Universal Park's Marketing Strategy

February 25, 2020, 12:20 AM

After I read the post on this site about the Secret Life of Pets attraction opening at USH last week, I wondered just why Universal chose to release alot of the information about the ride a month until it's scheduled opening. It made me remember that Universal finally dropped details on Hagrids in March of last year with a June opening. Heck, they've barely released any information on the Bourne Stunt show which seems to ready pretty soon - this is a pretty cool video of them testing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GZHzg0j1Us. Disney tends to release info on their rides with concept art at D23, about two years before they open it. I've heard people say that Universal does this in order to not reveal to their competitors what they're working on currently. Six Flags and Cedar Fair don't reveal their plans for the parks until August, but that's clearly over 6-8 months before any of those rides open in their parks. Is there any other reason that Universal takes their time to reveal info about their attractions? I know that I'm a coaster nerd and I know the details of rides because of these websites, but to the GP I'm sure they won't realize theres a new Secret Life of Pets ride until months after it has opened. Almost everyone knew GE was a thing because they announced it 4 years in advance. Even though I understand that Universal doesn't want their competitors to know what they're building, I wonder if that's more important than generating hype so people will buy a ticket to the park to ride the attraction. Any thoughts?

Replies (1)

Edited: February 25, 2020, 7:32 AM

It really has to do with the types of fans each company attracts. Disney attracts fans that follow the company very closely and plan trips months and years in advance. In order to keep those guests coming back for more, Disney has to slowly trickle information out about upcoming developments. Guests that plan trips years in advance need a reason to plan those trips and reasons to increase the frequency of those returns. If Disney kept all their plans under wraps like Universal does, hard-core Disney fans would hold off planning trips until what they were anticipating actually opened. That is likely what caused Disneyland to see a drop in attendance last summer as guests that were expecting to visit the California Parks for Galaxy's Edge were scared off by the prospect of visiting an incomplete project. Disneyland does see a bit less vacationers, relying more on APs and locals, but the effect of the delay in RotR (as well as proactive measures to control anticipated crowds before the attraction delay was known) was unmistakable. WDW had a similar impact from RotR's delayed opening, with heavier than normal crowds throughout September, but not nearly the intense crush of crowds that accompanied the debut of RotR in December, which has been sustained even through the slower periods of the winter. FP+ also has a bit to do with the phenomenon as guests have to book their hotel rooms early in order to take full advantage of the perks of staying on site. You can't just book a WDW on a whim a month or so ahead of time, but you can at Universal.

Universal fans anticipate new attraction openings and developments as well, but not nearly as much as Disney fans. Also the planning of a Universal vacation is not nearly to the level of obsession and complexity that Disney vacation planners have reached. Universal doesn't have guests planning vacations years in advance (some of that due to DVC, to which Universal has no analog), so there's no reason for them to start pinning down attraction details and opening dates that far ahead of time. A few months or less is all that's needed for Universal to attract guests (many of whom might be shut out from a WDW vacation because the resort is sold out and FP+s for top attractions are long gone), so there's no need for Universal to start hyping attractions where it's still difficult to identify an exact opening date.

It really comes down to the way guests plan and book vacations to the 2 different resorts. Universal has little incentive to market and publicize attractions far in advance because it would be wasted resources. Disney needs to invest in advertising attractions early to get guests to book their vacations far in advance.

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