Is Universal 'out Disneying' Disney?

Is Universal 'out Disneying' Disney?

During our most recent visits to Orlando, the trips to Universal Studios have been right up there as the most memorable and enjoyable days of the holiday, and yet just a short while ago I had completely taken Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure off the itinerary.

Universal Studios may as well close. They should flatten it and turn it into a car park.

It's hard to believe that those were my thoughts less than ten years ago as I left Universal after just a few hours, thoroughly disappointed by the run down attractions, poor maintenance and lacklustre park. Now, it's 2015 and Universal Studios Orlando is my favourite park in Orlando, something I hear time and again from visitors, new and old alike.

The speed that Universal have been able to build *incredible* attractions (Harry Potter, Transformers) and quality of the finished result is currently blowing Disney into the weeds. Just compare the the speed of the recent Diagon Alley at Universal to the Fantasyland expansion at Disney; by comparison, everything at Disney seems to take forever.

The number of people going through the gates seem to indicate that what Universal are doing is what people want too.

Just look at the attendance figures from 2006 compared to last year, Universal is on fire with growth that far outstrips Disney's.

Park 2006 2009 2014 Growth
Magic Kingdom 16,640,000 17,233,000 19,332,000 16.2%
EPCOT 10,460,000 10,990,000 11,454,000 9.5%
Animal Kingdom 8,910,000 9,590,000 10,402,000 16.7%
Hollywood Studios 9,100,000 9,700,000 10,312,000 13.3%
Universal Studios 6,000,000 5,530,000 8,263,000 37.7%
Islands of Adventure 5,300,000 4,627,000 8,141,000 53%

Source: http://www.teaconnect.org/Blog/TEA-Blog/index.cfm?id=5805

To Disney's credit, they are taking steps here, huge developments are in the works with Star Wars, Toy Story and Avatar all getting dedicated sections of the parks and new 'E ticket' attractions. Still though, Universal also have expansion plans and a number of projects in the works.

I suppose the take-away from this is that it's all good news for us, competition is a good thing and it's great to see Universal raising the bar so very high.