Disney World has by far the largest market share in the country. They entertain 30 million guests a year and rake in billions in revenue. They have the city of Orlando, the counties in which they reside, and the state of Florida in their pocket. Generations of people love them and flock to their parks as if it were some sort of blind moral obligation. They are backed by one of the largest, most powerful media companies in the world and have a group of characters entrenched in American culture. They have no hesitations about spending a hundred million dollars on one attraction because they have it to spend...not to mention the fact that their product is really good. They are the New York Yankees of the Theme Park industry. Big dollar, big budget, big income, highly visible, and an iconic American symbol known to the world. Does that make them the best? Not necessarily, because it depends on the definition of best. Disney has their own little world in Orlando, and as long as the people keep visiting and shelling out the cash like they have been, they aren't worried about anything.
Despite what Harry Potter super fans may say, I'm simply not willing to put that franchise on the level of Disney. Yes he's sold books and movie tickets over the span of a few years, but Harry Potter the franchise has a long way to go to win the hearts of multiple generations like Disney has, and he has a long way to go to earn the iconic status in this country that Disney enjoys.
While he will grab some media headlines and get his fans worked up, It's Universal's ability to create great visuals and attractions that will be the primary reason for Harry's continued success at IOA, not the franchise itself. When the last film has been played on the big screen, I think that like so many things in pop culture, Harry will begin to fade into the background of trivia questions. The literary works and the author will be appreciated and studied for years to come, but the commercial madness that once was...will be no more, and in a handful of years it will be time for another overhaul at Islands of Adventure. I'll place a healthy wager that the Magic Kingdom will still be standing tall when that overhaul eventually happens.
I'm sure that Universal has the respect of Disney and their creative team, and Disney is happy to have more attention to the Orlando area, but here is Disney's real take on Universal's possible success with Harry Potter.
More potential customers for us.
It's probably too simplistic to do a theme park v theme park comparison, especially when you consider both resorts are much more than just parks.
The Wizarding World may well turn Disney heads, but that's not a bad thing for WDW. If someone who normally only visits Disney decides they want to go see Potter then they may extend their on-site stay at Walt Disney World to accommodate the trip down the I-4.
Not to mention if they really wanted Harry Potter, they would have probably gotten Harry Potter if they put a little effort in it. As far as we know, Disney might have passed on Harry Potter.
However, take the case of someone like me who is staying at WDW for 10 days this month. If HP was already open I would be spending at least three of those days at Universal parks. Furthermore, next year I plan on spending the majority of my vacation (provided I still have a job) at Universal & SeaWorld with just a couple days at Disney.
So there will be an impact to overall revenue with folks splitting vacations a little bit more than usual. On the other hand, anything that brings more bodies to Central Florida must be considered a good thing at this point!
Anyway, I am loving the TH articles... keep 'em coming!
Maybe I'm an anomaly here, but my husband and I are traveling exclusively to Universal Orlando for eight days this summer -- not because we're huge Harry Potter fans... We just can't wait to see what Universal has in store for its new island! We have shown our love to the Mouse on several different occasions -- heck, we even honeymooned at Disney. However, we have never been disappointed in our Universal visits. Given that Universal tends to be a bit more inviting to the older crowds and thrill-seekers, in my opinion, we are remaining loyal to Universal on this visit. For my money, I don't know that it gets any better than UO's Express Pass for hotel guests, either!
Ironically, this will be the first year we spend more time at Disney than at Universal. It's always been the opposite, but the older we get the more value we see in the little touches Disney offers. We both love Harry Potter, but can't see the new island offering us more than half a day's entertainment seeing as how it's just a small portion of the park.
In retrospect I was a bit presumptuous in my assumption that a new Universal attraction will benefit Disney -- while failing to recognize that the converse relationship may be equally valid. For example, while it is a given that those traveling from out of state or country to see the Potter attractions will likely visit WDW, in the years to come, as the new Fantasyland begins to attract vacationers many of those folks will use the opportunity to visit Potter.
Note to Robert: This means I now have the potential to collect sales commissions for TWO full page ads in the Sentinel.
Really though, if I'm staying on Disney property, I rather not leave their compound once I'm there. Only once did I do so for Discovery Cove, and to be honest I would do it again, minus shelling out extra for the Dolphin experience. On the other end, if I'm staying at Uni/SW, I rather not shoot over to Disney, I guess because I don't live in FLA, and if I go to one Disney park then I want to go to all of them. So I rather not stress over trying to cram everything in all on one trip.
Mostly I think it benefits visitors. I don't think Disney is nervous at all.