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Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
I try not to get controversial on this blog, but that ends today. Today, we’re going to dive deep into some serious controversy and compare Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Yes, I’m going there.
First, let me just say that this is my opinion, so if the fandom on either side could please not come at me, that would be great.
I LOVE Star Wars and Harry Potter, and both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge are incredible places to visit.
I have tattoos on my body for both Harry Potter and Star Wars, so I won’t be hating either here today. 😄
By the way, I recommend having a car in Orlando. Especially if you plan to visit both Disney and Universal. I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
While they don’t offer flying cars or spaceships, they do offer the best rates available whether you’re flying (on a plane, broom, or the Millenium Falcon) into Orlando or Sanford.
Harry Potter vs. Galaxy’s Edge
Before I start comparing Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, let’s go over how I will compare them.
One more thing, this is not comparing Disney’s Hollywood studios vs. Universal Orlando. That is another post that might happen later; we will see.
I am also not comparing The Wizarding World vs. Hollywood Studios as a whole. I’m not sure how that could possibly be a far comparison.
I am going to use 10 factors to compare Harry Potter World vs. Star Galaxy’s Edge. They include:
- Time Period
- Better for adults
If some of the factors don’t make sense, don’t worry. I will explain more below.
Immersiveness of Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World
Although both parks are extremely immersive, you can’t beat the Wizarding World when it comes to the most immersive park.
There is nothing quite like walking into Diagon Alley and seeing the dragon over Gringott’s Bank.
If you’ll be going to Universal Orlando for the first time, you’ll need park-to-park tickets and I would strongly advise going to Diagon Alley first. I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist.
Winner: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Rides at Harry Potter vs. Galaxy’s Edge
It’s hard to compare the rides at Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World because they are so different. As a ride enthusiast, I could probably write a blog post about the rides alone, but I’ll try to make it quick.
Rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure (Islands of Adventure-Hogsmeade)
- Escape from Gringott’s (Universal Studios-Diagon Alley)
- The Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure-Hogsmeade)
- Flight of the Hippogriff (Islands of Adventure-Hogsmeade)
- The Hogwart’s Express*
*Although the Hogwart’s Express is technically one way to get from one park to the other, it’s also a ride/experience in itself.
Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is a true rollercoaster with a few surprises such as multiple launches, a drop section, and a backward section.
Flight of the Hippogriff is a small kid-friendly roller coaster that is worth skipping when lines are long.
Both the Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringott’s are screen simulator/ride hybrids. Although they might be scary, both are relatively family-friendly due to lower height requirements.
Rides at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
- Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run
- Rise of the Resistance
Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run is somewhat of a screen simulator, but it’s very different than what is offered at the Wizarding World. This ride puts you, the guest, in charge of the fate of the Millenium Falcon.
I don’t know how to explain Rise of The Resistance. It’s not just a ride; it’s an entire experience. This ride uses trackless technology, screen simulators, and so much more. It’s truly one-of-a-kid.
So, who does it better?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has more rides. That said, these rides are spread out over two parks, so you’ll have to have a park-to-park ticket to experience all of the rides.
If you take the only two rides at Galaxy’s Edge and put them head to head with any two rides at The Wizarding World, they win.
That is not to say that the Wizarding World rides aren’t magical – because they are – but this is one area where Disney does it better.
Winner: Galaxy’s Edge
The food at The Wizarding World vs. Galaxy’s Edge
This is another one with a clear winner, especially with the special diets crowd. I have Celiac disease (absolutely no gluten), so you might feel differently than I do.
At the Wizarding World, the Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron offer traditional British eats. Guests tend to rate the food as “okay” while giving props to the ambiance.
Neither restaurant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are particularly vegan or allergy-friendly. Yes, the Chef will make you something, but for vegetarians, that tends to consist of vegetables and potatoes.
Disney has always been popular for those with allergies or special diets. Ronto Roasters and Docking Bay 7 in Galaxy’s Edge are no exception, and each has menu options for those who are plant-based, gluten-free, etc.
Even though Galaxy’s Edge is the clear winner, Universal is making great strides in accomodating special diets. We recently attended Mardi Gras at Universal and were surprised by the number of vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options.
Don’t worry; I didn’t forget about Butterbeer or the Milk Stand – that’s coming up next.
Winner: Galaxy’s Edge
The drinks at Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World
Ah, blue milk vs. Butterbeer. Although both parks offer multiple drink options, the most iconic – by far – are Butterbeer and the odd, blue milk.
You can get several versions of Butterbeer: regular, frozen, hot, and ice cream. It’s a non-alcoholic, very sweet beverage. Butterbeer does contain dairy, but dairy-free guests can enjoy pumpkin juice and Harry Potter-inspired other beverages.
At Galaxy’s Edge, you can grab blue milk or green milk at the Milk Stand. It’s somewhere between frozen and not, kind of like a slush. The green is a bit fruity, while the blue is…floral.
Do it for the ‘gram and then throw it in the trash. Just kidding. Kind of.
The “milk” is not milk at all, but a coconut base, so dairy-free and vegan guests can enjoy it. That is where the upside of the iconic drink ends. They are both unusual; some like them, and some don’t.
I think the green milk is okay but not something I would drink every day. I will say that my son actually likes blue milk, but I think it tastes like flowers. My daughter likes them mixed.
Of course, you can get more drinks (including alcoholic beverages) at Oga’s Cantina; if you can get in, that is! You will likely need a reservation.
Due to the difficulty of getting into Oga’s Cantina, the Wizarding World is the winner here.
The Wizarding World also has other drinks that are currently easier to get than the drinks in Galaxy’s Edge. Even if the Hog’s Head is busy, multiple drink carts are selling the popular beverages.
Winner: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (for now.)
By “space,” I don’t mean moons and planets. If I did, clearly Galaxy’s Edge would be the winner. 😂 I mean space to get around. Here’s where it gets interesting.
Although Galaxy’s Edge seems to actually have more room overall, it isn’t easy to get into the shops.
Galaxy’s Edge is newer than the Wizarding World, and capacity limits are currently happening, which might change later. Currently, guests still need a reservation or have to wait in a long line to get into most shops and restaurants at Galaxy’s Edge.
Interestingly, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter also has small shops. However, at this time, they are easier to get into.
There’s no real winner here. If you get claustrophobic, I would avoid the small shops and stay in the main areas of both parks.
Details at Harry Potter vs. Galaxy’s Edge
Although this is similar to #1, I thought it was worth mentioning the level of detail at the Wizarding World vs. Galaxy’s Edge.
Both Disney and Universal did an incredible job with attention to detail in both “lands.” From the droid tracks in Galaxy’s Edge to the Crumple-Horned Snorkack at the Magical Menagerie store.
Disney is also set up to be so immersive that you don’t see any lands other than the one you are in. This makes Disney even more magical; it’s rather jarring to walk into Jurassic Park while still looking at Hogwarts Castle.
If Universal had done as well as Disney in separating their “lands” (technically islands, at Islands of Adventure since Diagon Alley is separated), I think it would be a clear winner.
Did you know that it took the Chefs years to come up with a menu for the Leaky Cauldron? Many team members in the Wizarding World are also from the UK.
I will also call this one a tie. Disney does an incredible job of making you feel totally immersed in Star Wars, but Universal has even more small details.
This is probably where I’ll start getting hateful comments, but I think that The Wizarding World is the clear winner here.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is set roughly after the Order of the Phoenix book as Fred and George have left Hogwarts to open Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
The “Escape from Gringott’s” ride was based on a story from The Deathly Hallows, so the storyline isn’t exact, but it’s safe to say that everyone we know and love is alive in the Wizarding World at this time. More on characters later.
Ah, Star Wars. Either you love the latest trilogy if you don’t. If you don’t love it, you may not appreciate that Galaxy’s Edge is set within that timeline.
Galaxy’s Edge is set in the village of Blackspire Outpost on the remote planet of Batuu.
I, personally, an “older” millennial, would have preferred a setting from the original trilogy.
Winner: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
It’s safe to say that Disney’s character interactions are the best of the best, which is also true in Galaxy’s Edge.
You’ll see familiar characters, such as Ray and Chewbacca, wondering about.
In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you won’t see Harry, Ron, Hermione, or virtually any other recognizable character.
Sure, you can meet a Knight Bus Driver, the Hogwarts Express Conductor, or watch Celestina Warbeck sing, but it’s not the same.
This isn’t Universal Orlando’s fault. J.K. Rowling made it clear that Harry, Hermione, and the others would not be walking around in the park.
J.K Rowling didn’t think it would feel authentic. Although she is probably correct, it still feels like something is missing without any major characters.
Back in Galaxy’s Edge, some of my favorite “characters” are the cast members on the Rise of the Resistance.
I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say it’s kind of funny for Disney cast members to be “mean” to you. 😂
Winner: Disney, by far.
Is the Wizarding World or Star Wars better for adults?
It’s no secret that Universal parks cater to an older crowd. I even have a blog post with 5 things for adults to do in Universal.
Most of the Disney Parks are very obviously geared towards children, but Hollywood Studios (where Galaxy’s Edge is located) isn’t quite as kid-focused as Magic Kingdom.
If you’re comparing Universal vs. Disney for adults as a whole, Universal will probably win. However, when comparing Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there is no clear winner.
Both Galaxy’s Edge and the Wizarding Worlds offer entertaining rides for adults, adult beverages, and more.
Adults might have appreciated Galaxy’s Edge more if it had been set in an earlier time, but we already talked about that. 😉
The prices at Galaxy’s Edge and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are, well, what you’d expect for a theme park.
At the Wizarding World, the biggest “must-have” is a wand. They are about $50. Robes are another popular item and can easily run over $100.
You can save a bit by reading 7 things to buy before going to Universal. That said, buying the wand at Universal is kind of a must, so plan accordingly.
This is my son (a few years ago) after he was picked for the wand ceremony at Ollivander’s on his 11th birthday. Click over to watch on YouTube, and make sure to follow me there!
At Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll pay $100 for a droid or $200 for a lightsaber.
Food and drinks are also fairly expensive, which you’d also expect at a theme park.
Ticket Prices at Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
As far as ticket prices, both Universal and Disney now use date-based ticketing systems. That means you’ll pay more during the busier times and less during the slower times.
To fully enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll need a park-to-park ticket at Universal.
Galaxy’s Edge is located in Hollywood Studios, but you’ll currently need both a regular park ticket and a reservation to get in.
There’s no news of when Disney will drop the park reservation system, but I expect it will go well into 2021. Universal Orlando does not require a reservation. They are, however, limited capacity. You can ensure entry by staying at a Universal resort.
Is Galaxy’s Edge better than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?
We’ve explored ten different aspects of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter vs. Galaxy’s Edge, but which one is actually better?
Well, the truth is that you’re probably going to enjoy the one whose franchise you enjoy the most. Are you a die-hard Harry Potter fan? Well, you’ll probably enjoy casting spells in Diagon Alley.
Are you a certified Star Wars geek? You’ll likely enjoy checking “pilot the Millenium Falcon” off your bucket list. (I did.)
If you love both franchises, you’ll probably love both parks. There’s no reason why you can’t visit both, right?
I grew up watching Star Wars, and even though The Wizarding World has things that are better, I would personally choose Galaxy’s Edge.
Although I love Harry Potter, I didn’t really get into it until I was a young adult so there isn’t as much nostalgia.
That said, we’d be having a different conversation if you asked me if Universal Studios was better than Hollywood Studios. That’s another blog post for another day!
If you have a favorite, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the post.
More Galaxy’s Edge and Wizarding World Tips and Tricks
Since Universal isn’t doing reservations, the best way to ensure entry to the park is by staying at a Universal Orlando hotel.
Staying in a Universal resort will also give you early park access; you can check current pricing for all Universal Resorts on Expedia here:
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Loews Portofino Bay
- Loews Royal Pacific
- Aventura Hotel
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Universal Endless Summer Resorts – Dockside Inn and Suites and Seaside Inn and Suites.
If you want more Disney and Universal vacation ideas, make sure to check out some of my blog posts below:
- Disney Secrets that may surprise you
- Yes, there are free things at Disney World!
- What to pack for Universal Studios (and what to wear at Universal)
- Is it worth it to visit Universal?
- 7 things to know about the Disney Skyliner
- 7 things to buy at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 20 things to know before going to Universal Studios
Galaxy’s Edge vs. The Wizarding World
What do you think? Do you prefer The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge? Let me know in the comments.
Are you planning a Universal Vacation or Disney vacation? I know that it can be overwhelming.
Although I am a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge and Universal Orlando Resort Travel Agent Training Program, I only take on a few clients per month. Contact me now for more info.
If you plan to DIY your vacation, I understand that too! I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist if you choose not to use a Travel Agent.
There are a lot of really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (like Undercover Tourist) or an approved Travel Agent!
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