Turns out shutting down theme parks for months isn’t very profitable.
This obvious lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic was the big takeaway for Universal theme parks from Comcast’s second quarter financial report. Overall, revenue for the theme parks division dropped to $87 million — a 94 percent drop year-over-year for the period covering April through June — with a loss of $399 million.
Universal’s Orlando and Japan theme parks reopened in June with a slew of new safety measures, including reduced capacity, face mask requirements and physical distancing.
“While attendance in both locations is much lower than our typical summer levels, we are still doing better financially than if we were closed, and even more importantly, our guest satisfaction scores are at record highs,” said Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal.
Universal Studios Hollywood remains closed, like other California theme parks. The pandemic also interrupted construction on the Universal Beijing Resort, the company’s first foray into the Chinese theme park market, but work has now resumed and the resort is on track to open in mid-2021.
Construction on the next Universal park in Orlando, however, remains on hold. Shell reiterated during the earnings call that work on Epic Universe has been paused “until the future becomes more certain.” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in April that the project would be delayed by a year. It was originally set to open in 2023.
Comcast’s revenue overall fell 12 percent to $23.7 billion, led by strong results from the company’s cable and internet businesses.
“While our second quarter results were better than we previously forecasted, the reality is they only represent a 90-day snapshot,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. “In the months ahead, there’s going to be a lot of noise, if you will, in the quarterly numbers, which will not be unique to Comcast.”
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