ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal theme parks have had another profitable quarter as the division continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an earnings report released Thursday by parent company Comcast.

What You Need To Know

  •  Universal theme parks have another profitable quarter amid the pandemic

  •  Comcast reported that theme park revenue grew to $1.4 billion

  • The boost was driven by Universal Orlando, which executives said had "the most profitable quarter in its history"

Revenue for the company's theme park division grew to $1.4 billion in the third quarter, up significantly from the $385 million in the same period a year ago, when most of Universal’s parks were either closed or operating at a limited capacity because of the pandemic.

In an earnings call Thursday, Comcast executives attributed the results to the “improved operating conditions” and “strong attendance” at its domestic parks, although individual attendance numbers were not released.

CEO Brian Roberts specifically called attention to Universal Orlando, which he said “reported the most profitable quarter in its history despite having virtually no international guests due to COVID-related travel restraints.”

Universal Orlando reopened its theme parks June 2020 with limited capacity and several COVID-19 health and safety measures. In the year since, capacity increased and pandemic measures were lifted. The resort also opened a new attraction at its Islands of Adventure park—Jurassic World VelociCoaster—and brought back its popular Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights.

At Universal's other domestic park, Universal Studios Hollywood in California, which reopened in April, some COVID-19 measures are in place, including requiring visitors (12 and older) to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. 

Executives are hopeful that easing travel restrictions for international visitors will improve attendance and earnings at the parks. 

"We are encouraged by the continued recovery, but getting back to and then exceeding pre-pandemic levels of EBITDA (earnings) will likely require the improvements of international visitation," Comcast chief financial officer Mike Cavanagh said on the earnings call.

The United States will lift the ban on international visitors on Nov. 8. The policy put in place by the Biden administration will require foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated and show proof of a negative coronavirus test before entering the U.S.

Not mentioned in Thursday’s earnings call were any updates on Universal Orlando's new Epic Universe theme park. Construction of the park was halted in April 2020 because of the pandemic, but resumed in March of this year. Before the construction delay, Universal initially planned for the park to open in 2023, however a new opening timeframe has not been announced.

The park will be Universal’s largest U.S. theme park when it opens and feature attractions based on content from Nintendo, Illlumination and DreamWorks. The project is expected to create thousands of jobs and pump billions into the Florida economy.


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