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  • [Chat] A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

    Today I was talking to a lovely couple from the UK. This couple was about 25 - 28, and it was their first time to Orlando. They had grown up hearing about Walt Disney World, and had somewhat recently heard about Universal Orlando.

    So today they were leaving Orlando, and I had the great pleasure to sit down and talk with them.

    You see with all these message boards, and with my own nostalgia, and brand loyalties, sometimes it is hard to see and understand what a truly "Fresh and untainted" view of the Orlando attractions are.

    So I sat down, and tried to ask as many open, non-leading questions possible. So I will share my questions and their answers. This is just antidotal, but to me it spoke volumes.

    Q. What was your favorite park here in Orlando?
    A. Islands of Adventure

    Q. What did you think of the Universal Orlando Resort?
    A. Everything was amazing

    Q. What did you think of the Walt Disney World Resort?
    A. Everything seemed really dated

    Q. Why did it seem dated?
    A. Things just look old, Universal is just so much newer.

    Q. Did you know that Disney Hollywood Studios and Universal Orlando opened around the same time?
    A. Impossible.

    Q. What was your favorite attraction in Orlando?
    A. The whole harry potter area.

    Q. Did you buy any souvenirs while you were here?
    A. Loads

    Q. Did you get anything cool at Disney?
    A. No it was all kind of lame

    Q. Did you get anything cool at Universal?
    A. We packed our suitcases full.

    Q. When you go home, which parks would you tell your family and friends to visit?
    A. Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Epcot.

    Mind you this was one couple, but it seems more and more common with people I interact with.

    Is the Disney brand at a tipping poing similar to where Feature Animation was after the slew of sequels?

    sigh...
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  • #2
    Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

    Now Eric... you aren't coming over to the Dark Side are you?
    Kevin Yee
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    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

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    • #3

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      • #4
        Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

        Originally posted by KevinYee View Post
        Now Eric... you aren't coming over to the Dark Side are you?
        lol No. But I just thought this conversation was interesting. I didn't want to influence them in anyway, I just wanted to hear their unfiltered opinion...

        And in all honesty it shocked me. I feel that a lot of times we "Super Fans" are extra critical, but we can also lavish too much praise.

        So it was interesting to hear a first timer, express some of the feelings and opinions that have been expressed on here.
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        • #5
          Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

          More average, everyday tourists with this kind of opinion is the best thing that could happen to WDW. Look at DCA. WDW has to start losing serious amounts of money before it's going to get the attention it needs.
          I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
          -Walt Disney

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          • #6
            Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

            At the same time, depending on what they thought was "dated" this could also be dangerous... I was recently talking to some cousins from the UK who said they would never go on PotC again "because it was so dated." Those were their exact words. Hopefully if TDO gets a lot of survey results along those lines, they don't suddenly decide that the remaining classics in Orlando need to be "under new management."
            I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
            -Walt Disney

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            • #7
              Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

              Originally posted by KingEric View Post
              Today I was talking to a lovely couple from the UK. This couple was about 25 - 28, and it was their first time to Orlando. They had grown up hearing about Walt Disney World, and had somewhat recently heard about Universal Orlando.

              So today they were leaving Orlando, and I had the great pleasure to sit down and talk with them.

              You see with all these message boards, and with my own nostalgia, and brand loyalties, sometimes it is hard to see and understand what a truly "Fresh and untainted" view of the Orlando attractions are.

              So I sat down, and tried to ask as many open, non-leading questions possible. So I will share my questions and their answers. This is just antidotal, but to me it spoke volumes.

              Q. What was your favorite park here in Orlando?
              A. Islands of Adventure

              Q. What did you think of the Universal Orlando Resort?
              A. Everything was amazing

              Q. What did you think of the Walt Disney World Resort?
              A. Everything seemed really dated

              Q. Why did it seem dated?
              A. Things just look old, Universal is just so much newer.

              Q. Did you know that Disney Hollywood Studios and Universal Orlando opened around the same time?
              A. Impossible.

              Q. What was your favorite attraction in Orlando?
              A. The whole harry potter area.

              Q. Did you buy any souvenirs while you were here?
              A. Loads

              Q. Did you get anything cool at Disney?
              A. No it was all kind of lame

              Q. Did you get anything cool at Universal?
              A. We packed our suitcases full.

              Q. When you go home, which parks would you tell your family and friends to visit?
              A. Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Epcot.

              Mind you this was one couple, but it seems more and more common with people I interact with.

              Is the Disney brand at a tipping poing similar to where Feature Animation was after the slew of sequels?

              sigh...


              This is exactly how I felt back in 2008. I did WDW for the third time, Universal Studios for the 2nd, Islands of Adventure for the first. IoA really did blow me away. It's not perfect but it was closer to what I expected from Disney, from the type of attractions to the cast members.

              I think when you're running a smaller, tighter ship, things are communicated a lot better. WDW has gotten too big for its own good and they're losing touch with their audience.


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              • #8
                Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                Interestingly, I have a cousin and his wife and 2 kids (11 & 7 both girls) who have just returned from 2 weeks in Orlando... They're also from the UK.

                This trip has cost them a small fortune and they went believing this could be their only ever trip to Florida, so they tried to do everything! They had tickets for Universal and Disney and spent 2 days in Universal and 10 days in the Disney parks. They got back to the UK last Sunday and I immediately called around to see what they thought, while their emotions were still fresh.

                They obviously know that I travel to the 'world' every quarter and I wanted to see if my opinions matched theirs and share some insights. Surprisingly, they loved everything about Disney and they seemed to dislike Universal and their thoughts on Harry Potter are mostly not repeatable! In essence Harry potter was small, crowded and not such a good ride - certainly not worth the hype and they felt cheated that it wasn't a 'theme park', in it's own right. In fact, the family all stated that the Hulk was the best ride in IOA, but for them, that was it.

                Over in the Studios they liked MIB and ET (for the little girl) but they felt this park was light on attractions and not much fun. RRR got a mention but they felt it wasn't as good as RRC at Disney's Studios. Overall, they thought the themeing was ok but disjointed.

                Meanwhile, they kept repeating that Disney seemed more fun, cleaner and much more varied. POTC was also a hit and they rode each time they were in MK, although it sounds like one of the anamatronics was broken and this was noted!

                However, they loved all 4 parks and their enthusiasm was very clear.

                I asked them if they thought Disney seems tired or old by comparison to Universal and all 4 of them said no... They accepted that some areas were way older than Universal but because it was cleaner and the cast members were more friendly, they accepted the age difference.

                Finally, I asked them if they would like to go back and where they would they like to go - 4 different people, 4 different answers but all chose the Disney resort.

                1. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (oldest daughter)
                2. Mission Space (dad)
                3. Tower of Terror (mum)
                4. Splash Mountain (youngest daughter)

                The most interesting thing to me was that of all 4 parks, the Animal Kingdom was the least popular. Mostly down to the crowds and the heat but they rated it above Universal!

                I guess that the family have different views to the young couple mentioned at the top of this thread but I also agree, I'd choose Disney over Universal every day of the week - especially, since the Harry Potter attraction has opened.

                It's a game of opinions but in my opinion Universals is, 'all show and no go' - still miles behind Disney!

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                • #9
                  Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                  One thing to consider is that the British, and in fact most other countries, don't have quite the devoted love and obsession for Disney as Americans do. Thus, things that we find nostalgic and charming they may find dated, even such classic rides as Pirates. That would also explain the lameness of the merchandise, which is mostly focused on characters (though I definitely agree with those who believe they need more exclusive items in the parks).

                  As for Hollywood Studios, I'm really not shocked they'd think its older, but that's because the average age of most Universal attractions is actually younger. Universal tears out and changes so many rides that they really do keep it seeming fresher and newer in a lot of ways. The downside is that even classic attractions can get the ax, such as the current rumors around Jaws potentially closing.

                  Since they seemed to really enjoy Epcot, I can see where they're less appreciative of the youth focused attractions you'd find in Magic Kingdom, since Epcot isn't perfect by any means. It does seem to show that nothing has been added to Magic Kingdom in recent memory that appeals to "average" young adults. Splash Mountain was really the last "thrill ride" built, and it seems the park is past due for another.

                  I can definitely understand where they would see a dated park, especially if they don't have nostalgia on their side. The Snow White ride improvements at Disneyland show that it is possible to update classic rides without fundamentally changing them or making costly additions. With small improvements like those, better upkeep, and a few additions that appeal past the Princess demographic, I think the Magic Kingdom could improve its image relatively fast. As for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, they need to build, build, build. Studios desperately needs to replace the Backlot Tour, and AK needs another country featured (I know everyone says Beastly Kingdom, but I think somewhere they could add more animal trails with a marquee ride would be far more useful.)
                  Last edited by Disney Romantic; 08-24-2010, 04:38 AM.
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                  • #10
                    Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                    Honestly, I found Universal's merchandise to be lacking compared to Disney. The pins at Universal weren't as interesting as Disney's. In addition, while the Harry Potter merchandise was great to see, I wasn't that big of a fan to buy the most popular merchandise there.

                    Disney was another story. I admit I bought too much over there.

                    Although some aspects of WDW are dated, there are several aspects of Universal that are dated. Fievel's Playland is still at USF, along with the Beetlejuice show (although that has been updated, but still I don't get why it is still there).

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                    • #11
                      Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                      Wait--we're concerned because people from Britain called something "dated?" Have you eaten their cookies, I mean, biscuits? Talk about dated...but I'll still eat them, for they have chocolate in them.

                      They are still just figuring out there's an EU.

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                      • #12
                        Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                        I think a big difference is nostalgia. Disney lives off of nostalgia, basically - the shows and attractions are full of callbacks to old movies, and the parks themselves are breeding grounds of nostalgic views of themselves (for example, hanging the Country Bear Jamboree busts inside of Pooh in Disneyland - we appreciate the nostalgic value, the average tourist doesn't know or care).

                        Universal is much less about nostalgia and much more about keeping things current - the parks have been around for a while, but the nostalgic idea just isn't there. Sure they'll put Doc Brown into the Simpsons pre-queue area, but they don't live and die off of it.

                        What I'm getting at is that if you don't buy into the nostalgic value of the parks (or you're uneducated), it holds a lot less value. If you ignore nostalgia and just want thrills that are current, Universal is the place to go.

                        I saw this perception in action when talking to my dad before his trip out to California - he was planning a very long day for USH, and it took plenty of convincing to get him to see that it was not really a full-day park. Lo and behold, when he was there, he spent only 5 hours or so there.
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                        • #13
                          Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                          Originally posted by oo_nrb View Post
                          What I'm getting at is that if you don't buy into the nostalgic value of the parks (or you're uneducated), it holds a lot less value. If you ignore nostalgia and just want thrills that are current, Universal is the place to go.
                          Now that I think about it, I've run into this perception problem as well. One of my WDW trips was with my mother, who loves it almost as much as me, my stepbrother and stepfather, both of whom had never been before. Unfortunately, the latter two just didn't hold that nostalgia or the desire to act like a kid, and thus only kind of enjoyed themselves. In fact, it even made the trip feel disappointing to me, and I didn't return for years.
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                          • #14
                            Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                            Originally posted by oo_nrb View Post
                            I think a big difference is nostalgia. Disney lives off of nostalgia, basically - the shows and attractions are full of callbacks to old movies, and the parks themselves are breeding grounds of nostalgic views of themselves (for example, hanging the Country Bear Jamboree busts inside of Pooh in Disneyland - we appreciate the nostalgic value, the average tourist doesn't know or care).

                            Universal is much less about nostalgia and much more about keeping things current - the parks have been around for a while, but the nostalgic idea just isn't there. Sure they'll put Doc Brown into the Simpsons pre-queue area, but they don't live and die off of it.

                            What I'm getting at is that if you don't buy into the nostalgic value of the parks (or you're uneducated), it holds a lot less value. If you ignore nostalgia and just want thrills that are current, Universal is the place to go.

                            I saw this perception in action when talking to my dad before his trip out to California - he was planning a very long day for USH, and it took plenty of convincing to get him to see that it was not really a full-day park. Lo and behold, when he was there, he spent only 5 hours or so there.


                            While you're absolutely right, there is a difference between nostalgia and dated.

                            WDW is running the risk of trying to be contemporary in a lot that they do but not being contemporary enough. Pushing princesses and tinker bell, doing attractions pushing Stitch, Monsters Inc, and Buzz Lightyear. Those characters are timeless, but the way Disney handles them sometimes often appear dated. Even Illuminations is severely dated.

                            Throwing an American Idol experience in a park with a lot of stuff from the 80s will immediately make that park look dated.

                            WDW needs to focus on timelessness. I think a lot of the attractions that haven't been winners lately do more damage on the image than anything.


                            Just my opinion on my visits to the resort. Even something old can feel fresh.


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                            • #15
                              Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                              Originally posted by RooBear View Post
                              They are still just figuring out there's an EU.
                              Um, what's an "EU"?
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                              • #16
                                Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                                Originally posted by Grinning Ghost View Post
                                Um, what's an "EU"?
                                European Union, the attempt to place all European countries under one overarching organization for a number of reasons, including a common currency (the Euro). Depending on who you talk to, it's either a great answer to NATO, yet another ineffective multinational group, or the bringer of the end times. Great Britain is one of the less cooperative countries so far, being especially reluctant to give up their own currency.
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                                • #17
                                  Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                                  Originally posted by Disney Romantic View Post
                                  One thing to consider is that the British, and in fact most other countries, don't have quite the devoted love and obsession for Disney as Americans do
                                  You base this on?

                                  Because WDW continues to be a international destination after decades. With UK visitors suprisingly being a significant portion of that. And this is no 'cheap' vacation for them - nor do they usually come for 2-3 days.

                                  Given their voracious appetite to spend at WDW... I find your comments of suspect.
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                                  • #18
                                    Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                                    Originally posted by flynnibus View Post
                                    You base this on?

                                    Because WDW continues to be a international destination after decades. With UK visitors suprisingly being a significant portion of that. And this is no 'cheap' vacation for them - nor do they usually come for 2-3 days.

                                    Given their voracious appetite to spend at WDW... I find your comments of suspect.
                                    Confusing grammar ahead: I'm not saying that Disney isn't popular in the UK and other countries, that would be a ludicrous thing to claim. I'm saying that they don't have the same level of devotion and nostalgia for the place that many Americans do. For example, many people were even celebrating Disneyland Paris's early problems (article here), and a recent Australian preview of Epic Mickey questioned whether the brand could carry the game in a country not so devoted to the Mouse (article here). Essentially, an attraction I love because it's an integral part of my childhood and full of memories might just seem boring and old to someone who doesn't have that same connection that a lot of us do.
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                                    • #19
                                      Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                                      Originally posted by Disney Romantic View Post
                                      One thing to consider is that the British.
                                      Took the words out of my mouth. I know Harry Potter is big, but if you were too pick a place where Harry Potter is biggest where do you think that would be

                                      But really when talking about nostalgia and "dated" those people such as the two that were questioned could have also been talking about precious Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Personally I love the nostalgia and I love these two rides and I would never want to see them go. A lot of people are quick to point out the dated aspects of WDW but what no one talks about is how fan favorites such as HM and PotC fall under the category of dated.
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                                      • #20
                                        Re: A completely fresh view on WDW and Orlando.

                                        Originally posted by Maverick View Post
                                        A lot of people are quick to point out the dated aspects of WDW but what no one talks about is how fan favorites such as HM and PotC fall under the category of dated.
                                        I understand what you're saying but I disagree. There's a difference between "dated" and "timeless." For instance, most films from the silent era are dated - modern viewers would not get much from them; they seem lame because they oftentimes are. These films have not aged well. Then there are some films like Metropolis, which despite being filmed in 1927, is still an excellent film that many modern viewers will still enjoy. Metropolis is timeless because the quality of its art transcends the technological limitations of its era. Of course, if one goes to Metropolis looking for the latest CG effects and Bourne-like action they'll be disappointed, but that doesn't detract from the quality of the art and its appeal to audiences both in the '20s and today. You could say the same thing about many other classics from the silent era. Note that this does not rely on nostalgia. Very few people are alive today that can remember seeing these films as children (at least when they first premiered).

                                        I think PotC and HM (as well as many other attractions at DL and WDW) are analogous to the classics in this sense. If someone approaches them with the wrong expectations, or without any appreciation for themed attractions as an art, they'll be disappointed. But to call them dated is to do them a great disservice. The attractions are not deficient, the ability of certain visitors to appreciate them is.
                                        I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
                                        -Walt Disney

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