Disney and Universal have been long time competitors with movies as well as theme parks. Disneyland opened in 1955. 9 years later Universal Studios Hollywood opened 35 miles away. It’s the same story in Florida. Disney World opened in 1971. 19 years later, Universal Studios opened a theme park 15 miles away from Disney World. This was obviously an attempt by Universal to cash in on the tourism Disney is bringing to Orlando and Anaheim and create a park for their films. Now Disney is in serious talks to buy the Universal Studios theme parks in Florida.
If you have ever been to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure you know there are a lot of similarities to Disney World. They both have themed areas in the park with themed background music, character meet and greets, amazing, world class attractions, and are a similar price per ticket. They both play into their wide variety of IP to make amazing park experiences for the guests.
We have just found out from an internal leak that Disney is strongly considering purchasing Universal Studios from Universal for $40 billion. It appears the Walt Disney Company is only looking to buy the two theme parks in Florida, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios and Universal Studios in Hollywood. We do not believe Disney will be acquiring the entire Universal company. So the question is, what will Disney do if they buy the parks?
In our opinion, Universal Studios is a great park, but does not stand up to Disney World. Universal Studios does a lot of things right, but the detail in the attractions, the IP, and the theming is not as good as Disney’s. According to the leak, Disney would give Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure a face lift. They would take on ownership and jazz it up “Disney style”. They would take a holistic look at the parks and see what areas they can improve upon from a customer experience standpoint. Disney has plans to change existing rides and build new ones with their own IP. However, we expect many rides to remain the same for the foreseeable future.
Is this a good move for the Walt Disney Company? Maybe. Disney purchased Marvel for $4 Billion and has already turned a great profit on it. They keep bringing in more money every year. However, a $40 billion theme park purchase is a different story. This is a huge bet for Disney to make. It is possible the $40 billion could be paid off in a few years based on how much they make at the current Disney Parks in one year. It will be fascinating to see if this deal unfolds.
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