When people find out you're from Orlando, there are always two questions that follow: So, do you go to theme parks all the time? Which one is your favorite?
My immediate response is to roll my eyes because, wow, is this really what people think of people from Orlando? But, on the other hand, they're lowkey kind of right. I shrug in defeat because there's no denying it. So, at the risk of sounding like an annoying stereotypical Floridian—yes—I have had the luxury of casually going to theme parks throughout my life.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I go every weekend because ya girl is balling on a budget; however, I do associate a lot of my childhood with Disney and a lot of my adolescence with Universal. The parks will always have a sense of home for me because some of my best memories were made there. I mean, the two parks made living in Orlando worthwhile.
That being said, I should not have to choose between Disney and Universal. It's cruel.
It's not only cruel, but it's also unfair—they aren't comparable. They offer two different experiences: Disney is a dream; Universal is the promise of adventure.
As you walk onto Main Street, your childhood is revitalized—Disney is the epitome of nostalgia. You transform into your pure, idealistic self and can't help but get overly excited about seeing Stitch prance around Tomorrowland. Space Mountain is wild and Pirates of the Carribean is always a vibe. Give me a sparkly gold Minnie Mouse Ears and I am there.
But when you walk through Citywalk, adrenaline rushes through you. The thought alone of riding The Mummy 100 times in a row makes me so pumped. Between the crazy rollercoasters in Islands of Adventure and events like Halloween Horror Nights, the fact of the matter is, its catered toward an older audience. Oh, and it also HAS HARRY FREAKING POTTER. Best believe I have scowled at the chosen children in Ollivanders Wand Shop.
This sounds so grossly Floridian of me, but this topic of debate has been following me throughout my life. At recess, I was a die-hard Disney supporter. In high school, I bought an annual park to park pass for Universal. I still have it. I understand that the parks are competing for audiences (because duh) but I honestly can't choose between the two, and I shouldn't have to. They are completely different experiences, completely different vibes. It depends on what mood you are in honestly.
The parks aren't perfect. I mean Disney costs as much as your unborn child and the tourists with their screaming children is enough to make anyone drink around the world just to cope. Universal's long lines in the hot sun force you to watch overly boisterous teenagers discovering the wonders of PDA. It's all a bit much.
But the parks resemble Orlando to me for so many different reasons. They resemble different parts of my life. They resemble my two moods. They are both theme parks, but the experiences they offer are so much more than that.
So stop asking Orlando natives to choose between our two theme park homes. There's no comparison to be made.