Attendance decrease at Universal Orlando parks called a 'rebalancing'

Attendance at Universal’s Orlando theme parks was down in the second quarter compared to a year earlier. 

Executives at parent company Comcast attributed the downswing to two factors: an extraordinary period of attendance last year and consumers once again cruising and traveling internationally.

Comcast CFO Jason Armstrong said 2022 attendance was “unprecedented” at the Orlando parks. Attendance in this year’s Q2 was more in line with 2019, Armstrong said during Comcast’s Q2 earnings call Thursday. While attendance was down, revenue was “substantially ahead” of 2019, Armstrong said. 

Compared with last year, Q2 theme park revenue was up 22%, to $2.21 billion. Adjusted earnings before income, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was up 32%, to $833 million.

According to Armstrong, Universal’s theme parks in California, Japan and China all recorded solid results in the quarter. Universal Hollywood had strong attendance and per-capita spending following the opening of Super Nintendo World earlier this year. That park recorded its best EBITDA in history, Armstrong said.

Responding to an analyst’s question about stronger results from Universal Hollywood and weaker results from Universal Orlando, Comcast president Mike Cavanagh said he was “not surprised by that softening” considering the high attendance levels last year.

“Overall, we feel good about what we’re seeing in Orlando,” Cavanagh said.

With international travel and cruising back in full swing, he said, “it’s just been a rebalancing.”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts reiterated that he is “really bullish on the parks,” especially some new projects in the pipeline. Roberts specifically pointed to Epic Universe, coming in 2025. He called it “spectacular,” and the opportunity it holds “pretty massive.”

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