When you live in Orlando, the ongoing battle between the two most major attractions is evident almost constantly. For the most part, Disney and Universal have a symbiotic relationship. Many people flock to this area and visit both while they are here. Disney has Universal beat on size, hotels, sheer capacity to house and move thousands and thousands of people on a daily basis. What Disney doesn’t seem to have, however, is the cool factor and in the most recent announcements of expansion, this is more evident than ever.
Now before you Disney nuts go all Grumpy on me, let me clarify that Disney is super cool in it’s own Disney way. Their image is pretty well established and the things they do need to fit into that image. The things that Universal is announcing wouldn’t necessarily work at Disney and the same is true in reverse. They are two separate theme resorts with two different feels. Still, while Disney still holds the cards in the fight for guests, I see Universal creeping up slowly – and doing it well.
The two big things that have been announced at Disney are the conversion of Downtown Disney, a shopping, eating, entertainment district, to Disney Springs, a larger, shopping, eating, entertainment district, and the transformation of Camp Minnie Mickey at Animal Kingdom into Avatar Land. The acquisition of LucasArts has lead to some wild speculation but nothing has come of it, or will come of it soon. New Fantasyland just opened and it’s a great expansion with two attractions, two restaurants and a shop that serves LeFou’s Brew – a good attempt that, from what I understand, falls short when compared to the Butterbeer at Universal.
Universal Orlando, however, has recently announced an expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They’re creating Diagon Alley. The Hogwart’s Express will transport you between the two areas. Harry Potter has been a huge boon for Universal and the buzz around this is pretty intense. But it’s the most recent announcement promises to set the two theme resorts apart even more – A Simpson’s Expansion. Yep, you heard it. You’ll soon be able to visit Springfield, eat at Krusty Burger, grab a do-nut from the Lard Lab and even grab a beer from Moe’s Tavern and sip it while resting under the statue of Jebediah Springfield. They’ll sell slushies at the Kwik-E-Mart, the Comic Book Guy’s store will even be there. Once your Krusty Burger has settled, you can take a spin on “Kang & Kodo’s Twirl n’ Hurl” as well as the existing Simpson’s ride. According to the press release, this will make Universal, “The Krustyest Place on Earth”
Okay, Disney. Your move.