Disney and Universal do battle for tourist dollars in Orlando

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Having invested billions in new attractions and innovative technology over the last few years, the industry’s major players are reaping the rewards of increased visitation, higher guest spending and cash reserves that promise more developments to come. As Jebediah Springfield, the illustrious founder of the original Springfield, might have said, the nation’s biggest theme parks are getting, well, “embiggened.”

Read more from NBC News.

rollergator's avatar

Read this article yesterday and even discussed it on the drive home. There are billions at stake.

Universal's "big play" seems to be into immersive experience, theming, rides, and IP integration. Disney's, OTOH, is in changing the whole way in which guests experience the "entertainment" side of amusements. In the end, I think they may both be right - by taking separate paths, they are segmenting the market in a way that both be can successful. "Making the pie higher," so to speak.

Also I got something in my email box today that I thought would never happen, a pin for 30 (Hard Rock)-40%(the other two) off this holiday season. Looks like Universal is trying to beat Disney at its own game on discounts as well. If it weren't for the fact that Im almost certain I will be going to Orlando next fall I would seriously consider taking them up on their offer.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

Jeff's avatar

I noticed that as well. I think Universal might shift more to that multi-day ticket model where they maintain those prices but discount the hotels and add-ons more, now that they're closer to really having a multi-day offering beyond two days.

I think Disney's NextGen project is more for the company than it is the consumers. Sure, you can do attraction booking and have a fancy plastic wristband, but mostly I see it as a data consolidation project to better understand guest behavior. What they do in terms of offerings to the guests in the long-term is more of the potential benefit. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

This article was a big "no DUH" for me. Of course more immersive attractions and expanded lands and rides equal more money for parks whose patrons come to see something they can't see anywhere else.

One thing: Are they implementing the Magic+ bracelets yet? Maybe I missed it in the article. If they have already implemented them, how are they are working? Does Disney have a backup bracelet for people if the bracelet malfunctions? I mean, that's their room key and stuff, and if their credit card is linked and they've stored their credit card in their room, it could be a real pain in the rear end to get a new bracelet...? I'm just wondering if they've implemented this with positive results beyond a test group.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Jeff's avatar

The bracelets are being deployed mostly with hotel guests at this point. You don't need the bracelet... the room keys, annual passes, and plastic tickets (if they go that route) will also work once they turn them on as part of the system. Room charges aren't any different than they were. They're just using the RFID tag instead of the magnetic stripe.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

As of last week, Disney is forcing ALL ap holders to change the RFID cards. I went on Labor Day to the Magic Kingdom and they did allow me to enter the park via a guest service representative scanning my paper ticket through an iPhone scan of the ticket. They did explain sometime soon I would need to change over to the RFID cards.

The next day, we had dinner scheduled at Le Cellier for our anniversary. We once again encountered a guest service representative at the gate, however this time we had to change to the RFID Pass. Thus we turned around and spent 10 minutes exchanging our passes.

slithernoggin's avatar


Sorry, it's just a little hard for me to hear someone who can afford an annual pass to WDW complain about the means of gaining entry, or spending 10 whole minutes to gain entry.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Jeff's avatar

That, and the swirly green scanners are way cooler.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Raven-Phile's avatar

Jeff said:

They're just using the RFID tag instead of the magnetic stripe.

OMG - Think of all the laws they're breaking!! What about all the red tape??

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