NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell had some pointed remarks in his latest comments when talking about the competition between Universal and Disney.
Disney and Universal have always been competitors, in some sense, when it has come to the theme park business. Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort are located just 11 miles away from one another in Orlando, and the two draw millions of Guests to their Resorts each and every year.
While Disney has always been considered the industry leader, with four theme parks and two water parks located in Orlando, it has been Universal Orlando making major strides over the last few years.
In his latest comments, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell shared that Universal is “right on time” with its construction of Epic Universe. When the theme park is complete, it will be the fourth Universal Park in Orlando– joining Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay– and is expected to bring major competition to Disney.
“It’s also very interesting that the park is very close to the [Orange County] convention center,” Shell said. “An interesting experiment for us – we believe we can get the attendance we need just on the basis of the demand of the market, but it’s also going to be interesting to see as the convention business comes back, do we … the park is built so that you can come into one land and not the whole park. Are we going to get nighttime convention business? Which is kind of an interesting experiment for us.”
Not only did Shell play up the impact of Epic Universe, he also talked about Disney as the industry leader in other areas and how he believes Universal is catching them, and may have even surpassed the House of Mouse.
“Go back 10 years and say, ‘Is Disney ever going to be challenged in animation?’ I think most people, including me, would say ‘Impossible.’ They are the dominant player in animation. Their position is not going to be challenged ever,” Shell said. “I honestly think that not only are we challenging Disney and animation, but I would take our animation business over theirs.”
Disney’s recent flop, Strange World, has seen many people criticizing Walt Disney Animation and the like. Just earlier this year, Disney’s Lightyear ran in almost direct competition to Universal’s Minions: The Rise of Gru and was beaten soundly at the box office. Lightyear pulled in $226.4 million USD, while Minions took in a whopping $920.6 million USD, with a much smaller budget.
What do you think of the competition between Universal and Disney? Let us know in the comments!