We do a comparison of some key differences between Disney World and the big UK theme parks.
I'm a big advocate of 'you get what you for'. This may seem like comparing apples to oranges - but I run over a few key differences when comparing Disney World to any UK theme park, especially for those who have yet to visit Disney World.
There is nothing inherently bad about UK theme parks, but they have a few features that personally bug me. One of the turn offs for me is the constant ticket sales. Like DFS, there is always a sale somewhere. Usually a buy one get one free deal, whether its online or on a cereal box. So you know that the sale price is the actual price (realistically), and they just rip off everyone who turn up and pay on the day. This sort of shenanigans bothers me. And unfortunately, that's not where it stops.
Disney excel at wanting you to spend money on great things in their parks. Fantastic meals, amazing merchandise, delicious beverages, tempting snacks, and much more. But in the UK, outside of the actual attractions, it's either fairground food or those rip off basketball type games. They seem to have these sort of games on every corner, especially at the big theme parks, and don't forgot about all the grab machines! They're all intentionally deceiving, and just designed to take money from you without giving anything back. While Disney focus on selling you cool stuff you'll actually want to take home, great extra experiences, or food while you're there.
Another turn off for me is the fact they seem to be mostly run by kids. The majority of the staff at the UK theme parks are teenagers. And that's because they have a lower minimum wage! I know they're trained, but sitting on a rollercoaster and looking over to the control panel seeing a teenager looking bored does put me on edge a little. At Disney World, it's different. Sure, they have some younger staff, but the younger ones are usually part of the Disney college program. The difference at Disney is that the people who work there, really want to work there. Disney have a crazy rigorous hiring process, so what you end up with is staff who are the best of the best, and actually want to be there. And it shows. (I'd like to point out that I'm sure some of the staff at the UK parks want to be there, and enjoy it, but the general vibe is not a good one in my experience.)
Theme park food can be pretty bad, too. Last time I went to a UK theme park, I had £10 hot dog that obviously came out of those 6-pack jars you can buy for £1. Don't get me wrong, Disney have a lot of different options of fast food, too. But there is plenty there for a variety of tastes and budgets.
UK theme parks don't tend to immerse you in anything. They don't capture the awe and the general atmosphere that Disney do so well. They're fine, especially if they're local, for a day out if you want some rollercoaster fun, but that's probably about it. You don't ever leave a UK theme park and immediately want to go back the second you're home.
The few redeeming factors for UK theme parks are they are mostly smaller (less sore feet from walking!), usually within driving distance, costs less, but can still be pricey if you do all the extra bits and fall into the game scams trap.