Theme park roundup: Busch Gardens Christmas Town / Universal earnings / Tron lights

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is bringing its Christmas Town event back early, starting with a preview weekend for some activities on Nov. 6 and 7.

The preview weekend will feature:

  • Holiday character meet-and-greets
  • Holiday light displays
  • Annual passholder access to the 2 p.m. “Christmas on Ice” show at the Moroccan Palace Theater

Once the full event kicks off on Nov. 13, guests can enjoy more shows, including “Elmo’s Christmas Wish” and “Three Kings Journey.” The “Holiday in the Sky” fireworks show will also be held every Saturday and select nights of the event through Jan. 2.  

Universal parks record most profitable quarter since pandemic began

The Universal parks division inside Comcast earned $434 million in profits in the three-month quarter ending Sept. 30, its best financial performance since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said on the company’s third quarter earnings call Thursday that Universal Orlando “reported the most profitable quarter in its history, despite having virtually no international guests, due to COVID related travel restraints.”

Michael Cavanagh, Comcast’s chief financial officer, later said that exceeding pre-pandemic earnings “will require an improvement in international visitation.” That may come in the current quarter, as vaccinated foreign tourists will be allowed back into the U.S. starting Nov. 8

Couple gets prison sentence for assaulting Sesame Place worker over face mask rule

A New York couple were each sentence to prison terms over what a Pennsylvania judge called a “violent, unprovoked act on a defenseless teen” working at Sesame Place in Bucks County, Pa., in 2020.

On Aug. 9, 2020, Troy McCoy and Shakerra Bonds were reminded by a 17-year-old worker at the theme park that face masks were required to be worn inside the park. According to prosecutors, when the couple saw the teen again hours later, they both assaulted him, with McCoy continuing to hit the worker even after he lost consciousness.

McCoy was found guilty of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. He has been sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison. Bonds was convicted of simple assault and sentenced to four to 23 months behind bars.

Other theme park employees, including those at Disney World, have reported violent confrontations with guests during the pandemic over face mask rules.