Universal Orlando is opening The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure next spring.
Busch Gardens Tampa is building a new kids' area: Sesame Street Safari of Fun.
SeaWorld Orlando is awaiting a new owner.
And at Walt Disney World?
- crickets -
Seriously, the summer of 2010 is shaping up to be the biggest lay-down since bedtime at the Octomom's. No one's got nothin' for Universal. Next summer will be the "Summer of Harry Potter" in Central Florida, and the other parks in the area don't seem to be planning anything to combat Dumbledore's Army.
I find it hard to believe that market-leader Disney would just lay down for the upstart Universal like this. Not only does Disney not have any new attractions planned in 2010 for its four theme parks, it has announced major new attractions for 2011 (Star Tours II at the Studios) and 2013 (new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom). Those announcements might encourage recession-weary Disney fans to postpone a 2010 visit a year or three, waiting for those new attractions to come online.
So what will Disney do?
There are two ways to draw visitors into a theme park: New attractions... and deep discounts. With option one off the table, that leaves Disney with option two.
In 2009, Disney offered a buy-four/get-three-days free deal and free dining plans to boost its resort attendance. Plus, the "get in free on your birthday" promotion. And attendance still went down, though by not nearly as much as it would have without those deals.
What can Disney offer in 2010? Bet on it... Disney will do something to entice fans to spend their time and money with the Mouse next year. It won't cede the year to Universal.Tweet
First, because there is no way any new additions to WDW will be able to achieve the international attention that HPATFJ will be receiving
And second, when people come from overseas and from across the country to visit Harry and friends you KNOW they are going to spend a day or two down the road at one of the Disney parks.
If Potter draws a family to Orlando, they are going to make the most of their Orlando vacation -- and that's going to include a visit to WDW.
Further I would imagine that Disney is holding back because it will (inevitably) drop a big, thermonuclear 40th anniversary marketing bomb for 2011.
Universal is in a good position because they adjusted to the times instead of trying to make things happen out of thin air. They had to cut some positions and offer some of their own discounts, but they made it through. Not only did they make it through, they did it while massively upgrading and improving their property. Yes they had trouble with the new coaster, but it's up and running now, and will still be a new attraction to many people next year. Harry Potter, however annoyed he may make me, will be a hit at Universal.
It's true that Disney still has that name recognition, and they've been cashing in on tourists thinking that "You've gotta meet the Mouse". They better take care not to cling too much to name recognition, and focus of moving forward. Name recognition will get you so far, until your product is either stale or you are outdone by someone else. Relying once again on heavy discounts is a band aid, one that could just as easily cheapen the product as it does draw temporary attendance, not to mention it's possibility to create more issues with Disney's bottom line.
Meeting the mouse can become just as passe as anything else, especially if Disney doesn't stay fresh and Universal stays aggressive. I know it's hard for some of you to imagine such a thing happening, but it can. The good news for all you mouse ears out there is that Disney is a very very rich company with the ability to keep building. The other side is that Universal is also a very very rich company with the ability to keep building.
I respond: Really?
"In the first three months ending March 29, 2009 attendance at the theme-park resort was down around 20 percent resulting in a $16.5 million loss."
The Orlando Sentinel: "Orlando's No. 2 theme-park resort is warning that it could face a cash crunch by next spring, as turmoil in the credit markets -- and an obscure clause in its long-standing contract with famed filmmaker Steven Spielberg -- complicate its efforts to restructure nearly $1 billion of debt. If Universal Orlando is unable to rework the loans in coming months, it could be forced to slash spending on new attractions, seek more money from its owners or even put a piece of the resort up for sale."
And then there's attendance. In 2008 all four WDW parks sat in the top ten -- the Universal Orlando parks ... not so much.
Mr. Potter writes: Not only did they (Universal) make it through, they did it while massively upgrading and improving their property.
I Respond: Care to define the word "massively?"
Mr. Potter: writes: It's true that Disney still has that name recognition.
I Respond: As the attendance stats show.
Mr. Potter writes: They (Disney) better take care not to cling too much to name recognition, and focus of moving forward.
I Respond: You are so right! They should do something like, oh ... I don't know ... maybe announce the largest expansion of their flagship park since its opening? Or maybe invest in the buyout (as opposed to a VERY limited licensing) of another entertainment entity that boasts characters like Spider-Man and Iron-Man and The X-Men? Oh wait, they just did both of those things, didn't they?
Mr. Potter writes: Meeting the mouse can become just as passe as anything else, especially if Disney doesn't stay fresh and Universal stays aggressive.
I Respond: Or in Universal's case, solvent.
Mr. Potter writes:The good news for all you mouse ears out there is that Disney is a very very rich company with the ability to keep building.
I Respond: As is evidenced by the announcement of the enormous expansion of Fantasyland and the acquisition of Marvel entertainment -- who will sell merchandise that Disney will profit from at gift shops located at (chuckle) Universal Orlando.
Mr. Potter writes: The other side is that Universal is also a very very rich company with the ability to keep building.
I Respond: Again "...nearly $1 billion of debt." And that would be considered "a very very rich company?" I see.
As for Disney in 2010, look for another "Buy 4 Days Get 3 Free" deal. At least, that's what I am hoping for when I travel to WDW in May-ish. I can't wait to get back.
I'll hit Universal as well, if WWOHP is ready, otherwise I will go back in mid to late September, after all the hub-bub dies down and the new attraction is finally working right! =)
As for the rich/poor thing, Universal is pretty poor against Disney, but GE has been struggiling a bit so the parks get hit the hardest. Like mentioned, Harry Potter or anything is sorely needed at IOA. We will see what happens, but Universal will get a nice jump.
See when I go down to FL (being from Chicago) I spend all of my time at Disney and then a day at Universal, a day at Sea World, etc. Universal or Busch still have not been able to peg Disney on that.
(sorry if this is posted twice - I thought I was logged in already)
The money they make in hollywood and merchandising will always beat the parks, and with Marvel under their belt, they are gonna be crankin' out Creative and capitalizing on the very strong (and getting stronger) existing market. They bank on that, for they are a massive distribution company at the heart and even if their direct-to-DVD releases stink for the most part, it costs them next to nothing to produce and distribute as compared to the rest of the industry...and people will still buy in because a mousefreek is a mousefreek...and comic fans are the biggest merchandise fanatics of them all, second to Sports.
Even if Harry is tops 2010 and 2011, Disney will fire back with the 40th anniversary retheme and will most likely already have announced "in the works" developing attractions based on the two years worth of Marvel cartoons or live actions they produced in the meantime...they will significantly increase their tween boy marketshare and as a result, will get more eyeballs and more attendance that will generate revenue that by that time, will all be cream. The Mouse casts a big shadow and it will take more than one island to stop them.
How many people do you know say that they "have to get to Universal" before this Potter craze? They were always the side trip or alternate park for most travelers to central Florida and never the main attraction. If Disney styles a more "thrilling" theme park addition to the crown, one with heavy duty coasters and thrill rides that would have higher height restrictions, they would bring their numbers up in the late teenage market and satisfy all the mousefreeks that have been clamoring for a little more excitement than just two or three thrills per park.
So, how about it...Disney's Villian-Ville Thrillpark, anyone? We should start a new thread, all about possible rides at a Disney Thrill Park involving villains from their catalog. It would be the jewel, wouldn't it? ...and maybe, since Disney Creative does read the Boards, we can do their imagineering job for them and they can get to buildin' it : )
Game. Set. Match!
If Disney wants to do something to make sure they're not forgotten, they should put the Mouse on the back shelf for a Summer and bring out the Spider! They could do an easy "Meet the New Members of the Disney Family" thing by getting the Marvel Characters out in force in the park to sign autographs and attend Character Breakfasts. So instead of spending months and millions on a new attraction they just need to get their costume department to create some A+ superhero costumes that will put Universal's to shame.
Disney will not attempt to compete with Universal, but will research and plan to "evolve" and again show why a theme park is more than rides and a day trip.
Making people feel that they are apart of something "more" has always been the edge tha WDW has maintained over it's entire history.
After all, the thrill of a new rides last for a measured amout of time, but feeling that you are part of a family that transcends a vacation trip is what brings people back for more.
I Respond: Oh I disagree with that assertion completely. MIB and Mummy worked just fine at opening (minor tweaks only). As for the RRR coaster its opening was only delayed for 3 months tops. If that happened with Potter (which is slated to open in the Spring) the kinks would be worked out well before 2011.
Or were you just trying to be funny?
You know me. When am I ever serious? Universal's combined delays for Rip Ride Rockit and The Simpsons still do not measure anywhere close to Disney's Test Track, which was delayed from May 1997 to December 1998 (with official opening in March 1999).
I used to walk around the parks looking specifically for the villains because they are awesome! You can't have a good story without a good villain in it! I think a park would be popular if themed around favorites like Jafar, Cruella, Captain Hook, Scar and the Hyenas, Evil Queen, Stromboli and Monstro, Maleficent, Ursula, Hades, Lady Tremaine, the Queen of Hearts, Shan-Yu, Madame Medusa, Shere Khan and Kaa, Governor Ratcliffe, Judge Claude Frollo and Syndrome.
I would definitely make the trip to see something like this!
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Disney still has something that Universal still does not have: Name and Reputation
While Universal has made strides with IOA and other goodies, its still Disney's game. A majority of people are still going down there for the main purpose of going to a Disney park. Even if people are going and staying at Universal, I can bet they will make a trip out to Disney for something because when it comes down to it, you gotta meet the Mouse.
Another thing, but I am not too sure on this, Disney is the only one that provides transportation to and from the airport to their resorts. In that way, Mom and Dad are not forking over the rental car money and thus becomes "Disney's little prisoner" :)
Something I know alot about at the Disney Store is name brand. I am asked for alot of obscure Disney characters, but more often than not, I am asked for Shrek, Madagascar, Dora, Sesame Street, and Spiderman. People instictivly connect animatation and children's entertainment with Disney. Another interesting request was if we carried 17 Again staring Zac Efron (we don't, but people are seeing Efron =Disney)
But then again, I could be all wrong and Disney will offer some excellent discounts.