"Escape From Gringotts" Is the New Banking Crisis

There's a crisis of confidence at the star attraction of the otherwise-brilliant Diagon Alley expansion at Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA  )   (NASDAQ: CMCSK  ) Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida this week. The new section of the park opened on Tuesday, but for the third day in a row, it's facing a pronounced outage.

The highly themed indoor roller coaster has been buggy to say the least in its first three days of official operation, just as it was in the week leading up to Tuesday's grand opening for the handful of bloggers and vacation-package buyers who attempted to experience the attraction.

It's a winner by most accounts. You won't find too many coasters where strapping on 3-D glasses is part of the immersive experience. However, for a park attraction that is already opening later in the pivotal summer season than Comcast would have probably liked, it's the one thing outside of crowd-control issues that hangs a sinister cloud over this week's opening.

Universal Orlando has learned a lot about opening a Potter-themed area since the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened four years ago. Some frustrated guests had to stand in line for roughly 10 hours just to enter the Hogsmeade section of the adjacent Islands of Adventure the day it opened in 2010. Waits to enter Diagon Alley this time around have been kept at an hour or two, largely because Universal Studios Florida is offering tickets with return times to get into the area later in the day.

Universal Orlando has put in more shops and richer details in the expansion. It also put in the high-capacity Hogwarts Express attraction that connects both theme parks with a short yet richly engaging train ride. As I pointed out earlier in the week, it's a smart way to drum up attendance and pricier dual-park ticket sales since admission to the neighboring park is required and registered before entering either train station.

However, a marquee attraction -- the only ride outside of the train being added here -- having reliability issues is going to be a problem. It's the one thing that can smear the otherwise-glowing reports of the enchanting train ride, fire-breathing dragon, and butterbeer ice cream that are trickling in this week.

Universal Orlando's expansion raises the bar in many ways. It puts the other major local addition to the theme park landscape -- Disney's modest Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom -- to shame. However, in scaling the wall of ambition, it seems as if it dropped the ball in reliability. Laugh all you want at Disney's simple family coaster, but at least it's been running fairly consistently since its late May opening.

Comcast took a gamble here with this thrill ride set in a goblin-manned banking institution. It was "too big to fail," but it's failing. A lot. Does any of this sound familiar? Let's hope that Universal Orlando gets the bugs fixed faster than our own global banking crisis a few years ago.

TREND TRACKER: This new technology is a "real threat" to Warren Buffett
At the recent Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, Warren Buffett admitted that an emerging technology is threatening the Oracle of Omaha's bread and butter. And it's no long a question of if but when, according to the industry's foremost research firm. Find out how you can cash in on this technology BEFORE the crowd catches on by jumping onto one company that could get you the biggest piece of the action. All the details are laid out in a new FREE investor alert from The Motley Fool. Click here now to learn more!


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2014, at 8:11 AM, nursemel3434 wrote:

    It JUST opened, give it some time. Having been on the ride, problem FREE, it is an AMAZING ride. I am sure in the days to come the problems will be resolved. All theme park rides have issues from time to time, media being too hard on Universal!!!

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 3024195, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 12/18/2014 10:24:44 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement