How Do You Feel About Disney, Universal and Other Theme Parks?

July 30, 2022, 5:07 PM · As we approach the final lap of Summer 2022, let's check in and ask how theme park fans are feeling about the companies that run their favorite parks.

Universal Studios parent Comcast reported big numbers for its theme parks last week, and the same is expected from other companies as they file their quarterly reports over the next couple of weeks. From Walt Disney World to Disneyland, from Universal in Orlando to Universal Studios Hollywood, from Six Flags to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, fans are crowding theme parks from coast to coast in the United States. Those fans are spending lots of money, too, driving record per capita revenue at many companies.

So everything's great, right? Uh, not so fast there, Flash.

Fans might be pouring into theme parks and leaving their money behind, but they're not always happy with the experience. Staffing levels that delighted guests while parks operated under capacity restrictions cannot manage full-sized crowds, leading to reduced services in some parks. Upcharges abound, including for things that many guests just to get for free, including Disney's old Fastpass ride reservation system. Menu selections and portion sizes are down, while prices head up.

To be fair, with record heat in many locations, air travel hassles, and record gas prices draining fans before they even get to the parks, many guests are walking through the gates in a far less than happy mood. But what fans have encountered inside the parks this summer too often has contributed to their frustration and disappointment with travel this year, rather than overcoming it.

Of course, it's not all bad news - and couldn't be, given the number of fans continuing to return to the parks. New rides and the return of old favorites have delighted many theme park visitors. Deals are available, and even when prices rise, many fans continue to find that theme parks provide good value when judged against other forms of out-of-home entertainment, from movies to concerts and shows and sporting events.

So who is doing the best, and the worst, among theme park companies in 2022? How are you feeling about the top six companies that run major theme parks in the United States? We would like to ask whether you are feeling positive, negative, or indifferent thoughts about these companies right now. Your answer should reflect your opinion about the company overall - including its parks, operations, attractions and management, plus the direction you feel it is heading.

Disney Parks and Experiences runs the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California.

Universal Parks & Resorts runs the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood in California.

SeaWorld Entertainment runs the SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio as well as the Busch Gardens parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, plus Sesame Place in Pennsylvania and now near San Diego.

Six Flags runs branded theme parks throughout the country, including Six Flags Magic Mountain outside Los Angeles, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey and Six Flags Great America outside Chicago.

Cedar Fair runs Knott's Berry Farm in California, Canada's Wonderland near Toronto, flagship Cedar Point in Ohio, plus Kings Island and other regional parks.

Merlin Entertainments runs the Legoland theme parks as well as other attractions around the world, including many top parks in Europe.

Thank you for voting, and we would love to hear any detailed analysis about these companies you would care to share, in the comments below.

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Replies (37)

July 30, 2022 at 6:34 PM

A trip to Disney these days is just an expensive logistical nightmare and I have no interest in going there anymore. I just need to figure out how to transfer the HM, POC and Everest over to Universal and I’d be a happy girl.

That said, I worry that Universal may someday go the same way. Their hotel prices are getting ridiculous, making it harder to justify staying in the ones with free Express… and they’re starting to route the cheaper Florida resident rates to the new offsite hotels… Which completely ruins the walkability I’ve always loved about USO. I’m really looking forward to their plans for Epic Universe, but I worry what the expansion will do to the overall Universal experience.

Honestly, the most enjoyable, relaxing time I’ve spent at a theme park recently was at Dollywood in May. The rides were great, the food was wonderful and the staff was friendly. Kind of reminded me how Florida parks used to be.

July 30, 2022 at 6:57 PM

Obviously I chose .... Wait! My phone is ringing.

July 30, 2022 at 8:14 PM

I'll go against the grain here and say I enjoy Disney Parks much more now just for one reason: park pass. Magic Kingdom specifically is noticeably less crowded than it was pre-pandemic because so many people can't get in. While the park is still busy and has long lines, it is not "OMG this place is way too crowded" like it always was before. While i'm not a fan of Genie+ because of the upcharge, i've always hated the Fastpass system going back over 20 years so the change to upcharge doesn't bother me as much as there are less people using it (personally I never buy any upcharges anywhere).
I also really like all of the new additions to WDW. The new rides they have built (Flight of Passage, Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance, Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway, Slinkey Dog with the accompanying land, Guardians of the Galaxy, Tron) are all fantastic additions to WDW and their respective parks. The additions that have been made to WDW in the past 10 years are all "Disney at their best" IMO, they definitely have been investing big money into WDW and anybody who doesn't think so must be blind.
DLR doesn't seem like they have been focused on so much. Marvel Land was definitely a let down in both California and Paris, however I will admit from like 2007-2012 DLR was getting lots of new stuff and WDW got practically nothing.

The past several times i've been to UO I have to hand it to them, they have been ran really well. The employees were friendly, everything was open and running full capacity, clean, etc. Hagrid and Velocicoaster are both fantastic attractions although i'm not a big fan of many attractions they added before that.
I think it's very hypocritical that some people get mad at Disney for doing an upcharge line skip system and then praise Universal, and the dynamic pricing for Universal's can get crazy (like $200 per person per day just for Express). As UO grows they are going to run into many of the same problems Disney has, like walkability, transportation, affordability, etc as the poster above said. I've always found Universal to be much more blatant about charging for things and jacking up the prices...I mean we're talking three different Harry Potter areas in three different parks, you don't get much more blatant rip-off than that.

Sadly Six Flags isn't any different now than it was 20 years ago, a whole lot of talk and not a lot of action. It's sad for me because SFGAm was my home park growing up and it was actually a world class park, they regularly made big investments building record breakers (American Eagle, Shockwave) as well as prototypes (Iron Wolf, Batman, Raging Bull), but not only that the park was also themed well, maintained well, and operated well. Since Premier bought Six Flags the company just went down and never recovered, SFGAm still does get big rides compared to most of the rest of the chain (which makes sense as the park is a cash cow) but it just has that Six Flags stench that it can't shake off. They've had some small stretches where they made efforts to turn it around but always seem to revert back to the mean. I've actually been to all the SF parks except SF Mexico and they all just can't seem to get it right, you just get that feeling of "wow this place probably used to be great" while walking around all of them.

Cedar Fair I think really started going downhill the last few years of Kinzel, got a shot of life when Ouimet came in, and Zimmerman took over they lost some of that momentum. From a maintenance and ops standpoint they have always been a mixed bag but mostly fine. Some of the recent moves I really don't like are the entrance renovation of Carowinds (which I think worked well for CP but looks awful at Carowinds), and Orion was totally mailed in. I went to KI a couple years ago and the place seemed so dead and the rides were all rough, which is a shame because I used to really like that park, but the past year it seems like they have some improvements. KD is a park that I didn't care for much the first time I went there but then went back a few years ago and it was great so hopefully they can send some of that mojo to KI. The last time I visited CP it was a huge let down, probably the worst experience i've ever had any park ever (in 30 years of going to parks), but that was 2018 and it seems like their staffing problems have gotten better now with the higher wages. It's like they just threw their hands in the air and said "F it" and raised their wages to $20 and all of a sudden a lot of their problems were solved haha.

I really don't like what Sea World has been doing the past decade with their employees and operations, TBH much of it is just flat out sleazy. They have definitely cut down on their operating costs a lot and spent a lot of money on new rides, so their direction they have gone reminds me a lot of early 2000's Six Flags. But I also acknowledge the past year or so they have realized this and spent a lot of money repainting all of their rides and making the parks look nice...so at least they are doing that (even though they are ran like total dogsh*t). You can't deny that the Busch Gardens parks are still two of the best in the world, the Sea World brand seems like they are finding their groove again and picking up more attendance with all of the new rides and the return of the fund cards, but the new attractions they are building are a mixed bag. Iron Gwazi and Pantheon are no doubt awesome rides, but Ice Breaker is just a terrible addition (high height requirement, uncomfortable, not very thrilling), and the new B&M coaster they are building...I mean if you are advertising yourself as the coaster capital of Orlando you need to do better than that, it doesn't look like anything special.

For the industry in general: the attractions that are being built nowadays are amazing, better than ever. At the destination parks I think this was driven largely by Harry Potter, Comcast had decided to double down on their theme parks and really invigorated what it meant to be to build an attraction at a destination park. That made Disney realize "oh crap we have to start trying" and as a result we have seen tons of investment in WDW. In regard to seasonal parks, advances in technology have pushed newer rides to be smoother, more intense, more reliable, and longer lasting than ever before. Look at what RMC has done in addition to the new Vekoma and Intamin pushing the envelope as well as investing in better restraints and track design for smoother rides.

Now when it comes to the industry in general's business practices: absolutely atrocious, 0/10. I've grown up working in this industry and lived through all the ups and downs over the past 30 years and the business practices just keep getting worse and worse, they are definitely running out of ideas on how to grow profits.
Which brings me to my next point about how companies like Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and Sea World are publicly traded but don't have any prospects for growth. Six Flags has tried over and over to make licensing deals for parks in other countries but never do their do their due diligence and it never works out, Sea World has a new licensed park opening in Abu Dhabi, and Cedar Fair has been trying to branch out into sports parks and expanding Carowinds into a regional destination. That being said since their current parks have pretty much tapped out markets and not much prospects for building more parks, these companies are resorting to all sorts of asinine ideas to try and milk people for as much money as possible and they are running out of ways to do it. Publicly traded companies are all about quarterly and yearly profits and trying to beat the year before and that just doesn't translate well to this industry, I can see companies like SF and CF being public because they are so big, but IMO a company like Sea World has no business being publicly traded, it would make much more sense for them to be privately owned like Publix or something. The constant need to grow profits has just made visiting these parks an awful experience and quite honestly I don't visit parks nearly as much as I otherwise would if they were still ran like they used to be.

July 30, 2022 at 8:25 PM

My mom is heading to WDW with her grandkids in a couple of weeks so can get more of a view of things from her. They are annoyed at some of the reservations and such but still hopeful for a long-delayed trip and am interested how they feel on how it works, crowds etc. That will give me a better idea on how things are but telling how Disney/Universal get big feelings one way or another while seems "indifferent" rules on the other parks.

July 30, 2022 at 9:14 PM

Being on a lot of different theme park forums I’ve always gotten the same feeling from a majority of people-

“Disney bad, Universal good”. “I used to go to Disney every year but since I’ve gone to Universal, Disney won’t get my money”.

I don’t disagree with this but I don’t think that Disney is entirely bad. I believe both have their own offerings that differentiate the two. However, what happens in the coming years (esp in FL) will show which company reigns supreme, at least in Central Florida. If Disney doesn’t have a counter to EU soon or in the few years after it opens then Universal will win more and more people over.

July 30, 2022 at 10:36 PM

I could have sworn the Disney CEO's name would've been mentioned by now.

July 31, 2022 at 5:57 AM

We are flying from the UK in September and even though we have tickets for all parks I am not really looking forward to Disney like I used to do. We are not rope drop people so the thought of making reservations at 7am does not appeal to us even though we have genie+ included in the ticket cost. Universal and Busch Gardens are what I am looking forward to the most but hoping Disney will dispel any doubts we have.

July 31, 2022 at 6:16 AM

Universal, Disney and Sea World, all "positive". The rest "indifferent".

July 31, 2022 at 7:44 AM

Very telling when I visited Disney at the height of Covid in a virtually empty park even with most rides open and it just didn’t hold up to Universal under the same circumstances. Now add in a packed park experience and untold reservations and line management apps and u see absolutely no value in visiting.

July 31, 2022 at 9:09 AM

I have just finished visiting both WDW and Universal Orlando the last two weeks. I voted positive with both companies.

Yes, Disney takes a lot of planning, but as a planner in general, it’s not something I have an issue with. With some research, a planner such as myself can create a touring plan that minimizes waits at all rides with exception of the top ride at each park (Rise at HS, Remy at EPCOT, 7 Drawfs at MK, Flight of Passage at AK), but still rode them all at least one time each without purchasing individual Lightning Lane (and also did not purchase Genie+ on any day…again, research good touring plans). I also rode Guardians of the Galaxy twice, getting boarding group 1 both times (fast fingers and more research). While I don’t really like the park reservation system, it did keep crowds lower than what I have experienced pre-pandemic.

My Universal experience was also great. They have really outdone themselves with their latest coasters (Velocicoaster is FANTASTIC!) We are dedicated rope droppers and had early entry tickets without staying in a Universal hotel, so we were able to get a lot done before noon everyday before those with Universal Express strolled in and the lines and crowds became unbearable (Harris routinely had 3 hour waits). This was also true at Volcano Bay where a couple of slides had 5 hour virtual line waits and the park reached capacity.

I fear that the Universal faithful will be shocked at the increase ticket cost in 2025 with Epic Universe opens. As there is virtually no increase in cost between 2 day and 5 day tickets (even without this summer’s buy 3 days get 2 free offer), as soon as Epic Universe opens, expect the costs to increase at least 50%.

One other thing that I noticed was a lot of unhappy, hot, angry Karens at both properties. As the parks go after higher economic class clientele, those in that class who are used to getting their way are finding themselves in physically uncomfortable situations that they just aren’t used to. Furthermore, in the two weeks I was down there, there was a high profile fight between two families at MK, a panic at City Walk caused by a fight among teens, and I witnessed another fight on my last day at Universal.

July 31, 2022 at 9:42 AM

I agree with the Universal Hotel rates getting ridiculous. They jacked up the prices and are not giving any AP discounts or even stay more save more rates at the premier hotels. Not sure if it demand or staffing issues where they cannot be at full capacity, but rates are double what I paid last year with AP discounts.

July 31, 2022 at 10:49 AM

Universal Hotels had advantage of not as many as Disney so could charge a tad more to be so close to the parks. But the increases are getting worse when compared to Disney and seen a few folks going on how they'd rather stay off property and shuttle over than pay that much even if a lot of rooms are available.

July 31, 2022 at 12:14 PM

What I find REALLY interesting about this survey/topic, is that Robert has posed the questions as individual evaluations of the companies. You can say you feel positive about BOTH Universal and Disney. But when the comments start popping up the knee-jerk, reactionary (and totally unnecessary) internet tribalism shows up.

Amusing.

July 31, 2022 at 12:43 PM

Positive to all.

I guess I have a lot of love to give. Just ask my 19 cats.

July 31, 2022 at 12:47 PM

I guess, but the survey results generally reflect ~the vibe~ of ~internet spaces~ right? people have a positive feeling about universal parks and a negative feeling about disney parks. it appears that negative feeling is emerging (primarily) because of the emergence of Added Fees and Added Day Management. in short, things are changing and not in ways people (on the internet) like very much.

at least one of those things (fees) brings disney pretty well in line with universal (in my opinion). if you want to go to the universal parks and not wait in lines ... you're paying a bundle of money for universal express. if your counterargument is, "well, if you plan your day well, you don't need it!" I'd say ... perhaps because there are fewer great attractions at those two theme parks vs. the four theme parks at the walt disney world resort. but, I digress.

the planning thing sucks, but I feel like that's been a thing at walt disney world staple for a decade and you can opt in or out of that if you want. my assessment (my opinion) is that people who spend a lot of time on the internet talking about theme parks are, ah, more likely to be incapable of opting out of spending a lot of time planning their vacations and are annoyed that doing the planning is a pain in the butt. who's to say.

if I'm being totally honest: I have negative vibes for all corporations, but since I know what Robert is actually asking here: positive for universal and disney, indifferent for all other.

July 31, 2022 at 1:31 PM

Having an opinion equals "tribalism" to TH Creative. You might want to hop off the internet and touch grass, holmes.

My negative opinion of Disney isn't made in comparison to other companies' parks, it's made in comparison to the 100+ trips to Disney parks I've made over the course of my life, first as a young child and now with children of my own. What used to be easy is now hard; what used to be for everyone is now only for the rich.

Now you can't ride rides or even get a coke without looking at your phone. I go on vacation to avoid looking at my phone, so that's an insurmountable negative right there. Nor am I interested in a taking a job working as a cashier at a food service window, yet Disney now expects me to do that job and pay more for the same substandard food.

In the 10 years since my youngest was born, the price of the "cheap" room at all three of the Disneyland hotels has doubled, meaning you now pay $850 a night at the Grand Californian for a room no bigger or fancier than you can get at the Best Western across the street. And oh, they no longer clean your room when you stay. And gosh, the magic morning hour has now been dialed back to 30 minutes, and most of the rides aren't even open during that period.

For all of my life the fastpass worked great, and allowed everyone, even the poorest visitor to the park, to ride their favorites without unduly burdening the rest of us. Now only the rich can skip the line, to the very serious detriment of everyone else. Once you could get a free fastpass to ride Radiator Springs; now you have to pay $20 more per family member or you might not be allowed to ride at all (recall they have been shutting down the standby line when the ILL gets too long). You spend your life savings to bring your children to Disneyland from some far away place to find out your options for riding the brand new ride you've all be dreaming of riding are to: pay another $20 a head, or stand in a facially absurd 4 hour line, made far longer by all the rich people who don't blink at dropping more money. It's extortion. And we know it's intentional, seeing as how they don't open the ride during the first and last hours of the day, when you might encounter a manageable line that wouldn't require you to pay more.

Disney didn't have to devolve like this. It was a very successful company that consistently posted huge profits. Which is to say these negative developments are purely the product of GREED. And that's ultimately the problem--Disney's business methods now directly contradict the first line of the welcoming plaque at Disneyland: "Disneyland is YOUR land." That was Walt ideal, that egalitarian, welcoming message is what set Disneyland apart from every other amusement park, and that's what kept Disney apart from the other companies on your list. A place where everyone is welcome.

No more. Disneyland is no longer "your land," it is now very much OUR land, with "our" being the rich. Thanks to multi-millionaire Chapek and the tone-deaf billionaires on Disney's board, Disneyland is now only for the Karens (as someone rightfully said above), it's only for the people willing to pay out the nose, and no one else. If you're poor, you might not even be allowed to ride certain rides if enough rich people have chosen to ride them! Sorry, poors, this is OUR land, just be thankful we allow you in at all!

It stinks like rotting fish. America has become a land of the have and have nots, and rather than push back on that sad development by continuing to honor Walt's egalitarian goals, Disney has chosen sides, and thrown in its lot with the Kardashians and other gross people of flash money. Disney is now a "luxury" experience, effectively the antithesis of the idea that Disney is "your" land. It's pathetic. To those who say "it has to be this way," the answer is a an easy no--Disney made huge profits when they had free fast passes, they made huge profits when they paid to have foodservice cashiers. They just had to make MORE. The MAGA cult moans and whines about Disney being "woke" and aligning itself with marginalized groups, but that's a sideshow compared to Disney's full embrace of financial elitism. You're worried about Disney adding a Black character? You need to be worried whether your broke-butt family will be allowed to visit at all!

If I were young today and my dad was of the same social class he was when I was a kid, we wouldn't have been able to go to Disneyland, it would have been too expensive. Or maybe my dad would have been forced to forgo other expenses just to take his family to the parks. Either way, the egalitarian goodwill that has always caused Disney to stand apart is dying on the vine, and as Disney slips more and more in the land of luxury, that goodwill will disappear entirely.

Disney thinks it's invincible; people argue "but the parks are packed, everything must be fine." Nope. People like me still visit hoping to catch a whiff of what we remember, but on each visit our noses are filled more and more with the stench of greed and classism, and the dream of Disney recedes further into our memories. As others have noted, Universal and Dollywood are now closer to what people loved about Disney, and soon Disney will lose its special glow. A total shame that could so easily be avoided.

July 31, 2022 at 1:10 PM

In what world does Disney have better attractions than Universal? Hagrids, Velocicoaster, Gringotts are worlds beyond anything Disney has out there. I would even argue that Spiderman and Transformers are more fun than Flight of Passage because you actually move when watching the movie. FOP is better themed soarin. 7D and Rock n Rollercoaster are a joke, and moreso in that you have to pay to ride them. Disney arrogance is going to cost them when EU opens.

July 31, 2022 at 1:17 PM

I said that universal has *fewer* great attractions than disney. I did not say that the great attractions disney has are greater than the great attractions universal has.

and, I think to thcreative's point, the idea that flight of passive is a "better themed soarin" or that a grand californian room is "no fancier than a best western" room is ... you know, kind of where we're at.

if you think it sucks, don't go! if you're disappointed that it sucks, fair enough! but if you really think that the juice ain't worth the squeeze, well, you've got other options.

I'd also like to push back against the idea that walt disney cared about egalitarianism but, honestly, that myth is probably not worth the time it would take to dispel in anyone who believes it.

July 31, 2022 at 1:22 PM

"if you think it sucks, don't go! if you're disappointed that it sucks, fair enough! but if you really think that the juice ain't worth the squeeze, well, you've got other options."

Check the name of the article, friend. People are invited to share their opinions here.

July 31, 2022 at 1:47 PM

@thecolonel: Your name/handle was never referenced. It's not always about you.

July 31, 2022 at 1:48 PM

@MikeW,
What is interesting is I checked September 2023 rates and compared them to my HHN dates for this year and the seasonal rate is actually cheaper. They conveniently increased the day after my first search but are still less.

July 31, 2022 at 2:13 PM

I haven’t been to many Six Flags parks, but had a chance to get to Six Flags Great Adventure (and Hurricane Harbor) last week, for the first time.

I was definitely not impressed. Jersey Devil was a good coaster, but some of them I was like “you’ve gotta be kidding me”. The Dark Knight Coaster topped that list. Then there was the other indoor coaster (skull mountain, I think) it wasn’t even dark inside, so you could see the entire track.

I’m surely in the minority, but I hated El Toro. The way the lap bat sat up high, I felt like I was in danger of cracking some ribs, and that is the last ride you want to be on if you have any bit of nervousness !

The lackluster visit to Six Flags really made me appreciate the superior parks that much more…

July 31, 2022 at 3:41 PM

I think a little unfair to compare ticket prices as we know how those increase constantly all the time. Still recall feeling just under $200 for a parkhopper a bit much in 1999, but then how just about everything then was a lot cheaper yet felt more expensive, just how life is. Disney has always been more expensive than other parks to back the experience, just how it is.

Again, figuring it out after my mom's trip report although notable how my sister is planning a trip to Disneyland next year and seeing some decent prices on the site hotels so it comes down to Disney knowing some folks will pay at higher prices to justify raising them.

July 31, 2022 at 5:27 PM

Due to the guest experience we stopped going to WDW a long time ago and non of the changes have enticed us to go back. Universal and Sea World are still positive although Universal is getting more crowded, I hope that will be resolved when Epic Universe opens and hopefully Universal will fill the empty theaters with good shows to put butts on seats soon.

July 31, 2022 at 6:53 PM

Last week I did 7 Florida parks in 6 days. Sat Seaworld, Sun DHS&EP, Mon EP, Tue MK, Wed USF&IOA, Thu Busch Gardens. It was very hot and busy everywhere and I was able to do a lot each day. I have GoldAP at WDW and highest APs at Uni and SW/BG. At my age, many rides are less attractive but I did several inc Cosmic Rewind. I didn't do any real coasters. I saw as many shows as possible.

All the parks were very enjoyable EXCEPT for Magic Kingdom where the crowds, the kids, the strollers were just aggravating.

July 31, 2022 at 10:32 PM

Six Flags is such a mixed bag right now. While it is disappointing the park is not investing in new attractions (with a few exceptions at some parks), I can appreciate the way the chain is trying to freshen up their parks. SFoG spent a ton on upgrading the landscaping around the park, as well as re-tracking their classic woodie Scream Machine. SF White Water has spruced up as well with fresh paint and landscaping as well. I admit, the parks do look better, and these are investments in their existing assets which will be a good thing in the long run. Customer service is still a problem although that is largely staffing. There are still a few not-so-nice employees unfortunately. Time will tell whether the chain's new strategies will work.

August 1, 2022 at 8:22 AM

Most days I would not vote CF negative, But Great America is my home park, so not feeling particularly charitable towards them at this precise moment.

August 1, 2022 at 9:03 AM

Personally, I judge each park/chain based on my expectation and past experience with that company. I don't think it's fair to judge Six Flags against Disney, because they operate very different and guests have very different expectations when they visit one of those parks.

However, I think there have been some general trends from each of the companies that are getting more and more frustrating. Across the industry, guests are paying more money for fewer benefits and privileges, and in some cases are being charged for things that used to be included in the admission. That has frustrated me more than anything else, and companies trying to squeeze every last penny out of guests' pockets is getting old very quickly. Theme park operators are in the "long game", yet on the business side, many are acting like they need to recoup investments within a year or 2 instead of slowly growing a fanbase and interest over time.

While balance sheets have quickly recovered from the devastation that the pandemic caused, at some point guests will lose that pent up desire to visit and accept all the nickel and diming that virtually every theme park has been engaging in over the past year. Financial outlooks may look rosy now, but I just can't see it staying that way over the next 2-3 years if parks continue to engage in these shrewd business practices.

Overall, I don't have a favorable view towards ANY of the major theme park companies right now, and the prospects of that changing in the near term are pretty low. I wish parks would see the error of their ways, and focus more on customer satisfaction and product longevity instead of immediate bottom-line profits, but that is unfortunately the world we live in right now.

August 1, 2022 at 1:25 PM

I love this poll, asking about our feelings, the #1 main driver of any and all worthwhile human interactions and decisions!
I’ll admit, a lot of things may go over my head, like understanding what’s going on in a good movie or the like, but I could legitimately be a good food critic (“This food is good/bad”) or possibly an art critic (“This picture is good/bad”). I eat a lot of food and look at a lot of pictures, so I can comment on these things pretty easily, but movies not so much.
I do go to theme parks quite often, so I can legitimately say without a doubt that Disney is good (diversity and inclusion do make a difference) and all the others are bad. Social justice is much more important than how a company conducts its business. Those that do not agree should just get over themselves. Just my two cents.

August 1, 2022 at 12:57 PM

@ Russell the trend-watcher (or anyone, quite frankly): Speaking of trends and prices going up, three years from now, in 2025, how much do you think it will cost for a one day admission to Universal's Epic Universe?

August 1, 2022 at 1:11 PM

Seeing that Universal currently charges a bit over $100 for a single day non-hopping ticket (as much as $170 for hopping), I wouldn't be surprised to see Universal to increase the premium upcharge for hopping and to perhaps bump prices for that single day park to park ticket close to the $200 threshold. Disney has already broken $200 for some days, and given the pace of inflation, Universal probably won't be able to resist breaking the $200 barrier in the not too distant future, especially since they'll have a shiny new theme park to sell (and pay for) in 2025.

However, the 2 resorts tend to base pricing changes based on cues from each other, so if WDW continues to put the screws to guests, Universal could easily justify accelerating pricing increases to keep pace and to maximize revenue.

August 1, 2022 at 3:39 PM

$200 for a day at a theme park. Here's hoping the attractions at UEU run as dependably as GOTGCR.

August 1, 2022 at 3:39 PM

Just looking at starting prices for the base ticket to Universal (1 park per day, no Volcano Bay), a one day ticket is $109, 2 days is $213, 3 days is $234, 4 days is $248, and 5 days is $264. I would not expect the price for 1 and 2 day tickets to increase much more than the usual yearly increases, but I would expect the price of the 3 day and more tickets to increase by at least $100. Universal knows that most people will want to see all three parks and will want to do so over three days, and that is where the major price increase will happen. Furthermore, I expect a 6 day ticket to be offered, and maybe even 7 days when you consider that Universal counts Volcano Bay as a theme park even if their pricing doesn’t by charging extra to include Volcano Bay as part of a multi-day ticket.

And if you are a Universal AP holder, I would expect to see your AP cost to rise by at least 50% come 2025.

August 1, 2022 at 4:28 PM

I agree Universal will likely hike prices when Epic Universe opens in 2025. How much do we think Disney will hike prices for Magic Kingdom when Tron: Lightcycle Run opens in 2030?

August 1, 2022 at 4:41 PM

Even if they don't increase prices beyond their "normal increase," I'd still expect them to see a bump in ticket revenue from all the guests who add a third day to their ticket who otherwise would not (myself included). Does that come at Disney's expense? Or does that continue to come at the expense of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens? I think that's going to be interesting as we move closer to 2030.

August 1, 2022 at 5:47 PM

J. Sundstrom: "Even if they don't increase prices beyond their "normal increase," I'd still expect them to see a bump in ticket revenue from all the guests who add a third day to their ticket ..."

Me: For that to happen they will need to add something new to IOA and USF. USF has a Shrek attraction under construction (with nothing else announced) and IOA has announced ... well, crickets.

Also, it's important to remind people of how the first Potter attraction impacted USF attendance vs. IOA attendance. Consider the TEA/AECOM attendance report related to 2010 -- the year the Potter attractions opened at IOA. The report indicates that attendance at IOA jumped by 1,425,000 over the previous year, but that USF attendance increased by only 419,000.

August 1, 2022 at 6:14 PM

right, but by the time harry potter became a two-park experience (2014-15) you see USF/IOA come near level on attendance (around the 8/9 million mark. that holds true even into 2019, when USF outdrew IOA.

all to say that if you believe UOR is a two-day trip now (I do, for first timers anyway), it’ll be a nice three day trip when EU opens … or a really unpleasant two day trip. as always, your mileage may vary. i just think it’s too much to squeeze into one day in an enjoyable manner.

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