Wizarding World of Harry Potter which opened in June 2010 has proved to be an amazing success for Universal Studios resorts. Universal Studios Resort has reported that attendance has leapt a staggering 41 percent from last year.
The increase in visitors is exceptional with nearly 3.6 million people visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in the second quarter of 2011. This is up more than 1 million on the previous years figures. It seems that the $265 million spent on Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a very wise investment. J.K. Rowlings amazing series of books was truly brought to life in what is the most captivating immersive experience of any of the Orlando theme parks.
Whether you want to sample butter beer, Ride with a Hippogriff or experience The Forbidden Journey, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most magical of theme park experiences. Of course my allegience to Disney is very clear but Wizarding World captivates me way more than I thought it would. It is a true theme park immersive experience.
Universal Resort is seeing it’s best attendence for 7 years. The last time it broke it’s own attendence records was in 2004 with 12.1 million guests. But in the past 12 months it has shattered that record with almost 13.4 million guests attending. The only problem for guests is that sometimes it feels that all of those people are in the land of Harry Potter with you – at busy times it is very very crowded.
There is another benefit of the Harry Potter phemomena. Not only are ticket sales up 57 per cent, but of course all those people spend money on food and merchandise. Look at all the people walking out of the parks at the end of the evening and most of them are carrying a big bag of Harry Potter goods. From wands to robes, scarves to souvenier mugs everyone is buying them. No doubt butter beer helped increase food and beverage sales by 53 per cent, whilst sales of merchandise increased by an amazing 82 per cent. That is a lot of Harry Potter wands.
Universal also continued to ring up record sales during the second quarter, as travelers paid higher prices to get into its parks and bought magic wands, mugs of butter beer and other Harry Potter paraphernalia. Resort revenue jumped 61 percent for the quarter, from $243.5 million to $392.2 million.
Universal gained in every category of spending, regulatory filings show. Ticket revenue rose 57.5 percent, food and beverage sales jumped 53 percent, and merchandise revenue soared 82 percent.
Universal must be jumping with joy about the revenue increases. The profit for the second quarter of 2011 was $97.8 million, up from just $2.8 million a year ago.
Of course Disney does have something to learn from all of this. What really makes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter experience so unique is that it so completely amazes you in it’s detail and capacity to truly entertain you at every turn. Disney is the master of this too but in recent years it has lacked something with that, and I hesitate to use this phrase, but ‘wow factor’. Let us hope that the investment that Disney is putting into the new Fantasyland project will make us feel as captivated as were are in the Wizarding World.
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.