universal orlando resort

Universal Orlando Resort – Diagon Alley Preview

I’ve been doing my best to avoid major spoilers to the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter area at Universal Studios Florida. Not every blog can be invited to the press events and for some reason, Universal didn’t invite us to last week’s mega-preview event.… Read More »Universal Orlando Resort – Diagon Alley Preview

Live Preview of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Expansion at Universal

Just released today is Universal Orlando Resort’s third preview trailer for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley area. The preview uses scenes from the movies to hint at what’s coming to Universal Studios Florida. More details of the expansion will be revealed… Read More »Live Preview of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Expansion at Universal

Diagon Alley – Harry Potter Photo Update from Universal Orlando

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After Comcast’s CEO made it clear yesterday that Universal plans to challenge Disney for a larger slice of the Orlando travel market, it makes sense to check in on the progress of Universal Orlando’s next salvo in the theme park wars – the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion.

It’s 2014. At some point this year, Universal plans to open Diagon Alley to teems of Harry Potter fans young and old. They’re definitely making progress.

The London facade that faces into the park is absolutely huge. You can’t even see much of the Diagon Alley area beind those walls, but it’s big too. But the real giant of the bunch is the show building for the Gringott’s bank attraction. That will disappear behind theming, I hope, although you can see a little bit of it poking through right now.

Follow below the jump for many more photos:
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Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley Trailer and Teaser Poster

Universal Studios just released a teaser poster for it’s upcoming expansion of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley themed area. Last week Universal Orland Resort uploaded two trailers for the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion. The first is a not so subtle jab at Disney’s… Read More »Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley Trailer and Teaser Poster

Universal and Disney fight for your Vacation Dollar

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We talked last week about how Universal Orlando Resort plans to hold Disney’s feet to the fire by continuing its investment in the parks. Today I want to discuss a way you can tell if Universal is making progress in its quest to steal market share from Walt Disney World.

I have one simple indicator that tells me which park is pulling ahead at the moment — it’s a statistic I believe Disney really cares about, or should at least — how many tourists visit Universal before they visit Disney. It’s pretty simple to observe. Sit at any Disney park where you have a clear view of crowds as they walk by and count how many guests are wearing recently produced Universal merchandise. Every hat, t-shirt, or Harry Potter robe that passes by represents a large sum of money that Disney missed out on. In addition to that t-shirt, that guest also dined at Universal, bought admission media, and maybe even stayed at the resort (soon much more likely as Universal looks to add thousands of hotel rooms).

Although they seldom admit it, Disney doesn’t really care that much if you spend a day at SeaWorld or Universal at the end of your trip. By then you’ve already spent the vast majority of your vacation budget (including importantly your souvenir, lodging, and food budget), with them. Having Orlando internationally known as a family vacation destination benefits Disney (those marketing dollars go a lot farther when its true) so it doesn’t make sense for them to set the phasers on kill when it comes to their competition.
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Universal Orlando Plans to Hold Disney’s Feet to The Fire

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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.Read More »Universal Orlando Plans to Hold Disney’s Feet to The Fire

The Simpsons’ Springfield Materializes in Universal Studios Florida

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Universal Orlando Resort is intent on continually improving the offerings at its parks. After a few great upgrades to Islands of Adventure, they’re now giving Universal Studios Florida some TLC. They added parade, opened a Despicable Me attraction, and not only are the opening a brand new Transformers 3D ride in June but they’re also remaking the old Jaws area into a second Harry Potter themed area.

With all that going on, another major addition flew under the radar for the most part. The Simpson’s themed area of the park was always just the re-imagined back to the future attraction and some carnival games. As the animated TV sit-com enjoys its 23rd season and work begins on a second animated feature, Universal Studios Florida is expanding the shows presence in the park with elements from Springfield, the town in which the Simpsons live.

A Simpsons themed Fast Food Row just opened and added some much needed food options to that side of the park. The food court not only offers various themed restaurants, complete with food and drink items made famous by the TV show (Krusty Burger anyone? How about a Flaming Moe?), but the dining areas are all designed to replicate famous eateries from the show. It’s really quite effective.

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Up next will be a Duff Beer Brewery and a new spinner attraction themed to the Space Aliens made popular by the Halloween Simpsons episodes. In the meantime, more photos in the gallery below:

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