Would a 3rd gate at Universal Orlando finally give WDW cause for alarm?
There's no doubt about it, Universal has been a high end theme park brand for many years now, but since Harry Potter and Comcast have come into play, they have been in absolute beast mode ever since, and there seems to be no sign of slowing down. Their E-Tickets, level of theming and additional ancillary offerings have truly put them on the map as a true worthy competitor to Disney as it relates to what a theme park resort experience should be. I know many will argue that Disney has the bigger attendance numbers and market share, which is true, but it's a standard fall back to discrediting a competitor that continues to increase their worth, and receive favorable acclaim by many fans as well as insiders within the community.
So what will make things truly shift the paradigm? Universal already has 2 World Class Theme Parks that both offer amazing experiences, 3 fantastically themed onsite hotels as well as a 4th one on the way which will offer more affordable lodging options, full ownership of a water park which they recently acquired all of the land it resides on, as well as an exciting downtown district which actually offers night time entertainment for its adult guests. Barring a completely fresh overlay to their water park, and a few areas yet to be built out at the other parks, Universal resort seems to be just about land locked for future expansion.
But what if they made a deal somehow, to reacquire some of the land that they sold off years ago, which seems to have been recently purchased by another entity. And what if they were able to acquire that land and build a true 3rd gate, 5th onsite resort and possibly some other non themed offerings such as a world class golf course or even an exotic boutique park in the vein of Discovery Cove, offering interactive experiences with various types of animals as well as unique dining, spa/relaxation and entertainment options. Would this finally be the tipping point where Disney finally concedes it needs to pull the trigger on what fans have been clamoring for all these years. Would that 3rd gate finally give Universal the reputation as being a really for real alternative to the week long Disney vacation, and in an ironic turn of events, see guests only leaving Universal property one day of the trip to visit Magic Kingdom? If it's at all possible, I think it's what could be best for business for both sides, and certainly beneficial to all of us who love these parks and what they have to offer. What do you think though? Does opening a 3rd gate and possibly some of the things that could follow as listed above, finally see the playing field start to level, or is Disney just too big to ever feel any impact on their established market share, regardless of how much Universal/Comcast are able to build out and offer in the hopefully not too distant future?
Actually Phil, I'm at that point where Universal is the primary focus of my Orlando vacations, and Disney is a side trip. That's not the norm for most people, and my wife has already decreed that Universal is off the table for our next trip to Orlando. It's going to be all Disney this spring with visits to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on the agenda.
I agree with you Tim. While there's a glut of family friendly dark rides at WDW, Universal is sorely lacking in this department. To me, it seems that they are intent on competing on all fronts these days though. There's no doubt USO and IOA are very appealing to the older demographic of park goers, especially the tweeners. Perhaps a 3rd gate, knowing what they now know, allows them to plan out a park which is far more family friendly than the other two, but still offers a few great thrills to appeal to the regular Universal park goer. The major issue in this instance, I would think, is locking up an evergreen IP or developing a long standing, kid friendly franchise, much in the way Disney has done with their Princesses and Pixar characters.
If I go to Disney I do not stay on site. Disney has always been a side trip. Last July I spent a week on Universal property without leaving. Disney really does have to improve their parks if they want me to stay on site.
Phil B. writes: "I know many will argue that Disney has the bigger attendance numbers and market share, which is true, but it's a standard fall back to discrediting a competitor that continues to increase their worth, and receive favorable acclaim by many fans as well as insiders within the community.
I still wouldn't freak out if i was disney. Disney is still world famous and always will be!
The paradigm is that Universal will always play second fiddle to Disney regardless of how much they expand, what they build, present or acquire, because Disney is so huge it's attendance, profits and market share will remain intact. It's a standard train of thought that often comes up in the great Disney/Universal debate when anyone proposes Universal's growth, especially over the last several years, could start to affect attendance figures at the WDW resort.
@ Mr. Phil B ... This is what I find confusing about what you are writing ... First you offer: "The paradigm is that Universal will always play second fiddle to Disney regardless of how much they expand, what they build, present or acquire, because Disney is so huge it's attendance, profits and market share will remain intact" .... Then you write: "So to that I pose the question, at what point could that paradigm shift, and could it be if Universal was to hypothetically break ground on a 3rd gate?"
A paradigm is a commonly accepted pattern, theory or idea. Disney leads the way. This is the accepted paradigm in the world we live in now. "Universal will always play second fiddle to Disney regardless of how much they expand", is meant as an illustration to that thought. So I question if this will always be the case? If Universal opens a 3rd gate, does the paradigm begin to shift. Is that the "expansion", that finally creates a change in conventional wisdom? Does Disney flinch at the announcement of a 3rd gate, or do they continue on with business as usual?
Disney will only set off the panic alarm if a Universal 3rd gate has well attendance and a decrease in Disney attendance. But by the time that could happen, Avatar would be debuted so Disney would be in an uproar at that point.
Sure, why not, lets just say attendance in order to move the discussion forward. Please excuse my redundancy or any confusion my attempt at embellishing the simple question I posed in the title of this thread may have caused. Surely you must have an opinion of a 3rd Universal gate and how Disney may or may not react?
A third gate would just make my trips to Orlando much more exciting. As a Brit, I only get to go every 2-3 years which means I always have lots to catch up on and a third gate would make it even more enjoyable.
Any expansion from the competition will give Disney alarm. Whether it will motivate Disney to react is another thing entirely and it is not without precedent that Disney will react such as building DHS in response to Universal Studios. A 3rd Universal Park might cause Disney to either build more attractions in its existing parks or cause Disney to build the 5th park. Universal will end up second fiddle. Perhaps a collaboration with SeaWorld might be more beneficial in the theme parks arena. Universal needs to tap its connections with other filmmakers IP like Dreamworks Animation to get more characters in its parks. Only with a perceived mass concentration of ideas will Universal finally shake its roots of being a minor player in theme parks to be a true competitor to Disney.
So if "market share" is determined by "attendance" rather than build a third gate, why not eliminate parking fees, sell hamburgers for a dollar (beer for $2) and reduce admission prices to $10?
Sounds like a plan to me.
TH said: "So if "market share" is determined by "attendance" rather than build a third gate, why not eliminate parking fees, sell hamburgers for a dollar (beer for $2) and reduce admission prices to $10?
No matter what Universal, SeaWorld, and Busch have accomplished during the past five years in Florida, WDW continues to gain in attendance, revenue, and profit. I am not sure it is possible to unseat the Disney juggernaut from without... it can only be dismantled from within. And as bad a job as some enthusiasts think Iger and Company are doing, the numbers don't lie: WDW is more popular now that it has ever been. Remember gang, Theme Park Insiders are the jaded few... we're very picky, hard to please, and we judge Disney not on what IS, but what it has been and could be again. However, the vast majority of people in this world are not Insiders and they continue to view Disney as the undisputed leader in the theme park industry.
Would a 3rd gate give alarm?
See James, I wonder if a 3rd gate would bring about a scenario where families plan their trips to Florida and stay the week at Universal instead of Disney, doing 4 days at Universal between the three theme parks and one water park, then taking a few trips off property to do Magic Kingdom one day, and maybe one of the other parks another day. Sure, Disney still gets a few visits out of a Universal resort visit, but those guests aren't staying on Disney property, which is a huge part of how they market their parks, with on sight perks, resort amenities, transportation services and discounted days the longer you stay on property. More and more, people on the forums seem to be abandoning WDW in favor of Universal, as they feel it's a better value for their money. Like you say though, these are the super fans who watch the sites and look for dirt on what's happening on the inside as opposed to casual vacationers who plan a trip to the Orlando area every few years or so, and read up on the company website at the moment they book the trip and then maybe a few days before, just to get an idea of what the latest offerings are.
I guess what I am really saying, Phil, is that I believe today's Disney does what it thinks is best for the future of Disney, and I honestly do not believe they do anything because of the local competition. What Disney does or does not build is in response to customer feedback from the millions who still believe with all their hearts and wallets that taking the family to WDW is a rite of passage.
Universal doesn't have the demand for the third park. It is the reality. But to be defeatist, surrender to Disney, is to lose without putting up a fight.
Rao nails it.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I agree or disagree with TH Creative. However I can emphatically state with boldness and conviction that "maybe" is quite possibly the best response.
Well not said, sir!
To build a third park conservatively would cost upwards of 2 to 3 billion dollars...or Universal could have bought SeaWorld for 4 billion last year
i think yes but disney would find a way to get over it and than disney would make another park (wich I think would be a really good idea because I was never such a fan of Animal Kingdom). I agree with Moris that if universal bought sea world that would be a great deal.
Does USO even have enough room for a 3rd gate? Plus, by then, Avatarland, which, trust me, will be a huge success, DHS will also have Star Wars Land. You thought Universal got crowded for Potter? With SW, which arguably has the same number of fans, people won't leave Disney. All Disney needs to do is redo the future world of Epcot with more rides, and Disney will be the king of Orlando, just like it is and always will be.
Joey....there is 120 acres they "may have" bought in November on Universal Blvd for the third gate.
Joey, that Disney EPCOT re haul is practically a complete overhaul of all of Future World. Ellen's Energy Adventure would have to go, whether the pavilion stays energy themed (it should) it really needs to be gutted and have another ride that is more suitable and more fun than Ellen's ride would replace it. The Seas With Nemo and friends could use a bit of a refurb, but when Finding Dory comes out I think it will receive some kind of upgrades. Imagination should just be reverted back into its original incarnation, completely gutted (including the "new" imagiworks and the gift shop), or expanded greatly (room behind the pavilion). Wonders of Life would have to become a newer pavilion with new rides and new attractions. A convention pavilion/area would need to be constructed to house what wonders does now. Mission Space should stay. Soarin' would stay in The Land along with Living With the land which could do with a little dose of 80's EPCOT nostalgia. (I just think that might make the ride a bit neater; just an idea) The Lion King show in the land would go, replaced with what I don't know, but it would have to be a C or D ticket ride. Spaceship Earth should be fine in its current state. (That ride might also be cool to have some 80s EPCOT nostalgia too). Test Track would be the least likely to be changed, but it does have a rather low score on this site. Does anyone know why? I just don't get why people don't really like the ride. So in short, EPCOT would really need an extreme overhaul.
First of all ... I'm the King of Orlando ... Well not so much "king" as ... you know ... more like "The Guy Who Whines That Universal Orlando Makes Resort Guests Pay to Park" ... so that would be different.
"And what do you think the primary reason for New Fantasyland, Avatar and maybe Cars or SW?"
Walt Disney World is forever famous and loved because of the characters that Walt Disney created many years ago which has become legend. Walt Disney is now dead and the park has become "politically correct", which is honestly not family friendly, and some of their best attractions Mr Toad's Wild Ride and Snow White is gone, it's really just a fossil of the great amusement park it once was, Once Upon A Time.
Ms Clark writes: "Walt Disney is now dead ..."
Orlando has become an amazing destination for my family and I. Disney has become second on our list and only view it as a side trip. Universal Orlando is where the focus on our adventure and dollars are at. They seem to target the crowd that we've developed into..which consists of 3 teens, a young 32 year old wife and myself...36 years of age. A 3rd gate would only increase our trip by a couple of more days straight to USO....which would be awesome!
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