Published: April 2, 2014 at 8:22 PM
At only 48" tall your child misses out on five of the main thrill attractions at Universal Orlando. However, 48" is perfect for Disney as your kids will be able to ride everything, including Rock n Roller Coaster. So, at 48" the better choice is Disney.
If your family seeks thrills, and that's it, best wait until everyone is at least 54" before heading to Universal. But again, at that point, Busch Gardens Tampa is a more thrilling option without a doubt - and immersive, relaxing resorts are just a few minutes away from the park along the gulf coast.
However, we both seem to agree that Universal is not a thrill park. It is a family park, very much in the same vein as a Disney park - a model that works better than any other if you want to have a highly profitable business. Sure, Universal has a couple of decent coasters, but for the most part their headliner attractions are designed for families and for people who are willing to leave their skepticism at the door and let their imagination run free. In fact, without imagination and a suspension of disbelief most of Universal's attractions, like Disney's, just don't work. It is the sum of the parts that transforms the ride into a memorable experience.
With Universal's new HP expansion, I fear that people who visit the Gringott's Coaster expecting to be thrilled by the ride alone will be very disappointed. This family coaster is going to be a multi sensory experience that caters to the young and young at heart (and adults who read kids books). Uber thrill seekers are going to see it as boring and slow, and will quickly head back north to ride Millennium Force sixteen times in a row instead. But, to quote James Cameron's THE ABYSS, "You have to see with better eyes than that!" Imaginative families will think Gringott's is the best thing since.... Revenge of the Mummy (a great coaster that doesn't register as a blip on most coaster enthusiast lists). So again, to label Universal as a thrill park is an insult to everything the company has labored to achieve in the last five years.
And N B, you've mentioned a couple times in various discussion threads that your kids have outgrown Disney. But I wonder if it might be their father who has moved on instead? My kids are all taller than 54" and range from 16 down to 10 years. They love roller coasters and thrill rides (heck, we're headed up to Kings Island for Banshee this summer), and they have an amazing time when we visit Universal. But their true love, their first love, is Disney. It is the place they want to visit above all others. If they ever outgrow Walt's Kingdom it would mean they have outgrown adventure, story, and imagination. And if such a thing happened it would be a real tragedy, and would probably break this father's heart.
And if your kids have truly outgrown Disney, it is only a matter of time before they leave Universal in the pixie dust as well.