It is no secret that Disney and Universal are competitors, especially in the Orlando area. Disney fans feel very strongly about Disney experiences being greater and better than Universal’s offerings. My family is a Disney family and doesn’t feel that Universal has as much to offer as Disney does. Universal is a fun time and has several fun experiences, but there are definitely a few things that Universal could learn from Disney…..
The cast members at Disney World have a large impact on the entire experience. It is very likely that almost every family that visits WDW can recall at least one cast member (if not many) who went above and beyond to make your experience the best one ever and add a personal touch. Disney recruits and hires cast members who love the brand and everything that Disney stands for. These cast members undergo extensive training to understand the history of Disney as a company, Walt’s vision and the expectations for guest service. The people who do this job, usually do it because they love it. This level of care and training is something that Universal employees could benefit from. I can tell an immediate difference in employees when I visit the locations, and it really became evident that Disney cast members are a huge, vital part of the experience and an area where Universal fails in comparison.
Disney is known for the “magic” and extras. It’s the little touches that puts Disney above everyone else. Disney goes above and beyond in their theming, construction, imagineering, etc. to ensure that every detail has been well-thought and provides something extra. This level of detail ensures that you find a new piece of magic almost every time that you visit. You also have the characters, which are a huge part of the Disney magic. Disney has created a cast of characters that are so lovable that people are willing to wait hours in line just to meet them. Universal could learn a major lesson in creating experiences for guests and not just building attractions and acting like every other theme park. Every square inch of Disney is part of the theme and built to create an amazing guest experience.
3. Cost vs. Value
Believe it or not, Universal passes are typically slightly more than Disney’s. Universal also doesn’t have as many value hotel offerings, or as many hotel/resort options in general, in order to book an affordable vacation package. Disney admission includes FastPass+, allowing you to return at a set time and bypass the line. Universal charges extra their comparable service. When you add up the benefits of staying on Disney property with extra magic hours, FastPass+, Magical Express, parking, Dining Plan plus the options and prices, and then compare that to Universal’s comparable offerings and prices, Disney wins out. When you add in the added magic and the guest treatment exclusive to Disney, it isn’t much contest for our family. Universal needs to spend time evaluating the value and the value-added services that they could provide to help improve their presence in this area.
4. Website & Online Services
Have you tried to navigate Universal’s website? It is AWFUL! I know that Disney’s site can have issues, but you can do so much more from it. You have the ability to manage your vacation, reservations and experiences from the website or the mobile app. With Universal, even making a dining reservation is more complicated and difficult to do. I have scouted their site numerous times and always feel like it is a clunky experience and something that I have to work at to find what I am looking for. Vacationers want to be able to plan their vacation with ease and find the pertinent information.
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Technology is ever changing and Universal has really struggled to keep up in this area. Disney used technology to launch Magic Bands and FastPass+ in an attempt to make cutting edge experiences for guests. Innovation isn’t just about technology, it is also about looking for new ways to create experiences that create wonder and amazement. Innovation has always been a major goal and mission for Disney as a company, and something that the imagineers put a lot of time and research into in order to create the best experiences. Universal seems like they are starting to try to think this way with the creation of their Harry Potter attractions, but still has a lot to learn and a lot more experiences to create to match the level of detail and experiences at Disney parks.
As they say, there is always room for improvement. That is on both sides in this case, but these are definite areas where Disney has the edge over Universal. With all of the changes that both parks are making, it will be interesting to see how things change over the years and what offerings and experiences become available.