What's the deal with some Disney theme park fans and Universal?

August 26, 2010, 1:02 PM · What's the deal with some Disney fans and Universal?

It seems to me that no matter what Universal rolls out, some Disney fans will dismiss it. Take a look at the reaction to Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Theme Park Insider readers love the new land, and its top ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, voting that attraction the best new attraction for 2010. Universal Creative's work has amazed attraction designers throughout the industry - even folks within Walt Disney Imagineering have (very privately) expressed admiration for the project.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey drew one million riders faster than any ride in Universal history, while helping increase attendance at Islands of Adventure this summer, even as attendance at other Orlando-area theme parks (including the Walt Disney World parks) fell.

Honeydukes at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park
The kids, in front Honeydukes at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park

I understand that Harry Potter doesn't connect with some theme park fans. No theme or franchise will wow everyone. Even Disney's most popular franchises leave some visitors cold. I get that.

But beyond folks who just don't care for Harry Potter, by no objective standard can one consider The Wizarding World of Harry Potter an inferior creative work than what is available today at the Walt Disney World theme parks. I'm not insisting that Universal's Harry Potter is better than everything at the Walt Disney World Resort, just that it is ridiculous to claim that it's worse than the Disney average.

Yet that's what a few Disney fans continue to insist. On online message boards, and overheard around the Walt Disney World Resort, these fans (many of whom I assume have yet to visit the Wizarding World), bad-mouth Universal's work.

"The opening was a disaster." "A flop." (This argument reminds me of the old Yogi Berra line: "No one goes there anymore; It's too crowded.")

"Harry Potter won't last." "It's just a fad." (With more than $5 billion in movie ticket sales and more than 400 million books sold to date, this franchise isn't fading out anytime soon.)

"It's not that impressive." "Disney could have done better." (The Wizarding World is "not that impressive" only to people unwilling to consider it. And if Disney could do better, well, I would love for WDI to accept that challenge and brew up something new which tops it!)

Not all Disney fans think this way, of course. I personally know dozens of Disney-lovers who can't wait to visit the Wizarding World, or who have visited and think the new land delightful. But I also couldn't miss overhearing a few others trash Harry Potter, while I was in Orlando. (FWIW, I heard not one negative comment about the new land while on Universal property. Only while at Disney.)

Here's my theory: It's insecurity. Some fans see their love for Disney as an affirmation of their good taste. As consumers, they've invested heavily in what's widely considered the best in the business (Disney), so that must mean they're smart customers.

But what if another company comes up with something better than (or even just as good as) Disney? What does that say about those fans' financial investment in being a Disney fan? Does that mean they don't have the great taste and smarts that they thought they did?

The easy solution, then, for these folks would be to dismiss the possibility that anyone other than Disney can ever do anything as well as Disney does.

That's just silly, though. If you've dropped thousands of dollars on a DVC membership, or annual trips to Walt Disney World - great. You've gotten a delightful entertainment experience for your money. (Or, at least, I hope that you have.) But entertainment isn't a zero-sum game. A wonderful new attraction at Universal doesn't diminish your Disney experience.

If anything, it can enhance it. Go ahead, spend a day or two up the road at Universal during your next Disney World vacation, and enjoy it. Or even if you don't, just wait to see what Walt Disney Imagineering comes up with as it tries to wrest the industry "buzz" back from Universal.

Trust me, WDI has the ears of Disney management now (especially John Lasseter) and they are playing to Disney's corporate pride. I continue to believe that's part of the reason why Disney's revisiting its plans for the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion and why so many attractions at Disneyland in California are getting some much-needed love. Lasseter, Tony Baxter and others at Disney have no intention of letting Mark Woodbury and Thierry Coup at Universal Creative hog the industry spotlight for long.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey's been great for Central Florida tourism - and for the theme park industry. As we've noted before on this site, what's good for Central Florida and the theme park business is good for Disney, too.

So, to those few Disney fans who are dismissing it, you don't need to knock The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to prove your credibility as a Disney fan. Enjoy it, celebrate it, and wait with us to see (and, we hope, enjoy) Disney's inevitable response.

Replies (41)

August 26, 2010 at 1:08 PM · "It's insecurity. Some fans see their love for Disney as an affirmation of their good taste."

I love it.

August 26, 2010 at 1:15 PM · Well Bobby,

I must be an Orlando or Theme Park Ho. I like them all… Universal is my favorite but if someone wants to go to Epcot, MK, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove… Count me in….

Some folks would rather put things down instead of enjoying the many fragrances of Life…

August 26, 2010 at 1:55 PM · Great article Mr. Niles. This is so true. I'm a die hard Disney fan but guess what? Islands of Adventure since 2000 has been my second favorite park. Yes it's ahead of Epcot and Magic. Because you know what, universal took a chance and went away from the studio theme and came up with something great. It's a great and amazing park. Disney on the other hand fears taking risks and rather rest on their name. That's not good. I'm happy Potter is kicking some Disney butt. Then it will put some fire under the people at Glendale. Competition is the best thing for this industry.
August 26, 2010 at 2:01 PM · I have never read any of the Harry Potter books and I have never seen any of the Harry Potter movies but I wouldn't be nasty about a ride that I haven't ridden. If I ever went to Universal, I probably would not ride it, but there are alot of rides at any given theme park that I wouldn't ride just because they are not my thing.
August 26, 2010 at 2:06 PM · The problem seems to be that Disney, as of recent, have slowed down on the production of new and innovative attractions whilst Universal are arguably being more imaginative with what is being added to their parks.

That said, Disney has a lot of fantastic new attractions and lands in the pipeline, most notably the California Adventure expansion as well as the so far unconfirmed additions for WDW's 50th anniversary as well as the upcoming Fantasyland expansion.

I honestly believe Disney are the best at providing themed entertainment but Universal have had a good amount of investment in their parks and resorts recently which Disney has lacked, which naturally makes those who have invested their hard earned Dollars into Disney slightly bitter.

August 26, 2010 at 3:15 PM · I don't even like Harry Potter, but I will say that "Forbidden Journey" is hands down, the current best dark ride attraction in the world. That's it. Who cares what park it's in, or who built it?

Be happy we get to experience something like this within our lifetimes.

August 26, 2010 at 3:19 PM · Please lets give credit where its due. Universal has surpassed anything that the Disney has done to date. now in saying that it doesnt mean Disney isnt still great because it is but let also look at it this way just becuase it Disney Doenst mean it great. Universal this year has unveiled two things its doing better than Disney the Wizarding World of Harry Potterand and King Kong 360 3D. Two very diffrent attraction but they make you feel the same, FULLY IMMERSED. there are not to many thing that Disney can say you are Fully immersed in. Yes they do push you into different worlds but nothing like Kong or Potter.
August 26, 2010 at 3:57 PM · I am a huge Disney fan, and I really dislike the Harry Potter franchise. But I love the theming of the new land, and I cannot get enough of the Forbidden Journey attraction. I go ride it whenever I get a chance.

I cannot remember the last time Disney impressed me the way Universal has with this latest addition. More power to them. I cannot wait to see what Disney comes up with, and what Universal plans to unveil next!

August 26, 2010 at 4:09 PM · Disney does a great job of building attractions for everyone in the family to enjoy, from age 4 to age 84. Sometimes this M.O. frustrates fans who know that WDI has the money, the imagination, and the clout to build the best "whatever" in the world. Despite the sometimes over-zealous desires of their hard-core fans, Disney holds fast to what has made them #1: family-oriented adventures. I say kudos to them for doing so.

Universal seems to cater to a smaller spectrum: families with older kids, teenagers, and young adults up to about 49 years old (generally speaking, of course). Their attractions are a little more thrilling, a little less family-oriented, and a in some cases a lot more impressive when examined in and of themselves outside of the whole-resort experience.

There is no question Disney offers the best all around narrative immersion in the business, but were it not for the talented folks at Universal, Disney imagination would have grounded to a complete halt years ago. It is a blessing for all THEME PARK fans that Universal continues to push the limits of combining theme and thrills, and continues to keep the folks at the House of Mouse on their respective toes.

I could not imagine a world without both Disney and Universal. To me, they go together like ice cream and hot apple pie. Both are good on their own, but when combined a whole new world of flavors is enjoyed!

August 26, 2010 at 4:15 PM · Well said James! I couldn't agree with you more.
August 26, 2010 at 6:52 PM · In this Disney/Universal mini-civil war, I try to stay neutral. I like anything that makes me want to go back again and again. But I'm a little bias for Universal because sometimes I think they get a bad rap mainly from the die-hard Disney fans. They always seem to talk about how Disney's attractions are "far and away the greatest in the world and nobody else will top them." If you ask me when it comes to cutting-edge, multi-sensory experiences (which I love), Universal currently has the upper hand. But those rides that the whole family can enjoy with story elements that resonate with people for years, you'd have to go with Disney. They both have different strengths, and it's good for the industry whenever Disney or Universal brings new experiences to their parks.
August 26, 2010 at 8:00 PM · I'm a Disney fan who also loves the Universal parks, and can't wait to experience Wizarding World. I guess some people are so narrow minded that they refuse to accept anything besides Disney, or even give another park a chance. Their loss.
August 26, 2010 at 8:11 PM · Well said, Robert.

I have been to Universal with Disney-philes. Almost unbearable. They complained about everything. They complained about a person smoking on the pathway despite that a similar incident occurred at Disney. They complained about the cheesiness of Jaws, yet they loved the Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan, it's a small world, and every other exponentially cute attraction Disney had. They thought Men in Black was cheap but loved Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

It's almost like an inferiority complex. They know that HP is widely regarded as the best attraction around to everyone that isn't a Disney-phile, so they overcompensate by pointing out every little flaw possible.

August 26, 2010 at 8:29 PM · I think that I am lumped into this group.....

I just feel that there is a "anti-Disney" sentiment on this site from a few because, hey, its cool to bash Disney. Quite honestly, Universal has made decisions that have really turned me off from Universal especially the stupid comparision on their website of why they are "cool" and Disney is "dumb".

My beef with Harry Potter is this: I find when an attraction is overhyped, I find it doesn't meet my expectations. Everest, the Mummy, and Jurassic Park are three that I was slightly disappointed in. I know Harry Potter is not going anywhere.

I just feel, in turn, that there are "punching bags" on the site in Disney (especially with DCA, which I will say again, was NOT that bad pre or post refurb).

I actually like USO because I feel they had done it better than DHS. I love the Great Movie Ride, but USO has expanded that idea to go into the movies into more than half of the parks.

Still, I do make it to Universal for a day (just as going to Seaworld). Universal is, in my opinion, beating Disney at the "nighttime entertainment" with Citywalk vs Pleasure Isla..or whatever they are going to make that!

August 26, 2010 at 9:26 PM · I am actually annoyed by two things. Disney World fans who refuse to admit the impressive quality of Universal parks. And Universal fans who have an inferiority complex toward Disney World and have to overcompensate by constantly saying how Disney World is now trashy and lame and the worst. People, let's don't be corporate tools. Like what you like and chill out.
August 27, 2010 at 12:30 AM · I'm so damn glad you decided to post this! Mr. Robert!

I cannot express enough how much if discuss me the Disney fools out there! The "so called Disney purist"! Listen I love Disney. I'm I a Disney fan? Sure! But that doesn't tell the full story, I'm a theme park fan. Not Disney/Universal fan, but theme parks in general. It is sad, to see how Universal made the best new attraction in some years and some people don't give them the credit they deserve. Hey if it isn't your personal taste, that's ok. Me, I got not problem with that. But lets be honest here, there's a lot of people out there who would visit Potter's World if instead of being in Universal, was in a Disney area code. They would be like "OH MY GOSH, DISNEY IS THE BEST-EST THEME PARK IN THE WHOLE EXISTENCE OF THE WORLD AND OTHER PARKS SHOULD JUST CLOSE DOWN!!!!" Yes, I believed that level of silliness is possible.

Don't believed me, I once read in some post here stuff like "from the regular posters I may add"

-"If you're going to Disneyland that's great, but if you're going to Orlando there's pretty much just Dianey World and nothing more..."- I was like reeeeaaaally???

Other said:
-"I've never been to Universal. Never, but Disney is better!" Again, reeeeaaally??? And how would you know? If you've never ever, "for ever, ever" been to Universal? That's how silly they are, it just doesn't matter in their minds Disney's won already. Doesn't matter what others may do! They don't even have to see Universal, they just know, in their hearts!!! Ja,ja!

So Mr. Robert I agree with you in all the things you've said. I find them to be spot on, and right on all accounts! Isn't it funny how if some one critiques Disney (even if is constructive criticism) is anti-Disney sentiment but if is headed toward the competition is just the "The whole truth and nothing but the Truth"!

(Again there a couple of comments already in which, if you pay close attention you could get that feeling I'm trying to express). At least they admitted, that's progress...


August 27, 2010 at 1:15 AM · cont-

Again I have to state this (again):
I hope Disney would come up with something even better! Then I would experience that, and Potter's World too. I would be great!

I would agree 100% that Disney's attractions are for the whole family. That's there strength and also their downfall. True! Like converting a good attraction in my eyes, that I really enjoyed and scared me when I was younger, Alien Encounter, then only to turn it into "Stitch's great pile of garbage"

But since the whole family can ride it then it's ok! Well it is not! That's one of the thing the "Purist" don't get. That's one of the reasons you get the complaints about Disney that some people don't get.

Now little Suzy can ride, now Grandma Esther can ride it. Sooooorrry now I, don't wanna ride it!!! Ja,ja!

So if Disney wants to come up with something better than HP, I hope they've got something even better in the works than "Little Princesita Land" there by the MK. Cause I personally don't care about that one bit. Although I know a lot of people do. Robert I agree the re-called or plans adjustments have to be viewed as an explanation of that. (I don't care who denies it, if the Vp of this or the President of that, I wouldn't believed it, even if Mickey Mouse himself was saying it!

Like you said, they can venture of to other places like Universal. Or how about Seaworld, or Kennedy Space Center, even better if they were willing to visit one of my top 3 perks in Florida, Busch Gardens. How about Legoland when is open. You know people, theres more than Disney out there...

Mr. Niles - I applaud you're willingness to said it like it is. Like it should be said. Cause of your previous Disney affiliations if would be very easy of you to become a homer. Not having this (in my opinion) honest view of things!

The anti-Disney opinion (some sense): is nothing more than the simple fact the site is called "themeparkinsider" not the "Fellowship of the Disney" If this bothers some people I'm glad. Glad!! If you can't see past your love for Disney to appreciate others accomplishments, then you are one of this peoples. No matter how much explanation you may come up with to refute it....

Besides the cast members stories, this is my favorite post to date. I praise you Robert, for posting it!
-Francisco from P.R.-

August 27, 2010 at 3:15 AM · One thing I will add is that people, as Anthony said, are very quick to get on the back of Disney when something goes wrong but are less inclined to praise Disney when they do something outstanding. This seems to be especially a problem in the 'Theme park media'.

Prime example would be World of Color, which has received very little attention in comparison to the Wizarding World, despite the fact, as with Potter, it's arguably the best in its own category.

Another thing is when people talk about 'the best in the world' many often forget to bring Tokyo DisneySea into consideration, when in fact most who visit it consider it to be hands down the best theme park in the world.

August 27, 2010 at 4:16 AM · To Michael: the explanation for that is that Disney is the top of the mountain. They're the Yankees, they're the NFL of the industry. If you're on top normally to stay there or to go down are the only options. I agree that they should be judge like that. They're the straight A-students. People shouldn't be content with B's and C's from them. That's the whole deal about the Jeti. Disney if they're the kings. And they're. They should be judge accordingly. We shouln'd expect C's from them, is not like they're Six Flags! You're really expecting to have the same (or similar) hoopla cause Disney made a show. Even if is a great show, how you expect to compare that with a multi-million dollar adition with stores and a top notch attraction? That's the reason. Is not anti- Disney is that for my money since Expedition in 2006 Disney( I went to see it) hasn't made a top notch attraction. Not anything like this... Tokyo Disney Sea looks great but again what there is better than Forbidden Journey. Journey to the Center? I bet Disney Sea is great! But is all the waaay in Japan!
August 27, 2010 at 4:38 AM · I'm willing to bet anything, that if the Disney Sea was the 5th park in Orlando, or the 3rd in California instead of Japan. The "Disney-insiders" would make look Harry's World coverage look like a hog dog cart opening! They would put the good old Mouse into God like status! They haven't done anything that massive in a while, and people still won't give props to Universal. If "Disney-insiders" had anything new ( this interesting to cherish) they would go crazy! I'm not interested in traveling to see anything that Disney's done lately. I've still go, cause Disney is great but the MK expantion it's not for me, but Potter's and I have a date set... -Francisco-
August 27, 2010 at 4:38 AM · I've just returned from a vacation in Orlando. I was disappointed to see much of the Magic Kingdom was in renovations AT THE SAME TIME, during peak-season. This makes zero sense to me. If you want to renovate, why not do it in off-season? And while you're at it, why not do it one or two rides/areas at the time, instead of doing it all at once? Large parts of Fantasyland were closed, including my favorite ride (it being my favorite for no real reason other than nostalgia), "It's a Small World". Also, their new Winnie The Pooh ride, other than being dull (but I guess that's what you get when you're two 20-something-year-old and one 40-year-old going on a Winnie the Pooh ride....! In my defense it was not my idea to go on it), was extremely tedious waiting in line. The line took WAY too long, and it appeared like the ride was incomplete (its outside seem to still be in the works) and that it was not functioning as efficiently as many of the other rides are. Which makes me wonder why would Disney bother opening an incomplete ride, that still doesn't work as fast and as efficient as it SHOULD. It's not a very LONG ride, there's no reason the line should take as long as it did (I believe we waited somewhere around the 30-40 minutes in a fairly short line that seemed to slowly crawl foward).

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, however, functioned to the best of its abilities, taking in mind how packed it was (though, not as bad as the first few weeks - there were no lines to get INTO the world, for once). The Wizarding World was also complete, there wasn't a single inch of it that needed work on - it was just perfect, and ready for peak-season.

I realize Disney's Magic Kingdom is a park that has been opened for years, and that Fantasyland cannot be closed entirely while it's being renovated, but I don't understand why it's done in peak-season.
Having said that, I enjoyed my visit to the Magic Kingdom as I did last year. I was just put off by how much of it was actually closed for renovations.

So Disney, the ball is in your court. The stuff you're working on, I hope they're mind-blowing.

August 27, 2010 at 5:38 AM · ^I have never visited TDS, Michael, and I consider it the best theme park in the world! =) Man, I'd love to visit...
August 27, 2010 at 7:43 AM · Michael O., you didn't just compare World of Color to Harry Potter? Category or not, Harry Potter is so unique and just plain awesome on so many levels. World of Color is just another nightime show, again showing effort but still just another evening show. Over time, millions will travel from all over the world just for Harry Potter. Doubt one, from far, will schedule a trip to DL just to catch World of Color.
August 27, 2010 at 8:32 AM · "Enjoy it, celebrate it, and wait with us to see (and, we hope, enjoy) Disney's inevitable response."

Yeah right, keep hoping. I'm still waiting on Disney's inevitable response to Spiderman. I love Disney, they impress me on so many different fronts, and inspire me to keep the bar raised very high in anything I do in this life that relates to customer service or creativity. That being said, they are a frustrating entity to be a fan of at times. With all the tools that they possess, and all of the brilliant minds who call the house of mouse home, their inability to respond shines a tremendous spotlight on the arrogance of a company that knows they can do just enough to keep you coming back because that is all that's required of them.

Don't get me wrong, I love Mission to Space, Soarin', and Everest (even with the disco Yeti). I also happen to think that Tower of Terror very well might be the finest theme park attraction ever executed. All of this doesn't matter much, if you can't make the type of impact that transcends what side people root for, and strips everybody down to the basic common denominator. That being that we are all fans of theme parks, and when something comes along that is THAT DAMN GOOD, it doesn't matter what park it resides in. Universal did it 11 years ago with Spidey, and they have done it yet again with Potter. Disney is readying yet another Omni-mover attraction in response, based on a property that is 2 decades old, and oh yeah, don't forget about the meet and greets, yippee! Take that Universal Creative. Yes, Fantasyland V2.0 is in a state of revision right now, and you can thank Universal as well as Tom Staggs for having 3 sons that would most likely not be into all of the proposed princess and fairy encounters originally envisioned for this expansion. But seriously Disney, where is all that innovative, industry leading, visionary moxie that Uncle Walt instilled in this company years ago? Stop sitting on your hands, and blow us all away, Disney and Universal fans.

August 27, 2010 at 9:15 AM · The type of person you describe is familiar to anyone that has spent time in online message boards. They remind me of 12 year old girls in 1965 that thought you could like the Beatles or the Stones but not both. I find them to be infinitely tedious.
August 27, 2010 at 9:28 AM · I'm coming out of lurk-dom here. As a family, we've never been to Universal. However, I have a coaster-crazy 8 yr old, so I would say a trip there is forthcoming.

What I hate is the implication that people who visit USO are somehow a lower class of people than those who visit WDW. (Read the comments at the Daily Disney at the Orlando Sentinel and you will see I am talking about.) I don't even see how that is possible, seeing the two parks are at the same price point. I was at WDW last week, and I saw lots of questionable behavior in the parks.

I do love WDW, but we are totally open to the idea to visiting Universal on future trips.

August 27, 2010 at 9:37 AM · What you have all forgotten.

Disney was in talks with JK Rowling for 5 years to open a Harry Potter themed theme park or land.

After a frustrating meeting with Disney, JK Rowling drove across the street and asked to talk to whoever was in charge at Universal. Within 48 hours, a verbal agreement was made.

Don't make it sound like Disney couldn't do anything like this, they had their chance for 5 years, and couldn't stop being greedy long enough to close the same deal that Universal did in a weekend.

Quit crying that you dropped your ice cream, when you could have had the whole shop.

August 27, 2010 at 9:43 AM · Universal is riding on the the success of Disney. It does not matter what universal does, Disney has the land for long term development and creative success. In the long term universal will not keep up, one attraction does not make a park a winner, nor does attractions. There is much more to making a theme park a winner. Sorry universal, you might win the battle but you will lose the war
August 27, 2010 at 10:30 AM · I'm a big Disney fan who doesn't trash talk Universal. I would really like to see the Wizarding World next year.
August 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM · I am a Disney nerd, and you will constantly see me on these beloved forums trash talking Universal.

Why do I do it?

First and foremost it is fun. Secondly, I think all of my money as well as the money of everyone else, should be pumped into Disney.

They gave me Disneyland. It's the least we could do.

I would like to get on that Harry Potter ride, however...

August 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM · Come on people even if JK did go to Disney First she knew that they couldn't pull off what she wanted to see. As for a World of Color which i have not seen. Its 100% Disney trying to make you feel all warm and fuzzy with video, lights and water. Poor king kong was so hipped up people where actually hoping to see kong. Even thought they are screens the 3D experience is not comparable to anything out there. Uh hardcore Disney fans will never see that just because its not Disney doesn't mean it isn't extraordinary. Why dont we all keep are minds open to new attractions. I think the only thing Disney really has better then Universal is its NOSTALGIA. We all want to return to the place that made us smile when we were little. I mean how many attractions have left Disney parks through the years not many. Ive been a theme park junkie since i was young and loved both Universal Studios and Disneyland.
August 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM · we live in louisiana...and go and stay at a disney resort for a week every 3 years...me and my family love it...disneyworld is our family get away...but...we always take 2 days to go to universal studios...which is awesome.
August 27, 2010 at 12:06 PM · Could some of the bias toward The Wizarding World be that old religious zealotry "that anything having to do with wizards and witches is of the devil", again? I heard that story quite a bit when reading the HP books and then again when the movies came out. Those same folks tend to gravitate toward Disney because it's so "wholesome and family-friendly", yet they tend to forget about the "spirits" in the Tower of Terror and The Haunted Mansion. Are they friendly ghosts or evil spirits? What about Leota was she a witch? And don't forget about Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins (was she a miracle-working angel, or should we be crying WITCH!!!). And of course, lest we forget, even the Disney icon, Mickey Mouse, idol to millions of children everywhere, was (GASP in horror) THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE!!! It's all so silly. ;)
August 27, 2010 at 1:06 PM · I love Disney so much that I'm a seasonal cast member, but I can't wait for FL to cool off and have smaller crowds so I can go see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! My entire family loves Harry. A friend of mind went there with her family and they had the best time! No, it doesn't take anything away from WDW. I'm quite sure the Fantasy Land expansion is directly caused by WWofHP. It is good for the Imagineers to get a little nudge to bring us newer and better attractions.
August 27, 2010 at 2:17 PM · I am a very big Disney Fan....however the engineers and workers for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter did an extremely good job. I was there last week, and it blew my mind...their technology and accuracy was great.
August 27, 2010 at 4:21 PM · As one who is from the religious right, I can tell you Disney isn't on their "nice" list.

Meanwhile, I've never been to Disney. I have just spent 4 days at universal, and can say that, in my opinion, and the opinion of my family which is a 14 and 17-year-old, Universal Studios was overhyped, overpriced, even though nice enough a theme park, with too many people who obviously also bought the hype.

My daughter thinks that if you want a nice park to walk around in, they are great, on par with BGW, which has better rides. If you just want to be thrilled, the two parks together don't match a day at Cedar Point.

But if you just think about price, I think it explains the different perspective. We aren't people who generally pay over a hundred bucks for a day at a park. As soon as I mentioned the difference in price, suddenly the "maybe yes, maybe no" aspeect of the discussion was gone. "No Way" we'd recommend a $100 Universal day over a $64 Busch Gardens day, even if it's BGTampa.

However, I'm used to the crowds singing the praises of all things Florida, how the parks are so worth it, how it's normal to spend a thousand dollars for a week of vacation, how 1-hour lines are to be expected, and hey you can always pay another $50 and get a front-line pass, or stay in a hotel priced higher than a monthly mortgage payment and get a "free" early admission.

Now, my kids are pretty much burned out on theme and thrill parks anyway. We just did a 3-hour stint at a fully uncrowded Kings Island with walk-ons galore, a two-ride drop-off in the same evening at Cedar Point, and then an uncrowded Cedar Point that we were done in by 2pm (11am opening, although we got in at 10).

Sure, if someone invited us to a day at IOA and USF, we'd jump at it; although I can't say we'd spend more than a few hours -- since after our first day there, we never spent a whole day or even a significant portion of a day at either of the parks.

Some of my extended family love going to Disney, and I'm sure my kids would have loved it when they were little. I won't say anything bad about Disney having never been there.

But it's funny to watch the Disney/Universal fights, when I think both sides are a bit on the crazy side to begin with, arguing which overpriced overhyped overcrowded place is better.

Meanwhile, I can ride a 300-foot coaster, a blast coaster like no other, and 12 other coasters, do a half-dozen family rides, and then pop over to another park where I can spend all day just walking around enjoying the scenery, taking in some shows, and eating good food. That's just my backwoods Virginia of course, where I can get two season passes for the price of 4 days at Universal.

And having said all that, Harry Potter World is simply the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I'd almost pay the price of admission just to get back into that world and drink some more butterbeer. So, even though I've never been to Disney, I'd say that anybody who is trying to diminish the Wizarding World is simply off their rocker. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it is a fabulously themed, immersive experience that I'm glad I took the time to enjoy.

(PS: I did Epcot Center once as an adult, so it's not that I've never done anything Disney).

August 27, 2010 at 4:37 PM · I went to Wizarding World of Harry Potter twice and loved it! Although I'm a Disneyphile who prefers Walt Disney World over Universal Orlando, I deem it as a hallmark of innovative design and fun-generating. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey can't be beat even for me! (Heck, it's my second favorite ride to Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit at the entire Universal Orlando Resort!)
August 27, 2010 at 5:57 PM · I have not really noticed what I would consider a large ammount of bashing Harry Potter Land. If anything, I hear people talk about it fondly more than I care to hear about it (just saying...... there are other things to talk about, and I guess since I am not that interested in Harry Potter and don't want to ride on a kuku arm or whatever it is I just am not overly thrilled with it). I have not been to it and don't really want to, but I figure if you liked Potter and were interested in riding that type of attraction you will like it. Did they go big with it..... yes.... well sorta, I mean, it is really only one new ride..... but the buildings and stuff they built with it are impressive looking to me. I am kind of starting to get tired of hearing about it...... not because I have to hear about Disney all the time, but it's kind of like when you turn on the news and something big has happened and your starting to get tired of hearing a different angle on the same news story over and over even though the angle is not that different from the time they told it the night before.
August 28, 2010 at 7:23 AM · We finally broke down and visited USF and IOA in 2007, taking advantage of the close relationship between the Loews hotels and the theme parks, and frankly, I kick myself for waiting so long.

The parks are well-executed, the rides are world-class, and the food and other amenities rival the best Disney or Sea World Entertainment can offer. As FL residents, we enjoyed a good discount on the experience as well. So, no Universal bashing from this Disneyphile!

That said, I'm just not into the HP craze, but I wouldn't mind seeing the WWoHP repurposed into a Lord of the Rings attraction...

August 29, 2010 at 12:35 AM · I've read similar "average" reviews from Disneyphiles about the new Kong 3D portion of the tram tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.
August 30, 2010 at 11:16 AM · I am late in the game, I never visited WDW as a child and the first time I went was in 2002 when I took my children (ages at the time was 6 and 3). I totally fell in love with Disney and have been a fan ever since. After visiting IOA for the fist time in 2004 and Universal for the first time in 2009 I am also a big fan of Universal Florida. I have to admit I could care less about Harry Potter coming to IOA as I am not a fan at all. I've never read the books haven't see any of the movies (don't plan to either) but I am a theme park junkie and I love to be entertained, period. I could care less if the rides about Harry Potter or Star Strek (I'm not fans of either) but as long as the ride is entertaining I'm all for it. I'm planning a family trip with in-laws for June 2011 and we're going to both Universal parks and MK. I've heard great things about Harry Potter and look forward to seeing the new attraction. The only thing is I won't get the full effect of the attraction since I am not familiar with it but that's fine I'm sure I'll enjoy it anyway.

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