Universal Orlando

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

universal-orland-uor-usf

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.
Read More »Universal and Disney fight for your Vacation Dollar

Celebration of Harry Potter Event Coming to Universal Orlando in January 2014

harry-potter-uor-celebration

Universal Orlando and Warner Bros. have announced a new event to celebrate Harry Potter at the resort in January 2014. With Diagon Alley expansion progressing swiftly to a summer 2014 opening, this event appears time to raise the excitement level among the franchises fans. Universal has held similar Harry Potter events in the past. “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be a special event for fans of all ages that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the Warner Bros. feature films.

Beginning January 24, 2014, fans will enjoy three days of unforgettable experiences – including interactive Q&As with Harry Potter talent and more. Special event vacation packages will go on sale August 22 and will include exclusive benefits such as access to a private evening reception held in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Read More »Celebration of Harry Potter Event Coming to Universal Orlando in January 2014

Theme Park Wars Forgotten Chapter: The Marvel Universe

I did forget to cover one chapter of the Orlando theme park wars. I often see the question, why hasn’t Disney added Marvel characters to Disney’s Hollywood Studios yet? Disney has said they’re actively looking at ways to involve Marvel characters in the parks. They… Read More »Theme Park Wars Forgotten Chapter: The Marvel Universe

Return of the Orlando Theme Park Wars?

Concept art for Star Wars mini-park planned for Disneyland Paris

Concept art for Star Wars mini-park planned for Disneyland Paris

Orlando in the 1990’s was bookended by stiff competition between Disney and its rival Universal Studios. When Michael Eisner got wind that Disneyland’s cross-town rival Universal Studios was preparing to open in Orlando as well, he rushed the mouse’s plans for its own studio theme park into production, even opening a whole year ahead of Universal. Universal returned the favor by firing back with Islands of Adventure, which contained rethemed versions of the Beastly Kingdom attractions Disney had cut from its Animal Kingdom project just a year earlier. Universal even hired a lot of the Imagineers Disney had just laid off to help make IOA a quality theme park.

And then things calmed down for nearly a decade. Disney kept churning out new attractions (Expedition Everest, Toy Story Midway Mania to name two) while Universal Studios was the forgotten step-child in a larger corporation that was dealing with ownership and financial problems. Eventually that got all sorted out and two things happened that turned around the fortunes at Universal Orlando Resort.

First, Universal got the theme park rights to use the Kuka robotic arm roller coaster that everyone was excited about at IAAPA in 2004. Second, it was able to convince Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling that they would be better caretakers for her story than Disney. The Kuka robocoaster win had something to do with that, but Universal was also willing to give Rowling final approval on nearly every detail. Disney would not.

Read More »Return of the Orlando Theme Park Wars?

Global Themepark Attendance For 2012 Via TEA Report

Opening Ceremony

TEA has released its 2012 Theme Park attendance estimates listing the 25 most attended theme parks in the world. Disney has the top 8 spots and 3 others in the top 20. Not a lot of surprises if you’ve been following developments last year:

1. Magic Kingdom: 17,536,000 (+2.3% change)
2. Disneyland Park: 15,963,000 (-1.1% )
3. Tokyo Disneyland: 14,847,000 (+8.5%)
4. Tokyo Disney Sea: 12,656,000 (+8.5%)
5. Disneyland Park, Disneyland Paris: 11,200,000 (+1.9%)
6. Epcot: 11,063,000 (+2.2%)
7. Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9,998,000 (+2.2%)
8. Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9,912,000 (+2.2%)
9. Universal Studios Japan: 9,700,000 (+14.1%)
10. Islands of Adventure: 7,981,000 (+4%)

Read More »Global Themepark Attendance For 2012 Via TEA Report