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Has Universal Lost Its Way?

Has Universal Lost Sight Of Its Vision?

  • Yes

    Votes: 18 22.5%
  • No

    Votes: 62 77.5%

  • Total voters
    80
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Toxic34

Newcomer
Oct 17, 2017
3
By now, Universal Studios Florida has lost so many of its signature attractions, both original and replacement, and a certain type of attraction is now necessary to be a moneymaker. These days, it seems that they can't do anything without going simulator crazy, in which a vehicle must idle by a screen, usually with 3D glasses. Amazing as that can be, it also feels incredibly limited, compared to the possibilities that classic attractions of old had with their meticulous effects, props and atmosphere. The sense of "riding the movies" as it was originally advertised, which involved getting to understand how they are made, is simply dead and buried.

I understand that not even the best-loved attraction is safe from changing times, but as of late, the replacement attractions just don't have the verve and vigor, the sense of freshness that used to come. Twister...Ride It Out was an incredible replacement for Ghostbusters (I personally would've liked it if they had chosen to enhance and enlarge the experience rather than replace it, particularly to take advantage of the film's 20th anniversary), and The Simpsons Ride is still a sheer delight that can stand up with Back To The Future. But what we have gotten since, at least in terms of USF, has become incredibly limiting and underwhelming, with the Harry Potter expansion being the only notable one of genuine thrills and living up to the standards of the Universal of old. In has come an emphasis on quick and dirty, built as fast as possible for instant money now, compared to the "long-term, slow burn, getting it done" method Disney has employed, especially in announcing their most recent expansions.

While there is still much to enjoy about Universal, the vibe has certainly changed in a way that is troubling, and becoming quite ridiculous. In many ways, it seems like Universal has become a victim of its past success, and a seeming indifference to longtime fans' feelings about cherished attractions, and choosing to simply pull the plug rather than work to enhance and punch it up is bewildering.
 
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,888
Pittsburgh area
I disagree with your assumptions. Universal/Comcast has demonstrated they have a significant long term commitment. Their business decisions are clearly long term, not short term. Revenues & profits are constantly being reinvested into the Orlando, Hollywood & Japan resorts. Universal Orlando has experienced huge increases in attendance & revenue in the past seven years. Citi Walk has been upgraded, affordable & vibrant on site hotel resorts have been built, and the parks have replaced aging attractions that were no longer attracting crowds. Perhaps they built one or two too many screen attractions for the Studios park, but that's being rectified in the very near future. IOA still is very balanced concerning attractions. The newer attractions, for the most part, have strong repeat ride attraction. Many of the older attractions were one and done types. The resorts/parks are being adapted to attract a high per guest spending clientele, which results in greater revenue, and ultimately more new attractions. This is the Golden Age of Universal, and it's going to get better. :) .............and, by the way, welcome to the IU Forums. :thumbsup:
 

DR S

Newcomer
Jun 12, 2017
43
By now, Universal Studios Florida has lost so many of its signature attractions, both original and replacement, and a certain type of attraction is now necessary to be a moneymaker. These days, it seems that they can't do anything without going simulator crazy, in which a vehicle must idle by a screen, usually with 3D glasses. Amazing as that can be, it also feels incredibly limited, compared to the possibilities that classic attractions of old had with their meticulous effects, props and atmosphere. The sense of "riding the movies" as it was originally advertised, which involved getting to understand how they are made, is simply dead and buried.

I understand that not even the best-loved attraction is safe from changing times, but as of late, the replacement attractions just don't have the verve and vigor, the sense of freshness that used to come. Twister...Ride It Out was an incredible replacement for Ghostbusters (I personally would've liked it if they had chosen to enhance and enlarge the experience rather than replace it, particularly to take advantage of the film's 20th anniversary), and The Simpsons Ride is still a sheer delight that can stand up with Back To The Future. But what we have gotten since, at least in terms of USF, has become incredibly limiting and underwhelming, with the Harry Potter expansion being the only notable one of genuine thrills and living up to the standards of the Universal of old. In has come an emphasis on quick and dirty, built as fast as possible for instant money now, compared to the "long-term, slow burn, getting it done" method Disney has employed, especially in announcing their most recent expansions.

While there is still much to enjoy about Universal, the vibe has certainly changed in a way that is troubling, and becoming quite ridiculous. In many ways, it seems like Universal has become a victim of its past success, and a seeming indifference to longtime fans' feelings about cherished attractions, and choosing to simply pull the plug rather than work to enhance and punch it up is bewildering.
Hey you D:censored:M Kids, Get off my lawn!
 

shiekra38

Legendary Member
Dec 13, 2009
10,712
Florida
By now, Universal Studios Florida has lost so many of its signature attractions, both original and replacement, and a certain type of attraction is now necessary to be a moneymaker. These days, it seems that they can't do anything without going simulator crazy, in which a vehicle must idle by a screen, usually with 3D glasses. Amazing as that can be, it also feels incredibly limited, compared to the possibilities that classic attractions of old had with their meticulous effects, props and atmosphere. The sense of "riding the movies" as it was originally advertised, which involved getting to understand how they are made, is simply dead and buried.

I understand that not even the best-loved attraction is safe from changing times, but as of late, the replacement attractions just don't have the verve and vigor, the sense of freshness that used to come. Twister...Ride It Out was an incredible replacement for Ghostbusters (I personally would've liked it if they had chosen to enhance and enlarge the experience rather than replace it, particularly to take advantage of the film's 20th anniversary), and The Simpsons Ride is still a sheer delight that can stand up with Back To The Future. But what we have gotten since, at least in terms of USF, has become incredibly limiting and underwhelming, with the Harry Potter expansion being the only notable one of genuine thrills and living up to the standards of the Universal of old. In has come an emphasis on quick and dirty, built as fast as possible for instant money now, compared to the "long-term, slow burn, getting it done" method Disney has employed, especially in announcing their most recent expansions.

While there is still much to enjoy about Universal, the vibe has certainly changed in a way that is troubling, and becoming quite ridiculous. In many ways, it seems like Universal has become a victim of its past success, and a seeming indifference to longtime fans' feelings about cherished attractions, and choosing to simply pull the plug rather than work to enhance and punch it up is bewildering.
Back in 1999 an amazing attraction was created called the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman..It was a a culmination of all of the things Universal was good at. Detailed sets, AA elements (Truck and ladder), 3-D elements, practical fire effects, and of course a sophisticated RV...The ride was heralded as the "best ride on the planet", and got many of us involved in the discussion of Universal parks (I mean, I joined IOA Central back in the day because of Spiderman)..Universal hit a home run..Fast forward to 2009 and Universal opens FJ, it's heralded as the new Spiderman, and Universal for all intents and purposes hit another home run..Actually the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as a whole re-defined the genre of theme park land..

Then Gringotts. Then Kong. Then Fallon, now F&F. It seems that Universal is a bit stuck in a rut that they can't get out of..Although ti seems that way, I need to point out a couple of things that have happened in the last few years alongside some of these "screenz" attractions..Gringotts came with a land that took the success of Hogsmede and pushed it to the next level..Kong came with georgeous place making and probably one of my favorite queues in the resort. Fallon came with a one of a kind queue experience that was a slight throwback to the old "ride the movies" days it feels..

Universal may be annoying the poop out of us with the projection screens in attractions, but I feel you have to examine the whole experience to see where they are truly succeeding.

Their queue experiences continue to improve with each iteration and new attraction..They aren't lazer focused on something like Magic Bands in the parks..Rather, they are trying to work the queue in to the overall experience in a way that is truly memorable. They are also using newer technology and pushing what's possible with ride technology in a way that I haven't seen anywhere else in the US. Also, they are pushing out attractions at a lightning speed..

All that said, the stories and pacing of many of their newer attractions are a bit bothersome..With all of its technology and special effects, Spiderman works because of the narrative that leaks through the entire attraction...There is a clear beginning, middle and end to the experience. Not so much with Kong where the whole thing feels like one big explosion of action...But perhaps that is what Universal wants, maybe they want to try that and see how it works, evolution doesn't truly happen without making errors and mistakes...The only issue is that these mistakes are very public (see Volcano Bay)..In our over the top complaining and social media driven society these issues are taken to a drastic extreme. Universal adds a new ride with 3-D screens and every blog in town lights up..

I think they are re-defining themselves. Things are changing. It's time to get off the horse for some people and be replaced by all of the new fans that are popping up

Say what you will about them, but at least they are moving forward
 

zg44

Member
Jun 5, 2017
944
By now, Universal Studios Florida has lost so many of its signature attractions, both original and replacement, and a certain type of attraction is now necessary to be a moneymaker. These days, it seems that they can't do anything without going simulator crazy, in which a vehicle must idle by a screen, usually with 3D glasses. Amazing as that can be, it also feels incredibly limited, compared to the possibilities that classic attractions of old had with their meticulous effects, props and atmosphere. The sense of "riding the movies" as it was originally advertised, which involved getting to understand how they are made, is simply dead and buried.

I understand that not even the best-loved attraction is safe from changing times, but as of late, the replacement attractions just don't have the verve and vigor, the sense of freshness that used to come. Twister...Ride It Out was an incredible replacement for Ghostbusters (I personally would've liked it if they had chosen to enhance and enlarge the experience rather than replace it, particularly to take advantage of the film's 20th anniversary), and The Simpsons Ride is still a sheer delight that can stand up with Back To The Future. But what we have gotten since, at least in terms of USF, has become incredibly limiting and underwhelming, with the Harry Potter expansion being the only notable one of genuine thrills and living up to the standards of the Universal of old. In has come an emphasis on quick and dirty, built as fast as possible for instant money now, compared to the "long-term, slow burn, getting it done" method Disney has employed, especially in announcing their most recent expansions.

While there is still much to enjoy about Universal, the vibe has certainly changed in a way that is troubling, and becoming quite ridiculous. In many ways, it seems like Universal has become a victim of its past success, and a seeming indifference to longtime fans' feelings about cherished attractions, and choosing to simply pull the plug rather than work to enhance and punch it up is bewildering.
There's been 2 major ownership changes over the last 2 decades for Universal Resorts. The first arguably had little impact because when Universal merged with GE-owned NBC, it didn't really result in any major strategy changes at the parks. But the sale of NBCUniversal to Comcast has led to much larger changes because Comcast is a lot more "involved" as a corporate owner than GE (or Vivendi) was (with good reason: remember that Blackstone owned 50% of Universal Orlando and a group of outside companies owned Universal Japan). Comcast wants NBCUniversal to be Disney-like in terms of its vertical integration of tv/movies/parks/merchandise, and that's felt at all levels of Universal from the movie studio to the parks.

Just look at the way they promote movie IPs like Minions across Comcast-owned platforms, or use NBC to showcase their own movies and parks across other shows (and vice-versa).

Universal's movie slate has changed dramatically during Comcast's ownership (going from nearly no major animated releases to roughly 3-4 major animated movies a year by 2020), and a major shift in emphasis towards franchises like F&F, Jurassic, and several others (as well as bringing Blumhouse into the fold and Amblin back).

So yes, it's very different, but this is probably the future for Universal, more franchise IPs that can be vertically integrated across the company as well as a focus on hotels (where the profit is) in any expansion at Orlando.

Note that Vivendi's original plan for the 2nd Orlando resort was 2 massive golf courses + a theme park + some lodging (time shares and other things like that). Universal if/when it builds a 2nd Orlando resort will look much more like the current 1st resort (land permitting).
 

JungleSkip

Premium Member
Feb 15, 2010
20,707
The Mushroom Kingdom
Have there been missteps? Sure. Would it have been great to have things like Jaws and Kong still around with Diagon and Mummy? Sure. But the results speak for themselves.

We're in a bit of a creative lull right now post Kong and pre 2019, and we STILL got far and away the best water park in Orlando (IMO) this year. I think Universal Creative has learned some lessons from the reception of Fallon and the future looks drastically different from Fallon/F&F.

Now they just need to clean house in Ops management and poach someone from Disney to get the resort running like a fine tuned machine
 

UniversalRBLX

Veteran Member
Nov 3, 2015
2,813
Cabana Bae
I understand we all want large practical rides with no screens just like the good ol days, but considering guest satisfaction scores, it seems like guests leave Fallon(screen) satisfied and Navi River Journey(practical) with very little satisfaction.
 

s8film40

Veteran Member
Apr 18, 2013
3,458
I have to admit a year or two ago my outlook of Universal was far more optimistic than it is right now. They’ve had a very good string of successes. Fallon is great I like it but the ride portion of the attraction doesn’t really help the park in my opinion. I’m extremely disappointed in what Fast and Furious looks to be. It’ll probably be the first new attraction in a while that for me will be a downgrade from its predecessor. Finally the fact they’re adding more Potter is very concerning. I’m sure it’ll be great, but how much is too much. More important it seems to signify a lack of faith in their own abilities to draw large crowds using their talents as opposed to a proven IP. All that being said I think this all could represent a slight lack of focus due to their attention being directed at the potential 3rd park. That could be a good thing if they’re viewing these current projects as small filler before the big things come.
 
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JungleSkip

Premium Member
Feb 15, 2010
20,707
The Mushroom Kingdom
I didn’t realize that there was an issue with park ops.
They've always been worse than Disney at the Ops side of things, but it's finally starting to catch up to them. They're now getting crowds as big as Epcot, DAK, and DHS, and their park Ops can't keep up. Someone needs to whip the rank and file into shape for the resort to reach the next level.

. More important it seems to signify a lack of faith in their own abilities to draw large crowds using their talents as opposed to a proven IP.
We're getting two new Potter rides. One of which is replacing another Potter ride.

We're also getting:
Shrek replacement
T2 replacement
Nintendo (at least 3 rides)
Fast and Furious

That's 6 non-potter rides to 2 Potter rides. Not to mention since Diagon opened we've gotten Kong and Fallon, two non-Potter rides.

I just don't get the "They rely too much on Potter" argument when rides like Kong and Transformers also gave their respective parks double digit attendance boosts. Potter is far and away the biggest thing Universal has ever gotten, and will reap returns for decades. For them to not complete their vision for the areas makes no sense.
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
6,599
I didn’t realize that there was an issue with park ops.
Overall Ops issues (in both front and back of house) are the main reason I stopped going. I have a lot of theories on the why, but it’ll take a while for the cultural change that’s necessary in the parks to take effect.
 

JungleSkip

Premium Member
Feb 15, 2010
20,707
The Mushroom Kingdom
Overall Ops issues (in both front and back of house) are the main reason I stopped going. I have a lot of theories on the why, but it’ll take a while for the cultural change that’s necessary in the parks to take effect.
The big issue that everyone I talk to seems to agree with is that the people at the head of the resort have been there since day 1 and are set in their ways.

The resort management is long overdo for a culture change.
 

shiekra38

Legendary Member
Dec 13, 2009
10,712
Florida
They've always been worse than Disney at the Ops side of things, but it's finally starting to catch up to them. They're now getting crowds as big as Epcot, DAK, and DHS, and their park Ops can't keep up. Someone needs to whip the rank and file into shape for the resort to reach the next level.



We're getting two new Potter rides. One of which is replacing another Potter ride.

We're also getting:
Shrek replacement
T2 replacement
Nintendo (at least 3 rides)
Fast and Furious

That's 6 non-potter rides to 2 Potter rides. Not to mention since Diagon opened we've gotten Kong and Fallon, two non-Potter rides.

I just don't get the "They rely too much on Potter" argument when rides like Kong and Transformers also gave their respective parks double digit attendance boosts. Potter is far and away the biggest thing Universal has ever gotten, and will reap returns for decades. For them to not complete their vision for the areas makes no sense.
Not to derail the thread, but I'm kind of tired of the whole "too much Potter" or "Potter is taking all the available land" debate

All of Diagon Alley fits in the plot of ONE old attraction
Hogsmede took up HALF of one of IOA's old lands

Plus, HP has a fantastical universe with lots of places and characters that have yet to be explore - they have the money, it's proven successful, so why not?

Most of the people that are butthurt about DD and JAWS being replaced are the same people that passed right by it on return visits.

You're getting Nintendo. You're getting a replacement for Shrek. You're getting a replacement for T2....Two more Potter rides that further enhance the cohesion of the overall lands are not going to hurt - it's going to be ok
 

P@n!K_Sw1tC#

Veteran Member
Aug 5, 2009
1,370
Windermere
Overall Ops issues (in both front and back of house) are the main reason I stopped going. I have a lot of theories on the why, but it’ll take a while for the cultural change that’s necessary in the parks to take effect.
The attitude at Universal is definitely guilty until proven innocent. At times ops can be very adversarial towards guests - while at Disney they treat guests the way guests should be treated.
 
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JungleSkip

Premium Member
Feb 15, 2010
20,707
The Mushroom Kingdom
The attitude at Universal is definitely guilty until proven innocent. At times ops can be very adversarial towards guests - while at Disney they treat guests the way guests should be treated.
Personally I'd prefer Universal to end up somewhere in the middle. Disney's special magical snowflake guest service is irritating as hell more often than not.
 
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