Universal’s Epic Universe theme park has been officially announced. The long-rumored announcement will bring yet another theme park to the Orlando area and suddenly adds new pressure on Walt Disney World.
Why should Disney fans feel excited about Universal’s new theme park?
Universal’s Epic Universe will become the third Universal theme park in the Orlando area and fourth if you include Volcano Bay water park. It signals an even larger commitment by Universal to create a viable rival to the juggernaut that is Walt Disney World.
A new theme park is an exciting proposition for theme park fans as a whole, but why is it particularly good news for Disney fans?
The consumer is usually the biggest winner when two companies compete. Walt Disney World was mostly unchallenged for ages, but as Universal has stepped up in recent years through their Harry Potter offerings, Disney has been forced to respond with new offerings of their own. Many believe that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was Disney’s own attempt to capture the magic found in Universal’s Harry Potter areas.
Though Disney has made significant announcements over the last couple of years outside of Star Wars (TRON coaster, Ratatouille ride, Guardians of the Galaxy coaster), Universal’s announcement will likely force Walt Disney World to continue expanding and improving to maintain their position in the market.
Make no mistake that Disney is still the top dog when it comes to theme park attendance. But Universal has become a more formidable competitor in recent years and is trying to take a larger bite out of the overall market. That was clear before Universal’s new theme park announcement and should be abundantly clear now that a third theme park is officially on its way.
This conversation almost always goes back to the question about whether Walt Disney World will ever build a fifth theme park. A fifth gate seems unlikely for the foreseeable future while expansions are still possible at the existing theme parks. Walt Disney World can still round out its current theme parks (looking at you, Disney’s Hollywood Studios), and create more complete experiences before tackling the enormous project that would be a fifth gate. That being said, a fifth theme park is probably on Walt Disney World’s list of long-term goals.
Disney fans should be excited that Walt Disney World is being challenged more now than ever before. Disney will be forced to at the very least match Universal’s momentum, but will be pressured to stay ahead through new additions and innovations.
What’s not to like about that?