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Comcast investing huge in Universal theme parks


Brooks Barnes of the NY Times has another great story with some interesting insight into the recent large investments Comcast has been making in its Universal theme park chain.

The theme parks were almost literally an after thought when Comcast bought the NBC/Universal brand four years ago, but now they’re one of the company’s growth engines and becoming a central part of the brand value.

This has led to billions of dollars of investment in Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood with great brands like Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Transformers, and, soon, King Kong, Fast and Furious, and Jimmy Fallon. Each of those have helped the company increase its market share, not the mention the cash flow.

But don’t be fooled. Universal is a long way behind Disney. It’s not even 2nd in line as far as theme park attendance (Merlin Entertainments has that honor). In Orlando, Universal has increased its attendance significantly, growing by a larger percentage than Disney since the great recession started (of course, the early growth is easier).

Universal Orlando was also helped that it grew capacity while Orlando tourism continued to grow. The metro area went from 46.5 million visitors a year in 2008 to almost 60 million in 2014. The Orlando International Airport is making improvements so that number can climb even further. Universal Orlando took a larger share of those new visitors than Disney did and has a greater chance of attracting them as repeat customers. This will greatly help build their long term base.

I don’t think Disney is too worried about Universal. They may spare a glance in the rear view mirror every now and then, but for the most part, if Orlando is better known as a world class vacation destination, then Disney will prosper. Comcast will recoup its investments in its theme parks, but they have a very long way to go to catch up with the mouse.

2 thoughts on “Comcast investing huge in Universal theme parks”

  1. After returning from Disney and Universal just recently, I would say Disney has a lot to worry about. Disney used to be King in my book, but the last trip I had left me with many dissappointments. The food was lacking, the quest services were not up to par, and most of all the so called fastpass plus is a big minus! Universal on the other surpassed all of my expectations: beautiful hotel (portofino) with great service, pleasant people, and a much better fastpass system! Needless to say I will be heading back to Universal, but not going back to Disney until Avatar opens. Hopefully Disney can get it together by then!

  2. As an adult, I didn’t care for Universal. The pass system at Universal was simple, you pay for an upgrade, you go to the front of the line. Everyone else waits, … something is wrong with that.

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