck them together with no thought as to how they would work as a whole unit. Particularly with the islands at the back – such as the Harry Potter area – it seemed to take forever to get there.
Universal studios itself has a much better layout and was easy to find our way around.
4. The best rides can’t be Express Passed
Some might argue that this levels the playing field – but again coming from Disney where all the best rides could be Fast Passed (with a bit of organization at 60 days) it was a little frustrating having to queue for over an hour for some of the Harry Potter Rides at Universal when we had paid for express passes. There was also the opposite problem of finding rides with no queues and wondering what we had paid for, but I guess that’s a risk you take when purchasing express passes.
5. The desserts at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium are MASSIVELY over hyped
We had spent months and months drooling over the desserts and milkshakes at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. They look AMAZING. We are massive dessert fans in our house and were hoping this would be a highlight of our trip and something cheer us up after the rubbish weather we experienced while there.
We were all very disappointed.
Now, I know this is going to sound super picky – but they don’t use proper cream on the desserts or milkshakes. It’s that horrible, sickly artificial stuff that bakeries sometimes use to fill split doughnuts. Every dessert and shake is loaded with this fake cream so you have to eat a tonne of it before you get to the good stuff – except you feel so sick after a few mouthfuls by the time you get there you don’t want it anymore.
We shared one dessert and one shake between 3 of us and couldn’t finish them. Obviously being a theme park they aren’t cheap either. Take me back to Disney and the ‘Grey Stuff’ any day!
6. Too Many 3.D Rides
While 3.D rides are great (Disney’s Flight of Passage in the best ride I have ever been on bar none) Universal Studio’s can seem dominated by them, several of which are essentially the same thing repeated (Transformers and Spider-man are basically the same ride) Now, I can see why they do this – rides like this have a much higher capacity than roller-coasters but we all ended up with thumping headaches from the constant wearing of 3D glasses.
While writing this post I was chatting to fellow blogger Jon from The Money Shed – who completely disagrees with my point of view on this – here’s what he had to say:
‘OK So Universal has without doubt THE BEST RIDES in all of Florida!! From the Harry Potter ones to the classic ET one there is something for everyone! It’s also much cheaper than Disney where it can sometimes feel you are paying for the name rather than the experience’
Hmm, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree!