Epic Universe is biggest park to open in last 20 years, exec says
Universal expects Epic Universe to make its theme park a week-long attraction.

epic universe
'In Orlando, we have one of — if not the biggest — incremental park to be built domestically for the last potentially 20 years in Epic Universe.'

Comcast is aggressive on the future of theme parks as Universal builds a multi-billion dollar new park in Orlando set to open in mid-2025, the company’s new Chief Financial Officer said.

“In Orlando, we have one of — if not the biggest — incremental park to be built domestically for the last potentially 20 years in Epic Universe, which is coming in 2025,” said Jason Armstrong during a Q&A session at Monday’s Deutsche Bank’s annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference.

The last new Disney theme park to open in the United States was California Adventure Park in 2001. Disney World hasn’t debuted a new theme park since Animal Kingdom in 1998.

“We’re super excited about Epic. What that’s going to turn our Orlando destination into is exactly that … a potentially weeklong destination,” Armstrong went on to say, calling the company “bullish” on its theme park business.

Comcast plans to spend $1.2 billion for theme parks capital expenses in 2023 and another $1.2 billion in 2024.

“We’re sort of in peak Epic phase,” Armstrong said about capital spending. “Then we expect a decline after that.”

Epic Universe is set to open in time for the summer 2025, said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts during a 2022 earnings call.

The company hasn’t given a more definitive timeline although Armstrong said Monday it will open in the “middle of 2025.”

Comcast and Universal haven’t officially revealed what rides are coming to the new park that’s built near the Orange County Convention Center. Recently executives said they could close off parts of the new park to rent out lands to tap into the convention business.

Beyond Epic Universe, Universal is building a smaller park geared toward children outside Dallas as well as a year-round Halloween Horror Nights experience in Las Vegas.

Armstrong said the children’s park is “leveraging a lot of our kids IP coming out of our great animation franchises” and is “clearly a niche of the market that we think is interesting to serve, we think is complementary to our bigger parks.” 

For Universal, the Texas and Las Vegas expansions are an “interesting test and learn using existing IP where we think those will be successful franchises for them,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong, who was promoted to CEO earlier this year, acknowledged the company’s international theme parks have been hurt by pandemic shutdowns and reopenings, but said overall the theme park business is strong. Comcast’s priorities are to reinvest back into the company, protect the balance sheet and return cash to shareholders, Armstrong also said.

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 .


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