About the Column

Admit it. You do it a lot. You ask yourself: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Maybe you ask others, too. Maybe you gather in groups, gnaw on turkey legs, and ponder what Disney does. But any such gab sessions inevitably lead to confusion and perhaps frustration. Because none of us have the answers. Disney has the answers, but it's not telling. The Mouse justifies its actions either with "it's part of our business plan" or the even more nebulous "it's part of Walt's vision". You deserve better. In his column, Lee Beatens will uncover the truth. Or at least deliver some entertaining rants.

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FROM: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Published As Necessary

Why Did UNIVERSAL do that?

It's time to give the mouse a break - Lee digs into the other big player in town, Universal Studios, and asks Why Did Universal Do that?




After a year or more of bashing poor old Disney, I thought I’d give them a break and turn my attention to another Theme Park for this installment.

This rant has been brewing in my mind for many years. First, I should admit that I’ve never been to Universal Studios in Orlando or California. But I have followed these Parks on the Internet and been keenly interested in how they stack up against Disney.


Duking It Out


Walt Disney World in particular has been a major player in Florida. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that it has been responsible for the downfall of more than one competitor. Usually when Disney sees someone else having success with a certain idea, it’s not long before WDW gets its own version!

Someone makes money with a zoo? Hello Discovery Island and then Animal Kingdom.

Someone makes money with a water park? Hello Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

Someone makes money with super heroes? Hello Marvel acquisition and Avengers Monorail.

You get the picture. And I think in each case, Disney usually wins.




And this is why: Plussing! Disney doesn’t just do a zoo, for example. They reinvent the concept and then take it to the nth degree. And the one detail in plussing that Disney does best is theming. Wherever you go in a Disney Park, you will find fully realized, three-dimensional characters. Whether it’s a statue, animatronic animal, or 3D signage (think Muppets 3D).

But what does one find at Universal Studios?






No three-dimensional characters to be found! For the most part, all the rides and attractions have just a flat two-dimensional cut-out of a character, such as the one above (The Simpson’s ride is a rare exception).

What brought this back to my mind was the coverage of the Spiderman ride overhaul. One site had a picture of the entry signage, which had a square board held up by Spiderman’s webbing. How cool would it have been to use ‘real’ webbing, perhaps made out of a rope or woven fabric? But no. Instead, after countless bags of money were thrown at this attraction, we get a flat cut-out with a picture of webbing on it!

Really, Universal? That’s the best you can do?

Oh well. Thanks for showing us that it’s not only Disney that makes us go: “Why?!?”


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