The Universal Orlando Resort still has a communication problem. Aside from the die-hard fans and season pass holders, the masses remain confused by the various names for the parks and entertainment the resort has to offer. Allow me to sum up the differences in the names and then provide an example of how the confusion can hit folks in a practical way.
Universal Orlando Resort – this is the name of the campus-wide complex that includes everything Universal has to offer. When you say or hear “Universal Orlando Resort”, it means both theme parks, Citywalk, the 3 (soon to be 4) resort hotels, and everything else. Universal changed the name very briefly to “Universal Escape” several years ago, but that apparently created even more confusion, so the name today is Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal Studios Florida – this is the name of the specific theme park called Universal Studios Florida (or USF for short) that is one of two theme parks inside the Universal Orlando Resort. You can no doubt already begin to see the confusion. Usually, people just simply say “Universal Studios” when they are referencing both the specific park or the entire complex. However, Universal Studios is actually the name of just one theme park inside the resort.
Islands of Adventure – this is the name of the second theme park inside Universal Orlando Resort. This park is more of a thrill-based park with rides such as The Incredible Hulk roller coaster and Dragon Challenge (formerly Dueling Dragons).
Citywalk – this is the name of the dining, shopping, and entertainment complex that guests walk through en-route to the two theme parks.
For a long time, Rex and I were convinced that the marketing strategy for introducing Islands of Adventure to the public was a failure. People largely were unaware that a second, incredibly fun theme park was on site at the Universal Orlando Resort. Due to the incredible success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Islands of Adventure has become more of an established and known theme park in the resort. However, even WWOHP created its own bit of confusion (that still continues to this day) when it opened. In actuality, WWOHP is another “island” in the Islands of Adventure theme park. The way it was advertised, many people were under the impression that WWOHP was its very own theme park. Imagine the surprise when folks discovered that it was only one of six islands in a theme park called Islands of Adventure!
So, when people say they are going to “Universal Studios”, you really have no idea if they are talking about the entire resort or just the theme park. No one, except people who are nerds, say “I’m going to the Universal Orlando Resort on vacation.” Seems like no big deal, right? Well, it really isn’t, but there can be practical implications that can create confusion for families. For example….
During our last trip to the Universal Orlando Resort we were strolling through Islands of Adventure in the Jurassic Park island. We looked over and noticed this sign:
Now remember, we are in Islands of Adventure. This sign is letting people know that if you have purchased a Universal Meal Deal, the food service ends at 4:30 pm inside Universal Studios. The reason is because the park was closing early due to the Halloween Horror Night event. This little sign creates confusion for families because of two reasons:
1. The sign is located inside Islands of Adventure. So, even though USF is trying to help folks out who are currently enjoying Islands of Adventure by essentially saying, “hey if you park hop and go over to USF, just be aware that you have to eat by 4:30 pm”, most people will assume the sign is informing them that food service ends at 4:30 inside Islands of Adventure; after all, the sign is inside that park!
2. The sign says “at Universal Studios”. Again, going back to my above comments about the name differences, people will assume this means the parks in general, not specifically Universal Studios Flordia – the other theme park.
Thus, the majority of people who have a Meal Deal and are not experts at the Universal Orlando Resort would be rather miffed that even though IOA did not close till 7 pm (or whatever time it closed that day), for some reason they needed to eat by 4:30 pm. But that wasn’t true. Only the food service inside USF was closing at 4:30 pm, the food service inside IOA was open until closing time.
See what I mean? Even with this explanation, it still seems confusing. Not much they can do about it and once you get it down, it becomes pretty easy to organize all the different names. The same thing is somewhat true for Disney World. Disney World is the name of the entire complex, which includes four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom). However, Disney World is a little bit easier because at no time was a specific park ever called “Disney World.” Nevertheless, some people still stay, “I’m going to Disney World” when they really just mean, “I’m going to the Magic Kingdom.”
So, if you are making a stop to the Universal Orlando Resort any time soon, just be careful that you understand the language of the parks. This will become even more of an issue when the expansion of the WWOHP opens next year – which is inside Universal Studios! So now we will have two areas of the Harry Potter universe at the Universal Orlando Resort; Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. However, Hogsmeade will be inside IOA (what is currently the WWOHP) and Diagon Alley will be inside USF. Oh boy. Let the confusion ensue!