Theme Park Insider

Vote of the Week: Will Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood Own the Summer of 2015?

May 8, 2015, 9:52 AM · Harry Potter and Disney's New Fantasyland put Orlando in the spotlight in the summer of 2014. But in 2015, it's Southern California's turn. Disneyland will kick off its 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration in two weeks with a 24-hour party that will introduce its new "Paint the Night" parade and "Disneyland Forever" fireworks. Next door at Disney California Adventure, Disneyland's second gate will celebrate the anniversary with a new version of "World of Color" as well as the opening of the rethemed Grizzly Peak Airfield later this summer.

Sleeping Beauty Castle's 60th anniversary overlay

On the other side of town, at Universal Studios Hollywood, that park is marking its 50th anniversary, as well as the next steps in its multi-billion-dollar "Evolution" transformation, with the dedication of its new "Simpsons"-themed Springfield land next week, followed by the debuts of "Fast & Furious- Supercharged" and the nighttime version of the Studio Tour in June and July, respectively.

Fast & Furious- Supercharged concept art
Concept art courtesy Universal

Other area parks are premiering attractions, as well. Next week, Knott's Berry Farm introduces its new 3D shooter ride, Voyage to the Iron Reef. And on the 23rd, Six Flags Magic Mountain drops Southern California's first Iron Horse-style steel retrack of a wooden coaster with Twisted Colossus, which will be the world's longest hybrid coaster.

We will be on-site covering all of these openings over the next two weeks, as well as new attraction debuts at Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags New England, and Hersheypark. (So, please, keep reading the site and telling your friends about all our great coverage!) But, for theme park fans, we're betting that the most popular new attractions of the year will be the ones debuting at Southern California's top two theme park destinations — Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.

But which of these two industry rivals will own the summer of 2015? Will Disneyland's line-up of new shows and refurbished classics be the summer's top draw? Or will fans favor instead Universal's new land, new 4D Fast & Furious encounter, and its re-take on its classic Studio Tour?

It's Vote of the Week time!


What new attractions are you most looking forward to experiencing this summer, in Southern California or anywhere else around the world? Tell us your summer theme park travel plans, in the comments.

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Replies (19)

May 8, 2015 at 10:26 AM · Oh boy. Prepare yourselves, everyone, we're about to see a Disney vs Universal flame war of epic proportions. I myself voted for Disneyland, only because I know that much, much more people will be flocking over there for the 60th anniversary celebration. In terms of personal taste though, it's a tie for me.
May 8, 2015 at 10:33 AM · Universal Hollywood cannot compete until Harry Potter is complete. Ask the same question in a year and Universal will own Southern California for a few years with nothing new coming to Disneyland for at least for a couple of years.
May 8, 2015 at 10:50 AM · Rides usually are more popular than shows. Universal might get more interest with Fast and Furious especially with it as a top movie at the box office. Disney could obviously counter with Avengers meet and greet at Innoventions at Disneyland, but no announcement was made. Although I voted with Universal, Disney could still win with the sheer combination of everything it has to offer. Look: New Peter Pan, New Hat Box Ghost in Haunted Mansion, new parade, new fireworks, new World of Color.
May 8, 2015 at 1:21 PM · My theory on voting polls is that whatever is the most popular at that time will always come out on top. Anything Disney related will always generate more votes regardless. I agree the attractions at Universal have been much better than what Disney been putting out. I would take it a step further and say I think some of the coasters and rides that other theme parks are bringing out are more exciting than what Disney has or will be offering. All depends on what you look for when you visit a theme park.
May 8, 2015 at 2:41 PM · The winner is..... SoCal theme park visitors!
May 8, 2015 at 3:14 PM · I voted Universal. I'll take new attractions anyday over refurbishments. Unless it's something completely uninteresting for me like tales with belle.
May 8, 2015 at 6:10 PM · Our family has passes for Knott's and Universal Studios, plus two-day park hoppers in hand for Disneyland/DCA. For our kids, the new attraction they are most looking forward to (and the tipping point for renewing our passes for 2015) is Voyage to the Iron Reef, the new interactive ride at Knott's.

For me, I don't care much for parades or firework shows, and Fast and the Furious does nothing for me. Strangely enough, the 'new' ride I most want to experience is the updated version of Alice in Wonderland, which debuted last year. Not excited about refurbishments to Peter Pan, the Matterhorn, or the new ride at Knott's (but I'm glad the kids are excited about Iron Reef).

May 8, 2015 at 7:14 PM · As someone else mentioned SoCal FTW! It's about time the west coast gets some love instead of Florida. I want to see the new Paint The Night parade, but the nighttime tram tour is definitely at the top of my list.
May 8, 2015 at 8:58 PM · For 2015, I have to go with Disneyland. Dark ride improvements and new shows are a little more exciting to me than a new stop on the Studio Tour. However, I'm personally more interested for the new attractions at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm than anything opening at Disney or Universal this year. Next year, Universal pretty much wins regardless of what everyone else does and until Disney finally adds a Star Wars or Marvel land I'll likely be visiting USH more than the Disneyland Resort.
May 8, 2015 at 11:20 PM · This was an easy vote for me... Universal. In terms of the new stuff for this year a new ride-like experience in Fast and Furious which promises to be awesome (Universal is really going all out with this), a nightime studio tour, and a new highly immersive themed space/eatery in Springfield... Disney cant compete with new parades and firework show. Refurbishments are nice but I kind of feel its an excuse to not add something completely new.

It's absolutely unacceptable that the Disneyland Resort doesnt have any new attraction planned in the coming years. Two parks and nothing in the pipeline (officially), hopefully D23 fixes that.

May 9, 2015 at 8:47 AM · Universal is constantly working overtime to create exciting new attractions. Meanwhile Disney sits around, does nothing and still comes out on top. Today's Disney is a short term stockholder's dream and a long-time fan's nightmare.
May 9, 2015 at 2:24 PM · ...And here we go!

"Disney is a short-term stockholder's dream and a long-term fan's nightmare."

Not necessarily. I've been a long-term fan, and I'm content with Disney's current state! Y'know, one does not need to add new attractions to be good. In fact, it shows that Disney's attractions are much more timeless. You have attractions that have been around for 40 years and are still going strong. Universal? Knots? Six Flags? They constantly have to build new attractions because they're attractions aren't timeless and, while legends in their own rights, can never match the time and effort that Disney puts in. Disney doesn't take long to build attractions 'cause their lazy, it's 'cause they're taking as much time as they need to make it perfect. And they know that their fans aren't gonna complain because they still have a variety of great attractions that know no match to keep them company. Ask any true Disney fan, and they will tell you that rushing a new Disney attraction is like taking a pizza out of the oven too early.

And that is the true Disney Magic.

May 10, 2015 at 11:58 AM · Comment from above: "Disney doesn't take long to build attractions 'cause their lazy, it's 'cause they're taking as much time as they need to make it perfect."

Do you mean "perfect attractions" like Rocket Rods, Superstar Limo, Little Mermaid Undersea Adventure, Luigi's Flying Tires?

I've heard that Disney has built many great attractions in the last 10 years, but who's willing to fly halfway around the world to find out? Mystic Manor, Ratatouille, Pooh's Honey Hunt, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 10000 Leagues Under the Sea, etc. Is it really too much to ask that Disney bring at least one of those E-tickets to the USA?

How many E-ticket attractions has Disney built in Orlando in the last 10 years? One. Disney Orlando's next E-ticket attraction will arrive 12 years after Expedition Everest opened.

By comparison Disneyland opened Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain all in one 12 year span.

By further comparison, since Expedition Everest opened: Universal Orlando has opened 3 Harry Potter rides, Transformers, Despicable Me, The Simpsons Ride and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Fellow Disney fans, you get the level of quality that you demand. If you keep making excuses for Disney management, you won't get the level of quality you deserve.

May 10, 2015 at 1:12 PM · Disney, even though I'm excited for King Kong, simple things like hatbox and the new paint job at sorin' are making me more excited. Not to mention the paint the night parade.
May 10, 2015 at 2:04 PM · i voted disney. will wait to hit universal when potterverse shows up. will hit disney resort for both parks post-summer blitz for hatbox ghost, new matterhorn abominable(s), etc. wont miss twisted colossus this summer - most excited about it in socal over any other new ride or reason to visit a park.
May 10, 2015 at 7:06 PM · In the past 10 years DCA has gone from Disneyland's crappy neighbor to one of the best theme parks there is . Disneyland has been fairly stagnant, but DCA hasn't. Disney stepped up to the plate and fixed DCAs many problems. Disneyland is a park that thwt has largely been ignored In favor of other parks. But the last 10 years Disneyland has seen major improvements. They may not be new attractions but they have improved the park. There's still work to be done, but overall Disneyland is much better than it was 15 years ago. Disney World has now become the neglected resort, at lest by Disney standards. Universal's growth is unsunstainable, just like Disney's was. Universal is playing catch up. Universal will run out of room, and Disney will keep gradually improving its parks, which are far bigger and attract far more people than Universal, as well as they've done lately.
May 10, 2015 at 9:02 PM · I am glad I am going to SoCal this year. The Murphy's make the pilgramage every 5 years to the park that started it all.

With that, Disney has completly turned the table in my option on the excitement meter. While Harry Potter is good, ITS THE FREAKEN HATBOX GHOST???? AHHHHHHH

Sorry............

May 11, 2015 at 12:51 PM · Re:209.44.133.160

You make a really good argument, but you're kinda missing the point I was trying to make.

But first off, I said Disney tries to make their attractions perfect, not that they'll always succeed, and the examples you listed prove that (except for Little Mermaid, that one was pretty good). Second, no E-ticket attractions since Everest? Seven Dwarves Mine Train, hello? Radiator Springs Racers?

Ok, the point that I was trying to make was that Disney DOESN'T need to constantly build new attractions because they're top notch and timeless. Universal, on the other hand, has to constantly build new attractions because a lot of the time their attractions become outdated. Why? Because they're based on whatever franchises are popular at the time instead of franchises with ageless appeal.

Now, coming back to the subject of E-ticket attractions...

Not every new attraction that Disney builds has to be an E-ticket because their attendance numbers are that high. Universal makes all of their new attractions E-tickets because they don't have as high of attendance numbers as Disney and therefore has to make all of their new projects special. Which isn't a bad thing! I love me a nice E-ticket ride! Mummy, Simpsons, Spider-Man and Forbidden Journey are amongst my most favorite rides in the world! But do they all have to be thrill rides? What if you're a little kid who isn't old enough to go on those big thrill rides? What if you're a senior citizen whose too old to go on big thrill rides? What if you have a medical condition that won't let you go on big thrill rides? What if you just don't like big thrill rides in general? Not just that, but in the past few years, they've all been screen-based! Seriously, Universal needs some variety! If they want to compete with Disney, they're going to have to appeal to more people than just the young thril-seekers. I know that Kong won't be much of a thrill ride with not a lot of screens, and I know that they plan on making Nintendo attractions and we don't know how they plan on doing that yet. So hopefully that means that everything that I'm arguing against them will be things of the past within the next few years.

But Disney, on the other hand, has already done that. They try to appeal to everyone.

Sure, they don't have as much thrill rides as other parks, but the ones they do have are beyond awesome and best anything the competition has to offer. Sure, not all their family rides are great, but there's so many of them, and most of them are at least decent, so they can keep you busy all day long! And, as a fan of both thrill rides and family rides, this makes every Disney park a paradise for me.

And the reason why Disney has spent all this time building their E-tickets in other countries is to spread the magic globally! They've spent a lot of time in America, why not spend a few years overseas? Wouldn't be fair if all the E-tickets were in the States, now would it?

Want more proof of why Disney remains the Theme Park King and Universal is second-best? Disney had the decency to take out Rocket Rods, a ride that sounds great on paper but was disappointing to say the least, after only two years of operation. And Universal has kept Twister, a crap attraction based on a crap movie, for almost twenty years.

May 12, 2015 at 1:30 PM · I'm gonna to Disneyland's Diamond Celebration with new Night time parade called Paint The Night: New Electrical Parade, New Firework show with a projection mapping on Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street USA, Matterhorn, Fantasmic Stage show in Rivers of America, and Its a Small World, A World of Color: Celebrate! Wonderful World of Walt Disney, A new Hatbox Ghost on Haunted Mansion, A new projections and scene in Peter Pan's Flight, A new Yeti animatronic in Matterhorn, A new land will open in Disney California Adventure Grizzly Peak Airfield.

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