Forget DeSantis, Disney plans to take down Universal’s new park

Universal Studios wants your family vacation. 

The company has not been shy in sharing that its upcoming theme park, Epic Universe, will make it a true rival to Disney World.

Currently, the Comcast-owned group operates two traditional theme parks and a water park, as well as a shopping, restaurant and entertainment district. That’s impressive, but it’s smaller than Disney’s four theme parks, two water parks, and an even larger shopping, restaurant and entertainment district.

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That has made the Walt Disney (DIS) theme park complex Orlando’s biggest draw. It’s a vacation destination where people come to spend an entire week.  

Universal Studios, while it has some impressive rides, does not offer the same expansive week-long experience. You can visit the best of the company’s two theme parks in a single day, and two days give you more than enough time to experience everything.

Comcast calls Volcano Bay, its water park, a third theme park, and it’s very clear that the company wants to take down Disney World with its upcoming theme park, Epic Universe.

“Epic Universe will present a level of theme park immersion and innovation that is unmatched – transporting guests to expansive worlds featuring more than 50 awe-inspiring attraction, entertainment, dining, and shopping experiences that come together to create an unforgettable adventure that is nothing short of epic. The addition of Universal Orlando’s fourth theme park will also transform the award-winning resort into a weeklong vacation destination filled with the most compelling experiences imaginable,” the company shared.

That’s a direct challenge to Disney World, which the company has largely ignored due to its current problems with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And that’s something the company plans to change even as it battles DeSantis in multiple lawsuits.

Super Nintendo World will be part of Universal Studios Epic Universe. 

Image source: Universal Studios Hollywood

Disney plans a massive Florida investment

Walt Disney has been very quiet about its Florida investment plans because of its political war with DeSantis. The right-wing governor and failed presidential candidate has gone to war with the Mouse House, despite Disney driving billions in tourism dollars to his state and Disney World being its largest single-site employer.

After former Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against DeSantis’s so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation, the governor retaliated by stripping the company of its special district status. That has led to numerous lawsuits and Disney pulling a $2 billion headquarters project from Florida.

It has also put overall investment at Disney World — where the only major ride project being built now is the revamp of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — at question. Disney has committed to spending $60 billion across its global theme parks and its cruise line over the next 10 years. 

Despite making that commitment, and the looming threat of Universal’s Epic Universe in 2025, Disney has been very quiet about its Florida plans.

Disney makes a statement on Florida

Realistically, Disney World needs to get some new rides, if not new lands, or even a new theme park under construction if it wants to have an answer to Epic Universe. The company has not disclosed a specific plan, but it has made clear that it won’t stop investing in Florida because of its problems with DeSantis.

“Our investments in Florida will continue as we plan to invest billions in Walt Disney World Resort over the next decade. Our investment will create 13,000 new jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs that will attract more people to the state and generate more taxes,” the company shared on its website.

That’s vague, but Disney’s Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro has talked about some possibilities. He made clear at the September opening of “World of Frozen” at Hong Kong Disneyland that the company has entered the “blue sky” phase of planning for expansion at Disney World.

“Rest assured, we have Imagineers running very quickly in the background,” he said, according to the Disney Food Blog.

Disney has hinted about adding new lands at Magic Kingdom. The company has also outlined plans to rebrand the former “Dino Land U.S.A.” at Animal Kingdom as “The Tropical Americas.” That rebranding could include reskinning the “Dinosaur” ride as an “Indiana Jones” attraction.

D’Amaro has also hinted about opening a fifth Florida gate, which many believe would be the long-rumored “Villains” theme park that the company has said has been considered at various points.

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