Vote of the week: After Disney's Avatar news, what should Universal Orlando do next?
Now that Disney's dropped the news that it is bringing Avatar to Disney's Animal Kingdom
, how should Universal Orlando respond?
I love when theme parks get aggressive competing with each other, whether it be on new attractions, price, service - or all of those. The winners in those battles are always the fans. Whether you like Avatar (the movie), or not, I hope that you'll at least get excited that Disney's optimistic enough about the future of its theme park business to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a richly themed new land for one of its U.S. theme parks.
Avatar skeptics also should remember that theme park designers sometime out-do their source material. Universal's Waterworld show, for example, provides far more excitement than the Kevin Coster bomb of a movie it was based upon ever did.
I also hope that fans will be excited at the possibility that Universal Orlando won't just take this lying down, but accept Disney's challenge and come up with another blockbuster attraction to build upon the momentum it earned with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
But what, specifically, should Universal do? Should it announce a major new expansion of Harry Potter? Should Universal bring Transformers to Orlando? Or should it secure the rights to a major new franchise, such as Lord of the Rings? (Or Ice Age? Or Kung Fu Panda? Or whatever else you can imagine.)
That's our vote of the week.
In the comments, I'd love to hear some specifics about what new attractions you want to see from the Orlando theme parks. What are you most looking forward to, and what more do the Orlando-area theme parks need to offer to get you to plan another vacation?
Thanks for voting, and thanks for reading Theme Park Insider.
If I had to choose between AVATARland and possibly Diagon Alley and the rumored Gringotts Wizarding Bank thrill ride, I would choose Potter any day. I think Universal is safe.
Re-theme the WWOHP to something better!
Definatly a WWOHP eexpansion. And to that ananoymous person, why would you want WWOHP re-themed?
I picked expanding WWoHP but, unlike many, I hope they don't add another thrill ride. Apart from Flight of the Hippogriff, the rides already cater to thrill hungry guests. A nice relaxing dark ride or show would keep me at bay. Sure, I would love to visit Gringotts and ride through the vaults but my stomach wouldn't forgive me if I rode.
Definitely more Potter! I like the idea of a slower, quieter, more family friendly ride but with the same kind of incredible attention to detail as FJ.
Speaking just briefly on Avatarland over at Animal Kingdom, I feel like it's too little too late to start that kind of project. That's a scary investment risk, especially if the two new Avatar movies don't live up to expectations. Here's hoping it will.
My brain said expand Potter as that seems to be the logical choice given it's success...but went with my heart and voted for bringing in another franchise...you hooked me with LOTR, Robert! Variety is the spice of life, so seeing something new is always a positive as long as it's well-executed.
First bring Transformers over to the Studios park in the next two years, then expand WWOHP. Potter is still new. There are plenty of people who have yet to make the trip to IOA to visit the land. There's no sense in expanding it right now when it generates ticket sales and merchandise revenue just fine as it is. Studios could use a new blockbuster dark ride, and it makes practical business sense to build a ride that already has all of the R&D out of the way, aside from finding a suitable area to start construction. In between that time, announce an annual Potter weekends event, as well as potter hard ticket x-mas and halloween events. Capitalize on the franchise all that you can. Once Transformers opens, give it 6-12 months so as not to steal the spotlight from the transformers ride opening, and then announce the potter expansion. An original ride as well as show and eatery with more shops and perhaps another kiddie ride or play area would fill out the rest of that land quite nicely, and give it the much needed breathing room it requires. There's no need to get trigger happy and sign deals for new franchises when you still have great intellectual properties to draw upon for attractions. Not saying that Universal should lay still either. It's always a smart move to keep conversations going behind the scenes. Negotiations can take years. Building a foundation of good will can only help your cause with future acquisitions. A major move for Universal would be to sell off/negotiate the Marvel license back to Disney, which will happen one day anyway, and then turn around and acquire the DC comics license. Marvel Super Hero Island would then become DC Super Hero Island, and breathe new life into the area, without sacrificing the basic premise of the theme.
Universal should double-down on Potter. It's a proven property that will draw in fans for generations to come. Expand it by putting in a dark ride for the kids, a bank coaster underground, a Wizards Duel "stunt" show, Hogwarts Express train ride, more shops, more restaurants.... we could go on and on, and it would all mint money.
I'd like to see them redo the Marvel Island into something else. What? I don't know. Not DC though. Six Flags would probably never let that go. Most of their rides are DC. I'd rather see them redo Marvel Island to a Tolkien inspired land. There's a lot they could do with that.
Jorge from Orlando
Whether this diehard Spider-Man fan wants to admit it or not, Harry Potter is the savior of Universal Orlando. Definitely expand the Potterverse.
I say leave Harry potter alone it's fine the way it is expand the studios re-theme rip ride rocket to fast and furious to make it fit the film studio theme.
This is a tough one. Absolutely I would love to see WWoHP expanded. Diagon Alley, Gringotts ride, and a ridable Hogwarts Express would be fantastic!
For some reason, Dr. Niles left out two other options in his poll:
For Avatar to work as a "Soarin" type attraction, which James Cameron alluded to, they will have to do much more than a copycat. I would like to ride an actual dragon creature. Otherwise, it will not be ambitious and Disney hasn't exactly wowed me lately although I do think Carsland is impressive in terms of scale, if not ride.
I'm not sure that best solution is an A or B or C. I think that Universal should (and probably already has plans to) expand WWOHP. The truth is that Potter has lots of longevity likely, but has lots more untapped potential.
I think they really need to do all three. Between the acquiring of Avatar AND Marvel, along with the new Fantasyland Expansion, Disney has just made a big move. Universal can combat this if they expand WWOHP, bring in Transformers, and at least one new franchise (like Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Titanic, etc.)
The studios should add a new land (Sci-Fi City) with Transformers and a coaster. Expand the Harry Potter land with Diagon Alley and a MagiQuest-type attraction where kids (and adults)can use their magic wands for real! The former idea will allure the fans of Avatar, and the latter idea will allure the fans of Fantasyland.
I'm not sure if expanding the WWOHP works from a financial perspective.
As for the question, I'd probably go with the Potter Expansion. I would like to see a Gringotts bank ride. I would think Transformers is most likely though.
'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey' is a testament to the extraordinary artistic success of the team at Universal Creative. The broken Yeti is a testament to the extraordinary failure of Walt Disney Imagineering.
Another area Universal needs to address is their nighttime offerings. Disney have the ability to keep guests in their park, and most importantly spending,late into the night because they have three world-class shows on property with the MK fireworks show (I forget the name), Illuminations and Fantasmic!
And don't get me wrong, Everest is actually still my favorite Orlando coaster even without the yeti because of the fun backwards section and the view. But without the a-mode yeti, the ride can hardly be considered "innovative."
Andrew NAILS IT! Along with "Revenge of the Mummy," "Expedition Everest" turns the experience of a coaster into theater. Without the working Yeti, the attraction loses that element and becomes another train demonstrating the laws of physics.
While I would like to see more Potter rides, I think The WWOHP is fine the way it is. Otherwise, Islands of Adventure would just retheme it's whole park to the boy wizard.
If I were in charge of UOR, here's what my plan would be. Right around October 1 (Magic Kingdom's 40th) I would announce that Transformers would be coming to Universal Studios Florida. I would build a Sci-Fi City (or possibly Sy Fy city since Universal is affiliated with the network)much like the one that just opened in Singapore and put it in the upper right corner of the park between MIB and The Simpsons (if this is possible, not sure what all that stuff is in there on google earth). I love the look of the land in Singapore, looks great! Clear out that whole corner. I would put Transformers on one end and on the other an indoor Battlestar Galactica dark coaster in the dark. Kind of like Space Mountain but with close brushes with Cylon fighters and great visual F/X like the SPACE ride at Universal Japan. In between you could also have a museum of Sci Fi stuff from movies and TV, like the one for Horror and Make-Up. Put a sci fi themed restaurant as well as the obligatory gift shops. Maybe put a Stargate somewhere for display. MIB could be incorporated as part of Sci Fi city as well. Part two of this plan would be to put a King Kong attraction like the one that just opened in Hollywood except of course make it a much longer ride with extra scenes of Kong fighting giant creatures on Skull Island and we are caught in the middle of it all. Put it where stage 44 is since that has sat empty for years. Redo the whole building. Universal Florida really needs to get Kong back in there. As for IOA, I would wait a few years on expanding WWoHP since it is doing very well still. Expand it when attendance starts to go down. I love the idea of a LOTR land. While I enjoy HP, LOTR is much more special since it has been around for so long. WB also has the rights to LOTR as well as HP. Maybe they could work with Universal to help fund LOTR since the Hobbit movies are coming soon. I apologize for the very long post (please be gentle it's my first time/post) ;). I think Avatar coming to WDW is a great thing for all theme park fans in the Orlando area.
I think Universal should bring in Transformers,that would be so cool. WWOHP is already a hit, expand on that another time. Terminator 3D is an awesome ride bring Transformers in the counter-act it and give the fans a new and more up to date ride. Making Universal Studios more interesting to visit too.
Bring the TRansformers to Universal Studios...Fill in the gap between HRRR and Mummy..Think the old Goast Busters SHow area...Work on the rest to bring it back up to its former glory. And give guests a whole Day not..the 9-7 except HHH..And MG events..And heres a thought how about a buy one park get another for a few dollors more..on the same day...But no hopping. This will allow guests more time to enjoy and spend more..as well as feed into City Walk in the evening...Im just sayin
What should UO do? You mean, after they get up off the floor from laughing so hard they fell out of their chairs?
How about Universal gets the rights to Cartoon Network and adds the Adventure Time Experience? It could be like Stitch's Great Escape, but with better (and/or less gross) special FX. Say the Ice King comes in and wants to freeze the humans to make them his slaves. He starts zapping ice all around, and each person feels the cold on their seat. Or if Marceline comes, the speakers in the seat could scare the you-know-what out of you. What I'm wondering is if it is a good idea or not.
Tolkien disliked Disney's works because he sugar-coated traditional fairy tales in favor of contemporary storytelling. I doubt that a theme park company of any capacity could reproduce Lord of the Rings without butchering its themes, characters, plot, nuances, etc.
I think ever since the WWoHP was announced, we all assumed the Tri-Wizard tournament would feature quite heavily. And yes, we have the Rally and the Frog Chorus (Seen it loads but just once I wish the frogs would go BOM, BOM BOM, Sink or swim.... if you dont get the reference, never mind me) but the rally times are not listed on the map and it seems like they come out and do a show whenever the mood takes them.
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