Universal Continues To Outpace Disney With Latest Announcement

in Universal Studios

Universal Studios Beijing entrance

Credit: Universal

The Disney and Universal parks have been competing head to head for years in an effort to be the “best theme park.” In recent years, it seems as though the tide is finally turning in Universal’s favor.

After the 2020 pandemic, attendance records indicate that Universal Orlando started to rise above Walt Disney World, with Universal beating three of the four major Disney World parks, only coming behind Magic Kingdom. As Disney continues to raise prices across their parks and experiences while removing benefits and perks that once made the price worth it, more and more guests are turning away from the most magical and happiest places on earth.

The Disney parks have started to earn some backlash in the last few years as they’ve begun to focus on and incorporate more IPs into their parks. IPs, or intellectual properties, is essentially a creation owned by a company, including characters, franchises, or other form of copyrighted media. The most recent, and most controversial, change was the decision to close Splash Mountain for good in order to theme a similar attraction after 2009’s Princess and the Frog.

Folks enjoying the now-defunct Splash Mountain
Credit: Disney

This announcement would eventually lead to Disney CEO Bob Iger doubling down on the decision to incorporate more IPs into the parks. It sparked outrage and disappointment from fans who appreciate Disney’s original attractions, like the Enchanted Tiki Room, Matterhorn Bobsleds, or even the Haunted Mansion. Each of these attractions and more were created from original concepts rather than being based on an already-existing movie, series, or franchise.

In addition to complaints about closing down existing attractions to make way for new ones, many fans have started to wonder why Disney hasn’t announced an actual expansion or new park yet. The last Disney park to be opened in the U.S. was Disney California Adventure in 2001 and since then, the parks have only really worked within their current space.

In comparison, Universal announced it was building a brand new third park at Universal Orlando Resort, expected to open mid-2025. Epic Universe will bring even more beloved Universal franchises to its park, including How To Train Your Dragon, an expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Universal classic monsters, and the highly-anticipated SUPER NINTENDO WORLD.

Credit: Universal Orlando

This would give Universal Orlando a major leg up in the competition against Walt Disney World, especially with tensions now running high between The Walt Disney Company and its fans. While the House of Mouse hasn’t confirmed any major plans to expand or bring more to its parks in a few years, Universal Orlando’s newest park is already over halfway complete.

In addition to Epic Universe, Universal announced two brand new projects earlier this year, stating that it would be expanding its presence in North America and bringing a family park to Frisco, Texas, and a year-round Halloween Horror Nights experience to Las Vegas, Nevada. While both projects have been pretty quiet recently, we finally have a small update on the Las Vegas project that proves Universal is continuing to expand and outpace Disney.

Universal Horror Unleashed was revealed on the official Orlando Halloween Horror Nights X account today with the post stating

“Oh, the horror. Universal Horror Unleashed, coming to Las Vegas, will be the name of the company’s first-ever, year-round horror experience.”

In response to a comment asking about a date drop, Universal Orlando replied saying, “More details about Universal Horror Unleashed will be shared at a later time. We recommend keeping an eye on this link for the most up-to-date information.”

The Las Vegas project will be Universal’s first permanent horror experience and is an attempt to bring new experiences to new audiences and areas around the world. This is the official description of Universal Horror Unleashed, according to Universal’s website:

“The new concept – to be located at AREA15 in Las Vegas — pairs the company’s impressive expertise in the horror genre with next-level immersive experiences in an all-new format. A variety of unique, immersive, and horror-centric experiences will surround eerie eateries and bone-chilling bar areas. It will deliver on the thrills Universal’s horror fans have come to love and excite anyone looking for a new level of experiential entertainment. In addition, guests can expect a continuously updated experience with must-see seasonal events and one-of-a-kind merchandise. ”

Universal Horror Unleashed logo on a black background
Credit: Universal Destinations & Experiences

While Universal is well-known for its classic monsters like Dracula, Wolfman, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Creature of the Black Lagoon, and more, it also boasts recent horror hits like The Purge franchise, CHUCKY, The Exorcist: Believer (2023), and the upcoming film adaptation of the cult video game, Five Night’s at Freddy’s. Halloween Horror Nights is perhaps Universal’s most popular experience, bringing in thousands of guests for an exclusive after-hours event during the months of September through October.

Anticipation and excitement is already high for this new, permanent “Halloween Horror Nights” and with the reveal of a name and the confirmation that Universal is still moving ahead on its expansion projects, it proves that Universal is not only outpacing Disney in new projects but that it may very well take Disney’s spot as “number one.”

Stay tuned to Inside the Magic for more information on Universal Horror Unleashed as it’s revealed!

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