No two theme parks are created equal. Whether it’s a Disney Park, Six Flags or Universal Studios, every park has a little something different to offer. So, how do you choose? Do you go to whichever park is the closest? Or which one has the most roller coasters? For Universal Studios I’m going to break down the two U.S. parks so you can decide. Orlando vs. Hollywood: Which one is right for you?
Universal Studios Hollywood is the original and the first theme park ever built for Universal. It is nestled into a hillside, offering gorgeous views over Los Angeles. They have several studios within the park itself that are still used to film TV shows and movies. Since the park is built on a hill, there are tons of escalators to take you to different areas of the park. It does make wheelchairs and strollers a little difficult to navigate. But, it adds a very unique feel to this theme park that I’ve never experienced anywhere else!
Unique to Hollywood
Since the Hollywood location is the only place where they still film shows, it’s also the only place to offer a Backlot Studio Tour. It is a great little tram ride where they show you older sets from past blockbusters and TV shows. It is comedic, entertaining and at times a bit cheesy. Currently, they have a whole part of the ride that they dedicate to the Fast and Furious series.
Hollywood is also the only place where you’ll find the Special Effects show and the Animal Actors show. It’s pretty rare to see cats, guinea pigs and even geese do tricks but the Animal Actors show has it all! If you like to see how things work behind the scenes of movies, this is definitely the park you’ll want to choose.
Both Parks Have
Both Hollywood and Orlando have similar rides and features. You will find a Jurassic Park the ride, Transformers Simulator, Revenge of the Mummy ride, Despicable Me 3D and Shrek 4D. The rides are all similar if not completely identical. Both parks also have an old time Hollywood feel near the entrances and a Simpsons themed land complete with a Krusty Burger, Moe’s and of course, Duff beer! One more feature both parks have is their front of the line express pass. You can add it on to any general admission and find yourself zipping through the lines in no time!
Hollywood also has the wizarding world of harry potter in the form of Hogsmeade. You’ll find Butterbeer, Ollivander’s and an indoor rollercoaster inside Hogwarts castle! It’s a great taste of Harry Potter but for true HP fans, you’ll want to head to the other Universal Studios in Orlando! Orlando has both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. It’s so big it stretches across TWO parks! If you’re all about Harry Potter, Hollywood vs. Orlando is no contest.
Heading to Universal Studios Orlando soon? Check out my 5 Things to Know Before You Go!
Universal Studios Orlando has two theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) and one water park (Volcano Bay, opening summer 2017). Islands of Adventure is known for its’ huge roller coasters and it does not disappoint! Hollywood does not have any roller coasters so if you like to go fast, high and upside down then this is the park for you!
Unique to Orlando
Since Orlando has two parks and Hollywood only has one, there are obviously a TON more rides. Islands of Adventure has a superhero themed land with simulators and coasters, a Dr. Seuss themed land for little kiddos and of course, Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade. Orlando’s version of Hogsmeade is very similar to Hollywood’s with all of the shops. Except Orlando’s version has a huge dueling roller coaster! The Dueling Dragons ride is an inverted roller coaster where you get to pick which track to ride. Climb aboard a Chinese Fireball or a Hungarian Horntail, which would you choose?
When you’re done exploring all that Hogsmeade has to offer you can board the Hogwarts express and ride it over to Diagon Alley inside of Universal Studios. Diagon Alley has all the shops you’d expect to find including Honeydukes, Weasely’s Wizarding Wheezes and Ollivanders. They also have Gringott’s bank complete with the dragon herself to greet you! The Escape from Gringott’s ride inside of the bank is an awesome thrill ride that I had to ride more than once!
Orlando’s parks have quite a bit more to see and do. If you’re worried about not having enough time, check out How We Did Everything at Universal Studios Orlando in One Day!
If you’re one for a bit of nostalgia like me, you’ll find the old E.T. ride nestled back near the kid’s area of Universal Studios. It’s cheesy and showing its age but if you loved E.T. like I did, the ride is still there! You can even still pick up a plush E.T.!
Universal Studios Orlando features a majority of the rides you’ll find in Hollywood. However, they do have two new rides right near the entrance. The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is a thrilling rollercoaster a bit unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Climb in and customize your ride by choosing from TONs of different popular songs to play while you ride.
Right next door to the coaster is the brand new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon ride. It’s a fun 3D ride that hits all the major sites in New York! Even the entrance is fun to spend time in as it pays homage to all the previous Tonight Show hosts.
So, Which to Choose?
Whether you choose Hollywood or Orlando, Universal Studios parks will have a different feel right from the moment you enter the park. You can go with the original or the new and improved! Both have their own appeal. Which one would you choose? Now that you have a good idea of where you’re headed, check out my 10 Must Pack Items for Universal Studios!
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