Is Universal becoming less eclectic ?

Edited: May 23, 2023, 6:56 AM

I know this will be a contentious issue but I'm asking if a Park can ever devote too much to just a couple of themes ?.
Universal have already , imho, concentrated too much on Harry Potter and are continuing to expand that brief. So too with the Minions now expanding.
I don't dispute that they are both very popular concepts right now. I like them both in moderation but when to stop ?
I prefer a more diverse approach to the theming of attractions. A more eclectic approach where there's something different around every corner.
Is there a danger that Universal could morph into Harry Potter World at the expense of anything else ?
So should they put a cap on the number of attractions dedicated to one theme ?

Replies (12)

May 23, 2023, 9:52 AM

I mean, it doesn't really feel that way to me. Thinking about Islands of Adventure specifically, where you go from Toon Lagoon to Skull Island to Jurassic Park to Harry Potter and then out to Seuss Landing (with, perhaps, a new IP in between some day) ... it seems like a pretty diverse lineup of themes and vibes.

Regardless, I think we're about capped on Harry Potter in the two existing parks. You'll see another in Epic Universe, but that park also seems relatively well balanced — even including properties that wouldn't be at the top of my list (How to Train Your Dragon).

May 23, 2023, 11:12 AM

I also don't think we are there yet. I think there's a good balance right now at both parks and I'm a big fan of Harry Potter so really looking forward to the new land at Epic. All though I wouldn't be against either lands expending at IOA or USF I do hope they come up with something else.

I want a brand new land for IOA and not a HP expansion and I definitely don't want the theatre in USF to be replaced by another HP ride. I doubt they would do this but my #1 hope for the theatre is that they bring the Waterworld show! :)

May 23, 2023, 12:07 PM

I don't think Universal is becoming less eclectic. There is still a ton of different experiences and IP represented.

However, the move to have entire lands built around an IP could start to move things away from the variety we are used to. Rather than a broad themed area like Fantasyland or New York where multiple characters and IPs can reside we now have large swaths of the park dominated by Star Wars or Harry Potter or Minions. It seems like that has to make a park have less of the "something for everyone" appeal. I'm also interested to see what happens in 15-20 years when some of this IP starts to get stale. It won't be as simple as re-doing a single ride but now we're looking at a huge chunk of a park going down for a very expensive renovation.

Edited: May 24, 2023, 3:24 PM

@Gary, that's true. I do think some IP's have longevity (i.e Nintendo) but in Universal's case...I've always felt that many of their IP's had somewhat of a shelf life. That was just the nature of having a theme park based on movies.

There was a time when Dreamworks was the top, now Illumination has taken over. There are rumors The Simpsons could be coming to an end (before that its Back To The Future)

Universal can sometimes seem like its presenting the "flavor of the decade", but I will say they seem up to the challenge of progressing when they need to.

Edited: May 24, 2023, 5:05 PM

>> but in Universal's case...I've always felt that many of their IP's had somewhat of a shelf life.

That’s the weird thing about universal. They do have rides on IP that are either stale, or nobody ever cared about to begin with (MIB and Waterworld), yet those experiences arguably eclipse the original IP.

Im not convinced by the Simpsons rumours. I think Disney will find that IP like power rangers when they owned that IP, it doesn’t really work with who Disney is, and their presence was token at best. Makes more sense to keep universals money IMO then try to figure out how a Simpsons works in any of their parks.

May 25, 2023, 1:07 AM

I think what you're most likely feeling is the result of IP themed lands rather than IP themed attractions as was more common until about two decades ago. When entire lands are themed to IPs, it can feel like there is less variety because instead of having a couple dozen IPs you've got five or six IPs with three or four attractions each. However, in my opinion, this doesn't make a park feel any less complete or make the park feel like it offers less in terms of variety as long as the IPs are chosen appropriately. Universal does a great job with this as a wide variety of genres are represented by the IPs they've chosen, and as such you can fill a full day without feeling like you're getting the same thing over and over. Now, if a park only chose IPs from one or two genres, or one IP covered a quarter (or more) of the park's attractions, then the issue of not enough variety starts to arise.

May 25, 2023, 8:22 AM

Chad H: "They do have rides on IP that are either stale, or nobody ever cared about to begin with (MIB and Waterworld) ..."

Me: The 'Men in Black Films generated over $1.7 billion worldwide.

Why limit the question to IP? Why not also look at UO's "Big Ass Creatures Syndrome" (dragons, apes, big bugs and dinosaurs)? They're everywhere in the Orlando parks.

Edited: May 25, 2023, 10:26 AM

>>Me: The 'Men in Black Films generated over $1.7 billion worldwide.

Yes, a decade to two decades ago, putting it in the "Stale" category. MIB international was a flop. Yet the ride holds up despite the IP being stale.

May 25, 2023, 2:50 PM

I think this is one of the hidden strengths of the Universal parks: the lack of reverence for nostalgia. Certainly they'll slap old logos & aesthetics on merchandise, but apart from maybe ET, they're not afraid to demo and replace old rides just because they are "classics."

Disney on the other hand IS nostalgia. Parents want their kids to experience the exact same rides they rode as kids. Imagineers can't even tweak Small World without receiving death threats! I think sooner or later Disney will have to grapple with updating old ride systems with newer technology while maintaining the essence of what makes those rides classics. For instance the Shanghai Peter Pan's Flight could be rolled out to all the parks, provided the budget and downtime are acceptable to Disney.

Is there a risk of Universal oversaturating IP? Maybe. They lack the breadth and depth of IP Disney has internally, & licensing seems to be the way to go for now (HP, Nintendo). But if guests develop a sense of "Harry Potter fatigue" I have no doubt Universal will be willing to retheme or design something new. But that day is probably a generation away.

Edited: May 25, 2023, 4:21 PM

"It's More Than IP. It's Screens."

Edited: May 25, 2023, 5:01 PM

ChadH: Dude, you went from "... nobody ever cared about ..." to "Well yeah, they cared about them, but that was awhile ago."

I mean, come on!

May 27, 2023, 7:01 PM

Oh lord, Universal is killing it with regard to profit in the theme park arena. Interactive wand and Butterbeer revenue alone will pay for the new park. Simpsons will be gone soon, so that whole area is getting new IP.

Not sure what they are doing with Poseidon yet, but Universal doesn't skimp on anything now that they have a machine that literally prints money (HP).

MIB is still super popular, and that franchise is worth a couple billion alone. One of my favorite rides of all time.

Buy Tickets

Visitors Guides

Weekly Newsletter