I feel like for educated ticket buyers Universals price hike will convince people to buy an Annual Pass rather than park to park tickets. I have always stood strong to buying the AP because you get major discounts on nearly everything so even if you are only going to the park one time a year it can usually pay for itself. Was it $120 for a 1day park-to-park? A preferred annual pass is only $229. With that you get 10% off food, 10% off merch, free city walk parking, up to 30% off hotels, 15% off multi-day tickets, 10% off single day tickets. Maybe it's just me, but if you're staying more than a day or two, it just makes sense to buy an AP rather than tickets. If you're traveling with a full hotel room, 4 or 5 kids, it makes more than sense to purchase at least one annual pass to get the discounts.
My last two visits to Orlando have been thanks to awesome discounts, which my family and I seem to be pretty good at finding if I do say so myself.
Trip 1: Labor Day Weekend 2010
Disney World 4 days using Military 4-Day one park per day pass (this was a ridiculous $100 per person I believe)
Stayed at pop century using FL resident rate and got it for less than $100 a night (I think)
Trip 2: March 2011
Universal 2 days (mainly for hp)Used FL resident pass which is three day park hopper for $130 (I think) stayed in a very nice holiday inn express on idrive for very cheap.We will be using the third day on a trip this labor day as we head back to wwohp because we loved it so very much (we will be staying at fairly affordable, but luxorious shades of green on Disney property though, that's the military hotel for those wondering)
Busch gardens Tampa 1 day using military free day (1 free day at any busch park per year, which we have used every year since it came about and have now visited each park except sesame street park) but we did stay in a dirt cheap (and dirt covered) ramada
The deals are out there, one just has to know where to look. It also is much cheaper for us because we can drive there in less than 6 hours meaning no costly airlines. The deals are out there, one just has to know where to look. It also is much cheaper for us because we can drive there in less than 6 hours meaning no costly airlines.
I must admit that my husband and I have been to Orlando twice since the Wizarding World opened a year ago at IOA, and we visited Universal exclusively during BOTH of those vacations without even being tempted to visit Disney while in Orlando nor did we venture out to any other surrounding parks. Not only did the new Harry Potter attractions entice us, but I just don't think you can beat the Express Line passes for on-site hotel guests at Universal and their hotels' close proximity to the parks. In my book, it just doesn't get any better than that, no matter how many Fast Pass lines Disney offers.
Our last trip to Disney was in 2006 at the Wilderness Lodge. We were so excited to finally stay at a Deluxe resort, but when we got there, it was difficult seeing what all the hype was about. Sure, there was some nice theming in the hotel's lobby and pool areas, but our room was quite shoddy and in need of some wear-and-tear repairs and updates. (I'm sure remodeling has since been done over the last five years, but I'm just reflecting on what we encountered at the time.) I also still prefer walking to both Universal parks or waiting for a relaxing water taxi rather than riding a bus to the Disney parks.
Based upon what we paid for and got out of that Disney stay, I think we will continue to remain loyal Universal guests in the future unless Disney really knocks our socks off with something new... And I don't know that the Fantasyland expansion is going to do it for us. I should also mention that we are huge thrill ride fans without any children, and it's our opinion that Universal's rides and attractions are geared to an older audience more so than Disney's. So, for now, we'll continue to pay higher prices at Universal because I believe the quality is that much better.
My family did a 4-day ticket recently at Disney -- with 8 of us there total, there was no way to justify another $85/pp just to see Harry Potter, especially when a few of the kids were too short to ride!
Our next year's Disney trip may be even longer -- and it will again be the same type of situation, even though my wife is dying to try Potter.
You're right, I couldn't justify $85 dollars a person just to see WWOHP, but I could justify an awesome day in one of the most well themed parks in the area.
I just want to add, that whilst it seems bizarre to visit a park for one aspect (ahem, Harry Potter) it actually IS happening. You only need to go on certain discussion forums to see the amount of posts from Disney loyalists that say "I have one day for Universal - I JUST want to see Harry Potter and have no interest in the other attractions, how do I do this?" Honestly, on the one discussion board I visit frequently, these posts come up new EVERYDAY. Tediously, board members explain the other benefits of IOA but some Disney lovers are extremely stubborn.
Disney is so immersed into Western culture, that it would take A LOT for it to be knocked off the topspot. It's almost like a right of passage for children to go through.
I would be very interested to see the attendance figures solely for UK Visitors to the Orlando parks. Most (though not all) Orlando UK visitors would take a 14-day vacation and are less likely to spend their whole time on Disney property. I would take a guess that the attendance report would show a different story, Disney would still be in the lead, but I'd hinder a guess that the gap between Disney and Universal would be a lot smaller.
Everyone should think about visiting only 2 disney parks. For most Southern Californians, this means skip the Magic Kingdom and Studios. Just visit Epcot and Animal Kingdom. That's it. Save $84 dollars or more from having to visit each additional day.
Use this money for tickets to Universal for 1 or 2 days. Then to other parks as you wish.
There are alternatives if you consider them.
I have to add, going to Disney beyond 4 days is boring. There isn't that much to do. Sorry. I really feel this way.
Disney is a different story altogether though. Disney owns almost ALL of the properties inside of the Disney parks (ONLY Star Wars and Indiana Jones are the main ones not owned by them). The Disney parks help drive sales in their other divisions and their other divisions help drive sales in the theme parks. So Disney is not SOLELY interested in profitablity in their theme parks. A big Little Mermaid ride drives DVD sales, merchandise sales (wherever they occur, since they OWN the license), sales for other Princess properties, brand awareness, etc, etc. Universal (since they don't own MOST of the licenses in ANY of their theme parks), Sea World, Six Flags, Cedar Fair nor even Legoland (Lego only owns a minority interest in Legoland) have the same luxury.
I think I should point out that regardless of the attendance decline, SeaWorld Orlando remains a very successful park. However, you'd swear by the recent articles on this site that it's going to be out of business in a couple of years.
Disney World is right near the center of the greater Orlando area. All the other parks are situated inconvenientely further away. I do think Universal/SeaWorld might have a fighting chance if they can get tourists to view their attractions as a viable alternative. They have some attractions that Disney can't match. This needs to be emphasized.
Disney has some major weaknesses that can be exploited. The lack of cutting edge attractions. The vastness of their open spaces are not necessarily an advantage to most tourists. The difficulty is getting around. The high prices. The decline of all their parks in quality and customer service.
I Respond: Star Tours 3D with multiple variations. The Disney NextGen interactive technology. The talking characters. the high density projection cameras used on the Castle show.
Anon Mouse: The difficulty is getting around.
I respond: Do you have ANY published data or source of any kind that illustrates that guests have expressed any sort of substantial disatisfaction with Disney's transportation systems?
Anon Mouse: The high prices.
I Respond: Single day tix at WDW are same price as Universal. Multi-day tickets are competitive (as the article illustrates) with more to do while park hopping.
Anon Mouse: The decline of all their parks in quality and customer service.
I Respond: Again, is this just your opinion or a widespread belief? Is there any published data that accommodates the assertion that there has been a decline in customer service or quality?
Anon Mouse: Disney has some major weaknesses that can be exploited. The lack of cutting edge attractions.
I'm surprised they don't do the same for US citizens, it really would get a lot more people through the turnstiles and therefore spending money in the park.
So you disagree. Your question requires me to put more effort than my one brief paragraph is suggesting.
I Respond: Probably because it is well researched, backed up by facts and maintains consistency with the TEA report.
Eric G: The author is suggesting that the pricing at Universal and SeaWorld is wrong and they should join forces to challenge Disney.
I Respond: Actually Mr. Niles uses the word "Perhaps" at the beginning of that segment of the story -- not drawing a conclusion but simply advancing a proposition. He also notes that SeaWorld finds enough value in the UO/SW "Orlando Flex Ticket" program to maintain it on the park's website.
Eric G: Based on the comments it would seem that Disney's aggressive discounting of their gate for longer visits doesn't really keep people at their parks and away from their competition.
I Respond: Based on attendance statistics (showing the average annual attendance in 2010 at an Orlando Disney park is more than twice that of its [I suppose you can call it] "competition") I think it would seem that Disney's aggressive discounting of their gate is working just fine.
Eric G: I think I should point out that regardless of the attendance decline, SeaWorld Orlando remains a very successful park.
I Respond: And you base that on what, exactly?
Eric G: However, you'd swear by the recent articles on this site that it's going to be out of business in a couple of years.
I Respond: That's a bit of an exaggeration. The articles here inidcate that SeaWorld Orlando has experienced notable drops in attendance (Aquatica has suffered significantly as well). This article investgates why and offers specific analysis that ("perhaps") might assist in identifying the cause and a solution to the problem.
Rather you post a disparaging remark about Walt Disney World's theme parks ("The decline of all their parks in quality and customer service.") I am responding by asking if you have some sort of material backing up the assertion that the quality of the guest experience has declined or if there is a new, widespread belief that cast members are not providing the level of service that the parks have been known for.
You see Eric G writes "I don't get why a few of you are praising this article."
The word "few" implies more than one individual. I am offering an opinion ("probably") as to why those other individuals may have drawn a conclusion as to why the article deserves praise.
For me to contend that I know the absolute reason about how the opinions of others were formed would be presumptuous.
I have like 100 things to say about this but I'll tried to keep it short-ish. First a question: Robert you say that the gate is counted again in extended days visits which is logical... But what happens if a family goes to AK gets bored and decides to visit Epcot for the night? Do AK and Epcot both get a visit registered?
1- I'm glad a lot of people here (in this particular post) are so NOT Disney Magically blinded. I'm surprised with so many people loving Disney like they were in a "cult" and refusing to give any of the others GREAT parks any props at all. Again I know this is basically Theme Park Connoisseurs, since I now a majority of Park Guest's goes to Orlando to visit only Disney and that's it.
2- I have NO kids so for me a lot of what Disney has to offer is nice, but I won't really loose any sleep thinking about It's a Small World, the new MK expansion, or even the Greatest Newest Night Show. I don't see as game changing or "better said" I won't go to Orlando to see those on their own. When you put those in a pack, I'll go, but then again my pack includes Seaworld Parks and Universal... I think that's what Disney does great, is about Disney, is about the magic, is not about a single thing, but the conglomerate of things. Those things are what makes Disney, "Disney". I know this hurts the Disney "crazed folk". but Disney doesn't have the better attraction. Disney lovers don't like the fact that HP has done as well and keep thinking: "Disney will come up with something better..." I don't see it, not yet, cause I don't think Star Tours and the new expansions are that... HP is a Grand Slam, is a bases loaded HR, that is putting Universal closer. Disney gives you Star Tours (a Triple) brings back the Tiki Room (a single) does the expansion (probably a 2 run HR) Price, (other 2 run HR) and you keep adding those up the Disney beats the others 8-5 and the end.
3- I think that would be a nice poll Mr. Niles to consider... 5 Non Disney as you'd suggested, against the 4 Disney's. Same price, no hotels, no water parks. Just to see how they match. I know Disney would still win, but I'd wondered by how much? My guess... About 65-35. I would still vote for the other 5.
Universal and Sea World have very compelling options that can be compared head to head to Disney. Even then, it would be to their disadvantage to not include some Disney parks into a travel itinerary.
In other words, maybe they should partially subsidize trips to Disney on their dime if they can get the customer to visit Universal and Seaworld for most of the trip, such as low cost add-ons to one or two Disney parks of the customer's choice if they buy a Orlando trip with hotel and rental car.
Thus, on a Orlando Pass, they get a super-pass with unlimited trips to 6 Orlando Parks with 2 passes to Disney. This isn't done currently so I would like to see it happen.
Most tourists don't know how Orlando is laid out so they don't know how close Universal and Seaworld are to Disney. I didn't realize it myself until I just looked it up. No one needs to compromise from an Universal/Seaworld vacation.
I Respond: I'd enjoy hearing this poster identify anyone on this site who are "Disney Magically blinded" and who refuse "to give any of the others GREAT parks any props at all."
Francisco again: "Disney lovers don't like the fact that HP has done as well and keep thinking: "Disney will come up with something better..."
I Respond: Find me a post anywhere on this site that exemplfies that assertion.
As a Central Floridian living in a local economy that depends on tourism I was hoping that the public statement offered would be justified by Anon Mouse. It would be disappointing if it was simply a claim based upon subjectivity -- especially the assertion about customer service (which would seem an indictment of the efforts made everyday by Disney cast members).
Identifying others who are blinded... I tell you this: a lot of people here (and other places) only talk about Disney's greatness and say stuff like Universal are half a day parks and how they aren't even worth a visit. I've heard a lot "of other" people saying now Universal has the best 2 rides in Orlando. I don't agreed with "all" of what the others are saying they don't like about Disney, but I enjoy "a lot" the fact they're praising what they love in the NON Disney parks. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that!!
So TH creative says: "This person said this, and that person said that"
I respond: Some are facts, like them or not, some comments are just wrong, and some are "personal" opinions masked as fact... People have a right to enjoyed what they enjoy, and say what they like. The only one who appears to have a problem with that, is the one questioning every single comment, of every single person who differs from his point of view...
@Robert you didn't answered my question. If some one goes to multiple Disney's (or for that matter Universal's) on the same day: Do they get multiple admissions registered?
Another thing to note is that Universal's "big year" is really not that extraordinary when you look at the last few years:
2007 - USO 6.200M - IOA 5.430M2008 - USO 6.231M - IOA 5.297M2009 - USO 5.530M - IOA 4.267M2010 - USO 5.925M - IOA 6.278M
Other than the huge drop off in 2009 when RRR was puking all over itself and WWOHP construction closed three attractions at IOA (DD - Fire, DD - Ice, and the Flying Unicorn), Universal is just slightly improved over 2007 in overall attendance. And more importantly, the Studios park itself is still a few hundred thousand visitors below normal.
Honestly, though, I am not sure Universal's parks are capable of handling much more capacity than they are hitting today. Specifically, the Wizarding World is NOT capable of handling larger crowds due to Rowling's insistence on a very intimate design (which is why Disney, with their HUGE crowds, ultimately had no choice but to back out of their negotiations for the rights to HP). When your most popular in-park attraction is a nightmare for capacity planning you are inherently limiting your attendance.
Universal's best option for growing attendance is to put all their energy into expanding their Harry Potter offerings - but since there is little real estate to work with, they have no choice but to expand by removing (or re-theming) other existing attractions. And while that expansion is under construction, guess what will happen to park attendance? Look no further than 2009 for the answer. For all Universal's greatness when it comes to designing attractions, I am not sure their long term plan for growing the parks is laid out half as well.
Ultimately, if Universal wants to compete in attendance long term, they must maintain and upgrade their current lineup of attractions, add more highly immersive experiences at USO, expand their Harry Potter offerings (in hindsight the WWOHP should have probably been a separate park altogether), AND lower prices back to their 2007 levels - when going to Universal was a "steal" for the quality provided. The average Orlando visitor needs to be convinced that a few days at Universal adds value to their vacation, not just expense!
As for SeaWorld Orlando, their offerings are unique enough that the park will continue to be a destination that meshes well with a Disney vacation. Therefore, SWO simply needs to compete with Universal on price, and they should see attendance climb. A new, whole-family dark ride combined with lower prices is just what the park needs to stop the bleeding and start the healing.
Ultimately, there's sampling involved, so we're really talking about the structure of a model as opposed to a system of actual hard counts.
When you wrote "Disney lovers don't like the fact that HP has done as well..." I take exception to the assertion. While the Potter attractions at IOA may not be everyone's cup of tea I've never encountered anyone (certainly not any TPI regulars) who would be identified as a Disney fan that doesn't "like the fact that HP has done as well..."
Mr. Francisco writes: "The only one who appears to have a problem with that, is the one questioning every single comment, of every single person who differs from his point of view..."
I Respond: (Chuckle) I do enjoy a good discussion. But sometimes when I find a post that I do not agree with I'll call the person out. For example, when a poster like Anon Mouse comes to a public board and makes a disparaging comment ("The decline of all their (Disney) parks in quality and customer service."), that not only hates on a cornerstone of my region's economy but is also critical (directly or indirectly) of the WDW cast members and the quality of their service, I'm gonna ask how they came to embrace an opinion that is such a sweeping indictment. And I don't see how making such an inquiry is in anyway unreasonable.
You already said "I do not necessarily disagree." Either you do or you don't. You seem hung up on me proving it to your satisfaction although you already conceded so the proof is all you need.
The "region's economy" shouldn't depend solely on Disney since competition is needed. It is always good to spread the wealth to visit other sites.
Speaking as someone who makes multiple visits to Orlando's theme parks every year I have not see any such decline in quality or customer service.
This prompted me to ask what caused you to draw the conclusion?
About this: "I think Walt Disney World represents the best in themed entertainment because its parks are emersive." I AGREED Disney represents that... But I don't think they do everything better. Price, Customer Service, Family Oriented Experience... Yes... But I can't stand when people don't give the "others" a chance or won't visit and their comments seem to be bias. If you don't think like them, good for you, but be careful when you talk in general about TPI regulars, cause if you say some are not Disney bias you'd be %100 WRONG. It's understandable, Disney being at the top, some people would feel that way. But it seems more as if their comments are base on Love more than observation. When you don't give the others a chance and are too "infatuated/blinded" with just one thing, it prevents them from having an educated opinion... Again if you have an open mind about this, you can see how Love can lead to a bias opinion. I NEVER said "YOU" (TH) were one of those. I made a comment about "some" people being blinded by their Love for Disney, in an "open forum", you were the one that took it like that, and ran with it.(chuckle)
@Robert Niles - I was curious since It seems Disney guests do seem to love park hopping, if that would influence in any way the gate counts. Thanks for replying and again great article!
He tried to explain back that Disney movies can make the difference of park income.
Then I tried to explain that Disney movies only pays for making Disney movies and Disney parks only pay for cost of hte parks and are separate companies under the Disney umbrella.
Then I told him that if he thinks the gate prices are too high, don't go to Disney.
He didn't like that idea.
Am coming in Oct and buying the freedom ticket which includes above and the magic your way disney ticket only as I am coming with someone who has never been to Disney, otherwise I would not bother.
Why? Disney is amazing at what it does, but it feels like you are travelling around the parks so much it's knackering! Also, as said elsewhere the rides in universal are more to my liking and the parks are a good size.
Price - well, I'd love to stay on site for Disney but it's just so expensive it isn't worth it, especially with the use of fast pass!