Disney Leadership Sees Universal’s Success as a Good Thing for Business
It seems to be unanimous: while some express concern about the wild success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the new star attraction of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, at least two Disney executives see the park as a good thing for Orlando, and for Disney in particular.
In a recent interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney’s theme park division, acknowledged that, while there may be some impact to Disney’s Florida theme park attendance, it’s hard to quantify the effect. He added that “if anyone builds something that brings more people to Central Florida, given the strength of our offering, we do well with that.” Staggs, who admitted that he had toured the new attraction, said that Universal did a “nice job” in building Harry’s new home.
But where Staggs seemed tentative and guarded in his praise, CEO Bob Iger was warm in his regard, with an attitude clearly signaling that Disney isn’t worried by a little competition. During a recent call with analysts, Iger suggested that rather than hurting Disney park attendance, The Wizarding World seems to be helping Disney, as its theme park attendance is up 2 percent over the same period last year, and customer spending, with an 8 percent increase, is up even more. He welcomed Universal’s success, as it can only mean good things for Disney. “They built a great property down there,” said Iger. “And I believe when a competitor puts a good property in the marketplace, it brings more people to the market. So I think it stimulates attendance to Orlando, and we all know that’s good for us. Because we usually get a good piece of all visitation to Orlando.”
So, however, you analyze it, competition appears to be a good thing, and will only make Disney better. Time will tell, as consumers look forward to the expansion of Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the ongoing upgrades to Disney’s California Adventure, new resorts in Florida and Hawaii, and a new cruise ship due in 2012.