We’ve often heard the phrase ‘size matters’. Americans have always thought that bigger is better. In most cases that is true, but not always. There can be disadvantages to size. One clear disadvantage is the buzz created by a major announcement. Depending on the size of the theme park resort major announcements like new attractions or expansions can either be met with a resounding cheer or a major thud. Continue reading and let’s look at specific examples of how the excitement meter can move higher or lower depending on the size of the theme park resort.
I know I’m entering dangerous territory here by analyzing what type of buzz was created by recent theme park announcements, but I find it fascinating at some of the disparity in fan reaction. Some of the reactions are thumbs up to thumbs down, or simply “Who cares, it’s no big deal”, or even “Not another restaurant!” But, what really drives fan reaction or interest in theme park announcements? Let’s take a look at a couple of specific examples at two of the biggest Orlando theme park resorts.
Walt Disney World
We can all agree the Walt Disney World resort is huge. With so much to do, so many theme parks, attractions, restaurants, and other experiences first time visitors can be overwhelmed. But, what does Disney World’s size have to do with fan reaction when it comes to new attractions, restaurants, or expansions? We all have a certain perspective on Disney World and it’s usually related to size. As fans we’re always craving more. When an announcement is made about a new attraction, land, restaurant, or other experience we’re looking at it with a microscope. The problem is since Disney World is so big we have to pull back the lens of the microscope to see the new attraction or expansion. The new attraction or expansion doesn’t look so big when we pull back the lens. That new addition doesn’t look or feel like a big deal since the size of Disney World is so large. If Disney World was just the Magic Kingdom Park, then the one new attraction would make a bigger impact than looking at it from the entire resort.
Let’s use the recent Fantasyland expansion as an example of this phenomenon. Disney added brand new attractions, moved an attraction, re-themed another attraction, added a heavily-themed restaurant, new themed quick service options, and souvenir shops. In addition, they themed areas of the new Fantasyland with circus props and enchanted gardens. These are just some of the highlights of New Fantasyland. There’s even more to explore. However, the impact of New Fantasyland in contrast to the Walt Disney World resort is somewhat minimal. Moving the needle isn’t as great compared to everything else the resort has to offer. If you look at New Fantasyland as just a component of the Magic Kingdom then New Fantasyland is a pretty big project in scale to the rest of the park. Depending on your perspective of the expansion it will gauge your excitement of the project.
Let’s head east on I-4 about 8 miles and look at what’s happening at Universal Orlando. There’s a significant amount of activity taking place at the theme park resort including a new resort hotel, theme park expansions, and new attractions. Two projects have come to the forefront over the past two or three weeks; The Transformers Ride and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion (Diagon Alley) both inside Universal Studios theme park. Both of these projects are huge investments for the resort. Universal recently announced the Transformers attraction will open to guests on June 20th, 2013 and Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley will open sometime in 2014. If you’ve visited Universal Orlando it’s not too difficult to see the construction cranes associated with these projects.
Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley will take the place of what was the Amityville section of Universal Studios theme park. Lost in this transformation was the Jaws attraction which was around when the park opened in 1990. Amityville was a rather large section of the park, and since Universal Orlando only has 2 theme parks removing Amityville and replacing it with Diagon Alley is a big deal. The percentage of the resort which is affected by the Diagon Alley expansion is significant causing a rather large buzz among Universal Orlando theme park fans. Add in the new Transformers attraction, Simpsons Expansion, and the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort and you’re looking at quite a significant undertaking throughout the resort. Universal is moving the needle and creating quite a buzz with these projects because of the physical amount of space affected at the entire resort.
You may agree or disagree, but we all seem to expect more from Disney World. It’s true that we hold Disney to a higher standard, but it seems we expect more simply because the resort is bigger. More needs to be done to make any kind of impact because of its enormous size. Over at Universal Orlando the buzz over their new projects seems ahead of Disney World’s projects. The projects at Universal Orlando seem magnified simply because of how much of the resort is changing.
Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its expansion seem to be the centerpiece of the resort. This franchise is a world-wide hit and draws visitors from all over the globe. But, the impact it’s made to the theme park resort is huge. It will soon have two lands, one in each theme park. It’s a big portion of what guests will experience when they visit Universal Orlando. Over at Walt Disney World we look to Fantasyland as the crown jewel of the resort. Whenever parents, children, and even grandparents think of Disney World Fantasyland is at the top of the list. Now that the majority of New Fantasyland is complete you’d think guests and fans would be flying high over its existence, yet the buzz just hasn’t been significant considering the size of the overall project.
Size does matter, but is bigger always better? Probably not considering it can have a drastic affect at how we view theme park projects. Because of Disney World’s sheer size it’s more difficult to create fan impact and buzz. Over at Universal Orlando it seems easier since the resort isn’t nearly as big as Walt Disney World. As Universal Orlando continues to grow it will get more difficult to create a stir, but for now growth is good for fans no matter which theme park decides to make the investment.
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Category: Disney World