The power of magic: USH attendance up 60% after Potter

April 27, 2017, 11:14 AM · First-quarter attendance at Universal Studios Hollywood jumped 60 percent this year, following last year's opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the park's corporate bosses reported today.

Comcast Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts reported the attendance gain to Wall Street analysts in a conference call this morning. Overall, Universal's theme park revenue was up 9 percent year-over-year for the quarter, to $1.1 billion. And that was despite the popular Easter holiday falling in the second quarter this year, as opposed to being part of the first quarter last year.

Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal (which in turn owns the Universal Studios theme parks), also reported that attendance and guest spending were up at its theme parks for the quarter, despite higher spending by the parks to prepare its Jimmy Fallon and Volcano Bay attractions in Orlando. Universal also recently opened a new Minions Park land in Japan, which features another installation of the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opened officially on April 7, 2016, following a soft opening on February 12, 2016. So some Wizarding World attendance is reflected in that first quarter 2016 data that Universal improved 60 percent upon in the first three months of this year.

Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure saw a 30% increase in attendance in 2010 and a 29% increase in 2011, following the June 2010 opening of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Studios Florida saw a 17 percent attendance jump in 2014 and 16 percent in 2015 after the July 2014 opening of Diagon Alley. And Universal Studios Japan's attendance went up 17 percent in 2014 and 18 percent in 2015 after its Wizarding World also opened in July 2014, according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index Report. We will see what Universal Studios Hollywood's year-over-year improvement was for 2016 when the next Theme Index Report comes out later this spring.

But, clearly, Harry Potter continues to make visitors and their money apparate into Universal's theme parks.

Replies (14)

April 27, 2017 at 11:34 AM · I haven't yet tried the West Coast version, but it's on my to do list. Higher attendance means higher revenue, which means more money to continue making great experiences. Yes, the crowds are higher, but that's naturally going to happen when they deliver high quality experiences (no more spinners, please!).
April 27, 2017 at 12:26 PM · This is what happens if you invest in a high quality product. Not cheap fillers.
April 27, 2017 at 1:09 PM · So no credit for Walking Dead? It's time for Diagon Alley!!!
April 27, 2017 at 2:47 PM · If USH gets a 30% overall increase for the year, that should put it above the 9 million mark for annual attendance. Assuming that IOA gets a modest bump to cross that threshold, and that SeaWorld Orlando doesn't record a gain (which is likely, IMHO), then I think we could be looking at a situation for the 2016 US attendance where the #9 park (likely USH still) has *double* the annual attendance of the #10 park (SWO, or maybe BGT).

It really has become Disney, Universal, then everyone else in the U.S. theme park business these days.

April 27, 2017 at 3:37 PM · Great! Universal got the best IP in any land with this deal, and it shows. This will be a template for new IPs and land designs for the coming years. Nintendo land is going to be epic!!!
April 27, 2017 at 5:59 PM · We were just talking at dinner tonight getting our July dates set... Hard Rock Club Level for 4 nights. Looking forward to seeing all the new additions as it has been two years since we have gone.

We are going to do Busch Gardens Tampa too (Quick Queues for everybody)

April 27, 2017 at 10:55 PM · This is great news for Universal, especially for USH. That said, I find the crowding to generally be worse there than at the Disneyland Resort. I hope the park is able to expand rapidly over the next 2-3 years, because it is not big enough to support 10+ million annual visitors in its current form (plus they need to justify their ticket prices).
April 27, 2017 at 11:58 PM · We're returning to Orlando in the Fall. Double the Potter lands, double the fun.
April 28, 2017 at 7:19 AM · Leaving for Orlando Universal tonight. Two weeks on site at Universal. 5 nights Sapphire Falls resort, 9 nights Portofino Bay Resort. Four day trips to WDW. The Florida drought is welcome after having to flee the hurricane in Orlando last October.
April 28, 2017 at 9:20 AM · USH's attendance sucked for over a decade before building this area, rightly so because the park sucked.
April 28, 2017 at 9:35 AM · Who'd have thought that investing in parks would mean more people come to visit. Sea World, Busch Gardens need to wake up and stop cheap little investments. Go big and the people will come.
April 28, 2017 at 3:49 PM · For reference, here is the TEA/AECOM report on Universal Studios Hollywood's attendance in the 2010s:

2015- 7,097,000, up 4%
2014- 6,824,000, up 11%
2013- 6,148,000, up 4%
2012- 5,912,000, up 15%
2011- 5,141,000, up 2%
2010- 5,040,000, up 26%

What's amazing to me is that Universal has posted attendance gains every year even as it ripped up the park all to hell over the past several years.

April 28, 2017 at 4:46 PM · I'm confused. The pixie dusters keep saying USH Potter must be a failure because Forbidden Journey doesn't have 2 hour wait times.

I thought bad ride capacity determined if new attractions were important, not actual attendance increases.

April 28, 2017 at 11:21 PM · FJ has ferocious capacity. It's a people eater.

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