Much has been stated about the pressure that Walt Disney World is feeling to compete with Universal Orlando and the upcoming opening of Diagon Alley. Many think that the Disney Company is trying to come up with new ideas and expansions to compete with Universal Orlando but I believe that the concentration on these improvements has more to do with expected traffic than to compete with Universal. After seeing an article by Richard Bilbao in Orlando Business Journal I believe that Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, agrees. He is quoted saying “Business goes up in Orlando or Central Florida, and we don’t view it as something negative as it drives more people to the area.”
When I was a Cast Member at Walt Disney World I went to apply for a second job at Universal. During the job interview I asked the interviewer if it was an issue that I worked for Walt Disney World as well. She said absolutely not, we are partners in giving guests to the Orlando area an amazing experience. That statement made me realize that any enhancements one theme park adds will bring more guests to the area and push the other theme parks to improve their offerings. Since moving here I have noticed that there are constant improvements being made all around. Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, and Sea World are always adding attractions for the guests to enjoy. During the time since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal’s Island of Adventure theme park we have been treated to an ongoing battle by Orlando area attractions to add capacity and attract guests to their park. This only means great things for the local economy and guests of the theme parks.
I think that The Walt Disney Company is doing a great job to stay ahead of the game. The implementation of MyMagic+ to help personalize and enhance the guest experience is moving forward making improvements as it goes. This program will help the larger crowds enjoy Walt Disney World just a little more. New Fantasyland is about to open the last anticipated attraction, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, just ahead of the opening of Diagon Alley. A lot was said about how long it took to complete construction on this attraction but I believe that it is ironic the amount of press events surrounding this opening just prior to Diagon Alley opening at Universal. Disney knows what they are doing. Any amount of press that they can swing their way the better. Most vacations last around a week and even if guests to the Orlando area are spending a few days at Universal as their original destination Disney wants them to know that they are welcome to come over to Walt Disney World for an amazing experience as well. Bob Iger was also quoted saying “there will be plenty more we will put into the marketplace that will take advantage of any growth the marketplace has.” This again shows their belief that traffic to the Orlando area will increase and that they will continue to do everything that they can to stay competitive.
Universal Orlando has taken great care to offer an amazing experience with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and after seeing construction and concept art for Diagon Alley I believe that they will continue to offer an extremely immersive experience into the Wizarding World. Sea World completed an Antarctica expansion in their Orlando theme park complete with an amazing attraction Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin as well as a Penguins Up-Close and Wild Arctic Up-Close Tours. Each theme park also competes with special events and concerts to entertain their guests.
Even if we disagree about the motivations of the theme parks to add and expand we can all agree that the guests benefit from this competition. I hope that the battle between the Wizard and the Mouse continues for years to come. We can shift attention from one theme park to the next and back again and know that we will continue to have new and exciting experiences to enjoy. I am very excited about what this competition will bring for my family to enjoy. We are keeping are hands and feet inside at all times and enjoying the ride!
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