Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Harry and Mickey

This post by Robert Niles at themeparkinsider.com talks about the new Diagon Alley at Universal.  This of course is the new Harry Potter themed area and early reviews make it sound impressive. 
...Diagon Alley offers the best example of a themed entertainment environment in America, and perhaps, the world. Diagon Alley creates the type of experience that rewards fans for their love of theme parks while making others into new theme park fans.
It's simply the most convincing themed environment ever created, topping the original Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure, not to mention any single land currently available at Walt Disney World or Disneyland.
Disney could ultimately benefit from such a popular attraction in a "rival" theme park by attracting more people to the Orlando area.  Some people will no doubt decide to skip WDW altogether for a while but it seems likely that more people will want to visit both theme parks.  It will be interesting to see if there is any impact on the Magical Express at WDW.  If people want to go to WDW and Universal they will probably want a car rather than relying on the bus. 

The dark side of this for Disney is if people start wondering (even more) why WDW is not investing in imaginative new attractions.  Avatar Land is a couple years away and it remains to be seen whether this will have anywhere near the popularity of Harry.  Articles have quoted Disney executives as saying that the MyMagic+ system was designed to help keep people at WDW.  The FastPass+ system tries to do this by giving people 3 FastPasses and spreading return times throughout the day so people supposedly will be reluctant to leave WDW and miss their attraction.  But, with Diagon Alley a short car ride away, will this strategy work?  Disney might need more than technological games to keep people at WDW.

The side effects of what Universal is doing will be interesting to watch, although they may take a while to develop.


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