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Thread: Are Universal catching up with Disney

  1. #1
    Senior Member Oreo's Avatar
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    May 2013
    Birmingham, England
    I have always been a Disney fan. But at the same time I have always loved some of the Universal films too and on our various trips to Orlando we always have a day or two at Universal and Island's of adventure.

    For years I have always seen it as a poor mans Disney. By that I mean they tried for years to do what Disney does but really couldn't match it.

    The company was/is full with ex Disney staff and you could see why the comparisson was made.

    I always thought that the fine detail was always missed with Universal but my opinion on that started to change when Spiderman was opened.

    It was one of those 'wow' rides for me and more recently Harry Potter and the Forbbiden Journey was another one of those 'wow' rides.

    Now I cannot comment on the fantasyland expansion over at Magic Kingdom but for a few years now I don't think I can remember a time I have been 'wowed' at a new attraction. Mickey's PhilharMagic was probably the last time I was genuinely impressed by something Disney had done.

    I love Disney I think the whole place is still magical I really do. It's my special place and perhaps Disney are a victim of their own sucess and standards.

    But are we seeing the tides changing in favour of Universal?

    We have Harry Potter, we have Spiderman, we have transformers. What is disney's response? Fantasyland and a rumoured cars land.

    Disney had the oportunity to really put a nail in unversal's coffin with the Harry Potter thing, they failed.

    Rumours that universal have bought the rights to both Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games in the last week, seem to show that Universal are stepping up their game.

    Disney arn't.

    And I have to wonder why?

  2. #2
    I have been thinking this for a couple of months now.
    I think disney need to do something big and do it soon. One of my biggest problems with what disney are doing is their time frames. Fantasyland is still not finished, avatar land has not been started and if the rumours are true cars and Star Wars won't be ready until 2018.
    Disney seem to rush into announcements and then work out the details later where universal will put in the work and then open it a few months (or days in the Simpsons case) later. Yes we all knew harry potter phase 2 was coming waaaaay before they officially announced it but when they did put it out there it was with the news that it will be ready next year.
    I still think that disney put in more detail to what they do but I really don't think universal are not far behind them.
    As we have all said people will still go to disney on their Florida vacations (although my dsil and her family are planning their second non disney trip now) but I think it has switched from some of them visiting universal for 1 or 2 days to the majority of people doing it and people are even doing a split stay between the two. Come next years crowd figures I can really see them having over taken Hollywood studios and animal kingdom.
    I think now that universal has got it's foot in the door with people and their interest peaked I thinkit is gong to be hard to reverse the tide with it and people will start to plan in universal into every trip they take.

  3. #3
    Moderator Beccaberry's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Milford, Connecticut, United States
    An interesting question, and one I typically shy away from answering because I've never been to Universal so I don't feel as though I have an adequate frame of reference. However perhaps for me at least, that IS the answer. No matter what Universal has done to date, nothing has tempted me off Disney property. I've never left Florida thinking, "If only I'd gotten over to US and IoA." Perhaps that's because I've never seen Universal as anything more interesting than our local amusement park (i.e. Six Flags New England). Don't get me wrong, I love a heart-pounding thrill ride as much as the next adrenaline junky, but if it's thrill rides I'm craving, I'll stay local and save money. Ultimately, I don't go to Disney for the rides - I go for the experience. I go because I can spend an entire day in a Disney park, never board a single ride and leave there STILL feeling as if I've gotten my money's worth. I go because every inch of the parks is FILLED with memories of me and my family. I go because there is something inside me that responds to Walt's vision, what he wanted, and what he built. Clearly, I don't agree with everything they do (or the very slllllllllow time frame they seem to embrace), but it's still Disney as ONLY Disney can do it. And something tells me that should the time ever come when it's not "still Disney" and I lose love for it, I still won't travel to Florida for Universal Studios.

  4. #4
    I'm a huge fan of both universal parks .. Always have been and if that's true about lord of the rings.. Wow!!

    I'd not go to Florida without going there .
    But it doesn't have that feel disney does . Disney just feels magic from the min drive past the welcome sign .
    But disney does need something big and soon because universal are just whacking them out , one after the other and it's all pretty awesome stuff!

    Joshy and JackJacks Mummy

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2008
    I used to be of the mindset that the only way to vacation in Florida was to stay on WDW property and to never leave the property until it was time to go home but the truth is that there is so much to do in Florida outside of Disney. I happen to really enjoy Universal. Some of their rides are incredible. The Harry Potter ride is insane and Spider Man is incredible. The Mummy ride is another great one and you can add MIB as another good one. Throw in the water rides ( Popeyes , Dudley do right and Jurassic park and you will be awed and soaked. Forgive me for saying this but I think the headliner rides at US and IOA are better than Disney's big rides. Now with that said if I had 4 days to spend in Orlando I would still choose Disney because I like the feeling I get when I am there and I like feeling the magic 24/7 and I also feel like I am in a safe place where all the works problems don't exist. Btw I have been staying on and off the property and have enjoyed some great hotels and restaurants outside of Disney.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2008
    I go to Orlando mostly for WDW but I always rent a car because I like to do other stuff as well.

    We always have fun when we go to Universal/IOA. I do think Universal has stepped up their game tremendously and since WDW has increased their prices again without doing much, they really need to bring it.

  7. #7
    When we first relocated to this area of FL (we were just north of US/IOA when we first moved to central FL) we had APs for those parks. We didn't use them often, but never did get on Spiderman. Every single time we went it was jammed.

    Our very first experience with the place was walking around City Walk. We stopped at a "drinks" booth to get a drink and the man in front of us asked the worker where the closest t*tty bars were. The worker then shared was seemed like a vast and extensive knowledge on the location of said bars!

    We left at that time, and really wondered about the place. We did return and go to the parks, but could never find our "groove." We are not coaster people, so they held no allure for us. We thought Jaws was ridiculous. We never did much care for the food there.

    Anyway, the little guy wants to go and do 'Arry Potter, so maybe we'll take him over one day, but the place just doesn't do it for us.

  8. #8
    I was really disappointed with Universal studios in 2011 and we didn't spend much time there. I really like Universal Hotels though. I don't honestly thing that they could ever have the same feel as WDW parks because Walt is not behind it

  9. #9
    Senior Member piglet's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    North East Scotland
    I can never really warm to Universal. I'm not a great coaster fan although I love Everest and Big Thunder. Universal just doesn't have that magic that Disney has, there do seem to be more teenagers there, smoking and drinking. I feel so comfortable at Disney, the CM's, the characters and I love the way it brings out the kid in me. Disney wins every time for me.

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  10. #10
    Administrator keith's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    United Kingdom
    great question Oreo, very well said indeed

    I first saw the magic kingdom when I was 6 or 7. The breakfast show in the UK did a special week when they broadcast from in front of the castle and I was just glued to the TV. Brilliant marketing from WDW, I wonder how many others grew up knowing they HAD to find that place.

    Skip forward to our first trip, we stayed onsite which helped, and the first time I walked through and saw the castle in the distance.. well just sigh. I still have that same feeling, everything else melts away and it's me/the castle and my memories from all those years ago.

    At that time, CMs truly did say hi in the parks. Discounts were common and the price was higher than other places but not staggeringly so. Service was simple perfect, washrooms were sparkling and we'd wander round decide to try a new restaurant, walk in and sit down.

    Of course as we all know, it's a very different picture now and I can't say I feel Disney has been having the guests at the centre of its planning these days, it's profit. I have this feeling about modern Disney that if they CAN continue to extract money from what's already there, they will do, even putting up the prices rather than developing something new.

    Then there's the very odd decisions like pleasure island. I just don't think Disney have a clue what they want to do with it! It could have the best bits of citywalk but nope, Disney still basically closes at 10pm.

    ...but Universal doesn't do it for me either! I'm not a thrill ride person and what I like at Disney is the atmosphere. I've never had a wonderful day at Universal/IOA and I can happily go years without going back. I DO enjoy the hustle/bustle at citywalk and the atmosphere there sometimes.

    So I guess the way I look at it, Universal may well be investing more and getting better but it's getting better at an experience which is different from Disney and not really a direct competitor.
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