There’s one thing Universal Orlando wants you to know. It is not content playing second fiddle to Disney’s Orlando theme parks. They want to challenge for the lead, well, they at least want to close the gap between them and Disney’s least attended park.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom attracted 9.9 million last year and Islands of Adventure just 8.0 million. Universal Studios Florida did not experience the same boost as IOA did with the addition of Harry Potter, but they’re making up for it in 2013 with a better parade, Transformers 3D, and soon more Harry Potter with Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley.
But even if you add in all that additional ride capacity it won’t be enough to match the people eaters that are Disney’s parks. So Universal has committed to spending $500 million more on its domestic theme parks. We know that Universal Studios Hollywood will get a Harry Potter attraction or two (construction walls are going up now). But what does that mean for Orlando? How about two new rides for Islands of Adventure.
Themepark rumor site Screamscape claims to have the inside scoop on a new 3D motion simulator for Suessland themed to The Lorax and the long awaited addition of new attraction in the Jurassic Park area. The current speculation is that the long rumored jeep based attraction is the likely candidate. The Lorax would open in 2015 and the Jurassic could open later that year or early 2016. (However, based on the concept art I’ve seen, I don’t see them building a new ride with the same essential story as the water ride. So don’t get your hopes up.)
Meanwhile, Disney fans will have had the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in 2014 and… nothing. Well nothing has been announced other than Avatar, which soundslike it was pushed back to 2017. We keep hearing that big things are coming; Three mini-lands could be added to Disney’s Hollywood Studio, a nightshow added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or major improvements to the Imagination Pavilion at EPCOT. It’s a veritable buffet of potential responses to Universal Orlando’s attempt to move in on Disney’s territory.
The question is what will Disney announce and will it be a serious response to Universal’s pressure? Any guesses?