Disney vs. Universal -- Competition

Edited: April 29, 2016, 5:54 PM

The lion's share of discussion on TPI threads have been dedicated to the alleged Orlando-market competition between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. I have always deferred to the demonstrated better angels -- specifically the June 1990, full page ad that team WDW took out in the Orlando Sentinel welcoming the first Universal park as being good for Central Florida tourism. But when specifically regarding "the race" as it relates to attendance: What is the greater value of measuring individual park attendance verses measuring total resort attendance? If we give weight and validity to the TEA/AECOM report (circa attendance 2014) does that not mean Walt Disney World's total park numbers vs. Universal Orlando's park numbers are 50.1 million guests compared to 15.2 million guests?

Replies (8)

Edited: April 29, 2016, 8:00 PM

"Revenue at Universal theme parks soared 53.6 percent to $375 million, boosted by Harry Potter attractions and the addition of Universal Studios Japan."

"Disney's parks and resorts unit, meanwhile, met analysts' expectations. Sales in the segment climbed 9 percent to $4.28 billion, while operating income rose 22 percent to $981 million."

In revenue, Universal Parks is 8.8% of Disney Park revenue in Q1 2016.

Can we look at another metric?

"Comcast posted first-quarter earnings per share of 84 cents, up from 81 cents a share in the year-earlier period. Revenue for the quarter came in at $18.79 billion, against the comparable year-ago figure of $17.85 billion."

Disney "The media giant posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of $1.63 per share, adjusted, on $15.24 billion in revenue. Earnings per share rose 28 percent from the previous year, while sales climbed 14 percent."

Comcast (147.36B market cap) is bigger than Disney (168.48B) in revenue, but Disney is worth more than Comcast in market cap.

So Comcast CAN compete with Disney and it seems like it will. It would only be a lateral move if Steve Burke gets an offer from Disney.

April 30, 2016, 6:40 AM

As TH probably already knows, USO and WDW kind of need each other.

Regardless of Universal's rides, deals, and hotels, people are still coming to Central FL for Disney. Even if they are coming for Universal, they go to Disney for a day or two.

In return, Universal keeps Disney current. One aspect where Universal beat Disney was Citywalk vs The Marketplace/Downtown Disney/Disney Springs. Disney let that languish way too long and now they are starting to fix that problem. Meanwhile, Citywalk keeps getting better and better!

The fascinating thing to me is how much they really do NOT compete in California. Sure, they are both have theme parks, but USH is the actual movie studios. None of that fake stuff like DHS or USO, this is the REAL deal. They both provide different experiences.

April 30, 2016, 7:58 AM

TH, why do you always turn every Universal-WDW debate into a Wall Street Journal article? For true theme park enthusiasts, it's not about the profits or the attendance; it's about the quality of the experience and the memorable moments we share because of that experience. Honda sells far more cars than BMW. Does that make Honda a better car? For someone who loves the Jungle Cruise, I'm amazed you used the phrase "Boom goes the dynamite!" upon the initial announcement of Toy Story Land which, by most accounts, is anything but inspiring imagineering or "Creative" as your name includes. Just because many visitors will come to see it, does not mean it's quality surpasses Universals or, more importantly, that us dedicated fans are wrong for being disappointed.

April 30, 2016, 11:18 AM

Mr. Will Murphy writes: "TH, why do you always turn every Universal-WDW debate into a Wall Street Journal article? For true theme park enthusiasts, it's not about the profits or the attendance; it's about the quality of the experience and the memorable moments we share because of that experience."

I Respond: Evaluating the "quality of experience" is subjective. This thread considers a quantitative measurement to evaluate the state of (if there actually is any) competition.

Mr. Will Murphy writes: "For someone who loves the Jungle Cruise, I'm amazed you used the phrase "Boom goes the dynamite!" upon the initial announcement of Toy Story Land which, by most accounts, is anything but inspiring imagineering or "Creative" as your name includes."

I Respond: That would be "by most SUBJECTIVE accounts."

April 30, 2016, 1:19 PM

The accounts are an indirect way to measure popularity. Revenue is driven by sales, which is fed by people showing up and emptying their pockets.

However, I do think the two do need each other. Disney do have an age gap problem - their advertising over here for Disneyland Paris I think recognises that gap - Disneyland is marketed as being good for families with young kids - the ad tells parents to bring their kids now, before they grow out of it. Teens is their big hole, when they get to the age where such childish things are seen as uncool.

This isn't exactly a revelation for Disney - its a problem they've had to deal with in all areas of their business for decades - it was the reason they set up Touchstone after all.

There is good news for Disney. Eventually people grown back into Disney as they look fondly back on their childhood - thats where adult fans come in. Sesame Street sees something similar.

In the meantime, Universal for a "disney-going-family" is the Salad at McDonalds, it encourages groups where one member of the group might object because there's nothing there for them. Johnny 14 year old might be too big for a disney trip, like his 8 year old brother wants, but he won't complain as much about a florida trip where they'll go to Universal (and Disney); just as the Salad removes the objection from the one person in the group of friends who might object going to McDonalds because its all unhealthy.

April 30, 2016, 4:13 PM

Thanks for the formality TH, but you can just call me Will.

There's nothing wrong with a good, subjective conversation and debate about which attractions, restaurants, parks etc. we all prefer and for what reasons. This is far from a legal proceeding where any subjective statement need be qualified by "in my opinion..." That just wouldn't be fun. Much like turning any WDW-Universal into a market share lecture isn't much fun. I would guess most visitors to this site aren't here for a breakdown of Disney or Universal's last quarterly. They're likely here to learn from others what experience offers more fun, excitement and value for their families or, in the case of us dedicated fans, to debate what rides are more creative, immersive and enjoyable. That answer lies not in your often cited facts but instead in our collective opinions, discourse, and imaginations; all subjective yet more enlightening measures in this case.

Quit being a robot and start being a little more creative like your name states. It's getting very tired. Which attractions do you prefer and why? What experience offers more value, WDW or Universal and why? What are your thoughts on how long it takes Disney to build attractions vs. the time it takes to Universal to do the same? You can condescendingly quote me and retort again with mindless numbers like you do to many or loosen up and have a bit of fun. Isn't that why we all love theme parks and communities like this in the first place? Fun? Or is it for the business breakdowns?

April 30, 2016, 6:02 PM

Universal and Disney are apples and oranges. Disney is the one who is is best for young children and their parents. Their target audience is anybody except the 10 to 25 age bracket. Universal caters directly to that age group because Disney has forgotten about them or struggled to appeal to them. Star Wars Land and The Dreamworks purchase will help change this, but I really think they both have their strengths and succeed when they do things that compliment each other, not directly compete. Do things to expand their appeal, but stay focused on continuing what they already do well.

May 1, 2016, 8:53 AM

>>>>They're likely here to learn from others what experience offers more fun, excitement and value for their families or, in the case of us dedicated fans, to debate what rides are more creative, immersive and enjoyable. That answer lies not in your often cited facts but instead in our collective opinions, discourse, and imaginations; all subjective yet more enlightening measures in this case.

Yes, but where they area actually going, how much time they're spending there, and how much money they drop along the way is all in the financial statements. If the attraction is lousy, they won't spend as much and will leave sooner; if its engaging and fun they'll keep coming back and dropping more money.

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