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Disney upgrades vs Universal closures

Disney gives more importance to classics than Universal.

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted November 5, 2012 at 3:57 PM
Think about it. Classics like Jaws, Back to the Future and King Kong (Orlando) gone. Classics like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, the submarines (at Disneyland)and Space Mountain are all updated. The trend is for Disney to keep its historical attractions alive and for Universal to erase the past. I prefer the Disney approach. Just look how Disney is upgrading Snow White's Scary Adventures into a bigger and better attraction.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted November 5, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Disney is upgrading snow white?

From Dominick D
Posted November 5, 2012 at 1:19 PM
Saying SDMT is an upgrade is stretching the term. Will it be a better Snow White attraction? Possibly. But I do agree Universal treats the classics like trash. They can't shut down E.T. or else Spielberg leaves Universal.

From Bryce McGibeny
Posted November 5, 2012 at 2:24 PM
King Kong did have a pretty big farewell though. I think Jaws did too... It's a shame to see the classics go, but at least Universal are making their parks stronger.

From Russell Meyer
Posted November 5, 2012 at 2:37 PM
Universal Orlando did upgrade Spiderman, upgraded the old Jimmy Neutron ride with Despicable Me, and upgraded Back to the Future with The Simpsons. Some may also say that Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge are upgrades of attractions that could have been demolished in favor of new ones for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I think you're looking at things far too narrowly. Disney destroyed Horizons in favor of Mission: Space, and completely reworked World of Motion to create TestTrack. Let's not forget that Disneyland's Space Mountain is a completely different experience since its recent renovation, and is effectively a completely different roller coaster than the original.

Both companies look to save money where they can by upgrading or enhancing existing attractions, but will also demolish old ride platforms in favor of new ones where it makes financial sense. Also, when an attraction only opens during peak months to enhance park capacity, it's time to start considering alternatives, and with complicated ride systems, there's only so much a tweak or minor overlay can do before you're talking about a complete renovation. Kong, Jaws, and Back to the Future were all at that point when they were removed.

From Jay R.
Posted November 5, 2012 at 2:50 PM
While I agree, in fairness to Universal, there is a bit of a difference.

Because many of Disney's classics (haunted mansion, space mountain, and even pirates) are / were original concepts, these attractions retain a "timeless" quality.

Whereas Universal is a "movie" theme park, so their classics were based on classic films. The issues is that even though the films are popular, there appears to be a shelf life for attractions like these.

Jaws, BTTF, T2, Twister, ET, etc. will always have their fans, but for a mainstream audience & new generations, attractions based on older films walk a fine line.

Now there are exceptions, certain franchises like Indy, Star Wars, or animated classics seem to be exempt, because they retain their popularity NOW (partially through merchandise or simply by retaining a visible presence in pop culture)

Universal, by it's natural theme park concept, will have to update & change more (thus retiring classics) because popular movies are constantly changing.

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted November 5, 2012 at 4:32 PM
Well, I would hate to see E.T. go.
Horizons and World of Motion were not classics. Besides, Epcot's future world needs to change to keep up with the changes in technology.
I wish King Kong 360 comes to Orlando some day because it's great and we would have that classic again.
Universal Hollywood should upgrade the Back to the Future courthouse area into the Hill Valley of the future; the courthouse could be the site for an upgraded Back to the Future ride. And a hologram of Jaws would scare guests who walk the town.

From Sean Huckel
Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:03 PM
Yup, gotta love how well Disney treated Horizons, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey Into Imagination, Mister Toad's Wild Ride, Country Bears (Disneyland), PeopleMover, If You Had Wings, World of Motion, etc, etc, etc.

Come on now. Disney has 100x the room for expansion. It doesn't have to replace it's old rides, but it still does.

What a silly discussion.

From Dominick D
Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:31 PM
Sean, Horizons had a sinkhole and DL doesn't have the space.

From AJ Hummel
Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:50 PM
Whether a ride should be upgraded or replaced depends mainly on the popularity of the attraction and the size of the park. It makes little sense to upgrade an old attraction that no longer draws significant ridership, so these rides should be replaced. Headliner attractions that maintain significant visitor counts should not be removed for something else as they are the signiture attractions of the park and it may cause a loss of visitors if they are closed. I can't think of very many examples where Disney has upgraded a minor attraction or Universal has closed a headliner, so I don't see how the two park's philosophies on upgrade vs removal differ significantly.

Something else worth noting is that in order for me to consider something an upgrade vs a replacement, the new ride must use the same basic theme AND have the same ride system. Snow White to Seven Drawfs Mine Train, Jimmy Neutron to Despicable Me, Back to the Future to Simpsons, etc. were all replacements. Spider-Man, Star Tours 2, etc. were actual upgrades. Disneyland's Space Mountain would be a gray area since the theme is the same but the ride hardware is completely new (although it does have an identical layout). Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff are somewhat gray areas as well since the ride experience isn't any different due to the new theme.

From Amy Smith
Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:17 PM
Uh...since when does closing a dark ride to stick a meet and greet in its place make it a better or upgraded experience?! Also, Disney has plenty of extra space to work with and still bulldozes popular attractions. Universal has very little expansion room to work with and must pick and choose which rides to upgrade with rethemes, which to bulldoze and start over, and which to leave as current classics. I prefer Universal's approach to rationally preserving some old favorites and giving us new and improved versions of other attractions over Disney's way of closing attractions because they are too lazy to build another one elsewhere - Universal has no choice, Disney has a choice and fails to give the guest more.

From Sean Huckel
Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:32 PM
Dom, I hope your sinkhole comment was a joke. Because that's a complete urban legend.

From Dominick D
Posted November 6, 2012 at 5:35 AM
^While I'm not sure on the sinkhole, the building was dangerous to go in.

From Russell Meyer
Posted November 6, 2012 at 7:26 AM
AJ, Despicable Me is the same ride platform as Jimmy Neutron, which itself was an upgrade of the old Futuristic World of Hanna Barbara attraction. The building and ride systems are exactly the same with the upgraded projection system to the new HD 3-D Digitial Projection system with Infratec glasses.

The same goes for the upgrade from BTTF to Simpsons. It's the exact same ride platform with a fresh theme. However, moving from Snow White's Scary Adventures to Seven Dwarves Mine Train is a compeltely new attraction going from a standard dark ride to a roller coaster on a completely different piece of property.

From robert morris
Posted November 6, 2012 at 7:59 AM
Disney seems to update Hall of Presidents every 4 to 8 years

From Dominick D
Posted November 6, 2012 at 8:01 AM
^Just remember, if Mitt Romney wins, Hall of Presidents gets a refurb ;)

From Sean Huckel
Posted November 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM
Dom, there was nothing dangerous about Horizons. It's an internet fallacy.

The true reason it was demolished was due to sponsorship change and demand, not any structural reasons.

From robert morris
Posted November 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Slight tangent:

Universal seems to be for the most part replacing attractions, while in Orlando Disney will close some and leave them dormant

Keel Boats, Crocket Canoes, Swan Boats, Transportation from Fantasyland to Tommroowland in Gondolas and Woonders of Life Pavilion

Which I find worse

From Dominick D
Posted November 6, 2012 at 10:40 AM
WOO!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO GO TO TOMMROOWLAND AND WOONDERS OF LIFE!!!

From robert morris
Posted November 6, 2012 at 1:47 PM
Keeping classics could also be seen as saving money, when your already the most popular destination.

Universal's upgrades/replacements could be seen as changing out an unsuccesfull line up.

If half as many people rode BTTF and Jaws as complain about them being closed on the internet, they wouldn't have been closed to begin with.

From Andy Milito
Posted November 6, 2012 at 2:41 PM
Am I the only one getting tired of people pointing out every misspelling? People make mistakes: get over it.

Sorry for going off-topic...

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted November 6, 2012 at 3:15 PM
Spiderman is an upgrade. The Simpsons is not since it has nothing to do with Back to the Future.

From Bryce McGibeny
Posted November 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM
I agree with Robert Morris...

Disney leaves things to rot. His examples are perfect. The Wonders of Life pavilion really irks me. Like, can they please do something with it?!

And when Disney does "upgrade" an attraction, it's usually worse, such as Journey into Imagination. However, when Universal upgrades an attraction, it's usually a million times better, like Spider-Man.

From Dominick D
Posted November 6, 2012 at 6:37 PM
Bryce, don't forget about Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, andTower of Terror. Great upgrades there.

From Russell Meyer
Posted November 7, 2012 at 7:49 AM
The Simpsons uses the exact same ride platform as BTTF, therefore it's just an upgrade, not a replacement. Same goes for Despicable Me.

Disney is doing the same thing right now with TestTrack and did a similar upgrade with The Living Seas (converting the old Seacabs to the Nemo-themed shells). Just because the general public thinks it's a completely new ride, and it's marketed as such, doesn't mean it's a true replacement. The bottom line is that old hardware was not removed and new hardware was not installed, meaning the attraction was simply upgraded.

From robert morris
Posted November 7, 2012 at 8:36 AM
well no upgrade for hall of presidents

From Chad H
Posted November 7, 2012 at 12:05 PM
I think its just different strokes for Different folks.

Many of the Disney Classic rides were either not immediately linked to another media (Pirates, Haunted mansion) or were linked to tales that had stood the test of time already (Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, etc) in remaining in the public conciousness.

Whereas everything in Universal's arsenal pretty much has a use by date. There hasn't been a Jaws movie or Back to the Future in ages, and they've slipped from their prominent position... They either make a new movie for the classing, or re theme the attraction around one they're making...

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