Universal Studios Store at CityWalk

As Universal Studios inches closer to their summer opening of the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion in June of 2014, Universal are sending a big message out to Disney:

Don’t take Universal for granted!

In the upcoming months, Universal will open the Cabana Bay Hotel, the largest hotel development outside of China.  New attractions, a new rumored water park and a bulging investment pot ensure that Universal continues to make a big noise on the tourism scene.

Land restrictions are the biggest challenge for Universal.  They certainly don’t enjoy the swathes of land that Walt Disney World has at its disposal.
Out of any adversity, rises a challenge and the minnow like parks make the very best use of their ‘enabling constraints’.  If space is their most precious asset, their management of this finite resource is a good example to all businesses:  Make the very most of the resources you’ve got!

Sure, Universal are unlikely to overcome the Disney Parks in terms of gross revenue, or even footfall, but every additional dollar that is spent on increasing gate attendances and merchandise will definitely rattle the ‘keepers of the mouse’.
We’ve written frequently that Disney seem to have been caught ‘off guard’ with their parks investments, and the new Diagon Alley looks set to make the summer of 2014 a very busy time in Orlando.

CityWalk will of course bear the brunt of this additional traffic as the ‘connector’ between Universal’s parking lot complex and the two Orlando theme parks.
CityWalk can become really congested at times, and right now, there’s little hope of any alternative ways into the parks, unless you are staying at one of the on site hotels.

Until now, CityWalk has enjoyed a relatively ‘cool’ reputation, appealing to locals, to families and to young adults that love to party in the night clubs.  It hasn’t the magic of Downtown Disney, but it most definitely has the ‘cool appeal’.

Over the last week, Universal announced what many of us expected, a big change to the quality of the food and retail options in CityWalk.  Gone will be some ‘moderate’ offerings and weird cigar shops, to make way for a more upbeat range of restaurants that are desperately needed in time for the phased opening of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Opening in Spring through Summer in stages, 1800 guest rooms will eventually feed guests as a continuous stream into the parks, and everyone needs to eat!

The new CityWalk Locations include:
Italian – Pranzo’s will take the place of the current Pastamore restaurant
Mexican  – Antojitos will take the place of the former Latin Quarter Restaurant
Hot Dog Hall of Fame – New Permanent Kiosk
Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar –  The former Starbucks location
Starbucks – Near the old Endangered Species Store
Cold Stone Creamery – Near the Old Pastamore restaurant
Menchies yogurt shop – The old TCBY store
Bread Box – Replaces the Cigarz Shop upstairs beside the cinema

Disney meanwhile haven’t really got much in the parks pipeline that will show up in 2014/15 beyond the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom‘s New Fantasyland.
Sure, it is going to be an amazing addition to Orlando’s already most popular theme park, but the next big thing on the calendar will be and already is Disney Springs.

Doubling up to 150 locations, the Downtown Disney transformation will be immensely popular with vacationers.  It will also meet Disney’s needs rather well in keeping their guests ‘on site’ rather than nipping out onto the I-4 and heading elsewhere of course.

Will Disney Springs be more popular than CityWalk?  It sure will.
Will Disney Springs be as cool as CityWalk? Probably not!
Will Disney Springs be a perfect place to spend the day?  You’ve got it!

Antojitos at CityWalk BreadBox at CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery at CityWalk Hot Dog Hall of Fame at CityWalk Menchies at CityWalk Red Oven Pizza Bakery at CityWalk Starbucks at CityWalk The CowFish at CityWalk