News Column

Harry Potter, Optimus Prime Lift Universal Theme Park Attendance

Aug. 1, 2012

Jason Garcia

Powered by Harry Potter and Optimus Prime, Universal Orlando and other NBCUniversal theme parks turned in a "solid performance" during the second quarter, parent company Comcast Corp. said Wednesday.

Revenue at Universal Parks & Resorts climbed 3.4 percent to $539 million and operating cash flow -- a measure of profitability -- rose 4.2 percent to $235 million, said Comcast said while reporting companywide second-quarter earnings.

Comcast said Universal Orlando, the company's largest and most profitable resort, continues to benefit from interest in its two-year-old Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Attendance also jumped at Universal Studios Hollywood, fueled by the May opening of a new Transformers-themed ride.

Comcast is extending both franchises in its parks. The company has announced plans to build copies of Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan and to expand the original in Orlando. Rumors are also swirling that Comcast is building a clone of the Transformers ride in Universal Orlando's Universal Studios Florida theme park. The original version of that ride was built at Universal Studios Singapore.

Comcast executives have admitted to being surprised by the performance of their theme parks, which accounted for just a tenth of NBCUniversal's $5.5 billion second-quarter revenue but a quarter of its $982 million operating cash flow. The unit has become an especially valuable counterweight to NBUniversal's erratic movie studio, which produced negative cash flow of $83 million -- on $1.2 billion in revenue -- and prompted Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts to criticize its "disappointing performance."

Theme parks, on the other hand, "had another solid quarter," Comcast Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Mike Angelakis said during a conference call with analysts.



Source: (c)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services