Universal Studios Hollywood vs Orlando – Which Universal Park is Best?

Universal currently has two locations in the United States:

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood in California
  2. Universal Orlando Resort in Florida

But which one is best?

I’m an annual pass holder for Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando. As a result, I’ve been to both Universal theme parks several times. However, I always find Universal Orlando is significantly better than Universal Studios Hollywood.

That’s not to say that Universal Studios Hollywood is a bad theme park – far from it. It’s just that the Universal Orlando Resort has a lot more to offer.

What’s the Difference Between Universal Orlando & Universal Studios Hollywood?

The biggest difference between Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood is that Universal Orlando is a resort, whereas Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park.

Universal Orlando has:

Universal Studios Hollywood has:

  • 1 theme park
  • Entertainment District

Subsequently, the difference in size between the two locations is also huge. Universal Orlando Resort currently covers 541 acres. In contrast, Universal Studios Hollywood is just 415 acres.

Universal Studios Hollywood is the size of the filming studios. These production studios have been used to film:

  • Candy Cane Lane
  • Superstore
  • Good Girls
  • Bird Box
  • Dunkirk
  • Ted 2
  • Gone Girl
  • The Hangover Part III

These filming studios are covered in The World Famous Studio Tour.

Universal Orlando is set to increase in size further in 2025 with the opening of a third theme park, Epic Universe. The Epic Universe theme park is estimated to be 110 acres. However, since Universal owns 750 acres in the area, the Universal Orlando Resort will likely expand further in the near future.

Of course, size isn’t the only difference between these two theme parks. Here’s what’s unique at Universal Studios Hollywood and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Unique To Universal Studios Hollywood

Unique To The Universal Orlando Resort

  • Hogwarts Express
  • Diagon Alley
  • Seuss Landing
  • Volcano Bay
  • Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts
  • E.T. Adventure
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • Men In Black: Alien Attack
  • Race Through New York, Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
  • Pteranodon Flyers
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • The Cat In The Hat
  • The High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster

There are a couple of things to note about these differences.

  1. Super Nintendo World will open at Universal Orlando in 2025 as part of the new Epic Universe theme park.
  2. Given the difference in size, a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood takes one day. Meanwhile, to see everything at Universal Orlando for three to four days is best. This includes one day at the Volcano Bay water park.

What’s the Same at Universal Orlando & Universal Studios Hollywood?

Universal owns and operates both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando. Therefore, there are several similarities. These include:

Rides & Attractions

  • Transformers: The Ride 3D
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • Jurassic Park: The Ride
  • Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey
  • Ollivanders
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • King Kong: 360 3D
  • Fast & Furious: Supercharged

Both King Kong and Fast & Furious are stand-alone rides at the Universal Orlando. However, at Universal Studios Hollywood, these rides are part of The World Famous Studio Tour.

Restaurants, Food & Drink

  • Lard Lad Donuts
  • The Three Broomsticks
  • Krusty Burger
  • Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck
  • Cletus’ Chicken Shack
  • Luigi’s Pizza
  • HogsHead
  • Butterbeer
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle Refillable Cups
  • Refillable Popcorn Buckets

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando & Universal Studios Hollywood?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is significantly better than the one at Universal Studios Hollywood.

At Universal Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split across the two theme parks. At Universal Studios Florida, you’ll find Diagon Alley. Whereas at Islands of Adventure, you’ll find Hogsmeade. Across these two areas, you’ll find the following:

Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Florida):

Shops:

  • Ollivanders
  • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
  • Borgin and Burkes
  • Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions
  • Magical Menagerie
  • Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment
  • Quality Quidditch Supplies

Restaurants:

  • Leaky Cauldron
  • The Fountain of Fair Fortune
  • Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor

Attractions:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Knockturn Alley
  • The Hogwarts Express

Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure):

Shops:

  • Honeydukes
  • Zonko’s Joke Shop
  • Dervish and Banges
  • Owl Post
  • Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Restaurants:

  • Three Broomsticks
  • Hog’s Head Pub

Attractions:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Meanwhile, at Universal Studios Hollywood, there’s only Hogsmeade which includes:

Shops:

  • Honeydukes
  • Zonko’s Joke Shop
  • Dervish and Banges
  • Owl Post
  • Ollivanders
  • Gladrags Wizardwear

Restaurants:

  • Three Broomsticks
  • Hog’s Head Pub

Attractions:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff

Universal Studios Travel Planning Guide

🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Studios?

If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Studios tickets.

Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Studios theme park tickets from AttractionTix.

I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.

🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Studios?

If you’re travelling to Universal Studios for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.

However, if a trip to Universal Studios isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.

🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Studios?

You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Studios. Instead, you can take an Uber or Lyft, as the theme park has pick-up and drop-off points.

Parking at Universal Studios is expensive, so taking an Uber or Lyft can, in some cases, be cheaper.

However, if a trip to Universal Studios only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental when visiting the USA.

🏨 How to Book Accommodation for Universal Studios

To book accommodation at Universal Studios, I use either Booking.com or Hotels.com. However, for large families and groups, VRBO is my number one choice.

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4 Comments

  1. Patrick Santiago says:

    Interesting & useful information given from this site.

  2. I’m wondering when talking about the size of the park are we talking just universal studios Orlando or is that size comparison Universal Studios including Islands of Adventure? I’m really curious as to how much bigger Just Universal Studios Orlando alone is compared to Universal Studios Hollywood?

    1. Universal Studios Orlando is slightly smaller (maybe 10%) when compared to Hollywood. That’s based on Orlando being a single park, and not including IOA. While the land size of Hollywood is bigger due to The World-Famous Studio Tour. This size I’m going on is based on ‘accessible areas’ or walking areas of the park.

      According to both websites, there’s 15 rides and attractions at Universal Orlando (54 across the resort) and 21 in Hollywood. Meanwhile, there are 56 dining options at both, and 10 shows at Universal Orlando and just 3 in Hollywood. Hope this helps! 🙂

  3. THANKS A LOT!!!!!!!!!
    I was going sites by sites by sites trying to figured out the rides differences since I live close by Universal Hollywood but never been to Orlando… Don’t want to waste time on the rides that I could get nearby since I have really limited time visiting Orlando…
    Your article is SUPER CLEAR and is EXACTLY what I need.
    Thank YOU!!!!!!!!!