I also disagree with your comment that USF has attractions that warrants multiple days in multiple visits. The fact is there (relatively speaking in contrast to Disney) is no challenge at all to leisurely experience EVERYTHING the two parks have to offer in one day with the hotel Express Pass feature and probably have a couple hours left over. My wife and I stayed on property a few times before we moved to Orlando and we both agreed that while we love USF it really gets kind of stale after two, maybe three days unless you are trying to eat at every restaurant they have, get hammered at every club, go see a movie and get a tattoo.
Also, I really wonder what capacity the hotels they already have on-site operate at. With all the chatter about USF being a theme park that is in a land lock why would you not want to add a great attraction or two in that space and operate your existing properties at a higher utilization level?
The problem here is that we do not know the need for more rooms at Universal. If they are sold out all the time, then yes, build another Hotel. Plus I believe Universal is trying to lure away those who stay in the area of Universal but not at one of their properties. There are many hotels in that area near Universal therefore Universal wants a bigger share of the rooms.
Remember what Walt Said “Keep moving Forward”…
Universal has become a real contender and competition to Disney. Since they found investing money in WWHOP has been perfect fit for them, Why not take advantage of the new popularity and jump in yearly attendance?
They also filled in a huge hole with this new resort. The current Loews offerings are all amazing, but the average guest cannot really afford the rates. Adding this value resort helps families and those seeking lower cost for their vacations. What's so great about this value resort is that it is actually next to the parks. Try getting to the Magic Kingdom from the All-Star Resorts in less than 30 minutes. If you catch the bus i'm sure it can be done, but I never had that kind of luck especially with Disney's suspect transportation. With the Express Pass perk, I would argue that adding 9000 users on a busy day would cripple their system. It's not fastpass where the users are staggered.
And I'm inferring from your article that you believe that Disney is simple (it being Apple and everything) and Universal is going down a path of Einsteinian levels of complexity. I respectfully disagree. If Disney were truly as simple as I believe you believe it to be, then we wouldn't have to buy countless guides on dining and we wouldn't have to spend hours researching on the internet. Since you have a background in gaming I will put it like this; theme park (any destination really) vacation planning is like playing an MMO such World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc. You do countless hours of research for the best build for your character, what trades will be best suited to your character, what gear you might need, and how to lay low a boss. It is essentially working at playing. The person planning has to arrange everything from flights, hotels, dining, extra events, tickets, and even plan what they want to spend on merchandise. That's why we get stupid guest quotes, because they have spent all of their brain power on actually getting there. I seem to have gone off the main point, so I'll stop. Very good article, I just don't agree with it.
I agree things should be simplified, but Universal is offering an experience that matches Disney in terms of options. These things are not free, which is why Universal should offer a basic package with various extra options.
One thing that I learned when traveling is if Universal doesn't lock someone in with the extras prior to the trip, it is unlikely the customer will add it in later. Or maybe the customer will book their own extras at a discounted rate with another vendor, thus Universal doesn't get the full profit from the transaction. This things are a big deal for Universal.
This article makes me wonder if you ever booked a trip with Disney. Have you considered the various dining and ticketing plans? How about the various rooms and suites and resorts? The restaurant and show reservations. The add ons and add ons and add ons? I don't think you did.
But I do agree with your point. Disney has resorts dedicated to customer levels. You surround yourself with people getting the same price, access and perks as you. With only small exceptions all guest at 'art of...' resorts have one level of accommodation and guest at 'Beach Club' have another. Or keep climbing to 'Yacht Club', 'Boardwalk' .... (though some could argue that Yacht Club and Beach Club are segregated sides of one building I see them as 2 resorts attached in the center as they have separate lobbies and do not mix guests coming and going). This idea of dedicating parts of a single building to different experiences reminds me of the levels of accommodation on the Titanic. Not a good ending there! :)
Can you imagine watching the upper level families leaving for early park access with express ticket in-hand while others wait behind the velvet rope for regular hours and long lineups? If you don't know any different and are not watching others get better treatment then it does not cross your mind. A system that keeps putting these differences in front of you changes the feeling of the resort, and your vacation.
I do think the Cabana Bay guests should recieve a single ride per day Express Pass as opposed to unlimited.
It is going at Hollywood Way and Turkey Lake Road, so I would imagine they have some sort of plan to extend the lagoon for water taxi service or shuttle buses.
Project 722 is a lock and the water management plans for Universal / IOA are public record. They even show the new structure for the IOA train station.
USF will have it's hands full when all of this completed and I am looking forward to all of the expansion.
For the record, I am glad Universal is a completely different experience than Disney. Disney feels like this sprawling mega resort where everything is miles away. It also has that "childish" feel, which is great for young families, but my girls are hooked on Universal, and you all know I came over the "dark side" years ago. If Universal ever becomes as packed as Disney on a regular basis, I will be severely disappointed.
Character breakfasts and meet / greets are just not a priority anymore. We like thrill rides, (and like to ride a lot) at a more "hip" resort.
Lastly, the XBOX360 is the juggernaut of the video game console world. I own all three, the 360 is the only one that gets played. The PlayStation 3's online is not so great, which is probably why it is free. You can't complain about something you didn't pay for.
Almost every major update / expansion packs to popular games (Black Ops / MW3) comes out on the 360 a month before the PS3 and other titles like Minecraft are 360 exclusives.