The Universal Studios theme parks recorded their first profitable quarter since the pandemic began, parent company Comcast reported this morning.
NBCUniversal's theme parks division reported revenue of $1.095 billion in the three months ending June 30, 2021, for an adjusted EBITDA earnings of $221 million. That was up sharply from the $136 million in revenue and a $393 million loss during the same period in 2020, when the parks were largely closed.
However, the numbers remain below the $1.464 billion in revenue and $590 million in adjusted EBITDA earnings that the parks reported during the same period in 2019.
"Orlando is from an attendance standpoint pretty close to back where we were in 2019, even though we don't have any international visitors, and you would expect those international visitors to pick up over time," NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during a conference call with investors. "In Hollywood, we've only been open a couple months, and we're already approaching our capacity. We're excited about the next couple months and Halloween Horror Nights. The domestic parks, obviously with Covid you just don't know - things could be lumpy, things could be non-linear - but so far the trajectory is really good, and we would like that to continue.
"I would say the thing we're most pleased with is that the protocols have worked, and we've been able to keep people safe - our workers and our guests safe - and I think that is driving the confidence in coming to our parks. Internationally... in Japan, even though that country is a little bit behind as far as Covid, we've been able to get our park back open with some capacity constraints. We have a great attraction there [Super Nintendo World], which is one of our best attractions that we've built anywhere in the world. It rivals Harry Potter, and I'm very excited for that not only in Japan but for Epic Universe down the road and our other parts eventually. So Japan is behind, but feels like it's heading in the right direction, and so that's going to be great. Lastly with Beijing, we're ready to go. It's awesome. It's our most technologically advanced park. Right now, we're going through the final approvals of rides, and that is somewhat indeterminate, but we expect that park to open in the next couple months."
"Overall our parks are on a good trajectory, and it's hard to see what happens with Covid, but we're pretty pleased."
NBCUniversal's theme parks division includes the Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan and a share of the upcoming Universal Studios Beijing, which is now in a soft opening period. Universal Studios Singapore is owned and operated by Resorts World Sentosa under license from NBCUniversal. As a division of a much larger multimedia corporation, Universal's theme parks (like Disney's) do not report the granular data - including attendance - that theme-park-only companies such as Six Flags, Cedar Fair and SeaWorld report.
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