Comcast plans to spend more on its Universal theme park division in 2023 after the parks reported their highest annual earnings ever.
In Comcast’s latest earnings call, Universal Parks & Resorts reported $7.5 billion in revenue for 2022 (up 50 percent from the prior year) and adjusted earnings of $2.7 billion. “This was driven by attendance that for us surpassed pre pandemic levels at all three parks,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said, referring to Universal properties in Orlando, Hollywood, and Osaka, Japan.
Record earnings will now segue into bigger investments. Comcast executives said 2023 will be the “peak” year for spending on Universal theme parks, with capital expenditures increasing by $1.2 billion as it moves ahead on its third Orlando theme park, Epic Universe, and the newly-announced Las Vegas horror attraction and the Frisco, Texas family theme park.
Comcast chief financial officer Mike Cavanagh said of those latter two projects, “The required investment to develop these extensions is nowhere near the scale of Epic [Universe] or Universal Beijing, but rather enable us to leverage our already large market opportunity and can serve as a model that contributes to even higher growth at Theme Parks in the future.”
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell also hinted that the new projects would be a proving ground for future expansions. He called the Texas park “a concept that will work in a lot of places around the world that may not support a full-scale theme park like we have in Orlando or Beijing.” Regarding the Vegas horror attraction, he said it “could also be expanded to a number of different places around the world. So we’re definitely having our eye towards places expanding internationally not just domestically with a number of markets kind of on the docket.”
The next major opening for Universal theme parks is the official debut of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood. While the land has already held some technical rehearsals, passholder previews begin Jan. 29, followed by the grand opening on Feb. 17.