Universal Orlando takes 20% attendance hit in first quarter

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009 11:29 AM | Contributed by Jeff

In a brief filing with federal regulators, Universal Orlando's operating company revealed that paid attendance at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure declined 19.5 percent during the first quarter of this year. It followed a 4 percent attendance decline at the resort during the last quarter of 2008. A shift in the Easter holiday between quarters is partially to blame.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 11:33 AM
Jeff's avatar

Wow, read the comments on there. People are complaining about the annual pass price. I think $230 is a pretty good deal, considering it also includes discounts on pretty much everything, including the hotels.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 11:50 AM

About 4 years ago I got the annual pass when they offered buy one year get second free.In that time I stayed on property 4 times (with ap discount) and visited the park about 12 weekends.I enjoyed my time there.

But with a family of 4 with tax it will be over a 1000.00 I want to get the best value.I am not a florida resident but within 6 hour drive to park I would love to go back but i will not until price goes down or value goes up (i may go if i can get a cheap ticket when harry potter opens)

If they offered a family ap for 4 for 600.00 I would jump all over it. They would make more money because if I am not in the park they can't get my money.I have thought about a regular AP for myself and the one with blackout dates for the rest of my family so I can park free and we probably would not go during blackout period anyway (too crowded)

Last edited by kevin38, Tuesday, April 21, 2009 11:51 AM
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 12:35 PM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, I see your point. That would get expensive for a family. I had a pass for about three years, but I believe my first one was only $150. I tend to look at it from a hotel savings view I suppose, because over the course of my visits I definitely landed hundreds of dollars of savings.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 12:46 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Is $230 really too much for Universal passes?

I just paid $600 for CF passes...and WDW passes are WAY more than Universal's $230. The Universal pass with the blackout dates is just $150.

Not to mention the fact that they'd have to sell 10 passes at the 4-for-$600 price for every 6.5 they sell at $230 to break even. That's a 50% increase.

Just not sure I buy pricing as the problem...especially with Disney not seeing anything close to the same decrease.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 2:55 PM

I know for us we had talked about going to Universal in Florida this spring but opted to wait for RRR and Harry Potter to be open before we went. Instead we did Southern California (DL, CA, KBF, SFMM, Belmont and Lego). I had seen some good ticket prices for the Universal in Cali too, but decided to do other parks there since we will be going to Universal next year. I think this has been a factor for some people.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 4:39 PM

I think most parks in Orlando have priced themselves out of the market. My favorite, Sea World, man $70 is steep. Sea World Ohio at $25 in the 1980's was getting a 'holy crap' at the gate. Take away the 5 rides or so, is there a whole lot of difference to casual visitors.

I have spent many good times in the last 3 years at all the Disney parks, and yes, it ain't cheap, but they package the food and hotels pretty fierce. I was a loyal Universal kind of guy, but after my Halloween visit in 2005, I am tapped out of new stuff.

I would love to do the Simpson's ride, but I can't justify an extended vacation for 1 ride, and Harry Potter land does nothing for me. I like their hotels, but the amount of time I spend there, well, Disney's Port Orleans is just fine for my new Disney Chase Visa card with 0% interest.

The next IAAPA convention, I will go and do the new coaster and the Simpsons, but some general concensus among some industry folks is 'been there, done that'. They are great parks, but cost loads of money to operate, and their size restricts their ability to take in major cash.

In comparison, Disney has built an empire of epic resort proportions with golf, waterparks, restaurants, boating, camping and serious lodging options.

Hey, Citiwalk is incredible, and the best thing that happened to Disney is Universal coming to town, but he who dies with the most toys wins.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 6:07 PM
Jeff's avatar

If you're going to do Universal during the next IAAPA, you'll miss the conference.

Gonch is winning me over. I don't know that it's a poor value proposition at all. Nor do I think the attraction line up is stale. I went an awful lot the last few years and always had a good time with Mummy, Simpsons and Blue Man Group.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 6:51 AM

Could the Harry Potter constuction have anything to do with the attendance drop? Maybe people are holding off until it opens in 2010. Plus the place is relatively torn up with DD's entrance re-routed and half of Lost Continent in ruins. Based on the crowds I see every time I visit, I think its too early to be alarmed.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:23 AM
Jeff's avatar

I'm somewhat curious about that. They did a good job of promoting the announcement of it, and I wonder how many people just figure, "I'll go when that opens."

UO has always been streaky in attendance, which I think is something amplified by the movement of the holiday between quarters. They have giant weeks and weekends that coincide with holidays and certain seasonal oddities (Halloween, spring break, Mardi Gras), and can be downright desolate the rest of the time.

But again, remember that whatever they lost in the first quarter in terms of body count, they likely make up heavily in the second.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:30 AM
rollergator's avatar

^^Couldn't agree more - we hardly spend any time at IoA anymore...as much as Pyrrhock is my baby, it's just too much of a headache/nightmare with the Potter destruc, er, construction. With warmer weather, I can stay occupied with the water rides, but now with the INSANE disruption to Dudley's operations (lap bars and seat dividers), Bilge Rats is the only water ride left with a decent wait/fun ratio. Can't BELIEVE I'm saying this (my how times have changed) - but with MiB, Mummy, and now the Simpsons, USF has almost become the preferred park of the two (and that's with RRR still in the wings).

edit: Webmaster got in before my post. I think Disney took all the UO people with the Kim Possible adventure at EPCOT.... :) ;)

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:32 AM
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:40 AM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, isn't that weird? I historically spent a lot more time at IOA, but the last time I was there it really was more at the studio park. That's a complete reversal.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:29 PM

I think something to consider is the fact that because the economy is down a lot of tourists are making their trips shorter and not going to Universal at all. The reality is that a lot of people going to Disney decide to stay a couple of extra days and go to Universal. Most of these people are probably opting to cut their trips shorter and save the money.

Universal will always benefit from the fact that Disney is close by and VERY few people that live out of state go to Orlando just to go to Universal. Unfortunately, that little side trip to Universal on the Disney vacation is being cut from tourists' budgets. And that is where Universal is losing money. I'm sure all those other factors don't help either , though.

People will always spend money to get away, even in a bad economy. The vacation just won't last as long and they will only spend on things they REALLY want to experience, and that's where Disney excels.

Didn't coasters become more popular during the Great Depression?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 10:46 PM

Yes, they did. For landfill, firewood, and to keep bulldozers working. From 1930 to 1945 may be called the dark ages.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:11 PM
LostKause's avatar

Great theory, delan. I had a chance to go to Orlando a few months ago and I decided to hold out until Potter was completed.


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