Ever since Universal Orlando Resort announced significant details about its upcoming new theme park Epic Universe, one question I’ve seen being asked all over social media is, “How will Disney respond?” This isn’t the first time Universal has announced something big, and people are immediately looking for Disney to “respond.”
This concept has always been a bit perplexing to me as I don’t see a need for a “response” from Disney. Obviously, this is my own personal opinion, so take it as you will, but to me, Disney and Universal don’t have much in common other than the fact that they’re both theme parks. If you think about it, the purpose of each entity’s theme park is vastly different. Universal is packed with thrill rides, whereas Disney theme parks are packed with attractions that are more suited for families and a wide variety of age groups.
If we go back to the basics and remember what Walt Disney himself said prior to opening Disneyland, it makes sense. Walt said he wanted to create a place where parents could have fun along with their kids. In my opinion, there is a bigger chance of that happening in the Disney theme parks than at Universal. Don’t get me wrong, many theme park goers can enjoy thrill rides well into their kids’ teen and young adult years, but I think I’m safe to say that the majority of preschoolers aren’t tall enough for most of them and would likely not enjoy them more than being terrified.
Another issue I personally run into is that back in the day, when my kids were little, I could get on the Mad Tea Party attraction and spin that bad boy like a pro. Fast forward to their teen years and I had to sit that one out along with a few others because motion sensitivity really kicked in something fierce as I got older. The thing is, once your kids are old enough to maybe start a family of their own, making you grandparents and possibly taking small children to Disney again, attractions like Alice in Wonderland, “it’s a small world,” and Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel start looking real attractive once more. Not only can the little ones go on, but there are pretty incredible stories to tell them that the attractions are based on. I know that I loved telling my kids the stories of some of my favorite Disney attractions as they were growing up, and it was so much fun getting to step into a real-life version of those stories.
Of course, and I’m going to show my age just a bit, but whatever, my kids didn’t have the internet at their fingertips until they were very close to their teenage years. If they missed their beloved Halloween or Christmas special on TV, that was it until next year. That instant gratification we all have become accustomed to wasn’t a thing back then, so they had no idea of what to expect when we were planning the first visit to Disney. They couldn’t believe their eyes when Flik and Atta from A Bug’s Life were standing there in Disney California Adventure Park as we rounded the corner, and they not only got to take pictures with them, but they got their autographs too! It’s pure fun.
Disney theme parks are timeless. I do not feel that another theme park needs to be added to the Walt Disney World Resort at all. Disney should stick with what they do best – storytelling and creating immersive theme park lands that bring those stories to life. Of course, I feel that they should regularly update them and add new stories as they did in the overseas Disney parks with World of Frozen and Zootopia.
Universal has done it with some stories like Harry Potter and Dr. Suess, but I don’t believe that their theme parks are timeless in the same ways that Disney’s are. Look at Toy Story Land, for example. The first Toy Story film came out at Thanksgiving in 1995, but Disney didn’t bring Andy’s backyard to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios until June 2018. Of course, Toy Story 2, 3, and 4 all followed, but the fact still remains that nearly 23 years went by between the film’s debut and the entire land’s debut. The thing is, again, in my opinion, they did an incredible job, and my husband and I and our kids – who weren’t even born yet in 1995 – felt like we’d walked right into the movie and loved every moment of being there.
The fact of the matter is that we don’t know for sure what Disney has planned for DinoLand in Animal Kingdom. We also don’t know what is coming “beyond Thunder Mountain” in Magic Kingdom, either. Everyone vehemently wants Disney to spill the beans and let us all in on their plans, but these timeless lands take time to plan and build. If they were to announce those plans tomorrow, Disney fans everywhere would be buzzing about it for a week or two, and then they’d be onto the next thing. Every single thing doesn’t need to give us instant gratification, and it won’t kill any of us to have some patience. I’m here for all of it and am just as excited as the next Disney fan to see what’s in store, but I can patiently wait until Disney is ready to share.
Senior Editor for the DIS and DCL Fan | Disney Vacation Club Member | Thrilled to have been a '13/'14 Disney Parks Moms Panelist (now planDisney) | Lover of all things Disney; the Magic of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruise Line | ºoº