"We think that there is a lot of 'there' there in the theme-park business for many years to come and that we have a low market share — and only one way to go," Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told analysts in Las Vegas this week. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of the Universal theme parks. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke (a former Disney executive) previously declared Universal's intention to build up to 12,000 additional hotel rooms at Universal Orlando, while investing half a billion dollars a year in its theme parks worldwide.
Universal Orlando will open its new 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach resort hotel later this spring and a second Harry Potter land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, at Universal Studios Florida, likely in June. Universal Studios Hollywood is working on a billion-dollar-plus "Evolution" makeover of its property, with a new Despicable Me-themed land opening this spring (likely April) and a Wizarding World of Harry Potter also under construction. The Wizarding World will debut at Universal Studios Japan later this year, and a Universal theme park is proceeding toward construction in China, too.
Disney's reaction? To "no comment" to the Orlando Sentinel, when it asked about Roberts' comments. And Disney continues to keep its plans for new Star Wars-themed lands at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida on the shelf, according to one online report.
Outside the CEO suite and the PR offices, many Disney cast members are eager to fight back against Universal's efforts. Disney Imagineering Chief Creative Executive Bruce Vaughn said "bring it on" when asked at last year's D23 convention about competing with Universal. Imagineering teased its Star Wars lands at that gathering, and Disney's attraction designers have developed plans for a wide variety of themed attractions to match Universal's new developments.
But Disney's executives haven't yet given their approval to proceed, as the company diverts budget allocations toward making its MyMagic+ initiative work at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney's beaten every competitor that's stepped up to fight it since Disneyland opened in 1955, from Six Flags in the 1960s and 70s to Universal today. But those victories have come from great effort. No competitor yet has spent the money that Universal's now devoting to taking Disney's theme park market share. Will a new reservation system for the same old rides continue to allow Disney to protect its market share in Orlando and beyond? Or, at some point, will Disney's executives need to open the budget and spend the money to develop its Star Wars, Marvel and other theme park plans? Theme park visitors will answer those questions by where they spend their money in the year ahead.Tweet
Nice word - braggadocio...
I might have to keep a close eye on Comcast stock...
Not a cheap 'Art of Animation' style thing...but a really nice hotel that is immersively themed to Potter. Boy, would my family love to stay there.
That would be worth $200 or even $300 a night for my family. Make everything look luxurious on one side and the other half of the rooms could have a creepy Grimmauld Place vibe. It could be fantastic.
When you take a kid who can play amazing games on a tablet that is .25 thick (on their flight to Orlando), then put them on Dumbo, they will never understand what that ride meant to their parents and would consider it "lame".
Disney parks have a lot of the 1950-1970s technology with the exception of Hollywood Studios and California Adventure.
I can't see how they will stay relevant with the kids of today who need constant stimulation and are glued to the internet and iPads.
My fear is Universal Orlando will one day become the new Disney where you are trapped in endless oceans of people and the experience becomes a headache.
Disney has been slow walking attractions at WDW for a very long time. I just can't understand it. The only development that seems to be going quite well is DVC and Dining. The MagicBand initiatives is making it quite clear that Disney doesn't have the capacity to ensure guests have anything to do in the parks. Will they wake up?
Did I miss something at Universal?
Hulk, Riverboat Adventure, Rip Saw Falls, Popeye and Bluto, Rip rid rocket, Revenge of the Mummy, Dr Doom Drop , Dragon Challenge - And Many More….. They do have some fantastic Simulators but not too many… I’m just sayin….
Also, Universal is nowhere near Disney statistically even now. The least popular Disney World Park (Hollywood Studios) still had more guests than Islands of Adventure last year, so no wonder Disney is "shrugging".
Roy died 2009 and no one is there to save the company again. In the past years the Disney company aggressively invested in their time-share offering adding huge amount of volumes at Animal Kingdom Lodge (458 units), The Contemporary, Grand Floridian and now under construction at the Polynesian Resort. Add that expansion to the 1878 units that where already sold out and you have a huge number of financially "wealthy" customers that are sure to come for many years.
A lot of those new "vacation club" members are new to Disney. They get the high end resort rooms and haven't seen the parks before (all due to the economy and advertising).
From an investment point of view a lot of investments Disney made at WDW didn't live up to (financial)expectations. The Mission Mars ride didn't add extra visitors to Epcot neither did the overhaul of Test Track. Star Tours 2.0 didn't raise any attendance at the Disney Studios nor did the Jack Sparrow experience. Even the overly expensive New Fantasyland didn't boost consumption or sales at MK.
To get more from their time-share visitors Disney created Magic+ to harvest more money to separate their customers from their wallet with a fun plastic device that opens your room door, gets you quickly on rides and makes you pay for food and souvenirs without grapping your wallet/cash/creditcard. In the meantime adding paid extra's like a doll in a small world that knows your name, get a Micky to know your name and have your photo's, princes makeover and other pricy stuff latterly in arms reach.
Sure they look at Universal and see food sales go up after they install the Simpsons area. They see souvenir, food and attendance go up after the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Transformers/Despicable Me but Disney knows they don't have these cool ip's. The reason why they brought in Star Wars and Indiana Jones (to stay relevant) got eventually old with the shows and rides.
Most of their blockbuster movies tanked at the box-office or where handled poor in the parks (POTC) because they forgot what Walt was about, creating stunning rides and shows so people would care and where willing to be parted from their money.
At the moment Universal is the new Disney. A lot of former imagineers get creative freedom to build awesome rides and environments and it pays off for Comcast. And they are willing to keep the momentum going to keep investing in fun and new experiences.
"Universal’s main attraction are simulator’s? Huh?
Did I miss something at Universal?"
Then you list the ones that are not.
Okay, the main attractions that are simulators are the recent attractions. HP: Forbidden Journey, Simpsons, Despicable Me, Transformers, plus Spiderman. That's five.
Diagon Alley will get a roller coaster with a simulator. The Hogwarts express train will be a simulator too. Two more.
In Hollywood, they replaced the burnt King Kong with a 3D movie ride. They will remove 3D Shrek pretty soon like they removed Terminator.
You said NOT TOO MANY. That's quite of bit of new attractions that are simulators.
The water rides are not subject to such an approach, but it is quite likely Universal is done building water rides. I would love to see Universal do dark rides and slow moving water rides in a completely new way that utilizes animatronics or other ways to entertain the customer.
It's great that Universal is agressive with announcing & opening new attractions, but I'm sure Disney is quite aware with whats going own with the "competition", as well as it's own parks.
Magic Kingdom has managed to stay the #1 theme park in the world with no "NEW" attractions for some time (the New Fanatasy land expansion being the exception & even that isn't a huge leap forward).
Universal & Disney's own parks (with Harry Potter, Transformers, Cars Land, etc) have yet to unseat Magic Kingdom as "the" number 1 park in the world.
Even with Universal's plans, Disney isn't going to fall away. (They have Avatar, Marvel....and Star Wars.
Both can & will co-exist......
I Respond: Nonsense.
OT writes: "A lot of those new "vacation club" members are new to Disney. They get the high end resort rooms and haven't seen the parks before (all due to the economy and advertising)."
I Respond: Do you have a source that backs up the claim that a substantial percentage of DVC members "haven't seen the parks before"?
I have no doubt the new Harry Potter expansion at Universal Studios Florida will likely be the most extraordinary collection of attractions in theme park history. Further, the Cabana Bay resort and the multi-park Hogwart's Express will empower UO to market ticket and hotel packages in ways they have never done before.
I also have no doubt that people who come to Orlando to see the attractions at Universal Orlando will also visit the parks at Walt Disney World.
I'm also on the boat that I've been attending Universal more so than Disney. I don't think anybody can really steal Disney thunder. There are so many generations of kids that has been influenced by their grandparents and parents to see any decline. Disney knows it and that's why they continue to over price everything.
As for Universal Comcast is providing more than I ever could have imagined; taking this park from second rate, second tier stop to primary vacation spot. Keep it up and I may come back to Orlando some day to spend 4 days at Universal and 1 at Disney instead of the other way around.
At EPCOT, I love standing at the bar of the Rose & Crown. Every time I reminisce about my first visit to EPCOT Center -- the cast preview night in September of 1982.
At the Canadian pavilion I have to catch a performance by Off Kilter. Authentic Canadian music (Rush, Bryan Adams -- chuckle).
In the French pavilion Barbara has to have an orange slushie. In China I'll get a Tsing Tao. And I will never forget the day an old friend dropped forty bucks so we could each have a rail at La Cava del Tequila.
Then there's the intimacy of the American Gardens theater. The tribute bands performing in the summer are great fun with friends. And I enjoy it when Barbara HAS to go see performances by her favorites -- such as Dennis Deyoung or (help me) David Cassidy. It's pretty great to see her get silly over these aging (ahem) stars.
At Disney Hollywood Studios I was once picked to be in the Indiana Jones show. It reminds me of the time I was dragged on stage at the Adventurer's club. One time my niece (she's ten) got to be "the rebel spy" on "Star Tours -- The Adventure Continues."
And what was great was she was picked on Star Wars weekend. So that evening we caught the latest production of "Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars."
Of course Rockin' Roller Coaster is always on the agenda. When I worked for WDI, I used to ride the coaster daily. I really like the queue area -- although I never found out the name of the ULTRA hip Imagineer who selected Velvet Underground and New York Dolls posters for the walls.
And of course I'll spend time in "One Man's Dream" -- and exceptional production with an extraordinary film.
On the way to the Magic Kingdom we always stop by the bar at Ohana -- to visit our friend who has been working at WDW since 1977 (!!!). While we imbibe we share stories of the 1980s -- talking about Disney bar performers like Jon Camp and Denny Zavett.
On days we start at the Magic Kingdom we always catch performances by the Main Street Philharmonic. Some of these guys played at the grand opening of EPCOT. I like when Barbara dances during "Move It Shake It."
When we hit Space Mountain I will ALWAYS wait for the front seat. The front seat of the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain is my favorite coaster experience. Of course the Haunted Mansion is always on the bill. And we have come to enjoy the flash mob in Frontierland. We usually catch it on the way over to Big Thunder Mountain.
As for the Jungle Cruise ... Well, you already know how I feel about that.
There's the projection show on Cinderella's Castle (the most iconic theme park image on the planet) followed by fireworks.
We will usually finish with cocktails at California Grill. Sometimes our DVC friend stays a Bay Lake Tower -- which gets us access to the Top of the World lounge (what an amazing view).
Of course Universal does have Harry Potter ... so ...
Says the anonymous poster.
Count me as one who has visited WDW yearly since the early 80's who is done with it. I also visit Universal every trip when in Orlando. It's clear where I want to spend my money these days.
I just found the Disney employees, dining, and atmosphere so much better.
Hopefully Disney will get Avatar right…..Time will Tell..
At the same time, I'd love to see some fire from the CEO suite. I'd love to see Iger (or his replacement), just open the checkbook and go all Palpatine on the industry.
Until recently, my only experience with Universal was in Hollywood and I would agree with that statement. But the same could be said about Disney -- just a bunch of boat rides and omnimovers with singing animatronics. Other parks may have more exciting rides, but without question Disney always had the best theming, both on and off the rides.
Then I went to Islands of Adventures last year and everything changed. At it's base, Forbidden Journey may just be another motion simulator, but both inside and out it is one of the most immersive themed experiences I have encountered. Maybe Wizarding World is just a one hit wonder. But the pictures I have seen of Gringotts and Hogwarts Express and Springfield make me think Universal really gets it.
I don't think Disney won the theme parks wars just because of their ride tech, I think they won because of the overall experience. This is where I think Disney now has some serious competition.
Do those passes actually make Disney more money than tourists do? I think the annual pass holders in Disneyland are more valuable to Disney than the Orlando ones. It seems like the majority of business in WDW is from people who are not annual pass holders. I don't think Disney loses all that much if annual pass holders don't renew in Florida.
In a lot of ways, the less pass holders the better because Disney does not make room night money off them and the pass holders do not buy merchandise. So I think maybe Disney prefers to have fewer of these people.
That would be an awesome Harry Potter resort hotel. Girls could prefer the Beauxbatons side and boys could prefer the Durmstrung side. And everyone would love the theming and ability to sleep in a Potter themed hotel.
Maybe they could have the backstory of the resort be that these are dorms that appeared for the TriWizard tournament or something...or just say that magic had them appear so close together. But it would be cool to have these two other wizarding schools built that were never shown in the movies, and have them be hotels for guests.
Man, Universal would make a killing with those hotel rooms. Disney has nothing like that.
I Respond: So why haven't they?
Anyway, I dont think Universal will overtake Disney, they will get close but not overtake. As a lifelong Disney fan, I do wish that disney would take a page out of universal's book and announce new E ticket things coming soon instead of 5 years from now (cough cough new Fantasyland and Avatar Land) or let people speculate about it for years before any announcement is made(Star Wars). Guest and fan speculation is a make or break thing. Look at diagon alley vs Star wars land. universal knew they only had a certain window of time that people would be excited to simply speculate what was going in Jaws' place before thet had to make an announcement, and that's exactly what they did. If they had let that time elapse, people might have lost interest. Disney, ofcourse, is not heding to this as Star Wars is immensly peopular and almost immune to this. Key word though, ALMSOT
Disney is a brand that goes beyond the theme parks. Disney Parks & Resorts contain the theme parks, cruise lines, Adventures by Disney, the Aulani Resort, etc.
Disney always get the "family vacation" set because that's their brand.
Even with Harry Potter, Universal was still behind (multiple) Disney parks in last years attendance ranking.
Universal can have the most advance & entertaining theme park in Orlando, but it's attendance will still fall behind Disney because it's brand simply isn't as strong.
Now things like quality, experience, cost, can all be debated about which is best, but one company is aiming to cover all potential areas of family vacations, while the other seems to be focused on being "the" theme park to beat.
I've grown up going to that park, and is probably the park I've visited the most. The Mystic Fountain used to absolutely enthrall me, and I would spend what seemed like hours talking and playing with it.
Whenever I cross over the bridge from CityWalk to Port of Entry, and the music transitions, I feel warm and "magical" (for lack of a better word) inside. Hearing the Hulk roaring in the distance... Perfection for me.
The Jurassic Park Discovery Center and Camp Jurassic... Don't even get me started. I also hold a ton of sentimentality for what was once there; Merlinwood. I remember dining in The Enchanted Oak Tavern with my mom and her friend and being enthralled with my surroundings, or the amazing Dueling Dragons entrance and queue, and my first ride on The Flying Unicorn.
My point is, it is extremely possible for one to feel the same way that they do at Disney at Universal. I'm not saying you said this, but you asked...
I Respond: I'm sorry but, you're "not saying" I said what, exactly?
Universal can and will spend a ton of money to build better attractions, update CityWalk, build those 12,000 hotel rooms (can't see it happening, but...okay), and if they're creative and things fall their way, they could create a third park.
But looking at Google Maps, you can see the boundaries of their land. Unless they can buy up some apartment complexes and small businesses or somehow expand across I-4 to where Wet N Wild is, what they have is what they have.
Disney, by its sheer size, can get get a family to stay 6 nights and they'll feel satisfied. 6 nights at Universal and you'd be there 3 nights too long and most likely be bored by the middle of the fourth day.
Elijah Wood can lift weights all he wants, but put in him a fight with John Goodman, and as much effort as the little guy put in, it's just not going to be a fair fight.
I'm a big fan of both parks. I love the technology at Universal. It makes me excited to be there, and I know I'm going to have a lot of fun! But I tell you...Disney is so sentimental to me. I don't consider myself old, but as cheesy as it sounds, Disney warms my heart. Seeing Mickey Mouse makes me so happy. Seeing Cat in the Hat....meh.
Disney World is definitely the most magical place on earth.
So, me being the person I am, started a public debate on Facebook as to why her kids weren't posting pics and tagging themselves as most teens do.
It turns out she is a Disney loyalist who could compete with anyone on this site and refuses to take them anywhere else.
When I brought up Universal, she proceeded to post "That place sucks"... Then I asked if she had ever been there, to which she replied a resounding "No".
I finally posted that I think her kids would enjoy Universal over Disney based solely on their ages. Two of them agreed on my thread..... I don't think I will ever understand the mind of a Disneyphile.
There is no doubt that both resorts can and will co-exist. I have nothing against either park (as so many people make this UO vs WDW - pick a side and stay there) and have and will visit both (albeit less days at WDW recently). But how many years is it now we have been saying that Universal's spending will give Disney a good shove. It simply hasnt. Which, for me, is so so sad.
I don't think so...because I think people who love Potter are already coming because of Hogsmeade. A lot of them will come back again, for sure, to see Diagon Alley/London...but is there a group of people who love Potter but didn't come to see Hogsmeade but are now going to come just because Diagon Alley was built? I din't think so.
To me, Diagon Alley/Hogsmeade just gets me to buy a two-park pass at Universal when I would have only bought a ticket to Hogsemeade before. I still don't have much interest in Universal besides Potter. I think Universal will get a big rush of excitement that will be similar to numbers for when Hogsmeade opened...but I think they'll ride the same bell curve they did after Hogsmeade and that the attendance numbers will in a year or two go back to where they are right now today, pre-Diagon opening.
But, they'll be selling TONS more two-park tickets. Ain't nobody in their right mind who would buy a single park ticket when they can ride between the two on that train.
I think the biggest history-making impact of Diagon Alley/London will be the realization that Universal found a way to make everyone a park-hopper purchaser. My family NEVER buys the two-park tickets to Disney or any park. We just do one park a day...but we will CERTAINLY buy the two park hopper at Universal once Diagon opens.
I Respond: Thanks for the laugh.
I don't think they will be coming just because of Diagon Alley, but I was amazed when I was there for the first time last year how many people around me were also there for the first time. If I didn't know better, I would have assumed Forbidden Journey had just opened with all the surprised faces stopping to take pictures at every turn in the queue.
This puts Universal in a very strong position. They are still pulling in new guests with the current attractions, and are already doubling-down to get people to come back for a second visit.
When I read these "30 years of Disney vacations" comments ... these places play a "long game" of capital expenditures. You can't tell me there was millions of dollars of new attractions every year for the past 30 years... the industry doesn't work like that. And Comcast will slow down, and you'll hear the same from the Universal fans.
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