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  1. #1

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    Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/busin...orl-home-promo

    Universal Orlando will combine projectors and pyrotechnics in a new nightly show that theme park executives hope will spark attendance starting this summer.

    The centerpiece of the Universal Studios show will be four huge spheres floating on barges spaced in the park's central lagoon. The three-story globes will essentially be 360-degree screens for Universal Pictures' most memorable movie scenes.

    The film clips will be choreographed to movie-theme music playing from a new 300-speaker sound system and accompanied by fireworks and lasers.

    "Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular," which will start July 1, is aimed at getting people to stay until closing, and to get more people to come as Universal tries to rebound from a big attendance drop last year.

    People who enjoy an end-of-day show tend to spend more money, leave happier and return, Universal Orlando President Bob Gault said. And they'll tell their friends.

    "Obviously, word of mouth helps drive this business," Gault said. "We've been looking for ways to enhance that, to take it right over the top, so guests say, 'Oh, my God. I can't wait to go home and tell my friends and neighbors about this.' "

    The show is one of four new attractions Universal is promoting. The others are a new children's monorail ride at Islands of Adventure, a new CityWalk nightclub that strives for swank, and a new CityWalk seafood restaurant.

    A good end-of-day show can be an attraction itself, said Jerry Aldrich, president of Orlando-based Amusement Industry Consulting.

    Though Universal still managed a profit, Aldrich and other industry observers said it would be tough for the parks to remain profitable if they can't attract bigger crowds. Last year, attendance fell 11 percent from a 2004 record level.

    "If they market it, I'm sure it will actually bring people in," Aldrich said. "It definitely will keep people in the park."

    And those who stay until closing might buy dinner, and maybe a sweatshirt to keep warm. And they're more likely to stay and play into the evening at CityWalk, Aldrich said.

    Universal would not disclose the project's contractors but said much of the construction and programming is being done by Universal's engineers. The technology has been used in Europe, but not anything like the scale Universal is planning, said Jim Timon, senior vice president of entertainment.

    "It's a pretty cool computer trick, by taking the four projectors that actually project around the surface of the sphere and computer-blending the edges, so that to the eye it appears like continuous imaging," he said. "We also have a fifth projector that projects straight up."

    The technology offers other opportunities too, Gault said. For Halloween Horror Nights, Universal could produce a horror video show for the spheres. For Mardi Gras, stage shows could be projected live into the spheres. The screens could even broadcast NBC-TV shows, perhaps the Olympics, he said.

    "The video boys are going to be busy for a long time here," Timon said.

    The one new ride at Universal this year, The High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, also known as the Seuss Sky Trolley, is actually a redone old ride that never opened. The original ride -- Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines -- was built for Islands of Adventure's 1999 grand opening but technical and safety concerns left it dormant for seven years.

    Universal redesigned and rebuilt the ride this winter, and renamed it. It will open June 1.

    "It's designed for families with small children," Gault said. "It's just going to be a fun thing. It provides more balance in Islands of Adventure . . . We've already got great roller coasters."

    The new two-story nightclub, The Red Coconut, which Timon said will strive for a "Rat Pack cool, hip" feel set in a 1970s decor, will feature live bands and dancing, and seek a clientele aged from the late 20s to 40s. It should open in late May on CityWalk's Club Row.

    The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant, with seating for more than 400, will open July 1 at the entrance to CityWalk. Its CityWalk location was announced last summer.

    Gault said competition for tourists in Central Florida remains tough, because the market still has not fully recovered from the post-Sept. 11, 2001, slump.

    So, he said, "We are continuing to spend a lot of money on great product, high technology and relevant stuff. That helps us in the battle for share."

    Scott Powers can be reached at [email protected] or 407-420-5441.

  2. #2

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    Aside from the whole "borrowing ideas" thing, did anybody else notice the major difference between Disney and Universal?

    No? We'll maybe this quote will help:
    "Obviously, word of mouth helps drive this business," Gault said. "We've been looking for ways to enhance that, to take it right over the top, so guests say, 'Oh, my God. I can't wait to go home and tell my friends and neighbors about this.' "

    A Disney executive would NEVER say "oh my God" or even imply that he/she wants a guest to say that. Just caught my eye....

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    ^ I think Universal is trying to be the "Generation X" Disney.

    Not to say that's a bad thing.


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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    Wow, spherical screens that will choreograph film clips to music.... how original. I'm surprised they didn't just name it Fantiluminations.

    Universal has to stop the stealing from Disney crap and be original. It doesn't seem like they can do that at all. They even have to mention Disney in most of their commercials ("Pixie dust not your thing?....."). Perhaps there attends would go up if they did something by themselves....too bad that will never happen.
    “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” - Walt Disney

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    "It's designed for families with small children," Gault said. "It's just going to be a fun thing. It provides more balance in Islands of Adventure . . . We've already got great roller coasters."

    Sounds like DCA. Very few families with small children will visit a park with only 1 or 2 offerings for small children.
    This show sounds oddly familiar, but very fun at the same time... I hope to see a video of it when it debuts.




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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    Finally the ride will open.
    AND, I love this new show news, as HHN is one of the best events, and this sounds like it will be able to enhance it.

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDisneyInquisitor
    Wow, spherical screens that will choreograph film clips to music.... how original. I'm surprised they didn't just name it Fantiluminations.

    Universal has to stop the stealing from Disney crap and be original. It doesn't seem like they can do that at all. They even have to mention Disney in most of their commercials ("Pixie dust not your thing?....."). Perhaps there attends would go up if they did something by themselves....too bad that will never happen.
    Fantilluminations... You know you are right. I would bet you that there were Universal officials who actually went to Epcot to watch Illuminations and got the ideas for this show. Anyone who copies Disney shows and their techniques just can't pull it off. Remember the SeaWorld shows that used fountains and mist screens...horrible.

    You are also right about Universal's tv ads. There was one with a little girl who said something like, "...if I had to hug another princess, I would scream." I thought that was pretty lame. You are second rate Universal...

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyMickey
    You are second rate Universal...
    This is true, in my opinion and in attendence.

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    Quote Originally Posted by Disneylandrocks55
    This is true, in my opinion and in attendence.
    Exactly, and you know it's bad when their best park (USO) come up less than half a million more than Disney's worst stateside park, DCA (6.1 vs 5.8 million people).
    “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” - Walt Disney

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    Re: Universal plans big finish each day - Orlando Sentinel - 4/12/2006

    UNiversal isn't ripping off disney, and so what if the ads are designed to bring some thrill in a kids life? these parks very different from each other and the only reason disney parks did so well last year was the 50th. and the excuse to add " new " stuff to WDW. Universal didn't have a new attraction, so less people went. btw I am an adult and I agree with that kid on the commercial. but that's just me. It sounds like they are adding some cool things to the parks and they also learned that you need more nowadays than just fireworks shooting off at park closing.

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