The Universal Resort in Orlando – much smaller than Walt Disney World Resort. But with a lot more action. Two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, with the new waterpark Volcano Bay, and with plans third park. Also: City Walk, lots of hotels, and several hotel projects in progress.

Universal
©VISIT FLORIDA

A magical change when Universal won a fight against Disney

Universal is the little brother in Orlando, despite its great popularity. But the two parks often feel more alive than giant Disney. They are more compact and easy to understand.

We love this place! Both parks. And one park a day. Plus, of course, 2 x Harry Potter!

When Universal Studios opened its doors in 1990 it meant that the first real competitor to the Disney World empire was born.

Interestingly, Universal was one of the reasons why Walt Disney started its own business. Walt Disney had bitter economic experiences of collaborating with the powerful movie company at the start of his career in the 20’s. He decided never to let anyone else have the right to his cartoon characters, always to be in control himself.

READ MORE: Universal hotels are best for park visitors

In addition, in the internal fight Disney vs. Universal in Orlando, it is equally interesting that Disney built Hollywood Studios (then called MGM Studios) at rocket speed when it became known that his old enemy would open a park in Florida. Disney won the race.

Universal already had experience in building theme parks, as a similar park existed in Los Angeles.

In June 1990, Universal Studios was ready to open in Orlando (only half a year after Disney’s MGM Studios). Nine years later, Islands of Adventure opened.

Universal for a new generation of young visitors

The two parks have seen huge successes in recent years, using Harry Potter’s magic powers, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Certainly, the resort is far behind Disney World in the big picture, but the visitor numbers in the first Harry Potter Park in the first year of its opening spoke a clear language – a 41 percent increase.
Magically, a winning concept.

We think these parks generally appeal to a more adult audience than Disney and believe that a new generation of young visitors would rather step into the wizard world than play with Mickey or Minnie and the other Disney characters. Although, Disney’s latest news (Toy Story, Pandora and Star Wars) is again a game changer.

GUNNAR HEDQWIST
PETER SUNESON

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All content on this page and other parts of FloridaUSAguide is based on information from the Scandinavian online publication Florida.nu, established in Clearwater Beach, Florida, 2006.

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