Disney and Universal battle for Florida tourists

Posted | Contributed by Matt

Universal is drawing Orlando tourists away from Disney with attractions aimed at teenagers and adults. Disney on the other hand is trying to make sure there is no reason to ever leave their property.

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Well, this article offers no big surprises. My analysis of it is that there is room, right now, for both parks. The older kids start out as younger kids and go to the Disney parks. Then, when they are ready for the bigger thrills it is off to IOA.

When those older kids become adults with children then it is back to Disney. Ahhh, the Circle of Life!

However, I think Disney has the capacity to answer the thrill call. They have room to grow and the money and imagination to do it. I am not sure Universal will ever win the heart of a child the way the Magic Kingdom does.

It's true that the Mgic kingdom is THE park for kids. Universal will never be able to top Disney's charm for kids.

However, Disney's rides are very tame by comparison. Look at Cat in the Hat vs. Pooh's adventures. They are both the same kind of ride but Universal has added an extra element that makes it more fun. It's a lot better.

Disney has always said they are much more than just bending steel but they have been WAY behind Universal in the thrill department. Spiderman totally blows away anything Disney has, technology-wise. After riding Spiderman, every ride at Disney seems outdated(except maybe Space Mountain

This new ride at Epcot better deliver because Universal will surely be adding some more state-of-the-art attractions in the near future.

Hopefully, Disney will step it up because right now Universal is kicking their butts in the rides department.(IOA, really, because Universal sucks,IMO).

I wouldn't completely say that Disney is better for kids. Granted, the Magic Kingdom is full of family rides that can enjoyed by everyone, but EPCOT, the studios, and Animal Kingdom all fall short in kids rides (especially the studios). I was just as impressed with Universal Studios offerings for children as I was by most of the Disney Resort.

Islands of Adventure has the whole Dr. Seus Island with a terrific carousel, The Cat in the Hat Ride, and lots of other fun stuff. It also has the Unicorn themed roller coaster, and the hanging roller coaster in Jurassic Park. I just wish that they would add the Land Before Time characters into the Jurassic Park area. Kids would love that.

Universal Studios also has a big kids area with lots of things to do. From what I remember it had a kids coaster, some shows, a couple of playgrounds. Plus, the ET ride and Hanna Barbara ride (soon to be that Boy Genius character) Also, they are adding a Shrek 3D attraction which is sure to be a hit with the kids.

EPCOT has some kiosks for kids to make stuff in the various countries. It has a couple of rides that kids might enjoy, but not a whole lot.

The Studios have a few shows that are family friendly, then they have a Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. That's about it for them.

Animal Kingdom has the animals (which are wonderful) The safari is a great family ride. They also have Camp Mickey and the new Dinoland Rides. That is about it for kids in that park.

I think that families can find just as much to do in the Universal Parks as in all of the Disney parks except for the Magic Kingdom.

*** This post was edited by Natas on 8/5/2002. ***

This article makes a terrible asumption that Universal is trying to bank on "hit" movies such as spiderman and Incredible Hulk, when we all know that the rides were created way before either of those films even started production. the article also makes the mistake of saying that the Country Bear Jamboree was created to capitalize off of the success of the film, when in actuality the Jamboree inspired the abhorrent movie. The movies a disgrace to a half decent attraction.
Is that part of the article talking about the new Epcot simulator correct? 100 million dollars for a simulator seems like an awful lot of money.

I must admit that Im one of those grown ups who have been to both DisneyWorld and Land and there is really NO difference between either parks. The only thing that changes over the years are the "themes", When we head to Florida for our yearly trips we can (and have) easily skipped Disney in stead opting for IOA or even MGM.
If I had young kids maybe I would feel differently.


Well with rumors flying about the "Coaster Kingdom" in the works and a possible "Beastly Kingdom" area being added to the Animal Kingdom, I think it's totally possible that Disney may be gearing up for a thrill ride expreience.

The coaster in the works for AK is supposedly a "Dragon" themed indoor, with a largest animatronic device ever built. AK was supposed to have a racing inverted, but that was dropped for obvious reasons.

Disney never planned on going thrill, not while they had the Florida theme park empire in their back pocket. Now that Univeral has filled the "void" if you will, yes, they will draw from Disney. But Disney will always remain the king of FLA, due to the amount of room to expand. Universal is becoming a tight squeeze in its immediate area, and with land prices in the area soaring, large scale expansion isn't a viable option (Disney picked up that land for dirt cheap, using the name Retlaw, which is Walter spelt backwards)

Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom are different, although the differences are subtle. There are differnt attractions (i.e. Mr Toad to name one) and differences in the attractions featured at both parks (Space Mountain at DL isn't double tracked)

That 100 Million dollar simulator for EPCOT is Mission:Space and if its anything as good as it sounds, it will be pass up Spiderman technologically.

The ride will use a centrifuge to create the sensation of zero gravity, giving riders sustained airtime. If they pull that off, this could be truly incredible attraction.

I think it's getting tougher for Disney: In the past they have been able to trade on the fact that, although they certainly don't have the most thrilling rides, the experiences are unique because of the lengths they go to in theming the attractions. However, the emergence of IOA which combines thrills and elaborate theming means that Disney is going to have to modify their ethos slightly if they want to remain competitive i.e. more thrill rides, more innovation!

The bottom line is: I'll be visiting both parks this September, but will I still bother about Disney in 10 years time??

Disney will have a new gated attraction or two in ten years time, at the least. I don't think Universal can say that.

Disney bought Florida land under the name Walter E. Davis.

The $100 million dollar simulator is actually an entire pavilion built from scratch. There will be more than a simulator.

I can't see Universal going 10 years without opening another attraction ;) Besides, it seems that the issue is not how many attractions a park has, but rather, who the majority of attractions at a park are aimed at.
I was talking about a whole new park, ala Animal Kingdom, not a new attraction.

Ooooo I see Case in Point Animal Kingdom: family orientated park, featuring one river rapids ride...where's the thrills? Busch Gardens and Seaworld have both integrated thrill rides with a zoo environment. Given that IOA reputedly cost 1 billion to build, I can see why they might give it a few years before building another park! I think we should all organise a whip around to speed up the process! :)

100 million for a simulator.....thats a spicy meatball!! Where can I get some more info????

I have been to both Walt Disney World and to Universal Orlando. From what I have experienced I personally think that Universal rules over Disney. Universal has all the right things to atttract a crowd anywhere from 5 years old to 75 years old. They take the ordinary rides you find at Disney and add a twist to make them more daring and exciting to their riders. Don't get me wrong, the vast amount of land that Disney owns and its parking and transportation system amazed me. Yet, Universal's theming combined with their state-of-the-art rides makes it more enjoyable to the general public. I think that if Disney would spend some of the Billions of dollars they keep all stored up on a new park directed more towards thrill seekers combined with its great theming, Disney could easily regain the throne over Orlando. But until then, I say check out Universal Orlando, its truly amazing.

I completely agree with Mr Hougardy. I think what he said is ingenious. He put in a way I never could have and i just want to say thank you to you for that.

All you so-called enthusiasts may feel that Universal has the better parks, but number dont lie. More people STILL come to see the mouse often than anything Universal has to offer. Not to mention that there, at this point, is more to do in Magic Kingdom alone than in USF and IOA combined.

And haven't we already established that marketing to families garners more moolah than catering to thrill seekers?
--Disney will NEVER die...especially with Madden on MNF!

Jeff's avatar

I totally agree with you, but I think that for many of us sans families of our own, Universal is a lot more interesting, as the article suggested.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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