Universal's theme parks posted their highest adjusted earnings in their history at the end of last year, according to parent company Comcast.
Comcast reported its fourth quarter and full year 2022 financial results this morning, with the company's Universal Parks & Resorts segment posting strong numbers, as the post-lockdown recovery at the top of the world's theme park industry continues.
Universal's theme parks posted revenue of $7.5 billion in 2022, up nearly 50% over the year prior, with revenue up 12%, to 2.1 billion in the fourth quarter of the year.
Adjusted EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] was up to a record $2.7 billion in 2022, rising 16% to 782 million in the fourth quarter.
Universal attributed the strong performance to attendance that surpassed pre-pandemic levels in Orlando, Hollywood, and Osaka, and company leaders expect the surge in attendance to continue in 2023.
"We are seeing some exciting demand to start the year," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said.
Universal recently announced two expansion projects: a family-focused park in suburban Dallas as well as a year-round horror attraction in Las Vegas. In addition, Super Nintendo World will open officially at Universal Studios Hollywood next month and work continued on the Epic Universe theme park and new south campus at the Universal Orlando Resort for a 2025 debut.
"NBCUniversal's total capital spending increased $1.4 billion [in 2022], driven by Parks' capex increasing $1.1 billion, of which Epic [Universe] was around $800 million, and reflects our continued investment in new attractions like Super Nintendo World at Hollywood and Donkey Kong in Japan." Comcast President Mike Cavanagh said. "In 2023, we expect Parks capex to increase by around $1.2 billion over last year as we continue to build Epic, which we plan to open in 2025 and begin work on our recently announced park extensions mentioned earlier. The required investment to develop these extensions is nowhere near the scale of Epic or Universal Beijing, but rather enable us to leverage our already large market opportunity and could serve as a model that contributes even higher growth at theme parks in the future."
"The concept that we're going to build in Dallas, which is designed for a younger audience and less investment, if it's successful - which we're pretty confident it will be - it's a concept that will work in a lot of places around the world that may not support a full-scale park like we have in Orlando or Beijing, but could support something else, so that we're excited about that concept," NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said. "And then the Halloween Horror Nights experience in Vegas, which which I'm really excited about, could also be expanded to a number of different places around around the world. So we're definitely having a eye towards expanding internationally, not just domestically, and they won't all be places for a big giant primary theme park. We will look at different concepts for different markets."
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