Universal theme parks remain moneymakers despite recession fears

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‘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 made that number even more impressive was 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 in a pre-pandemic 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 2025. Executive 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.

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