While the rest of the world focused on Comcast Chair and CEO Brian Roberts statement regarding a return to growth in subscribers to their legacy cable network business, the Orlando Sentinel picked up on quotes from Roberts that signal the theme parks wars in Orlando are well and truly on.
Okay, no one is actually declaring a theme park war, but when Roberts spoke today in Las Vegas at a Citigroup event and said, “We’re doubling down on theme parks. We think that there is a lot of ‘there’ there in the theme-park business for many years to come and that we have a low market share — and only one way to go,” that’s a sign that in Comcast and Universal’s mind, it’s game on.
When Comcast bought NBC/Universal, they took on the theme parks with an eye to selling them at some point in the future. But after some small investments in the parks paid off with an sizable increase in cash flow, they were convinced to invest in the larger Harry Potter land, which has been an unqualified success for the resort. Since that point, Universal has been going full speed ahead with other expansions including: The Simpsons, Transformers, a huge new resort, and more. Read More »Universal Studios Parent Company Declares Orlando Theme Park War
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
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.
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.
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: