Update on the Harry Potter weekend and annual passholders

Universal Orlando: If you want in to this, or any other theme park event you can imagine, you've got to let yourself be heard.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:58 AM
Just a follow-up on this week's news - Universal Orlando announces special 'Harry Potter' event for November.

Several TPI readers expressed concern that Universal Orlando annual passholders wouldn't be able to get into the event without buying an expensive hotel/ticket package that they don't need. While Universal has promised "additional ways for a limited number of people to participate in celebration events," that hasn't kept passholders from feeling nervous that they might be kept out.

Here's some background from Universal insiders that might help put what's going on in perspective. This event isn't simply a Universal Orlando production. Warner Bros. is involved in more than a trivial way. They're really driving this event as a way to celebrate the Harry Potter films, to keep them in the public eye even after the final film's been released.

Remember that Universal Orlando passholders are not a Warner Bros. constituency. Warner Bros.'s goal is maximize global reach and publicity for this event. It's not to reward Universal Orlando's most loyal customers.

But Universal Orlando is involved in this event, and working to make it go smoothly and to learn what does and doesn't work. So if you are an annual passholder and want to get into Harry Potter events, make yourself be heard.

Politely, of course. Threats and blackmail don't make any feel good about helping you. But saying "I want to spend more money but you're not giving me that chance," is perhaps the single most powerful thing you can say to a business.

Do you want a Harry Potter event for passholders? Or a Simpsons weekend? Or a Men in Black tournament hard-ticket event? Let Universal know. Post in this forum (Universal execs read it). Respond to park surveys. Leave a comment with the guest relations office. Tell Universal what you're willing to spend more money to do with them, if they'd only give you that chance.

Same goes for Disney, SeaWorld, Legoland or any other business, too, of course.

I think that Universal's passholders are going to have ways into the Harry Potter events without buying hotel rooms or duplicate park tickets. But theme parks are always looking for growth opportunities. Put together your wish list, and let them know what's on it.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 27, 2011 at 6:47 PM
I snuck my wish in there, but does anyone know of a park that's done a special event tournament for its shoot-'em-up dark ride?

Offer prizes for top scores and the tournament winner/runners-ups. A special T-shirt or pin for all participants. Panel discussions with ride designers. Ride/practice time before the competition begins. Throw in some food, music, characters and special merchandise sales, and you've got a nice event.

Anyway, I'd love to see one. Men in Black. Buzz Lightyear. Heck, even Gobbler Getaway, with all the pizza you can eat, too. (In-joke for anyone who's been to Holiday World.)

From steve lee
Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:08 PM
The shooter competition is a BRILLIANT idea, Robert.

From N B
Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:35 PM
I would love to do an MIB tournament, our whole family knows the high value targets and we work as a team to shoot the "exhaust port" on the other car to make it spin so they cannot score well.

By the way, for all you hotel guests with unlimited Express Pass / room keys... if you like to ride MIB a few times in a row like we do, head out the first door on the right as you leave the exit area. It puts you about 1/3 of the way through the queue in the single riders line. You just have to duck under a chain to get in the Express Pass lane where they split off in the long air conditioned entry hallway.

We haven't lost to the other car in years and we average about 250-400K. We noticed they almost always let hotel guests in parties of four ride without two extra people.

If we don't get a "Galaxy Defender" rating at the end, we go on it again........ Don't ever grab another gun if you max out, it will usually bring down your average score, especially if the ride is almost over.

From Charles Reichley
Posted July 29, 2011 at 3:50 PM
i'm not sure they have an obligation to provide a non-hotel entry method; there's no particular reason to give especially preferential treatment to people who already got their money's worth (since they bought the tickets without knowledge of the special event).

What WOULD be fair would be to give a discount price equal to the entry fee to the park, since the passholders do not need entrance to the park. Sure, they probably don't need the hotel either, but they can use it. They can't use the entrance to the park.

From Jorge Zepeda
Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:36 AM
I think that annual pass holders should think of this as another hard ticket event like Horror Nights or Rock the Universe. I understand wanting to get into the event as pass holders. I'm a pass holder myself and would never imagine that an event such as this would be a perk as a pass holder. I've been a pass holder at multiple theme parks, and Universal Orlando is by far the most value for the buck. Not only do you get admission into the parks, free parking, and discounts, but you also get concert nights for mardi gras and the summer concerts also. If annual pass holders are true fans and want to experience the event I think they will book the event just like everyone else and make a nice weekend out of it. People, think about it. You are annual pass holders, not stock holders at Universal. Lots of annual pass holders think they own the place. You are customers, you want the product. When you want something you have to pay for it. I'll be booking my weekend on the 31st. Hope to see you there in November.

From Robert Niles
Posted August 3, 2011 at 6:25 AM
FWIW, the $699+ Premier Packages have sold out, and it looks like the remaining $369+ Celebration Packages will go soon, according to Universal's HP Celebration page.

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