Back to Universal again today but this time to the sister park to Islands of Adventure and boy if that was busy due to Harry Potter, Universal Studios was so quiet. Not that I am complaining at all as we had the pick of the rides with next to no wait time whatsoever. So we were able to get straight on to The Simpsons Ride, Men in Black, Jaws and Shrek 3D without having the bore of the queues.
As much as I like the rides in Universal I cannot help shake the feeling that it is very much a poor mans Disney. Walt’s parks are just so slick in a way that Universal has yet to match. You notice it the moment you arrive in the very utilitarian car park which is a dark and dingy affair compared to the open, ground level lots in Disney.
With the exception of Harry Potter, which is exceptional, the set dressing in the rest of the Universal parks is pretty much non-existent. In Disney you would often be hard pressed to even know there was a ride hiding inside a mountain or behind some trees but in Universal it is all very much in your face – something that is very off putting if you are a ride scaredy-cat such as myself!
The people in Universal, while steeped in that service culture that seems to be in-bred in Americans, are not as slick. When one ride was having issues today the staff took to shouting to each other over the top of the guests, sharing a joke while waiting for the ride to start again. This is something that I have never seen in a Disney park and I suspect that if I ever did the staff would be taken to one side and dismissed.
None of the above detracts from the rides which are all good but it is just not as complete an experience as visiting Walt Disney World.