Walt Disney World is the undisputed theme park king of not just Orlando, but the world at large. Leading the way in terms of attendance, guest satisfaction, and more, this theme park juggernaut has become such a fixture at the top of almost every theme park list that oftentimes it seems like other theme parks are simply trying to come in second place next to this iconic resort. And even then, second place has oftentimes been occupied by Universal Orlando Resort, which has really stepped up in the last decade with the immersive Wizarding World of Harry Potter and attractions like Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
However, even with Universal Orlando Resort’s recent successes, most believe this theme park giant will continue to play second fiddle to the mouse next door. But perhaps that will change in the coming years. Don’t believe us? Here’s some evidence you might want to consider…
1 New theme parks, hotels, and more are on the way
Earlier this week news broke that Universal had purchased 100 more acres of land off of Sand Lake Road, adding more land to the 450 acres of land that was purchased in 2015, bringing their total land ownership (spread across several parcels) in this new area up to nearly 600 acres. This new land will reportedly be used for a number of projects, potentially including two new theme parks, which will of course bring Universal’s total theme park count (not including Volcano Bay) to 4… the same as Walt Disney World.
However, it’s not just about the theme parks. One of the things that makes Walt Disney World such a popular destination is its large roster of on-site hotels. And while Universal has more than half a dozen hotels right now, and will likely build more on the new land mentioned previously, it looks like one of their biggest projects is set to be announced soon.
Loews, the company that runs the majority of Universal Orlando Resort’s on-site hotels, is preparing to announce its largest investment so far in Orlando, in reference to the to the former Wet ‘n Wild property that Universal owns. This land has largely been rumored to eventually house several tower hotel properties, with plans suggesting there will be structures on either side of Universal Boulevard with 1,200 rooms on the west side and the remaining 2,800 on the east side. With such a massive undertaking, plus the Aventura hotel open by next summer, Universal will be within striking distance of Walt Disney World’s hotel room count (at least until Disney completes its current expansion projects at Disney’s Caribbean Resort and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort). Which brings us to our next point…
2. Attendance continues to jump by leaps and bounds, while Walt Disney World slows
Though Walt Disney World’s theme parks continue to attract larger crowds every year on an annual basis, in the last decade, Universal Orlando Resort has actually been beating Walt Disney World in the yearly percentage game. And though growth is still happening at Disney, margins keep shrinking year after year, and if Universal's growth continues, they could be within striking distance of total attendance, especially once their new parks are built, sometime in the next ten years.