Disneyland vs Universal Studios Hollywood – Which Is Better For Adults?

a photo of a happy woman at Universal Studios Orlando

With Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland being so far from each other you might find yourself having to choose which theme park to visit. With both parks being heavily family-friendly you might be wondering which is the better theme park for adults.

Universal Studios Hollywood is better suited to adults who prefer to see shows and want to have the real Hollywood treatment along with an evening of entertainment at CityWalk. Whereas Disneyland is better to suited to adults who are looking for thrill rides, character meets and to stay on site.

There are vast differences between the park we have highlighted below so you can decide which park is right for you. Some of these differences are location, hotel stays, ticket price and what rides are available at each park.

How Much Are Tickets?

Something that may really help you decide which park is better to suited to you is the price. Though if you are thinking of heading to at least one of the parks you may already have an idea of what price point you are willing to pay.

There are some differences with the tickets and what they include as you can get special bundles and multi-day tickets. You may also find a great package with your accommodation and tickets included.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is very straight forward with its ticketing system and offers up 3 options. The prices can vary depending on the time of day you go, if you buy your tickets on the gate and whether you are visiting in the off-season or not.

One day park ticket between $109 and $129 + tax per person, you can get a 2-day park ticket at between $149 and $169 + tax per person.

If you really want to have a once in a lifetime trip you can look at getting the VIP experience ticket at  $349 + tax per person. There is also the option to add on an express pass to your day at  $50 + tax per person. This can increase during peak times much like the ticket prices.

Disneyland

Disney has a lot more to offer in terms of ticket availability and length of stay in the parks. Disneyland offers up to 5-day tickets for both 1 park per day and park hoppers. This can make a massive difference especially if you are looking to make your visit to Disneyland the main part of your holiday.

Below is a list of the prices for 1 park per day tickets (not including park hopper);

1 day tickets cost between $104 and $154

2-day tickets cost $235

3-day tickets cost $310

4-day tickets cost $340

5-day tickets cost $360

Below is the price for tickets that include park hopper (freedom to move between both Disneyland Park and California Adventure);

1-day park hopper costs between $159 and $209 – this is due to prices varying during off-season and peak-season along with the peak hours of the day being more expensive.

2-day park hopper costs $290

3-day park hopper costs $365

4-day park hopper costs $395

5- day park hopper costs $415

Some of these prices may vary in terms of special promotions Disneyland have on or if you can purchase your tickets and hotel in one.

Where Are Disneyland & Universal Studios Hollywood Located?

Universal Studios Hollywood is located near Burbank and the Hollywood sign whereas Disneyland is located in Anaheim.

The distance between the two is 40.8 miles and takes roughly 50 minutes to get from one to the other, traffic permitting. Depending on where you are going to be based and heading to either of these parks may be out of your way.

If you are driving it makes it much easier and accessible to get to and from your accommodation to the parks. If you are looking at using Uber or Lyft you might want to spend a night or two at a hotel near the theme park to be closer and save on travel costs.

Can You Do Both Disneyland And Universal Studios Hollywood In One Day?

With Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood so far apart it would be hard to fit in both parks within one day. It would also be hard if you plan to see both Disneyland Park and California Adventure within your trip.

We would recommend spending a minimum of one day at Disneyland to see both parks but two days is ideal so you can spend one day in each park. If you were to do both Disneyland parks in one day you would need to get a park hopper ticket.

Disneyland has so much to offer in terms of attractions, rides and general atmosphere that you will more than likely go home at the end of the day wanting to go back or wishing you had longer to see more. Allocating a day for each Disneyland park is a great way of getting to see the best of each park and some.

We then recommend spending one full day at Universal Studios Hollywood to ensure you can see everything and fully enjoy all the rides and attractions.

With this in mind, you may find that you do not have the time or money to allocate a day to Universal Studios, if you wish to do both we would recommend getting a 1-day park hopper at Disneyland and a 1 day park ticket for Universal Studios Hollywood.

This way you can see the best of the best at Disneyland and then get to experience the magic and movie sets at Universal Studios Hollywood.

What Rides & Attractions Are There At Disneyland & Universal Studios Hollywood

Both Disney and Universal Studios Hollywood have plenty to offer adults, children and those who don’t like rides.

There are some essentials you want to work out and know to help you determine whether you are looking at going to Universal Studios Hollywood Or Disneyland. To start off ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like rides or not?
  • Do you prefer shows or rides?
  • Do you like to meet the characters – specifically do you prefer Disney characters or Universal characters?
  • What do you want to go to each park for – what attracts you to the park, rides, themes or anything specific like Harry Potter World?

With these things in mind, you can then decide which park has got what you are looking for and which has the biggest draw for you and your group/partner. You can then find what attracts you to each park and decide which is most suited to you.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is better for those who prefer shows and experiences over rides. Especially as many of the rides are motion simulation-based at Universal Studios and not rollercoasters or thrill rides. Universal Studios Hollywood is better suited to adults who aren’t bothered for rides but are looking to have more of an LA experience.

Here are a few of the tops attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood;

  • Fast And Furious – Supercharged
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • Flight Of The Hippogriff
  • The World Famous Studio Tour

This park is also much better suited to adults who like to geek out at film, series and tv and watch plenty of the up and coming shows and films available. We saw plenty of merchandise for series such as Stranger Things and The Simpsons which we love watching.

There is also more scope for different films and shows you mya have seen compared to Disney, which is just Disney. There are no other outside films, shows or variety and might not be for you if you aren’t a fan of Disney, especially if you are on an adults-only trip.

Disneyland

Disneyland has over 90 rides and attractions based over the 2 theme parks, this is a staggering amount compared to the modest number of 21 rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood. So if you are an adrenalin junkie and love going on all the rides available Disneyland is the place for you.

Here are a few examples of rides you will find at both Disneyland parks;

  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Railroad
  • Incredicoaster
  • Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy

There is plenty more to see and do, even if you don’t like rides. We found our favourite thing was looking at all the different themes within the areas and Cars Land was definitely our favourite.

I would definitely say if you are a Disney fan and love the films, parks and apparel then there is no question about whether to go to Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood as Disneyland would win every time.

Do Disneyland & Universal Studios Hollywood Both Have On-Site Hotels?

Unfortunately, only Disneyland have on-site hotels available. Universal Studios Hollywood, however, has partner hotels which are within 1 – 4 miles of Universal Studios and can offer shuttle service, parking or are within walking distance.

Depending on what type of experience you are looking to have while in Los Angeles and at the parks will depend on where you will stay.

Universal Loews Sapphire Falls guest room

This will also differ if you plan to drive or if you are looking at using public transport, Uber or Lyft. As we didn’t have a car for our trip to Los Angeles we chose to use Uber and Lyft and stay close to the parks for 1-2 nights for convenience and ease.

Disneyland have the following on site hotels;

  • Disney’s Grand Californian
  • Disneyland Hotel
  • Disney’s Paradise Pier

Though there are a number of hotels within walking distance of Disneyland if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option or wish to stay elsewhere so you can commute to different attractions in the area.

Universal Studios Hollywood have the following partner hotels within a 4 mile radius;

  • Hilton Los Angeles/ Universal City
  • Sheraton Universal Hotel
  • The Garland
  • Coast Anabelle Hotel
  • Best Western Plus Carriage Inn
  • Los Angeles Marriot Burbank Airport
  • Safari Inn, a Coast Hotel
  • Loews Hollywood Hotel
  • Lexen Hotel North Hollywood
  • Holiday Inn Burbank-Media Center
  • Hotel Amarano
  • Comfort Inn & Suites Near Universal – N. Hollywood-Burbank
  • Hilton Garden Inn Burbank Downtown
  • Courtyard Los Angeles Burbank Airport

As we weren’t driving we found we would be using Uber and Lyft to get to the parks and back again, so we decided to stay closer and within an area that had plenty of places to go for meals and shopping.

If you are going to be without a car, looking for a good area to stay in is crucial as you may find yourself walking to cafes and restaurants and Universal Studios Hollywood itself. We found a great rate and area at the Best Western Media Center Burbank which was a 7-minute drive to Universal Studios Hollywood.

If you are looking for a little luxury during your trip look at staying at the Hilton in Burbank or the Loews Hollywood Hotel as they are partner hotels to Universal Studios and often provide tickets, shuttle service and luxury rooms.

Does Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood Have Better Evening Entertainment?

Something we found we really enjoyed after a long day at the parks was an area where we can go for dinner, wind down and talk about our favourite rides. Both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood have a shopping, dining and entertainment plaza in which you can go after the parks have closed.

While I wouldn’t be able to say which is better due to them offering pretty much the same I decided to point out some of the attractions, restaurants and bars which are available at both Disneyland’s Downtown District and Universal’s CityWalk.

We would say that if you are looking for a more lively evening with more entertainment, bars and dancing you would want to be at CityWalk. If you are looking for a calmer more relaxing evening then Downtown Disneyland is more suited to you.

Downtown Disney District

As far as entertainment goes for Downtown Disney you will find Flambeaux’s Jazz Club and Live Entertainment at Splitsville Kingpin Stage. There is also Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire which is an immersion virtual reality where you can meet Star Wars Characters with 3D sound and imagery.

There is a whole host of places to shop from Sephora, Curl Surf, California Sole, Pandora and treats such as Disney Home and Marceline’s Confectionary. With plenty more to choose from it is a great place to enjoy and evening out and maybe a spot of souvenir shopping.

With over 20 places to find somewhere to eat, get a drink or even just head for a coffee there is somewhere at Downtown Disney. There are definitely a couple of places at Downtown Disney that are worth checking out and enjoying a nice meal and a drink.

Places such as Splitsville Luxury Lanes where you can dine on some amazing food and even enjoy a game of bowling along with a cocktail or two. There is also Catal Restaurant which is in the fine dining category and has stunning decor and food.

If you are looking for something a little more laid back and easy you can try Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen or Taqueria at Tortilla Joe’s. If you are just looking for somewhere to enjoy a drink there is UVA Bar and Cafe or Ballast Point Brewing Co.

Universal’s CityWalk

Universal’s CityWalk has plenty to offer and is often known for being catered towards teens and adults, especially on an evening.

There are a number of places to eat such as Antojitos, Bubba Gump Shrimp, VIVIO Italian Kitchen and Margaritaville to name some of the best and most elaborate places to eat. If you are looking for something a little more quick, easy and tasty look at heading to Blaze Pizza and Pink’s Hot Dogs.

There are also a number of amazing places you can find a sweet treat or two, whether its pastry, dough or ice crema you like there is something for you with offerings from Cinnabon, Ben & Jerrys and VooDoo Doughnuts. The food offerings are pretty on par with what is at Downtown Disney so you might be swayed by the entertainment at Universal’s CityWalk instead.

Of course, you can’t go to Hollywood without experience a piece of Hollywood that was most likely filmed within the very area you are staying in. Head to the Universal Cinema at CityWalk and watch one of the latest films on one of the 18 screens with IMAX.

If you love a little bit of adventure and love a thrill you can also look at skydiving but within the freefalling wind tunnel. You are kitted up and shown how to stand within the tunnel and then you can have the experience of skydiving but in the safety of a tunnel.

One thing Universal’s CityWalk really do well are the outdoor concerts they put on, these are often advertised within the area, on the website and on the app. The concerts are always so fun, upbeat and full of energy creating the perfect place to enjoy a drink and even some dancing.

If dancing and skydiving isn’t your thing there are plenty of places you can head to do some shopping from Sephora, Billabong, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hot Topic and Nectar Bath Treats.

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