Have you ever wanted to tell someone something but feared they would get upset? Did you keep from telling them because you thought they would argue with you? In my tiny part-time theme park world, I encounter this often. Of course, I encounter this dilemma in the rest of my life also like many of you.
I am about to remind you of some details about the Universal owned properties residing in Florida. Some of you are not going to believe me. Many people who make a living indirectly and directly from Orlando area theme parks commonly use improper terms to describe Universal owned properties in Florida. Also, I have encountered several Universal team members using inaccurate terms to describe the properties from which they collect paychecks.
Okay, I think I have done all the disclaimers and qualifiers possible before reminding (or informing) some of you of proper terminology. I shall start with the easy ones first. The entire property including hotels, waterparks, infrastructure, and parking garage fall under the name “Universal Orlando Resort.” Anytime you declare something Universal Orlando, you are referencing the entire property. Universal Orlando does not mean just a single theme park or just theme parks. I respect that Universal Orlando has done a well below average job of branding their Florida property. Due to poor branding, guests get confused. Also, when poor branding fails to be corrected by Universal Parks employees, the situation grows worse.
Next, we will look at the theme parks themselves. I know Universal Orlando likes to claim Volcano Bay as a third gate. Still, for sake of this discussion, I count only the two land-based theme parks. The newest Universal theme park in Florida is known as Islands of Adventure. That new title shall last until Epic Universe opens, however. In reference to the theme park with Marvel Super Hero Island within, you can call it Universal’s Islands of Adventure also. Most people get that. Calling it “Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure would sound and be inaccurate. Thar reasoning should become clear if I explain the next part properly.
However, the other land-based theme park goes by the name Universal Studios Florida. Since Universal, for a variety of reasons, marketed poorly over the years, many people refer to the entire property as Universal Studios Florida. That would be inaccurate. Universal Studios Florida only refers to the original theme park that opened in 1990. I understand the confusion. Still, if one describes something as Universal Studios Florida, then you mean only that park. Though people may get your point, you would not be using proper terms for anything in CityWalk, the resort hotels, or the other parks for that matter.
One term I see and hear often drives me crazy. Now, that drive may be a short one for me these days, but it still pushes my buttons as they say. Regarding my frustration with this term, that is a personal issue for me. I understand this inaccurate term will exist in theme park fans’ lexicon for some time. I blame for Universal Orlando’s historical poor marketing and various ownership for this term.
The term “Universal Studios Orlando” does not refer to anything accurately. In no branding, logo, or marketing, does the ownership of Universal Orlando ever call something “Universal Studios Orlando.” I understand that for search engine optimization people commonly use this term. However, this term still functions as inaccurate. The term cannot reference an individual theme park since that one is known as Universal Studios Florida. Since Universal Orlando describes the entire property, then “Universal Studios Orlando” fails to be an accurate description of anything.
Some of you reading this think I have lost my mind. Others of you whom I have spoken with about this over the last 10 years indicate that I am making too big of a deal about this. You say it does not matter anyway.
For those, I propose two issues of why this might matter. One, have you ever found a merchandise item within the Universal properties in Florida that said” Universal Studios Orlando?” I propose that you have not. If “Universal Studios Orlando” made reference to something real, would not Universal’s merchandise team be on that making some cash? How would you feel as a person if people keep calling you by the wrong name even when you put your name literally on clothes for people to see? You can find Universal Orlando Resort apparel. You can find Universal Studios Florida apparel. Yet, no “Universal Studios Orlando” apparel exists. That seems like a good reason to be careful about using the term.
Two, when you hear someone say, “Universal Studios Orlando”, what specifically are they referencing? Is it a theme park? Are you talking about the entire property? Is it something in between? Sadly, it depends on the person. This inaccurate term gets used in all three ways. Thus, the best way to describe the properties run by Universal that reside in Florida would be to avoid the term “Universal Studios Orlando” altogether.
In fairness, what we know as Universal Orlando now was run by various less than ideal ownerships. These ownerships signed contract deals that limit some branding. Some of these branding contracts relate to how Universal can even name their stores in airports. However, Universal also tried to market using the term “Universal Studios Escape”, but we shall not speak of that abomination. The reasons the term “Universal Studios Orlando” became part of the theme park guest’s lexicon mostly falls on Universal.
I respect that this article and many others like it will not change the use of the inaccurate term. I expect to hear it again on a future trip during “rope drop” before the opening of Universal Studios Florida. However, now, you know the proper terms, what you should do with that info, that remains your decision. Of course, when Epic Universe opens, we will need to learn more terms-oh well!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.