Fantastic research: analysing theme park visitors

Mark Ingwer

In 2006, universal Orlando Resorts (UOR) was facing a serious challenge. It was experiencing steadily waning gate traffic and at the same time was not considered a destination theme park by many out-of-market visitors. Vacationers were overlooking Universal Orlando Resorts in favour of attractions such as Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Sea World.

Additionally, many visitors to Orlando did not have a clear notion of what to expect at UOR. In fact, most vacationers did not realise that there was more than one theme park at Universal Studios Florida (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida). The prevailing perception was that, at Universal Studios Florida, there were attractions related to movies in some way.

The marketing team at Universal Studios Florida asked us to help them address these issues and to solidify the brand by understanding the differences between visitors' emotional experiences at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida. Management hoped to use this learning both strategically and as a foundation for marketing communications better to differentiate the UOR experience from Disney. Once they identified a strong market positioning, and achieved successful differentiation, they expected gate traffic to increase and profits to rise.