Universal theme parks remain moneymakers despite recession fears

'We feel really good about the parks and feel like there's a lot of growth ahead.'

Universal’s theme parks are making money and aren’t slowing down as the economy weakens — at least not yet, executives said Thursday.

In the latest earnings call for Comcast Corp., Universal theme parks generated $1.8 billion in revenue, a 65% jump from the same quarter last year. What makes that number even more impressive is the Beijing park was closed for most of the second quarter from the pandemic.

At Universal’s Florida and California parks, attendance is higher and people are spending more than pre-pandemic in 2019, said Comcast’s chief financial officer Mike Cavanagh.

But fears are circulating that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.

Historically, the theme park industry has been tied to the economy. People are less willing to splurge on vacations and park tickets in bad economic times.

One analyst asked Comcast’s leaders how the parks might fare the rest of this year and into 2023. Could the parks continue to deliver such record-breaking financial results if a recession hits?

“Obviously, the parks business historically has been subject to macro trends, and there’s no reason to think that that won’t be the case in the future. But when we look at our business, we’re just not seeing it yet in our numbers and our performance,” said Jeff Shell, the CEO of NBCUniversal, the division of Comcast that runs the parks.

“We feel really good about the parks and feel like there’s a lot of growth ahead of us despite what could be macro challenges that we could or might face. We’re just not seeing it yet. “

Universal’s parks are bringing high profits at a time when international tourism is still cut in half, another good sign about the future ahead as the tourism industry continues to rebound, Shell pointed out.

And Comcast is banking on the theme parks to remain a moneymaker as NBCUniversal builds Epic Universe, the new Orlando theme park set to open by the summer of 2025. Executives did not release new details about the park’s offerings Thursday.

“We are moving full steam ahead and building Epic Universe. I cannot be more excited for how this park will bring new experiences to our visitors and additional runway for growth,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts during the earnings call.

The Walt Disney Company and SeaWorld Entertainment, Universal Orlando’s biggest competitors, are releasing quarterly earnings next month.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • PeterH

    July 28, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    This will be the USA’s very first recession with a booming economy, shopping malls full, restaurants packed ….and 3.6% unemployment.

    • Impeach Biden

      July 28, 2022 at 3:18 pm

      I guess you can blame the booming economy, full restaurants, malls, and low unemployment on Trump. That’s what you Democrats do.🤣

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