General DVC

Will Universal Studios Orlando Ever Create A Timeshare?

After spending my first ever night at Universal Orlando Resort – Portofino Bay (yes – I cheated on Disney), I feel as strongly as ever that the time is now for Universal to consider entering the timeshare market.

As development continues on Universal Studios Orlando’s third gate, Universal’s Epic Universe, it got me thinking if we may one day see a DVC style timeshare from them as well. Universal, in many ways, has always been chasing Walt Disney World and implementing some of its ideas to the company’s advantage. With Disney Vacation Club being arguably one of the company’s most lucrative ventures in the past decade, it would stand to reason that some Universal executives have at least considered the option.

The first factor that would need to be analyzed is whether the market exists to support a Universal timeshare property. Based on conversations I’ve had with others over the years, my answer to this would be yes. While the demographic is obviously smaller than what we see with DVC, Universal has done a lot to make themselves more appealing in recent years. Most notable is what they have done to heighten their appeal to guests of all ages. Whether you are looking for a fun family-friendly ride like E.T.s Adventure, or something a bit more thrilling like Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Universal has now established itself as a place where the entire family can have fun and spend multiple days enjoying its theme parks, water park, and more.

Concept Art – Universal’s Epic Universe

Next, Universal would need to evaluate if the timing is right to consider such an endeavor. In order to do this, I referenced back to Walt Disney World – Circa 1991. At the time Disney launched their first Disney Vacation Club Property – Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Walt Disney World was much different than what we know now. The resort at that time consisted of Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, River County, Disney Village Marketplace (now Disney Springs), and a series of hotels. Essentially 3 theme parks or “gates”, two water parks, a dining and shopping destination, and some hotels. Sound familiar? With Universal Orlando soon adding a third gate, the resort would be eerily familiar to what Walt Disney World looked like at the time of its decision to enter the timeshare market.   

It is also crucial to look at how Universal has responded to the events that have unfolded over the past eighteen months. While construction on Epic Universe was paused briefly, it has since resumed, and construction on all other aspects of their resort continues at a rapid pace. This forward-looking thought process and aggressive investment in its theme parks could only be further bolstered by the addition of a timeshare similar to the Disney Vacation Club model.

The last and most important question to consider for Universal is how to successfully enter the timeshare market.  This, in my mind, would be the hardest part of these discussions since Universal technically does not directly own any of its hotel properties.  These are instead managed and owned by Loews Hotels. While this is an obstacle, it could in some ways work in Universal’s favor. If Universal were able to get Loews to sign on for such an endeavor, they would be able to leverage the growing network of hotel properties they have across North America.  This could work similar to what we see with DVC and RCI and provide a greater value for those interested in purchasing a “vacation club” interest. It is one thing to sell people on visiting Universal Studios Orlando every year, but the possibility of visiting other locations sweetens the deal even more.  

As I mentioned earlier, these thoughts are things I’ve considered over the past few weeks since Universal announced arguably its most aggressive growth initiative ever.  If they want to play with the big boys, considering a way to get guests to return to their resorts year after year is the next step. Curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below!  Is Universal ready to enter the timeshare market? If so, do you think people would buy their product?

Paul Krieger

Amy and I are new Orlando, Florida residents where we live with our dogs Odie the greyhound and Hermès the Spanish galgo. We are DVC owners at Animal Kingdom Lodge, BoardWalk Villas, Grand Californian, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian, Disney World Annual Passholders, and love educating Disney Vacation Club members on how to both use and maximize the value of their DVC points!

7 thoughts on “Will Universal Studios Orlando Ever Create A Timeshare?

  • I would doubt it.
    With the exception of Disney I think time shares are a thing of the past. I remember staying at Bonnet Creek in 2011 on friends points. They gave us a $100 amex gift card for listening to the sales pitch. They wanted us to buy into Wyndham’s time share program for over $50k.

  • Yes, Paul! My husband and I had the same thought after staying at Portofino in February. We’d seriously consider it, too. WDW is wonderful, but UO definitely scratches a different kind of itch. Frankly, after WDW not selling APs, we bought UO APs for their amazing 18-month AP offer at a reasonable price and really enjoyed ourselves over there.

    UO is coming in hot and really is cannibalizing the WDW crowd this past year, IMO.

  • All strong points. And with Disney pricing itself at an obscene pace as far as price increases, Universal entering with a fair market price would be very enticing to guests who are fans of all theme parks, being that it is just 15 minute ride to Disney property.and it was not mentioned in the article but Universal Park is also a world wide property which makes the family travel market more enticing with variety of product (as mentioned in article with Loews and RCI connection). It would be the next logical step for a new way to broaden its business and create more loyalty across its brand.

  • Hope so. I would ditch DVC in a heartbeat.

  • Interesting article. I’m guessing most people that would consider buying into a potential Universal timeshare probably already own DVC. While a bit inconvenient, wouldn’t most make Universal a day trip while still staying in Disney property? Of course that would be harder to do at the CA parks but it doesn’t seem that far away in Orlando. And WDW has become a vacation spot for those just seeking to stay at the resorts because there’s so much to do other than the parks. Universal would haveto do much more than 3 parks to justify a timeshare program I think.

  • Since all the resorts at Universal (which is owned by NBC) are Lowes Resorts, Lowes would have to enter the timeshare arena. Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton are all larger resort brands with a timeshare component. Lowes would have to compete with them and other established timeshare companies such as BlueGreen and Westgate. I don’t see it happening.

    Disney has a brand that is more compatible with the timeshare market in a unique way. Disney started in California with a hotel owned by a division of Disney. They diversified early with a resort (hospitality) and theme park (entertainment). Universal is purely entertainment as is its parent company, NBC.

    The Disney brand has a back story with Walt Disney. Universal has not back story that warms the hearts of people. I doubt Loews is willing to get into timeshare business just to compete with Disney’s DVC division.

  • Don’t know and don’t care, I’m a 1, 000 percent iDisney fan,, DVC owmer, ALL Disney <3 🙂 !!!!!

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