What will Disney do?
Written by Robert Niles
Well, the cards are on the table, and we know what's coming in the Central Florida theme park market in 2010:Tweet
Universal Orlando is opening The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure next spring.
Busch Gardens Tampa is building a new kids' area: Sesame Street Safari of Fun.
SeaWorld Orlando is awaiting a new owner.
And at Walt Disney World?
- crickets -
Seriously, the summer of 2010 is shaping up to be the biggest lay-down since bedtime at the Octomom's. No one's got nothin' for Universal. Next summer will be the "Summer of Harry Potter" in Central Florida, and the other parks in the area don't seem to be planning anything to combat Dumbledore's Army.
I find it hard to believe that market-leader Disney would just lay down for the upstart Universal like this. Not only does Disney not have any new attractions planned in 2010 for its four theme parks, it has announced major new attractions for 2011 (Star Tours II at the Studios) and 2013 (new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom). Those announcements might encourage recession-weary Disney fans to postpone a 2010 visit a year or three, waiting for those new attractions to come online.
So what will Disney do?
There are two ways to draw visitors into a theme park: New attractions... and deep discounts. With option one off the table, that leaves Disney with option two.
In 2009, Disney offered a buy-four/get-three-days free deal and free dining plans to boost its resort attendance. Plus, the "get in free on your birthday" promotion. And attendance still went down, though by not nearly as much as it would have without those deals.
What can Disney offer in 2010? Bet on it... Disney will do something to entice fans to spend their time and money with the Mouse next year. It won't cede the year to Universal.
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