Celebrity Apprentice...Universal and Wizard World

Universal Orlando: Universal is selling WWHoP to be bigger than it really is.

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted April 5, 2010 at 9:08 AM
I remember sometime back Robert had posted an article concerning his fears over how The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was being misrepresented in Universal's advertisements. Basically, that WWHoP was being marketed as a theme park rather than just as a portion of IOA and how this could backfire (sorry, Robert, if I'm summarizing this inaccurately). Well, Robert, if you happened to see Celebrity Apprentice tonight those concerns weren't alleviated.

On several occasions one project manager in particular kept mentioning WWHoP as a park rather than a part of IOA. Also footage was edited to make it appear that the entrance to USF was the entrance to WWHoP to give the impression that it's a park unto itself. This gave me the serious willies and also made me a little angry. It's pretty blatant false advertisement.

Granted, a good many folks will have done their homework or will be familiar enough with IOA/USF in general to know what the real deal is, but there's going to be a certain segment that will come in expecting something far grander than what one portion of a park can deliver. It just riles me that there will be some kids and even adults who will come in with grander visions in their heads...and that Universal is purposely stoking these visions.

From Michael Smith
Posted April 5, 2010 at 2:07 PM
Yeah, this could be a big guest relations problem, and I think guest relations is already one of Universal's weak points. People will feel cheated if they were expecting a whole theme park, but when they get there, they find only 1 new ride.

I had a negative experience with false advertising at a theme park. My brother and I had a trip to an event in Houston planned, and I picked up a brochure for Six Flags over Texas at a rest area. It advertised I think Titan as a new coaster. I had never ridden a coaster like it before, and we had a day with nothing planned in Houston yet, so we decided to make a trip into Dallas, mainly to ride Titan. We arrived at park opening and discovered Titan wasn't even close to being complete. I felt like an idiot. I looked at the brochure, and there was nothing indicating that the ride was "opening soon" or under construction. It made it look like it was at the park ready to ride. To make it worse, they had another big coaster closed for refurbishment, and another that was having technical problems and would be delayed in opening. We rode the Texas Giant and then realized there wasn't much else open that we could do, so we went to guest relations 30 min. after park opening and tried to get our money back to no avail. Anytime I see Six Flags Over Texas I think sneaky crooks, and I'll never step foot into that park again. I hope Universal is prepared for people demanding their money back if what they built isn't satisfying for people expecting a whole theme park.

From Ben James
Posted April 5, 2010 at 10:36 AM
I think that NBC-Universal hit the mark right when they were using synergy to market the new area.

Yes, we all know that the area is being pushed a lot like its a new park. I'm sure that there will be something somewhere on property to re-iterate its a new land. One wonders though.

If this is as successful as they plan and expect. And, if it stays that way in the long haul. The position of the new area could lead to them expanding that into a new park. Long shot I know. But a good theory none the less.

Lastly, the show pointed out itself the same problems over and over. People who are unfamiliar with the terms and history of the Potter stories incorrectly naming stuff.

One wonders, will Universal actually take the time to train all staff resort-wide to be able to answer all questions relating to the new area and use correct terms and history as relating to potter-verse.

Ok, back to speculating. ;)

From Nick Markham
Posted April 5, 2010 at 9:17 PM
Actually, I think you all are confused as far as the misunderstanding of WWoHP being a whole new park. Universal did not promote it as a new park, it was the media who got the wrong perception NOT Universal making WWoHP bigger than it is.

From Rob P
Posted April 6, 2010 at 12:50 AM
I have only one thing to say to Universal :

planto veneficus universitas of differo potter maior quod melior.

( which roughly translates as make the wizarding world of Harry Potter bigger and better.)

How's that for a spell 'Arry ?

From Michael Smith
Posted April 6, 2010 at 11:08 AM
If the media got the wrong impression, they got the wrong impression from Universal. Universal pays people to figure out how to send out the message that they want people to recieve. If they wanted people to be sure that it was only a small section of an existing park, I would think that would be a key talking point with the media.

In my opinion, there are plenty of ways to promote this honestly as a new section, without diminishing the hype for Harry Potter. It should be talked about as an expansion of an already incredible and top ranked theme park.

From Tony Duda
Posted April 6, 2010 at 4:17 PM
I just saw The Apprentice and it was not as bad as Mark indicates. All the responsible people said it was an attraction at Universal Orlando...True. The inept ex-governor of Illinois screwed up everything in his verbiage so bad that The Donald fired him. When they started the on-site visit, they did so at the revolving Universal globe, the resort's icon...no problem. They then started walking in the direction of the back pathway towards IOA. They then cut film until they were in WWOHP. I guess Mark would have wanted them to show them walking for the next 10 minutes, not me.

All in all, Universal people and The Donald were very good at keeping the descriptions of WWOHP accurate. The celebrity contestants fumbled and mis-spoke as one would expect track stars, wrestlers, chefs and pop singers to do.

From Russell Meyer
Posted April 6, 2010 at 4:51 PM
I was pretty disappointed in the coverage of the new area shown on The Apprentice. Typically the show pushes the product really hard, but this one was more about the celebrities bungling around. You could tell from the concept drawings and artwork that there's really not a lot right now to this. They're re-theming two rides (Flying Unicorn and Dueling Dragons) to fit the Harry Potter theme, and one restaurant, The Enchanted Oak, is getting a complete re-do. The rest of the Wizarding World is just rebuilding/re-theming existing buildings, a few new buildings and gift shops, and of course the new ride. If Universal wants to get its $250+ million out of this investment the new ride better be a winner. Sure, a lot of tweens, teens, and Harry Potter freaks will flood the park just to soak up everything there is in this little corner of the park, but in the end if the experience cannot get the average park goer to return, the attendance bounce the park gets this summer will just be a blip over the next 5 years.

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:21 PM
I have to disagree, Tony. I rewatched the part of the episode in dispute. They are clearly walking towards the entrance, then there's a quick cut to Hagrid's cabin. They show the entrance gates clearly w/o any hint they're moving left towards the path to IOA.

I'm wouldn't worry about this, but it still irks me that NBC/Universal is being purposely manipulative with their editing. Don't take my word or Tony's...go on Hulu and make your own judgment.

From Tony Duda
Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:24 PM
One thing they didn't do was say WWOHP was in Islands of Adventure, just the all encompassing Universal Orlando. At least they didn't say Studios anywhere but they did the intro at the Studios side of the lagoon because that is where the globe is. I think we know too much about the place and every non-specific statement or action is easy to see. The new visitors wouldn't care but they may be upset if it isn't as big as they think it should be. I think Sindbad and Poseidon are on borrowed time.

From Claudine Deshaies
Posted April 10, 2010 at 6:02 AM
Russell wrote: "I was pretty disappointed in the coverage of the new area shown on The Apprentice". Russell, that would be because the area is just nowhere near finished. One morning, the Today show promised a "sneak peek" into the WWoHP, and I think all they showed was the Train. (and maybe the inside of one room) Universal keeps hyping this area of the park, but what I saw there last month was a long way from being finished - or that big, for that matter. It's cool for a section of an amusement park, but anyone that goes expecting it to be a whole park will be very disappointed.

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