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Universal Orlando Plans to Hold Disney’s Feet to The Fire


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?

13 thoughts on “Universal Orlando Plans to Hold Disney’s Feet to The Fire”

  1. “The question is what will Disney announce and will it be a serious response to Universal’s pressure? Any guesses?”

    – increased ticket prices
    – a new DVC resort
    – My Magic Plus, Plus, now Plussed
    – another strobe light on the Disco Yeti
    – new Frozen bathrooms

  2. The longer Disney rests on its laurels, the further behind they will find themselves within a 5-10 year period.

    In my opinion 99% of the focus needs to be on Hollywood Studios. Here’s what they need to do at Hollywood Studios in my opinion: Phase I: Retheme the whole Animation courtyard and Pixar to one large Disney Pixar Animation Land and expand it to take over the backlot tour. Leave radiator springs racers in anaheim, but bring over Maters Junkyard Jamboree as a small ride. Bring over Crush’s Coaster from Paris, but theme it to Wall-E and Eve in space instead of under water. Add another small ride and a dark ride or 3D simulator themed to wreck-it Ralph or Big Hero 6. Phase II will bring Star Wars Land to life by expanding the current Star Tours Ride and Indiana Jones Stunt Show area into the Muppets and Backlot area. Retheme Sci-Fi dine in into a space-port style restaurant and do casual rethemes on Pizza Planet and ABC Commisary. Bring in a couple small attractions, maybe a dumbo style x-wing ride and something else for the young ones. Keep Star Tours as is. The big deal will be the new E-Ticket attraction. My opinion, it should be a brand new mountain themed to the pod races on Tatooine. Think Big Thunder Mountain meets Radiator Springs Racers. It’s a coaster, but you’re still racing other pod racers. You can have Tusken Raiders with Banthas shooting at you, Jawas somewhere in the mix, Jabba the hut overseeing the start of the race etc..

    Anyways, whatever disney does, it needs to be bold and daring. New fantasyland is cool, but its not THAT cool. (And Mine Train is taking FOREVER!)

    1. I’d love to see a proper Pixar land. There are so many great movies in the Pixar canon yet only Toy Story has been properly built upon (save token attractions for Nemo and Bug’s). I’d love a ride a flying UP house!

  3. Just visited Disneyland for the first time and would love to see World of Color brought to WDW. A big chunk of the $75,000,000 price tag was developing the technology, which wouldn’t have to be spent again. World of Color was so much better than Fantasmic or Illuminations.

  4. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan- read all the books and saw each of the 8 movies (most of them at midnight showings the first night), but when I go to Orlando for vacation, I go for one reason. Disney World. I’m heading back to Florida in December for a 10 day vacation, all 10 of which will be spent on Disney property. I have no desire to go to Universal, no desire to go to Sea World. Give me Disney and it’s magic. There’s no place like it in the World (unless you count the other Disney Parks). All others are wannabe’s. That’s the way it is, that’s the way it will always be.

  5. I returned Friday from a 9 day stay at Disney with a 7 hour hop on over to IOA. Universal needs to really FIX somethings before investing into new attractions. Jurassic Park River Adventure is a horrible attraction. The t-Rex is out there so you see it and there is no scare factor. Not to mention the height requirement needs to change or the track needs to be lengthened after the drop. A little girl behind me face planted into the “cushioned” bar.

    Disney needs pick me ups as well. Muppets was closed for a month for what? I have no clue! I was there on the day it reopened and it was exactly the same. Maybe a few added items in the pre show area. Buzz needs a refurb to get new cars. Monorails have seen much better days. Somethings look so dirty I feel like I can’t touch anything. Lets go Disney! Us fans are tired of defending you and are feeling that you don’t really care for us!

  6. Universal will never catch up to Disney as long as they continue to staff their parks with Disney rejects. The last time I visited Universal Orlando, we were greeted with rude employees, employees who didn’t know the answers to simple questions, and a lack of helpful employees at attractions. One roller coaster had no employees at the entrance or anywhere in the queue — there were cast members at the loading area only. We didn’t know where to go at one point in the queue, because no one had bothered to put chains on the queue rails, so people were just wandering around randomly until they figured out how to proceed to the next part of the queue.

    After that experience, we vowed not to return to Universal. Even the kids thought the employees at Universal were bad.

    1. I too have had some terrible experiences with Universal employees. Visitors visit Universal for a day for WWoHP and maybe Transformers. But people VACATION at WDW and the cast members have so much to do with that experience. So, I agree with you. The profit (I think) is in those vacations. Not the day guests. I would never vacation with Universal. But I will visit.

  7. I’m Sorry but Disney Cast Members are not what they used to be. Most are new and either part of the college program or the international one. I hardly see seasoned cast members anymore. And I’ve encountered many cast members doing things that they shouldn’t be doing “on stage” like talking with each other about their private lives in front of guests. It’s bad show. Uni cast isn’t much better, but don’t say that Disney will win in the end because of their CMs. They need more rides and attractions at DHS, Epcot and AK. Uni is going to take audience away from those parks more that from MK.

    1. I agree. CMs have gotten really bad. I was riding the safari and the CMs while loading were throwing ice at the driver of the car. I was at the Tomorrowland Noodle Station or Terrace or whatever it is named now and the CM was standing on my side of the counter shouting to one of the cooks that he won’t see her anymore as it was her last day and how much would he miss me. And don’t even get me started on their appearance. You are wearing a costume. A costume requires a complete look. Your hair in a sloppy mop on the top of your head does not look flattering. Put it in a neat bun or braid it or a neat ponytail.

  8. If Disney brings a rumored updating of Soarin’ video to Epcot, Avatar to AK, Cars Land to HS and finishes the Fantasyland expansion at MK, they will maintain their reign.

  9. Pingback: Universal and Disney fight for your Vacation Dollar | The Disney Blog

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