With that in mind - even though I am a Disney fan - I hail Universal's great efforts and look forward to the attraction competition between the two companies that should be the result. I will have no problem bypassing Disney for a day to take a look.
Incidentally - there is no doubt that Avatar Land designers are watching Universal very closely!
There are still several drawbacks to Universal Orlando. Barebones roller coaster such as Rockit should be kept to a minimum in a theme park. Islands of Adventure still lacks a night time show to keep guests in the park at night (hence, it's often easier to visit Harry Potter at night). Universal Studios Florida's night time show, although enjoyable to see, is not as good as Disney's night time shows. And Universal's daytime entertainment isn't as enjoyable as Disney's either.
I do hope Disney does bring something the level of Cars Land to Walt Disney World. Disney World needs newer attractions, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a good step in the right direction. Although my favorite resort is Disneyland, Walt Disney World is still always amazing to visit.
I have to disagree about Disney night time shows vs Universal, however. If you are a true movie person, there is no better show than Uni's.
I just happen to be a movie fanatic. Collectibles, screen used props, signed scripts and DVD / Blu Rays, etc.. A few years ago, I converted one whole 20 x 20 section of our basement into a full blown theater.
One more thing.... Rip Ride Rockit is a night time only coaster for me. The music, lights and general atmosphere in the day is not the same.
It's true that some Disney fans won't even consider going to Universal. In some cases, they have legitimate reasons (e.g., their children are too young for the more intense rides at Uni). In other cases, it's just a prejudice. But that has been changing a lot in recent years. Overall, of the two industry leaders, I'd say that Universal currently receives more praise on theme park message boards.
They have certainly earned it. They have made more massive investments in park infrastructure. They seem to go all out for every attraction. Whether or not everyone embraces Diagon Alley, the industry on a whole, and especially us fans, can only benefit from the rivalry between these two companies.
And as far as cheapening the Harry Potter franchise, heck, the movies already did all the dirty work, so almost anything Universal implements will be a step up!
Welcome a new attraction even if it is operated by another company? Someone should have thought of that years ago. Like ... twenty-four years ago.
The divide is not Disney and Universal it's thrill riders and character chasers.
Some people want character dance parties with merchandise and others want brand new rides every year. Universal even with Potter is built for the thrill rider and focuses less on walk around characters. The experience of the area and the E ticket ride are the draws instead of meeting Harry Potter and buying a picture.
Disney is heaven for character chasers. The flagship attraction of new Fantasyland is a photographed walk with Belle or dinner with the beast which is against the cannon unless they give the dinners lit torches and have them sing kill the beast.
To each his own. The bottled water and popcorn are $5 at both places.
I can't wait to enter Alley and enter a new world. I predict the future of both the Disney and Universal parks to be nothing less than mesmerizing in the future. Win win for theme park fanatics.
Where are these Disney fans you referenced that keep knocking Universal down? While the same old Orlando debates are tiring, it's fun to mess with some jaded folks.
But, here is the quandary that Disney now faces – they’ve learned to excel at mediocrity and half measures, and it is questionable that as a corporation they can break the habit of doing just enough. At one time this wasn’t the case because they paid it forward with visionary exploits like the construction of Disneyland and the even more audacious development of the Disney World complex with the Magic Kingdom and Epcot and the resort hotels on the monorail. All that changed in the 1980s, and for the past few decades Disney has slid to second place in the development of new parks, attractions, and themed lands.
Want evidence of this assertion? Try putting aside your love of the early Disney parks and look at the parks Disney has developed over the last few decades. In 1989 Disney built Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney Hollywood Studios) in Disney World in response to Universal deciding to build Universal Studios in nearby Orlando (and actually beat them to completion since USF wasn’t finished until 1990). With the completion of Diagon Alley can anybody objectively say that the two parks are now comparable? Both are movie-based theme parks yet Universal has repeatedly added to and upgraded their roster of attractions in the park while Disney’s improvements to DHS have been nice but extremely slow in arrival.
Even more damning of Disney corporate mediocrity is the next round of park development for both Universal and Disney:1998 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom1999 – Islands of Adventure (Universal)2001 – Disney California Adventure2001 – Tokyo DisneySea (Oriental Land Company)2002 - Walt Disney Studios Paris
Of the parks built during this amazing period of theme park construction, the Disney owned parks (DAK, DCA, and WDSP) when compared to TDS and IOA came up sorely lacking. At the time of its opening TDS was and remains the only theme park comparable to a Disneyland or Magic Kingdom style park, and with the addition of a few mid-level, family-style rides the same could be said of IOA. DAK is a beautiful park with a severe lack of attractions and certainly not a whole day experience, while DCA was an embarrassment until the billion dollar addition of Carsland made it a worthwhile ticket. WDSP is a classic example of getting back what you put in. Disney went el cheapo on the rides and attractions, and the European theme park fans have rewarded them by not showing up in droves. Furthermore, if more American Disney fans had access to TDS, they would be outraged at the difference in quality and quantity between it and the other Disney parks developed during the same period.
The bar has been set high. Disney has been unable to meet their own high standards in the last two decades, and now Universal has gone and one-upped them with the development of Diagon Alley with even more pressure coming down the road with future park upgrades. Will Disney respond with more princess meet-and-greets and character meals, or will we get the high end attractions and immersive lands that we know they are capable of?
There's also the problem of people like the second poster on this thread who allow the Disney brass to embrace mediocrity with comments like this:
"With that in mind - even though I am a Disney fan - I hail Universal's great efforts and look forward to the attraction competition between the two companies that should be the result. I will have no problem bypassing Disney for a day to take a look."
Wow! Universal builds, by many accounts, the most immersive theme park land ever, and this individual is magnanimously willing to take a day out of their Disney vacation to take a gander. Woohoo! I'll bet the brass at Universal are just thrilled to hear that!
Why can't some of these stuck-in-a-rut Disney fans make Universal the centerpeice of their vacation for once and reward them for caring about the consumer, and let Disney have the leftovers until they clean up their act?
I've been a Disney fan for more than four decades, but for the last several years, I've been comparing the enjoyment factor of visiting both the Universal Orlando resort and Disney World, and Universal simply offers a more pleasurable experience, and that was before the expansion efforts of the last few years. How much more does Universal have to do to get more people to recognize this fact?
Disney has always done immersive attractions and lands differently. They are immersive in a non-specific way. This has actually changed with Carsland, which I must add, was roundly criticized by Disney fans as something they should not do. The Disney fans say Disney should not design lands around a single movie. Oh well...
Anyways, I would love Universal to do much more, but their next projects seem to follow their previous models. Look at King Kong. Is it any more immersive with another simulator ride? Even Universal won't do another Harry Potter-like project, at least not yet.
A little less hyperventilating please.
Disney hasn't fallen behind. Universal has risen to the occasion. It is still Universal's David versus Disney's Goliath. Universal's 2 parks to Disney's 4 parks. Disney's Magic Kingdom to Universal's Harry Potter.
Disney would never do a Harry Potter like this so why feel disappointed over the "never happened". If you truly feel Disney fallen behind the times, then Universal deserves your business and much more.
You now have more vacation options, which is actually a good thing and probably bad for your pocketbook.
Based on what facts? Disney's record high revenue and attendance numbers? They may have lost your attention, but based on the numbers it looks like they gained two more people's attention at the same time yours was averted.
I am not saying I disagree with your point that Disney needs to continue to move forward in new and exciting ways, but I do disagree with the premise of your comment. The facts tell us Disney is at least as successful in 2014 as they have ever been in the history of the company.
But, back to the topic. I don't believe for once second that Kyle (or myself for that matter) is trying to factualize an anecdotal experience when he is talking about the growing malaise that he's starting to feel about the Disney parks. What he is trying to do is capture the newly discovered "buzz" on the internet about the seemingly out of touch Disney park development plans (or lack thereof) that he has now become aware of.
"Buzz" is one of those intangibles that is hard to define, but to borrow a phrase from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, "I know it when I see it." And you need to be concerned about "buzz" because it is usually a precurser to a massive shift in public opinion and spending habits.
A good example of "buzz" preceding a change in public attitude would be the introduction of Japanese cars and electronics to this country. I'm old enough to remember when they first came out, and people scoffed at them... at first. Forty years go by and who is selling the most cars in the good ol' USA? Bought any American-made electronics lately? A more recent example would be Apple computers. I can recall the derision a few years ago that the only people who used Apple computers and products were old white guys with beards who smoked pipes and met in internet chat rooms every Thursday night. Apple products are pretty ubiquitous now aren't they?
Some things you just can't describe with facts (like the growing discomfort in my stomach over that doughnut that I just ate), and you can't really quantify them with surveys, but you better be aware of them because once a groundswell of momentum and public opinion develops, you'd better be ahead of it or on top of it, or you're going to get swamped. Like Sears or RCA or GM or any of the companies that were too big to fail or set their own markets.
As for your "buzz" argument, it is totally subjective and depends on where you are getting your info. I read tons of very positive feedback on Disney, and I talk to loads of people who visit Disney and come back with glowing reviews. If you want to find the negatives, you can always find them. I say, look for the positive instead - this world looks a lot better through rose colored glasses.
WRT Gringotts, the Twitterverse is all about Gringotts wait times right now. I am not the only one interested in Universal's inability to successfully manage crowds at their new headliner attraction (incidentally, the current wait time is 300 minutes - you're welcome). It fascinates me that people are willing to wait five and six hours for a family coaster/dark ride that breaks down on an alarmingly regular basis. For once I am just trying to be topical and helpful at the same time.
WRT me and TH being Kindred Spirits, so to speak, I take that statement as a compliment. (TH...where's my monthly "friendship" payment? Is the check still "in the mail"?)
Kyle, I get that you are not enamored with Disney anymore. And your opinion is just as valuable as anyone else's (especially mine since it can be bought by people like TH relatively cheap). But for every Kyle and Tim, there is a James and a TH with a differing view. Again, there is no evidence to support the notion that droves of people are abandoning Disney as you suggest.
...I am with you. Disney needs to get their butt in gear when it comes to their Florida properties. Avatar is coming to DAK, which I think will be great, but there is a lot of untapped potential at Epcot and DHS. Disney has the money, their infrastructure is sound, the next gen fastpass+ stuff is pretty much done, and Disney Springs is rolling, so now it is time to start expanding the parks and growing the business again. I will still visit Disney when I can because I love the overall experience, but I would sure love to see a few more new attractions at all the parks - not just the Magic Kingdom.