ORLANDO, Fla. – Its time to lower your lap bars and prepare for the clash of the Theme Parks.
Universal Studios, now controlled by Comcast, is building its arsenal of weapons to prepare for its war with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – while Disney is building up its defenses.
Universal’s parks are constantly in the shadow of Disney, and this won’t be changing in the near future, as Disney’s theme parks in Florida and California attract more than 73 million visitors yearly. While Universals has only three parks, with attendances annually of around only 18 million.
However, Universal is beginning to look a little larger. When it has added a $265 million Harry-Potter based theme to the resort, its 2010 attendance soared to 30% over 2009, and in the process took away from Walt Disney World. Universal is now hurrying to replicate this attraction in their parks located in Japan and California, as well as expanding the park located in Orlando.
To keep up its momentum, Universal, is presenting a bunch of offerings – A 3-D ride based on the “Transformers” movies will open on Friday at Universal Studios in Hollywood. As well, Universal in Orlando will be adding a high-tech fountain, refurbished Spider-Man ride, an extravagant parade and a “Despicable Me” themed pyrotechnics show.
Disney is watching these transformations with abated breath, and although Disney publicly dismissed the Harry-Potter theme as being a threat to them, it is concerned privately about avoiding market share deterioration on both coasts.
For example, competition from Universal played a role in Disney’s decision to beef up its previous plan to expand its Magical Kingdom theme park in Orlando and add an “Avatar” theme.
Disney refused to comment on the clash of the Theme Parks.