Product Management Face-Off – Universal Studios vs. Disneyland

Who doesn’t love Disneyland (besides parents, mid-twenties, seniors, people who hate waiting in line)?  But then why again do we always say “I’m going to Disneyland” after you accomplish something, win a Superbowl championship, which I’ve obviously done, or anything else of magnitude. One of the various reasons is their product management. Disney has a wonderful product and they know how to manage it, and manage themselves well.

Universal Studios is one of their main competitors and for good reason. Universal is also in the entertainment industry, and not only do they produce movies but there is also a Universal Studios theme park in Hollywood, Miami and Singapore. While Disney may be the original, Universal Studios has become serious competition, which is due to how they have changed their product and their marketing.

As a product manager I started noticing that Universal was starting to do something right. More and more of my friends were going to Universal Studios theme parks instead of Disneyland. I think there are several reasons for this.

Know Your Target

Universal understands that their product is different than Disney’s. Universal markets for teenagers, parents with older kids, and the generally older crowd, while Disney has its target base as children, kids that are growing up with their cartoons, animated movies and television shows. This is what a product manager should know. You need to know what your target is, because if you don’t you’re in trouble. Your product is specifically designed for a target group.

Don’t Worry About It

Don’t worry about other similar products if they are targeting a different group, while on the same note, if you have heavy competition within the product market you’re launching then maybe you should target a different audience. Many theme parks tend to be pretty close to each other and there’s a reason for it. Putting Universal next to Disneyland increases both their chances of customers. Universal knows that maybe people will be on their way to Disneyland and decide to come to Universal, because after all, their product targets a different audience. They don’t stress about Disney’s theme park being near them, rather they embrace it.

Stay Relevant

You know when Facebook decides to update their “wall” and their user interface and it just drives people crazy? Do it. I know, I know. As the saying goes “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” but frankly I just don’t believe in it. You need to keep your product fresh, more importantly you need to stay relevant and you also need to have people stay interested in you. Every time, but honestly every time, that Facebook changes their layout, people talk about it, and that’s important. Universal did the same thing with their Harry Potter World. Something that wasn’t necessarily a part of the Universal brand in the beginning, has now become an essential part of the Universal Studios Orlando experience.

As a product manager, you need to remember the products you have already produced and made ready and remember to update them if possible. If your product isn’t necessarily a technical product it doesn’t matter. Products can remain relevant as long as they are rebranded and made relevant to today.


No matter where you look you can always learn a little bit about product management, even when you’re waiting in line for a ride, watching animated characters come to life, and enjoying time with the family. Just don’t forget to enjoy other peoples products as well.





Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.