This week we take you to Universal Orlando, where we look at the exciting projects all around the resort. Then we examine the market share that Universal has been stealing away from both Disney and SeaWorld since the opening of Wizarding World phase one. With a second Wizarding World on the way this summer, Uni is poised to capture an even bigger piece of the Orlando tourism pie.

Diagon Alley

Progress continues on London and Diagon Alley as Universal races towards the summer opening for the Wizarding World Part 2.  With massive props being added, trees being planted on the berm that will hide the backstage areas, we are finally getting a real glimpse of what this area will look like in a few short months when it opens to the public. Soon guests will be able to experience this new world and travel by train to Hogsmeade via the Hogwarts Express.


Mid sized trees are being planted atop the new earthen berm. The empty spaces will soon be filled with shrubs and ground cover. When complete, the show building will be obscured.














The Knight Bus has already become a bit of a tourist draw, with folks trying to angle themselves for a photo in spite of the construction walls.
















Hogsmeade Station

Over in Islands of Adventure the Hogsmeade station is looking more and more complete by the day!  With amazing details added, and landscaping being added, this area is getting ready for its summer debut. Hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago this area looked way behind schedule.





Zonkos Closed

Zonkos, the practical joke store in Hogsmeade, is now officially closed.  Universal announced that it would close and that Honey Dukes would expand into this space.  The Weasley’s store in Diagon Alley will be the new joke store when it opens this summer.  While the shops at Hogsmeade were meant to be small and intimate, a little more elbow room in Honey Dukes will be welcome.



A temporary wall has been installed between the two stores which were once conjoined.




Over in CityWalk, CowFish is making amazing strides as construction is going on inside the big box, and underneath will be Vivo, the new Italian Restaurant. Another new restaurant, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, is being built just around the corner.




Breadbox and TCBY

Upstairs, scaffolding has been added as exterior works begin to bring the new sandwich shop, Breadbox, to resort guests.



Universal Studio Store

Work on the flagship Universal Studio Store continues, as major facade works pushes forward, and construction on the interior starts.


Universal Taking Marketshare from Disney

This past week our pal Jason Garcia at the Orlando Sentinel wrote an amazing article about Disney’s marketshare in Orlando post Potter.  The article was notable as it points to the impact that Potter has had on WDW.  Since the Wizarding World opened, Walt Disney World’s market share has gone from 74.9% to 71.3% with Universal’s market share increasing from 16% to 20.8%.  Universal’s has now opened Cabana Bay Beach Resort with 1,800 rooms. Universal is betting big this year with Diagon Alley, Cabana Bay, and the CityWalk remodel.  Looking beyond 2014, Universal has promised a new attraction every year, and there is so much in the blue sky right now that it is dizzying.  As Universal continues to grab marketshare, they will continue to give the mouse a run for it’s money.

So what do you think, will Wizarding World Diagon Alley create another market share swap in Orlando? There’s not much threat that Disney will lose their dominance in Orlando, but it looks like Universal’s tide is rising.

That wraps up this weeks update, we now leave you with a new episode of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast.

Direct Download

  • CaptainAction

    I’m watching to see when Universal and IOA pass Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Disney Studios.
    Universal Park attendance between 2009-2012 was an increase of + 39%. WDW 2009-2012 was between negative and +2%.

    Imagine how WDW would be treating guests if Universal wasn’t around.

    WDW has rested on the last E Ticket attraction, Splash Mountain, since 1992 (I believe).

    Marketing armbands may not be what the guests are looking for.

    As WDW keeps raising prices, even uninformed theme park guests begin to notice that for $500/day their family just had the same vacation they had 7 years ago.
    Somewhere between $500/day – $1,000/day families are really forced to examine what they are getting back.
    Some guests love the classic Theme Park comfort food but most aren’t willing to pay $500/day – $1,000/day to ride Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan again without some major, new E Tickets (more often than 1 in 12 years).

  • Freddie Freelance

    The thing about “Marketshare” is this isn’t a zero sum game; you’re not just competing to get a bigger slice of the pie, to draw more of the same limited pool of vacationers to your park, you’re trying to make a bigger pie by catching a bigger “Mindshare” of people around the country and around the world. You want to make people think that things are exciting in central Florida, that you are a bigger & better place to want to be, even if vacationers still want to visit Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens Tampa, or Legoland Winter Garden, too, they want to be sure to visit your park every time to see all the exciting & new attractions.

    I think Disney’s current wristband mania is an example of zero sum thinking; you make more money from a limited pool of guests by keeping them on site, so you make it annoying to reschedule all their virtual fast passes so they won’t say “hey, lets go to see that Harry Potter today!” or “Busch Gardens has animals like DAK, and more roller coasters, too! You can definitely spend a whole day in that park.” I think Disney could have pushed the New Fantasyland as “it’s a Magic addition to the Magic Kingdom!” but instead all I’m seeing in ads is “come stay longer in our resort hotels!”

  • Kenny B

    Captain Action, you just don’t give up. I’ll give you props for that.

    I haven’t been to the Wizarding World, but I hope Diagon Alleys front facade doesn’t get cluttered with big, gaudy signs. I’m enjoying the realistic look ‘London’ gives off.(can’t wait to see the two new streets JK named. The idea of ‘alleys’ in a theme park, even if they are a little bigger then expected, is great!)

    Diagon Alley is the new New Orleans Square! Darker, but with even more nooks and cranny’s that we all love!

    My guess is that Disney won’t see a drop in attendance unless there is a big act of terror, and that Universal will have an amazing 2nd half to the year(2014) in both of their properties,

    Someone did bring up a good point a few days ago however. Both IOA and Universal Studios don’t have the capacity for 14 million visitors a year in each park. Granted, they’re practically building Rome— but they need more space and still many more people eating attractions if they want to keep the attendance number rising steadily past 11 million.

    WDW should do the crazy, and right thing. Go the DCA route….. spend 1.3 billion on both Avatar land, and a Star Wars land at Hollywood studios, and have them open within a year of one another(500 million on Avatar and 600 million on SW, and 200 million on western river expedition(HA), go big or go home).

    Finally, I believe I read recently that the Wizarding Word budget was 265 million. Is that accurate? And does anybody have a number on Diagon Alley? A bundled number including Simpsons/Despicable Me would be cool if that’s what you have. Disney needs to bring the cost of their attractions down. They already outsouce a decent amount of the work.

    I also read that the new Diagon Alley, although they blue skied a few ideas for phases II, III and IV during the construction of the Wizarding World…… Universal Creative had the Diagon Alley project ready to go in under a year. Impressive stuff, even though they’re taking designs from the movie and not literally ‘dreaming’ this stuff up. That’s an wild amount of time to create everything that is currently being built. — And please, no “Disney takes their time and creates better attractions than Uni could ever dream of”.

    This post is not meant to be anti-Disney, I love Disney, more so then Universal. But I will express how I feel when the opponent is shining.

    PS ——- You can now get more then three fast passes in a day —– and park hopping flash passes are being developed. The magic band, though allotting way to much man power and time on it —– In a few years I think most people will accept and like them…… And Universal will have their own version of it too. Eat your heart out, Captain Action.

    • Ravjay12

      More Fast-passes? Really? Does it really help to have more Fast-passes? When we went to Disneyland, we got a Star Tours Fast pass and still ended up waiting 45 minutes in an hour line. The same for Soarin’ over California on a non busy day. If they want to add more Fast passes, it’s going to be even longer wait times for everyone, especially if you can now get multiple ones.

    • CaptainAction

      Kenny B,
      Universal is turning breaking ground on a Waterpark Theme Park which will have attractions like Pirates of The Caribbean or Jaws type attractions , which are on water, built into the Waterpark. The theming is supposed to be immersive and a blending of Theme Parks and Waterparks.

      Universal has bought land for a third gate for a third park.

      Universal has 2 more resorts planned.

      The 5-7 year plan is to connect all these parks and resorts to Citywalk via a monorail type transportation system. This would make all 6 Resorts, 3 Theme Parks, Waterpark/Theme park, and Citywalk all connected by boats or monorail – no standing up on smelly buses.

      The Fear Factor stage is about to become the Ministry of Magic next to London at Universal.

      Ground has been broken on the new Skull Island from King Kong at IOA. The show building footprint is larger than Forbidden Journey and is ANOTHER E Ticket attraction.

      Keep the Magic Handcuffs. Disneyland and Disneyland Paris don’t want them either.

      • Kenny B

        Ravjay12 and Captain

        I’m just letting the people who love Disney, and hate fast pass+ —– letting them know that one of their main complaints is being limited to three fast passes a day. After you use your three, and you can get another, use it, get another, use it ect….. I’m not pushing anything on you guys.


        I don’t understand why you feel the need to repost what you have put up 5 different times in the past four days as a reply?

        I haven’t used the magic bands yet, I have little opinion on them. Just stating I think its inevitable that Universal will have a similar system in the future. If it was a key-chain you couldn’t make handcuff jokes

    • MandaM

      You cannot get more than 3 FP per day now. Both additional FP’s and park-hopping are supposed to be coming “this spring” per WDW, but neither is live yet.

  • Ravjay12

    It all comes back to that question: Do we really want to see the same thing? I can’t justify spending 500 dollars for my family to go to WDW to see the same things over and over. It’s been what, 10 years since an E-ticket ride at WDW? Even if New Fantasyland has been redone, it’s still nothing we’ve seen before. With WDW projects 5-6 years out, it’s a no brainer to where we are going this year. They could give the armbands away to people who are staying at the resort hotels, but they’re not because they know people will purchase them. Disney also announces things way before they start construction so the excitement wears off. Disney knows that people will continue to pay outrageous amounts of money for the same experiences simply because of the Disney name. If Universal opens a 3rd gate, which they probably can do, maybe that’ll motivate Disney into some action. The market share will continue to favor Universal until WDW decides to change some things.

  • LoveStallion

    Ahem. “Honeydukes” is one word. 🙂

  • gboiler1

    I sure wish they’d demolish the dragon coasters next. They no longer make sense and are an eyesore. Add in another Potter themed attraction in its place.

    • armyofrobots

      no longer make sense…? It’s one of the most popular rides at Universal Orlando, why would you demolish it?

      • mainejeff

        Because they could add another sizable highly themed Potter E ticket as well as more food and retail. I’m thinking Ron’s Car in a dark ride like Peter Pan’s flight on steroids.

  • VulcanCafe

    There is a key point that almost everyone is missing here. Disney is losing marketshare, the percentage of people that go to Orlando and then to a themepark, BUT Disney’s attendance is UP. That means more people are going to Magic Kingdom this year than last. Almost all the growth to Universal is from NEW VISITORS to Orlando, not visitors that were going to Magic Kingdom, but decided not to anymore.

    How this is bad for Disney is beyond me, Universal is EXPANDING the audience of people who visit Orlando for theme parks without hurting the numbers that go to WDW. Amazing!

    • CaptainAction

      Instead of comparing Universal and IOA to Magic Kingdom, try comparing Uni and IOA to Epcot, AK, and Dis Studios.
      When Uni and IOA beat attendance at Epcot, AK, or DS – that will be an earthquake.
      Uni and IOA may or may not ever beat MK, but it’s very easy to see them beating AK, DS, and Epcot.
      As Universal opens the next batch of E Ticket attractions, expands Potter London with Ministry of Magic, new Waterpark, Third Gate Theme Park, 2 new resorts, while WDW builds another kiddie ride there will be a problem.
      Families don’t have enough money to budget WDW and Universal. As Universal offers so much more and can take 5-6 days to experience NEW attractions, the budget will be weighed.
      Families may very well plan a Universal Trip with a MK portion.
      The losers between WDW and Universal could easily be AK, Dis Studios and Epcot.
      Families, especially kids, want to see Potter and new stuff.
      Families also can’t afford to drop $3,000 at WDW and $3,000 at Uni.
      WDW is betting on old standbys, “free bus rides”, and Magic Handcuffs.
      Universal is betting on Potter, 3-5 new E Ticket attractions, New Lands, New Resorts, New 3rd Theme Park, and New Waterpark/Theme park.

      • Marko50

        Cap, didn’t you say almost EXACTLY the same things in the first post above? If somebody keeps saying the EXACT same things over and over, chances are other people will tune them out. Obviously, I haven’t gotten to that point yet because I knew about your repitition here.

        The fact that you’re acting like a broken…well, I guess “record” is kinda anachronistic…maybe you should change your screen name to Captain Nonaction. Or sumpin.

        OK, maybe Beavis and Butthead are kinda anachronistic, too.

      • Aladdin

        Marko50. Your last post was uncalled for

      • Kenny B

        I agree with Marko. Cap has posted two of th exact same messages on two or three different threads. It’s aggravating, because he has no message. It’s simply a list of upcoming things Universal has on their plate. He’s not addressing the issues in this post, or starting a conversation.

        I’d say….. a bit too personal, but Markos “action” on the “captain” is warranted.

      • TheBig2na

        5-6 days? you can experience Uni and IOA in one right now and the other 4 parks in 3 days. it will take a lot of investment and probably 2-3 more parks for anyone to need 5-6 days in UO. Ltes remember also that UO has a lot to do to catch up in Orlando. They hadn’t done a thing with IOA for a decade plus and UO wasn’t exactly ground breaking in its approach to new rides over the years.

        The fact they are putting the money in to a resort I love now is great. I love an excuse to spend extra time and money at UO. Not sure why that has to take away from the atmosphere at WDW though. I’m not really sure why there is ever a debate as to who or what is better. It’s all what you like. The Captain obviously dislikes WDW and a lot of people in the fan community do. But you can’t argue with numbers. More people and more money keep flowing into the mouses pockets every year.

        I applaud you for taking your money elsewhere though. Some may see you as a complainer but I always complain with my feet and my wallet which is what you have done. Until a critical mass sees things your way there is no need for the mouse to make a multi billion dollar investment. And that to be honest sucks for constant visitors like us.

        I still love WDW and find new experiences and make new memories every trip. The same goes for UO. I look for the positives and not the negatives on my vacations.

    • blondiemouse72

      It’s a great point you make.Personally I agree with it 100% and I should I made the same point when they first brought up this market share thing the other day.My point fell on deaf readjust as yours has

  • fnord

    I’ve stayed on Disney property exactly once, back in December of 71, on a school trip from
    Houston that I organized. Back in those days, Disneyland Hotel wasn’t much more
    expensive than other motels in the area, and was close with the monorail connection,too.
    I’ve never stayed on WDW property, as surrounding areas offer much better value options.
    Now that disneyland resort hotel prices are sky high with plenty of reasonable lodging
    across harbor I don’t do that either.
    But islands of adventure opened and became my favorite non magic kingdom
    park in Orlando. I’ve never much cared for Epcot or the studios parks in disney
    or universal, but that’s changing as Universal has ramped it up. Now Springfield, Diagon
    Alley with

  • fnord

    darn, after visiting the wizarding world 1, I was so impressed with every aspect of it that I can’t wait to stay on property, get early entrance to the parks, etc.

  • tooncity

    I love the defenders of mediocrity, on this board. Walt Dated World is BORING and old. I don’t see the logic of paying More & More, while getting less. I haven’t been to Walt Dated World for over 10 years and I don’t miss it at all. I gave up my AP for Datedland about 8 years ago. I don’t miss it at all. I have a life, you folks should get one too.

    As a Disney shareholder of more than 20 years, I am happy to take your money while I give NOTHING back. It’s a wonderful business. My Dividend gets bigger and bigger, as Iger has morphed into a more palatable Michael Eisner. Financially, I hope they build more and more silly little attractions like that Dwarf coaster.

    If you like what you have, then keep giving them money. If you want Disney to Build new attractions with their endless supply of stories, characters and Imagineering—– then STOP Spending your money there. When you stop going they will build. Simple.

    • solarnole

      Come on it’s not like they have closed abandoned restaurants, nightclubs, water parks and half built hotels. The place is state of the art 1970s technology.

      Plus in 20 years time Frozen might get a ride or a themed bathroom.

      I trade my money for Disney money because it’s more fun to loose.

      • CaptainAction

        Very funny because your humor is based in reality.

  • Twist_of_Fate

    Granted, traveling in a duo is an entirely different ball game, so my mileage varies but:

    I’ve been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World several times in my life. I’ve been to Universal Orlando on three separate occasions.

    Each trip I’ve taken to Universal Orlando, I’ve been able to do everything in BOTH parks multiple times in the span of about five hours or so courtesy of Express Pass and a brisk walking pace. In short, I think Universal NEEDS the drastic expansion it is undertaking.

    Admittedly, Universal is brilliantly adding QUALITY content while expanding and fixing up various areas of the park as they go and plussing old attractions (I rode Spider-Man the year before it was updated and was thoroughly underwhelmed, but I was majorly wow’d after the update). To be fair, Disney has ALSO been plussing old attractions with updates to the rides and the queues (Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Test Track, etc.) as well as offering additional plusses to the parks (Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Pirates Adventure, etc.). Disney’s failing has been in the notable lack of new major rides and experiences since the mid-2000s.

    As a lifetime Disney park-goer, that’s honestly quite disappointing. Disney World needs to do something big and splashy soon–and frankly, that to me has nothing to personally do with any threat from Universal.

    I can’t speak to how others vacation, but I will be taking a day-trip with my mom to Universal Orlando once again in October to check out the things that have been added since we last went a year ago and to enjoy our favorites once again. I have to hand it to Universal: the list of additions is IMPRESSIVE. To be entirely frank, I think my mom and I are both more excited about Diagon Alley than we are about our May Disney World trip or the days that we will spend at Disney World in October. But Universal will be a one-off and not the other way around unless and until they add substantially more stuff (and improve the food). Bring on the Ministry of Magic, bring on Kong, bring on a third gate. (I couldn’t care less about the water park until I see more information). By the time all of THAT is done, Universal may warrant a two to three day visit from us.

    I begrudgingly have to also admit that Disney has been able to sit idle as Universal starts catching up by leaps and bounds. It will catch the Mouse BIG if they don’t step it up and soon, but they’ve had the luxury to sit and do nothing.

    As for statistics, I think attendance numbers and market share hide what could actually be happening, as another poster addressed earlier. I’d be curious to know exactly how many are deciding to visit Universal rather than Disney and vice-versa and how those decisions are made. It’s easy to draw inferences, but there’s little point is getting into huge debates based on nothing but inferences.

    As for Magic Band and Fastpass+, the Sociology major in me knows that regardless of how the consumer ultimately feels about it, it provides an unreal amount of data for Disney, and they would have been fools to pass that up. Yeah, Magic Bands as the only “significant” (there really aren’t enough quotes for that) addition in the face of Universal’s insane expansion is baffling, and $1 billion could have been spent better elsewhere, but the potential for Magic Bands to drastically alter (for the better, even) theme park vacationing is vast. The system as is seems like it’s the tip of a pellet of ice on the tip of the iceberg. It all comes down to how Disney ultimately wants to use the infrastructure they’ve laid and whether or not they can weather the storm during the transition.

    In short, Universal’s progress from my first visit in 2010 through May 2013 and what it will look like in October 2014 is nothing short of amazing. It is EXCITING. Disney World, on the other hand, has been essentially stagnant over the course of my last few visits. Disney has been able to and likely will be able to get away with it for another couple of years, but they are going to need to announce some significant things–and soon–or Universal will start making gains and leaping over Disney World’s lesser attended parks. This may take a bit, though, because Universal Studios Florida is likely to get the biggest bump from all of the recent expanding.

    • cruise

      I also can do both Universal parks in about 5-6 hours each with an express pass and brisk walking pace… but to be fair, I also could do DAK and DHS in 5-6 hours each if they offered express pass.

      I’m just saying, while I think the Universal parks need to expand, they need it just as much as DAK and DHS need to expand.

    • billyjobobb

      It’s just kinda funny how people act like what Disney is trying to do is a done deal. They’ll get it done.

      It’s the holy grail for a reason. If everybody knew where the holy grail was, would it still be so mystical. Nobody in the history of corporate America has ever successfully pulled off the kind of experiment that Disney is trying to pull off with the magic bands.

      But so many act like Disney has figured it all out, and they’ll get what they want out of it. Meanwhile, Disney stopped how many projects because the magic handcuffs aren’t going as planned? The system is working the way they want it? Weren’t these things supposed to be up and running at full speed a while ago?

  • martinjbell1986

    Disney will keep dropping market share percentage until Avatar opens and or a StarWars land opens. Then it should pick up a bit of what it’s lost to Universal. I plan on visiting Universal in January for maybe 1-2 days of our 12 day Disney vacation. That is up from 0 of 12 days 2 years ago.

  • ex-wdi

    I’m certain that a new kiddie coaster at WDW will trounce the attendance numbers gained from a whole new Harry Potter land and two E ticket attractions.


    • CaptainAction

      Can you imagine the marketing guy who brought this idea up during the WDW meeting?

      WDW Exec,”What are we going to do to compete against Universal’s Harry Potter lands and E Ticket Attractions?”

      WDW Marketing, “Hmmn…do you think the stupid public is dumb enough to believe a C Ticket kiddie coaster could equal Universal’s New Lands of London, Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, and 2 more E Ticket attractions from Harry Potter?”

      WDW Exec, “Maybe, whata ya got?”

      WDW Marketing,”Uh…we could drag… out the Dwarf Mountain Coaster construction for… 3 years, or so…
      and try to time it for the new Harry Potter opening?”

      WDW Exec, “Hmmn, sounds cheap…I like it! But make the mountain a mound…you know…cheaper.”

      WDW Marketing,”Yes sir”

      WDW Exec, “AND, make sure to make the track short, no longer than a 53 second ride!
      Gotta max my bonus. Keep it cheap!’

      • thebear

        Must feel good to come on here and call people stupid. I feel the rides are being catered to completely different audiences. My brother would choose Magic Mountain over Disneyland everyday. The rides suit him better. I like Universal, enjoy the rides. Nothing makes me sick. My wife just can’t do them. Transforms, Wizarding World & Despicable me have made her ill. One spending more than another on rides right now. Was Disney. Now Universal. Will probably continue to switch back. Universal is probably doing a better job for the consumer right now. I get it. Why do we have to call people stupid? And that is what you’re doing. Why does it always have to get nasty? People are no longer allowed to have their own opinion?

      • blondiemouse72

        Thank you thebear for repeating what I’ve spent the last 2 months telling this guy and what is such a good and valid point he won’t respond to it.
        This takes me back 10 years to arguing with some idiot on mouse planet who was telling me my wife could not possibly get sick riding The Mad Tea Party.

      • CaptainAction

        Hey Bear, I’m not calling folks stupid. I think that WDW execs think that a giant portion of the public won’t notice things they are up to.
        The WDW exec defenders of late keep telling me that, we who love theme parks are NOT their target audience anymore.
        The WDW execs target is now the fairly uninformed theme park vacationers.
        The current WDW execs don’t think they will notice:
        They really don’t need a fastpass for Carousel of Progress, Muppet Movie,
        Imagination, Tiki Room, etc.
        They won’t notice that WDW took 3 years to build a kiddie coaster.
        They won’t notice WDW tore out Snow White ride like WDW is landlocked
        and Fantasyland doesn’t have near enough rides already.
        They won’t notice WDW can build a restaurant or store overnight,
        They won’t notice the Magic Handcuffs just got them to spend $10 more
        per day, per person in their family.
        They won’t mind filling their vacation appointments for parks, rides, and
        meals half a year out.
        They won’t notice WDW hasn’t built a new E Ticket since 1992.
        They won’t notice all the prices have gone up A LOT since their last WDW
        They won’t notice that they just spent $500+/per day to take their family
        on the same vacation they took 7 years ago.
        They won’t notice that WDW is putting a 60 second kiddie coaster up
        against 4 new E Ticket rides, 3-4 new C Ticket rides, new Lands, and new
        Potter area, etc all built by Universal during the same 3 year period.
        Now, who is calling who stupid?
        I think current WDW execs are calling their newer target audience stupid.

      • blondiemouse72

        See what I mean a lot of repeating the same stuff over and over but NOTHING in response to what you said

      • CaptainAction

        I responded to the comment on calling folks stupid.
        What did I not respond to?

      • blondiemouse72

        The very simple fact that you and your chums keep repeatedly telling folks to replace their Disney family experience with a Universal one because they offer a like for like product when they don’t .
        Most of these attractions you bring up a lot of people can’t or won’t ride

      • blondiemouse72

        ,the bear said..”I feel the rides are being catered to completely different audiences”….that’s what I’d like you to respond to

      • CaptainAction

        Well Blondiemouse,
        I love Fantasyland at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. I appreciate the simple dark rides. I also love Pirates and Haunted Mansion.
        Little Mermaid is the worst dark ride to me. Very cheap and poorly executed. In 2011 all WDW can come up with is a 3 foot tall wood cut out of Ursula for her giant death scene? You can walk on most of the time.
        So, the older dark rides at the other Disney Parks a pretty good. The newer ONE at WDW, not worth my time.
        I’m not sure folks today still want new Pinocchio type dark rides. I just don’t know.
        So, yes some Disney Parks still beat Universal in this area. I don’t think WDW does a lot better though because it cheaped out on New Fantasyland and removed Snow White like they were out of space. Again cheaped out.

        I think the Hogwarts Train will be a nice addition for Universal. I read that Gringott’s will be much more tame than Forbidden Journey so more kids can ride. We enjoy Cat in The Hat and I believe there is a Lorax Ride coming.
        You also have ET, Posiedon’s Fury, Suess Trolley, Carosuessel, Twirl and Hurl, Disaster, MIB, Shrek, Despicable Me (non motion seats available), Olivander’s, Terminator, Pteranodon Fliers, Jurassic Play area, One Fish Two Fish, etc. Animal Actors Show is a favorite too. All these are decent for folks who can’t take too much thrill.
        Just exploring the Potter areas is the draw for many. So many details to explore, with butterbeer in hand.
        Universal is also tearing out all the Barney and surrounding area for what we hope is some more competition in the kid arena. I hope the Spongebob Land rumor is true myself.

        I’m not sure that Magic Kingdom at WDW is that far ahead in slow non thrill rides. Disneyland, is way ahead, yes.

        So yeah, a few more tame attractions might be in order but nothing to scream and get upset about.

        If WDW and you guys are content for it to become a museum of old tame rides without anything new but a C Ticket kid coaster and a busted Yeti in the last 10 years…will, I think Universal will keep growing at 39% or more and WDW growth will be flat or anemic.

        There you go.

  • HatAndMouse

    They are definitely on the verge of losing my “market share”. When I went to Orlando in 2011 we spent three days at Universal Studios and only went to WDW for one night for the Halloween Party. We are planning another trip in November, mainly to see the Harry Potter expansion. We have toyed with the idea of doing a few days at WDW, but honestly the FP+ system has made WDW less attractive for me. The thought of having to deal with this system and book our ride times weeks (or months) in advance has been a huge turn off.
    The Fantasyland expansion is great I’m sure, but it does little to entice me to fork out the kind of money WDW charges especially if I have to deal with FP+ kiosks and advanced ride times. Actually I can’t think of anything that WDW could offer that would make me want to deal with FP+. I will tell you that Avatar in Animal Kingdom ain’t it.

  • danielz6

    I just visited despicable me in LA today, and I gotta say I wasn’t impressed at all with the attraction. It was basically the Simpson’s ride in 3D. I did appreciate the mini land and placemaking however, but I kept thinking that this ride would be so much more enjoyable and interesting if it were Disney style dark ride like monsters Inc. After Kong and transformers I really wasn’t interested in any more simulator rides.
    I really feel that universal is over relyant on motion simulators and needs to diversify its ride systems if it wants to really be equal with Disney. And let’s be honest they are cheaper to maintain and build then a ride full of practical effects and AAs. And I say that with a lot of love as I’m a huge fan of transformers and Harry potter 1.0. I think universals market share will keep growing and I look forward to their new and creative attractions and can’t wait for HP 2.0!

    • Red5

      Agreed. Both Despicable and Transformers are based on existing ride systems. Despicable was used in USF when the part opened at the Funtastic World of Hannah-Barbara. It was bad then…and bad now. As for Transformers the ride system and story beats are almost mark for mark Spider-Man at IOA. I was SO disappointed. In addition…with Transformers…you are rushed onto the ride vehicle for your escape only to come RIGHT back to where you loaded at the end of the attraction. The Potter expansions have pushed ride systems for domestic parks which is great, but Universal still has a ways to go on both coasts to really capturing market share. Just because you have a new attraction does not mean people will beat a path to your door.

      • CaptainAction

        Yeah, thank goodness WDW doesn’t base it’s rides on existing ride systems.
        That Little Mermaid ride is…oh yeah, existing ride system.
        Splash Mountain is…oh yeah, existing ride system.
        Dwarf Mound is…oh yeah, Thunder Mountain w swing car.
        I guess the only rides with unique ride systems in the last 10 years are
        Universal’s Forbidden Journey and Universal’s Gringott’s Escape.
        Hmmm…interesting point

      • danielz6

        Well my point is specifically regarding motion simulators. I don’t get tired of dark rides, coasters, or boat rides. Motion simulators, I get very bored with because you are not actually moving or seeing anything real, so I think the mind is quicker to become bored with that. Disneyland and CA adventure only have 1 motion simulator each. I think more than 2 at a theme park and they start to get redundant. I can sit at home and watch movies all day if I want to be staring at a movie screen. Or I can go watch a 3D movie for 2 hours at a movie theater for only 10 bucks. This isn’t the 80’s, 3D in itself is not impressive. Currently Uni Hollywood has Kong, Transformers, Simpson’s, shrek, and despicable me and possible the new Fast and Furious will be like Kong. That’s 5-6 Attractions all based on motion simulation. In my opinion that’s way too many for 1 theme park.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    I’m really curious to see what impact Diagon Alley will have. As a fan of Harry Potter, I am over the moon about this and just thrilled beyond words. I can’t wait. My sons can’t wait and even my husband (a true Muggle at heart) is excited. We are so looking forward to riding the Hogwarts Express. This will be the first time ever that we buy a park-to-park ticket at Universal (or any park, really).

    I think Universal will see a huge explosion in people buying park-to-park tickets. They really changed the game with this train. Their sales numbers are going to be incredible in this regard.

    The question that will be interesting to answer is whether or not Diagon Alley causes as much of an increase for Universal as Hogsmeade did. Before Hogsmeade, Universal really needed something amazing to draw visitors. To me, Universal was a C-level park before Hogsmeade. It got raise to a B-level park with this addition, rising a full letter grade in my book. That was a massive improvement and finally gave my family a reason to visit Universal. Adding Diagon Alley increases my grade to B+, which is what I would rate DAK and DHS. For comparison, I rate EPCOT an A- and Magic Kingdom an A.

    Will adding more Harry Potter get Universal another huge bump the way that adding Hogsmeade did? I think it will get a bump, but it won’t be the same kind of dramatic game change that opening Hogsmeade was. Adding MORE Potter is fantastic, but adding more of something can never recapture the energy of adding the first installment.

    It certainly will get people to come back again for a second visit, that’s for sure. The Potter fans will all be back in droves. But I don’t think that people outside the Potter fanbase will be making a special trip back for MORE Potter. They will, however, on their next regularly scheduled trip to Universal be buying that park-to-park ticket to be able to experience all the Potter offerings. I know my family is in this boat.

  • Disney Adventure

    CaptainAction, I would take your posts more seriously if your facts were correct. You keep writing that WDW hasn’t added an E-Ticket attraction since 1992 but that’s incorrect, they’ve added Disney’s Animal Kingdom (an entire park!) since then that has three E-Tickets (with two more currently under construction) and many more really great attractions as well.

    Disney’s Hollywood Studios has added The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and The Rock N Roller Coaster.

    Epcot has added Test Track, Mission: Space, and Soarin’.

    That’s eleven E-Tickets added in a little over two decades. Or about every two years. That’s plenty fast enough and that doesn’t include all of the other attractions that have been added.

    Now if you’re just trying to say that Magic Kingdom hasn’t added an E-Ticket since Splash Mountain in 1992, then you can’t really use your Universal Studios Florida is adding two new parks with many new attractions argument. By that logic you can only speak of what E-Ticket attractions the original Universal Studios Florida park has added in that time.

    • CaptainAction

      Ok Disney Adventure,

      I should have said Magic Kingdom hasn’t opened an E Ticket since Splash in 1992.
      Are you happy with this kind of progress from WDW?

      At Disney Studios I argue that Toy Story Mania isn’t an E Ticket just like folks argue that Despicable Me isn’t E Ticket.

      Rockin Roller Coaster is 15 years old!

      Tower of Terror is 20 years old!

      Soarin’ is 10 years old!

      Mission Space is 11 years old and is a marginal E Ticket. So few can ride due to puking and worse. Can almost always walk on.

      So no E Ticket attractions I remember have opened in the last 10 years except Everest.
      Everest is 8 years old and has been broken for 6 years and they never finished the back which clearly faces the audience from several vantage points.

      So 1 busted E Ticket attraction in the last 10 years. You’re happy with that?

      You don’t see me claiming E.T. is a recent E Ticket attraction.

      I won’t list the new attractions of Universal and IOA in the last 5 years again because it’s too painful for some to read and they say I’m being redundant and I think you know them.

  • MIB

    We went to Disney 2 weeks every year, but started to hate the waits and the same old, same old. We started doing one or two days at UNI but staying off property. We now spend 3 to 4 weeks each year at UNI, stay on property, and may do one day at Disney(Epcot Wine and Food). We enjoy the Hotels, Front of the Line Pass, having always something new to experience, great places to eat, and fantastic UNI Team Members . Everyone has their reasons to prefer one over the other, but they are both great companies who have done some very remarkable things over the years, but many of us vote with our dollars by “what have you done for ‘ME’ lately”. I don’t care for another meet and greet, another Princess, or another price increase with no value added. That’s just me. We all make choices in life, and in this case, Uni is just a much better experience for the money spent.

  • Carrie317

    You guys love to attack anyone who loves Universal. Geez – I wish I could drink all of the Kool aid you are receiving. Maybe I have a different view. I live here, I have passes to both. I visit Universal more. WHY? There is a lot more NEW things to do. We don’t have kids so I don’t care about more princess meet n greets. The mine train looks like it will be awesome but I already dread the waits and the fastpasses all being gone. I hear Disney loud and clear – annual passholders are still a big screw you. Yes we can book up to 30 days out but a lot of the reservations are already gone.

    I have nephews and they could care less about meeting most of the characters. They are pretty happy going to either place. Disney is more stressful for us though since we have to PLAN everything before we even leave the house including what fast food we are going to eat since we did not make reservations a billion days out. Universal we show up and there are places to eat, shows to see and lots of awesome places for them to play without even waiting in a line. (There is the entire Jurassic Park play area with caves and then there is the ball pit & curious george area in the Studios.)

    Point is – it is all based on what your family likes to do and your tolerance for mediocrity. If it is low – then Disney is your best bet. If you have a little higher standards – probably Universal. Oh and don’t forget about Sea World cause they have some fun entertainment as well as Aquatica.

    I am sure I am going to get attacked cause that it what most people on here do. Attack anyone who says they like another theme park besides Disney. The fact of the matter is the article in the Orlando Sentinel was completely unbiased. It states the truth that Disney is losing market share to Universal. Like it or not, that is 1000% accurate. Some of the public is choosing Universal OVER Disney.

    • CaptainAction

      Carrie, you and MIB just explained why Universal grew at 39% between 2009-2013, and why WDW parks lost ground, were flat, or had a 2% increase (thanks for pointing out the article).

      Families can’t afford Universal and WDW. One will grab more guests and one will become a day or two visit. Families can’t afford 2 $4,000 vacations.

      Universal is betting on New Rides, New Lands, Unique Rides like Gringott’s Escape, Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Train, the most Immersively Themed Lands outside of Disney Sea, Value Resort w Deluxe (by WDW standards) offerings at a lower price than WDW, etc.

      WDW is betting on buses and Handcuffs. Gambling on making it inconvenient to go to Universal rather than making WDW so interesting that guests won’t want to leave.

      Families can easily dump Disney Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.

      The Universal Parks and Magic Kingdom will probably win. After kids get to a certain age they are gravitating to Universal instead of princess Meet n Greets.

  • Disney Adventure


    Who cares if something is “old”? It’s either a great attraction or it’s not. WDW is already a vacation with a ton of things to do, and they are adding things as we speak.

    I think what Universal is doing is AWESOME. But what they’re doing is just trying to catch up to WDW. If they add third gate, add a water park, continue to improve their two existing parks, and add a few more resort hotels, then yeah, they’re a destination vacation like WDW. Which would be great, I loved the two days I spent in Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure when I went to WDW my one and only time. And when I go back to WDW I will set aside as many days as it takes to fully do Universal.

  • CreepyMonkey

    GREAT update as always Eric. Thanks! On an additional note, I find it interesting about the market share info. While usually I take my family on vacations to Disneyland, this year we will be spending time in Orlando instead. Primarily this is because of value for dollars spent.

    It ended up being a better value for me to take the entire family to Orlando because for one thing, we have somewhere to stay therefore do not have to spend money on a hotel, so that saves a lot. Also, Orlando in general has more to offer in close proximity to each other, which makes Orlando a very good value for my family. We can go 3 days to Disney parks, 2 days at Universal and 2 days at SeaWorld/Aquatica.

    I have no idea how that fits in with demographic information, etc. All I know is it financially makes sense for my family because A – Disneyland is expensive and not enough new things to justify spending more time there, B – Orlando offers more in a close proximity to each other than I can get in So. Cal. and C – I don’t have to spend money on a hotel (while this isn’t a huge consideration it is definitely factored in.)

    Specifically speaking of WDW, while in years past we might have spent 5 days there, in the three days we will be spending this year, we will be spending almost as much money as we would have in the past. I know prices have risen all over but it does seem a bit out of control to me considering there just isn’t much in the way of new offerings. It’s not a deal killer, just a tad disappointing and made it easier to decide to spend an extra day at Universal and one extra going to Aquatica instead of Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon.

    Just my 2 cents.