We ran into Scar’s surgeon at Universal last night…

| March 20, 2008


Yes, Dr. Cardoo stopped by our table last night at the Islands Dining Room at Universal’s Royal Pacific resort.  We had a nice dinner (I’ll be writing up a seperate review in the next few days), but after yesterday’s announcement that yet ANOTHER new MAJOR attraction was being added to Universal in the next year – I was moved to go spend some time over there.

The announcement yesterday that they would be adding the “Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit” roller coaster to Universal Studios in the spring of 2009 is just the latest salvo in Universal’s bid to regain market share from Disney.  Not that I’ll EVER get on the thing you understand.  My roller coaster days ended right around the time I started to look as though I was in my 28th trimester.  There’s just something uncomfortable about ‘fat guy on roller coaster’ – almost like I’m trying to do whatever I can to expedite a stroke. 

No, I won’t be riding this thing – but that might be part of Universal’s problem.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m excited about this – I’m very excited about EVERYTHING Universal is doing right now – I was excited by the $86 2 park / 7 day / unlimited admission pass that I thought for sure would be gone by now (it ISN’T – and it HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE – so if you buy it NOW you can experience all the new upcoming COOLNESS for a VERY good price – are you GETTING MY DRIFT HERE PEOPLE!!!).  I’m excited to see what they do with the new Simpson’s attraction (which should be opening any time now), I’m excited to see what Harry Potter Island will look like (opening next spring).  Yes – it’s a new day at Universal but they had to get their butt’s kicked up one side of the street and down the other in order to make this happen.  That’s been a bad habit of Universal’s ever since they opened, but as I’ve said before – we’re the one’s who benefit from the blood-feud between Universal and Disney.

My problem is that Universal hasn’t learned what Disney has – if you can give the fat, middle aged, pre-stroke crowd a chance to ride a “roller coaster”, they feel less – well, OLD.  It’s a chance to experience a “thrill ride” with their kids – something a lot of them aren’t going to do on Dueling Dragons or the Incredible Hulk.  Again, these are world class attractions, but they all but eliminate an entire market segment that’s spending lots of money at Disney.  Now, The Mummy at Universal falls into the ‘middle aged with kids can do it’ category.  The Simpson’s – maybe – we’ll see (I’m PRAYING they upgraded the ride mechanism on this as the Back (injury) to the Future attraction was just plain BRUTAL.  Harry Potter Island should have plenty of cross over appeal.  But regardless of what you think of Universal, you have to give them credit – they’re really raising their game in an effort to compete, but it remains to be seen if their strategy will work.

Universal got served a one-two punch from Disney over the last few years.  When Disney changed their ticket options a few years back, allowing you to add extra days for only a few dollars more, it hurt Universal quite a bit – after all, what would most people rather do, spend an extra $5 for two more days at Disney – or (then) a $120 for 3 days at Universal?  But the real knock-out to Universal’s attendance figures came when Disney opened Expedition Everest in April of 2006.  One of Universal’s biggest draws were their coasters, and for some inexplicable reason (to me anyway), Everest had a major impact on business to Universal. 

Now, when I say ‘inexplicable’ don’t get your panties in a wad – I like Everest – it’s a great attraction and I understand it’s appeal, but if I’ll ride it – it’s not a REAL roller coaster.  For that, you still need to go to Universal – sorry. 

So the battle heats up – I can’t wait to see how Disney responds.

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Category: Disney World

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  • ladydanger

    I don’t know Pete, I’m a roller coaster enthusiast (the ones that require you to be at least 52″ tall and have a death wish in order to ride are my favorite kind) and I would call Expedition Everest a REAL roller coaster. It’s on the tamer end of things to be sure, but it’s still a real roller coaster. Given that Disney’s usually pulled back from building roller coasters in the past, I was expecting a lot less from Everest when I first went on it, but I was pleasantly surprised. I still had to poke my friend Sarah all during the ride to make sure she kept her eyes open so she would see the Yeti. (she’s a wuss, but a really good sport) I think that’s enough to qualify as REAL, as I don’t remember having to do that for Big Thunder Mountain RR.

    But this definitely sounds exciting. I think we were already thinking about doing a trip to Orlando that would include Universal once the Harry Potter area opened. This would give us one more reason to.

  • slygirl

    You’re on your own for the death wish roller coasters, LadyDanger! The Rockin’ Roller Coaster is about as adventuresome as it gets for me. I’ll be in Harry Potter Land drinking fire whiskey.

    Okay, maybe I’ll ride the Simpson ride. It’d be cool if they piped the “Rappin’ Ronnie Reagan” music into it.

  • Cyrano

    Surely this can only mean more experiences for the guests. Can’t be a bad thing?

  • klam_chowder

    Thx a mint for taking time to blog, on top of all the other stuff you have going on.

    Love hearing a bit about Universal too. We’ve only been to Orlando once but we know on future trips we’ll take time to head to Kennedy Space Center, SW, Universal so I appreciate that you talk about those too!

    Keep up the great work!

  • ADP

    I’m so glad Universal is stepping up there game. It will benefit all of us as Disney will respond somehow. Competition is a wonderful thing!

  • alaskanmommy

    Love the blog Pete! Fantastic idea and yet another genius way for us addicts to get their fix! May have to try Universal next time we get to Orlando, though I have a hard time sacrificing Disney time for anything else. Thanks!

  • mommyceratops

    Wow! Thanks Pete!! I hope Disney can respond with a big – big something. :)

  • SamIAm

    I agree with Pete. I will do Expedition Everest and I have done more extreme roller coasters in my younger days. However, at this point in my life, mid 40s, I really just can’t handle those extreme thrill rides. It would pretty much put me in a bad state for the remainder of the day. I did Expedition Everest and I liked it, but honestly, I don’t think I would do it again unless my daughter really wanted. Seeing that we both rode with our eyes closed, I doubt that will happen! HA! I would like to try Rockin Rollercoaster at the Studios though, just once. Maybe this year??

    I’m sticking with BTMRR now and looking back fondly on my glory days and all the coasters I used to ride at Chicago’s old Great America!!