What would you do? To build a new ride or not, when Disney isn't
Written by Robert Niles
We're in the middle of a theme park building boom. In Central Florida, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is opening at Universal Orlando. Legoland Florida opens next year. At Disney's Hollywood Studios, a new version of Star Tours also hits in 2011. In 2013, Walt Disney World will debut its new, Princess-laden Fantasyland.Tweet
Disney's busy on the west coast, too. World of Color bows tomorrow night at California Adventure, the latest in a multi-billion-dollar string of improvements to that park, which continue next year with a Little Mermaid dark ride and wrap up with the premiere of Cars Land in 2012.
So it really shouldn't surprise anyone that Disney, at least, plans a breather after this current round of attraction construction. Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger said:
"I think, once we get through this period, we're probably going to drop down to what I'll call a more steady state," Iger said. "We don't really project — save for Disneyland Shanghai, should be we successful in completing that agreement and building the park — we don't really project anything as significant as this collection of investments on the [capital expenditure] front over the next decade."
Knowing that, what would you do if you were Disney's competition?
Let's focus on the other "Big Two" in the industry, who compete with Disney in both the Central Florida and Southern California markets: Universal and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Universal's wrapping up its big construction projects in Orlando, with Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit last year and Harry Potter now opening this month. On the west coast, Universal Studios Hollywood has rebuilt much of its backlot and will unveil its new King King encounter next month. In 2012, USH gets its version of the Transformers ride, a next generation version on Islands of Adventure's beloved Spider-Man ride.
But what happens after that for Universal, especially in Orlando? Harry Potter will be four years old the year after Disney opens its new Fantasyland. With no major new attraction coming at Disney for the rest of the decade, should Universal also sit back and conserve cash, or plan for an expensive (and thus, financially risky) counterpunch?
And what about SeaWorld? The company's building a major new ride at Busch Gardens Tampa. But SeaWorld Orlando's been quiet since the premieres of Aquatica and Manta. With the company's ownership now secure, how should SeaWorld react to Disney and Universal's building binges?
I'll kick off the discussion with this: Walt Disney World's Fantasyland rehab skews heavily toward younger girls, with its emphasis on the Disney princesses. This leaves a large opportunity for an attraction targeted at boys, and older kids.
Transformers debuts at Universal Studios Singapore next year, and in Hollywood in 2012. To me, it's a no-brainer to bring Transformers to Universal's Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida in 2013 or 2014.
Okay, your turn. What would you do, if you were running Universal or SeaWorld?
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