Walt Disney World is BLOWING UP!

Edited: July 16, 2017, 12:57 PM ·

Back in April, TPI regular Keith Schneider tossed up a discussion thread that asserted "Universal Orlando is One BIG IP Away from Blowing Open Orlando!"

Uh-huh.

Throughout the rather standard back and forth on the thread that followed, I noted (in multiple posts) that everyone cheerleading the success of Universal as an indication that the UO parks will someday "catch" WDW ignores the fact that Disney will continue to make dramatic expansions to their parks. My post from the thread referenced: "Assuming of course Disney doesn't open additional IP based attractions beyond Star Wars and PTWOA -- which we can safely assume will happen."

So then came yesterday.

Magic Kingdom - Tron Coaster
Magic Kindom - Main Street Theater

EPCOT - Guardians of the Galaxy (so much for the Marvel licensing BS)
EPCOT - Ratatouille
EPCOT - Space Themed Restaurant
EPCOT - Mission Space New Film
EPCOT - China Pavillion New Film
EPCOT - New night show replacing Illuminations

PLEASE NOTE: These additions come while all of the EPCOT festivals continue to draw huge numbers.

DHS - Star Wars
DHS - Pixar Land
DHS - Mickey & Minnie Ride

Resorts - Star Wars Themed Hotel
Resorts - Riviera Resort (Tower)
Resorts - Coronado Springs (Tower)
Resorts - Gondola Transportation System
Resorts - Renovation of Guest Rooms at Pop Century
Resorts - Renovation of Guest Rooms at Coranado Springs

ESPN - Third Venue Arena (which no one talks about even though it will host concerts and sporting events -- again drawing guests to the WDW resort.)

Civil - Continued Road Improvements at Buena Vista Drive and 536
Civil - Added Parking Garage at Disney Springs
Civil - Improvements at Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza

Disney Springs - The Edison
Disney Springs - The Neverland Tunnels
Disney Springs - The NBA Experience
Disney Springs - New Show at Cirque Theater
Disney Springs - Wine Bar George

Who is it who has two thumbs and posted on this site in 2013 that every plan Disney had for WDW was gravitating towards the 2021 50th anniversary? This guy!

And then there's the impact that the rate of development will have on the Disney Vacation Club. As WDW adds so many new experiences to its Florida property, the number of DVC clients will escalate dramatically -- boosting the attendance at the Florida parks.

Meanwhile, down the road, guests who have paid $20 to park and worm their way onto a crowded bus that will take them to a typical water or (I geuss) "theme" park, are supposed to be excited about future attractions based upon a gaming system from 1979? Awesome!

At this point, when it comes to any REAL level of actual competition in the Orlando market, a reasoned opinion would have to conclude: game over. Unless of course you are talking about Universal Orlando vs. Skyplex ... In that situation the jury is still out.

Replies (32)

July 16, 2017, 12:13 PM ·

You better not hope its game Over. The only reason those attractions are appearing is because someone opened a top quality pair of theme parks down the street. Until then Disney were happy to rest on the laurels and only invest enough to keep the paint shiny.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 12:20 PM ·

Don't forget about Pandora - which unquestionably has to be one of the most immersive (and expensive) things ever built in a theme park.

Disney is definitely pulling out all the stops, but I don't think its fair to criticize Universal. Just because what they are building probably won't be as good doesn't mean they are bad, it just means they are slightly less good (which has always been the case in Orlando).

Edited: July 16, 2017, 1:52 PM ·

I have no idea what Chad H is trying to say with his post. This rather pedestrian assumption that Disney (blessed with 28,000 square acres) would not have continued to expand its product if Universal had not shown up is at best pedestrian. Disney added EPCOT before Universal showed up. Disney added Pleasure Island, before Universal showed up. The entire history of the Disney parks is based in expansion and improvement.

And even if you invest in the idea that Universal's footprint prodded Disney into adding to its dominance in the market ... why does that even matter? The events of the past few days make it clear that the themed entertainment company that has reigned over the Orlando market is going to continue to attract the lion's share of visitors. And there is little or nothing that any other park operator can do to change that situation.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 2:18 PM ·

>>>I have no idea what Chad H is trying to say with his post. This rather pedestrian assumption that Disney (blessed with 28,000 square acres) would not have continued to expand its product if Universal had not shown up is at best pedestrian. Disney added EPCOT before Universal showed up. Disney added Pleasure Island, before Universal showed up. The entire history of the Disney parks is based in expansion and improvement.

From

Kubersky, Seth; Kubersky, Seth (2016-12-13). The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2017 (Kindle Locations 458-467). Unofficial Guides. Kindle Edition.
----

MORE CURRENT Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean from Back to the Future may be parked at USF, but Orlando’s real time machine is found at Walt Disney World’s theme parks. With the exception of Frozen and Avatar, both of which have cooled in the pop-culture consciousness, WDW’s recent top attractions are all inspired by intellectual properties that date from the 1930s (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) through the 1990s (Under the Sea and Toy Story Midway Mania!), and much of their older inventory is even more old-fashioned.

Epcot is littered with celebrities (living and dead) whose peak popularity is two decades past, and only now are Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom finally inching toward completion of lands themed to films that were popular in this millennium.

Universal, on the other hand, has been relentlessly aggressive about constantly updating its lineup with currently relevant characters. The best example of this is its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the first phase of which debuted while the record-breaking film franchise was still in theaters. Potter mania should see a revival with the release of the Fantastic Beasts film series, while Marvel’s superheroes, Despicable Me’s Minions, and Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs remain hot box office commodities.

King Kong’s 2016 resurrection at the resort presaged his 2017 big-screen comeback, and the upcoming Fast & But Universal’s weaker sense of tradition is offset by the thrill of the new; while the Magic Kingdom has now gone nearly a quarter century without a brand-new E ticket, you can count on a major attraction opening at Universal Orlando every year for the rest of this decade, and even bigger things— such as a sixth hotel, a heavily themed water park, and a significant expansion of the resort’s borders— are on the horizon.

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July 16, 2017, 2:32 PM ·

@ Chad H ... You're kidding, right? You're going to a guy who is making his bread and butter off of pimping Universal Orlando and regarding him as an objective source?

Um ... okay.

(Chuckle)

July 16, 2017, 2:35 PM ·

Ah yes, the old "When you can't attack the message, attack the messenger" trick.

July 16, 2017, 2:39 PM ·

Because the messenger is BIASED. He makes money off of selling a book that promotes Universal. Have you been to his FBP? He parrots every official Universal blog and press release.

What's more he is talking about the past. His thoughts are moot after Disney dropped the bombshell announcements at D23.

"Attack the messenger?"

(Chuckle)

Too funny!

July 16, 2017, 2:53 PM ·

I hate to interrupt this discussion but in case anyone was curious here is the link to the post in which TH Creative talks about WDW's 50th Anniversary in 2013

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/news/response.cfm?ID=945509541

In addition, I also found a post from TH Creative from 2009 which talks about the same thing.

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/news/response.cfm?ID=945506063

Pretty impressive IMO

July 16, 2017, 2:57 PM ·

Pretty obsessive IMO.

(Chuckle)

Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 3:30 PM ·

>>>>What's more he is talking about the past. His thoughts are moot after Disney dropped the bombshell announcements at D23.

Which goes back to my point. Disney is only upping its game because of the competition down the road. Otherwise they'd be content continuing to roll out cookie-cutter parks all over, but not investing anything new.


>>>Because the messenger is BIASED


----
And you're not?

When you come back to reality and realise that both resorts make the other stronger, and it is the rivalry thats pushing each park, let me know.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 3:37 PM ·

I'm sorry Chad ... I'm biased? I don't make money off of Disney for stating the obvious. Meanwhile, your pal Seth (who is drawing cash from promoting Universal) probably has a mortgage payment to make.

As for my opinion of the attractions that have been developed by the AMAZING TEAM at Universal Creative, I refer you to THC post 9/23/11:

"Seriously, there is no denying that the team at Universal Creative has consistently outpaced WDI since the opening of Islands of Adventure. "The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman," "Men in Black: Alien Attack," "Revenge of the Mummy" "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey." There is not a single WDW attraction that is anywhere near as innovative. Even "Twister" demonstrates how Universal Creative is more committed to take an extraordinary risk at creating the (apparently) impossible theme park experience. With the sole exception of the "Jungle Cruise" at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom the team at WDI has not even come close to the productions listed above. NOT EVEN CLOSE!"

Chad, please try and make an effort to keep up with things around here.

July 16, 2017, 4:06 PM ·

I applaud Disney on their AWESOME expansion plans for WDW! And the future looks bright for Disney parks worldwide. I'm certain once they complete these major additions in the next couple of years, their attention will be turned to improving the Disneyland Paris Resort. Full steam ahead for Disney! Yes, Disney has definitely pushed back with these D23 announcements, though don't count Universal out of the Orlando theme park race. We can all agree, Universal Orlando will open a third (or fourth) theme park in the next five years. I'm sure they would love for it to open in 2021 (another WDW c**kblock!). Though what Universal needs is that one BIG IP to anchor their new park, and from what I understand, LOTR is that much closer to being available. "Hold onto your butts", TH, as the next few years in Orlando are going to be FANTASTIC!

Edited: July 16, 2017, 4:13 PM ·

Keith Schneider writes: "We can all agree, Universal Orlando will open a third (or fourth) theme park in the next five years."

I Respond: No. No we can't.

As I wrote in an email to a friend, I am hoping with all of my heart that Universal responds to the D23 announcements in kind.

But ...

Universal's concern is, was and always will be the Comcast math. Disney has been owned by the same corporate entity for almost a century. Universal's parks have been bought and sold more times than second hand Harry Potter books at garage sales. If Comcast ever runs formulas and determines its future must take an alternative path ... and they bail ... Universal could become another Six Flags.

Disney was always about heritage. Then Mr. Eisner and Mr. Iger successfully took the brand and blew it up to become a multi-national communications giant. Comcast has no such heritage. No blood. It would be VERY difficult for anyone to guarantee that Comcast will not shed the parks -- if the formulas ... the math ... dictated it was within the interest of its stockholders.

When the 50th rolls in Disney will be owned by Disney. Assurances regarding who will own the Universal parks is by no means written in stone.

By no means.

July 16, 2017, 4:21 PM ·

Apologies to Six Flags.

July 16, 2017, 4:23 PM ·

>>> · I'm sorry Chad ... I'm biased? I don't make money off of Disney for stating the obvious. Meanwhile, your pal Seth (who is drawing cash from promoting Universal) probably has a mortgage payment to make.

Bias doesn't come from taking money. Your own words and evident blindness betray your personal bias

>>>When the 50th rolls in Disney will be owned by Disney.

Disney hasn't been owned by "Disney" since, well, before "Disney" died. That they've been owned by others - including a substancial share being held by the late great Jobs hasn't stopped them from being a strong media force.

Whilst it is true that they have a lot of Heritage, lets be honest here and admit that a lot of their decisions of late are not in the "Disney" formula. Hesitatant to "follow pigs with pigs" Walt only reluctantly agreed to MK Florida in the hope that the real EPCOT would result. That particular pig has been followed by another pig no less than 4 more times. Classic signature animation has fallen by the wayside for Live Action, and given that Power Rangers was too violent and strange for Disney its strange to see how well Star Wars actually fits.

They've skewed to attract new audiences, and thats okay.

Judging from JayBangs, I think the Univeral Parks formula has remained pretty constant from MCA days to Today. Comcast know they're hated, and I wouldnt be suprised to see them eventually rename the entire corporation for Universal (but only after they're sure Comcast wont hurt that brand).

July 16, 2017, 4:34 PM ·

"Whilst?"

July 16, 2017, 4:47 PM ·

Chad H: "Your own words and evident blindness betray your personal bias."

I Respond: My own words (shown above) recognize Universal Creative's efforts surpass those of the folks a WDI.

Here are some more of my "words" (published on June 19, 2014) regarding Gringotts: "From my perspective the so-called "glitches" are an affirmation that Universal Creative is fearless. Never cutting it cheap and always pushing the envelope. In the weeks ahead the technical challenges will be addressed and Universal Creative will maintain its standing as the gold standard in themed entertainment."

Of course if Seth had written this he would have sold a couple of more books.

So how am I biased again?

July 16, 2017, 4:57 PM ·

Just because you've said some positive things doesn't mean you're unbiased.

The easiest way to spot a fanatic is to simply look for the guy claiming to be unbiased. Everyone is biased, some of us are just aware of it, and honest enough with ourselves to admit it.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 5:27 PM ·

So if I have said positive things about Disney and Universal ... Where exactly is evidence of my bias?

July 16, 2017, 5:54 PM ·

I don't always agree with you TH but, as I mentioned in the main page article comments as well, you are spot on about Disney's announcements ensuring market dominance for years to come. The scope, scale and creativity of these new projects are unheard of and will successfully re-position WDW for another 50 years of ruling over Orlando.

I am still looking forward to everything UO has up its sleeve in the years ahead but Disney is, without a doubt, the undisputed King sitting atop the theme park throne completely unchallenged for the foreseeable and unforeseeable future. If only Disney could finally find a theme park industry answer to Broadway's Hamilton now ; )

Edited: July 16, 2017, 7:33 PM ·

Not sure if you saw that article, TH, but Theme Parks are not like sport teams. It's a non zero sum game. Plus, Universal may be opening a brand new park(I believe and hope), so that could be BIG.

Edited: July 17, 2017, 10:51 AM ·

Mr. LukeFoure writes: "Not sure if you saw that article, TH, but Theme Parks are not like sport teams. It's a non zero sum game."

I Respond: No idea what your point may be.

Mr. LukeFoure writes: "Plus, Universal may be opening a brand new park(I believe and hope), so that could be BIG."

I Respond: I believe and hope for the same thing. And I hope that any and all of the Universal Orlando productions maintain their quality as the team at Universal Creative is the best in the business.

But do the math. I count eleven new shows/attractions, two new immersive themed restaurants, two facelifts for existing attractions, a wholly immersive hotel experience like no other on the planet, two new tower hotels, an arena and three new lounge/restaurants.

As far as I am aware Universal has Nintendo and some new hotels.

The point of the thread remains sustained: The attractions annouced at D23 ensure that WDW will continue its dominance of the Orlando market. Any further chatter about Universal catching up to Disney in Central Florida seems pretty silly.

July 17, 2017, 10:54 AM ·

Can't we just agree Both Disney and Universal and doing well and have great futures the in Orlando Area....

PS - TH Creative has to disclose how many shares of DIS he owns.....

July 17, 2017, 11:00 AM ·

He also should disclose how many UO attractions he worked on.

July 17, 2017, 5:27 PM ·

Don't own Disney stock ... But as a Central Florida resident who lives in a region that has an economy that is dependent upon a successful tourist industry, I want both companies to be successful.

Edited: July 19, 2017, 7:09 AM ·

I'm just confused about your 1979 gaming system reference. Are you talking about a Nintendo?

I like Disney too but the parks have taken more out than put back in. Addition through subtraction sucks.

I see all the new as stuff they should have been doing all along were they not building Shanghai.

Edited: July 19, 2017, 3:06 PM ·

Mr. Cornball writes: "I see all the new as stuff they should have been doing all along were they not building Shanghai."

I Respond: I see it as a natural progression. They have invested millions in renovating all of the resorts, expanding Disney Springs and dramatically improving the civil infrastructure-- especially roads, parking and pedestrian walkways (bridges). Now that they can accommodate the millions of people who will show up every year for (at minimum) the next six years, they can roll out new attractions and shows. There's a plan and it is working.

July 19, 2017, 9:17 PM ·

I do not think Universal is actually trying to topple Disney. They are trying to topple Seaworld and doing a pretty good job.

Disney is way far ahead of the competition. They are still the primary reason why people are coming to the Orlando area. Regardless on the agenda of guest theme park visits, a Disney park is always on the list.

Instead, Universal is angling itself to be the secondary alternative to Disney. You are having fun at WDW? How about come and visit us at Universal for a day or two. Disney and Universal can share the same guests and still be successful. They both keep each other honest with ticket prices and hotel pricing. Just think how much a room would be at WDW if there was no "alternative".

As for the list, I am a little concerned that Disney is getting a little greedy. My problem with Iger is that he seems to be sacrificing heritage and quality for the quick buck. An example of this is Frozen. At one point, we had 3 of the 4 parks with something Frozen. I mean it is a good movie, but not THAT gret of a movie. Compare that with Beauty and the Beast or the Little Mermaid who both had singular shows and did not get a second attraction until the expansion of Fantasyland.

Disney sets the standard, not get dragged into fads for the quick buck. That is Six Flags's job (sorry Great America, I still love you). Disney should just do Disney and not worry about everybody else. Walt Disney made rides for the public, but he made rides he thought were significant and made everybody fall in love with his ideas.

Yes, Disney wants to get ready for a super 50th anniversary (which should be spectacular) so I do not blame them for wanting to make all these changes, but when is enough enough?

I am also very much against this NBA restaurant. If it didn't work at Universal, it is not going to work at Disney. I could give two hoots about Basketball.

Edited: July 19, 2017, 9:28 PM ·

I think that Disney wants to get people on property and keep them as busy as possible so they spend their whole trip there. Pandora, Toy Story, Galaxy's Edge. And now we have Tron, Ratatouille, and Guardians to look forward to. Universal will continue their rapid investment though. I see both parks vying for the top spot and to be honest, they're pretty evenly matched, Flight of Passage ended the 11 year thrill ride drought at Disney World, so they obviously want to get back the 13-30 demographic that they lost to Universal, while also adding in more kid friendly experiences as well. The future is looking up for all Orlando theme parks as people will always continue to flock there.

July 19, 2017, 9:42 PM ·

Yeah, that is correct as well.

As a former cast member for Disney (in the stores, not the parks!) they had a huge blind spot for boys 10-18. They have tried to fix that with Marvel and Star Wars. Disney wants to get better and have something for EVERYBODY, but in the grander scheme of things, Universal nor anybody else is really neck to neck with Disney.

People are still traveling down to Florida for Disney.

Edited: July 19, 2017, 9:58 PM ·

Star Wars has two female leads in Episode 7 and Rogue One that I'm thinking the boys are again being ignored. Hopefully, the Han Solo spinoff will partially remedy the hole they dug for themselves. Marvel Cinematic Universe is okay for now, but the comics went female, ethnic and LGBT alphabet soup. Disney had better not kill the golden goose.

July 20, 2017, 4:59 AM ·

LGBT alphabet soup?

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