Universal Shows Optimism, Even as Losses Continue

April 29, 2021, 11:17 AM · Universal's theme parks posted another loss in the first quarter of 2021, as Comcast and NBCUniversal corporate leaders look forward to a rebound with visitors returning to the company's parks around the world.

NBCUniversal's Theme Parks division reported an adjusted EBITDA loss was $61 million in the first quarter of 2021, including pre-opening costs related to Universal Beijing Resort. That compares with an $87 million profit in the same period in 2020, during which Universal's theme parks first closed due to the pandemic.

Revenue decreased 33.1% to $619 million in the quarter from $925 million in the first quarter of 2020. However, officials express optimism with trends during the quarter.

"Our theme parks once again reached breakeven, excluding Universal Beijing Resort pre-opening costs; and – to the delight of our guests – we successfully re-opened Universal Studios Hollywood on April 16th." Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said.

"It is going to be choppy getting open again as things surge and come back and so forth, but it's hard not to get excited about our parks business," NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said. "The demand is there. We're seeing it in Orlando. We have no international travel yet, which is difficult part of the business, and yet we still are hitting the capacity we've set for ourselves, based on safety protocols, every day. We just reopened Hollywood, and we're seeing the same thing in Hollywood. Japan is obviously going back and forth, but we're excited long term about that park in Beijing coming.

"And the other thing that's happened during the pandemic is we've continued to build attractions. We are hitting the return of the market with some pretty exciting attractions in each of our parks. We have Nintendo, which we think is one of the great attractions that we've ever built in Japan. We have out in Los Angeles our new [The Secret Life of] Pets attraction, which has been getting stellar reviews and people love it. Then, most exciting to me, we have a new roller coaster in Orlando called VelociCoaster, a Jurassic [World] roller coaster, which I rode a couple weeks ago. It is both spectacular and petrifying. I think when we open that to the public in June, it's going be another driver for our business. I'm very excited about the parks business and our ability to come back very strongly from the depths of the pandemic."

Universal Studios Japan is currently closed due to the state of emergency in select prefectures in Japan, but as Roberts noted, Universal Studios Hollywood has reopened, with the potential for increased capacity being allowed as early as next week at the park. The park also is now admitting out-of-state visitors with proof of vaccination.

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Replies (5)

April 29, 2021 at 6:59 PM

Well they can thank the CA governors arbitrary shut down policies for that.

April 29, 2021 at 8:30 PM

How dare Gavin Newsom close the Osaka park!

April 30, 2021 at 1:56 AM

Looks like for some, you CAN put a price on human life...

April 30, 2021 at 3:09 PM

Niles throwin' the snark! SWEET!

May 2, 2021 at 10:53 PM

61 million.... LOL. They make that in interactive HP wands in a month.

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