Universal’s Epic Universe put on hold

Orlando, Florida, USA

July 30, 2020 – Comcast released its second-quarter earnings results, and, as expected, the company’s theme parks division, which includes Universal Orlando, took a big financial hit due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Executives confirmed that development on its Epic Universe theme park remains on hold for now. Work will resume when “the future becomes more certain,” executives said. In April, it was announced that construction on Epic Universe had been delayed because of the pandemic, but workers were seen on the construction site up to the day before the latest announcement.

In late June, Universal Orlando laid off an undisclosed number of employees across its resort. And then last week, Universal announced it was canceling its popular Halloween Horror Nights event in both Orlando and California. The after-dark event, which typically features haunted houses, scare zones and live shows, is a huge revenue stream for the parks.

Revenue for Comcast’s theme parks division plunged 94% in the quarter. The division generated $87 million, which was down significantly from $1.46 billion it made during the same period last year. This is the first quarterly report to show the full impact the coroanvirus pandemic has had on the company’s theme parks so far. The parks were closed for most of the quarter, with only Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Japan reopening in early June before the end of the quarter. Universal Orlando’s theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, have implemented safety measures, including mandatory face masks, temperature checks, social distancing policies and capacity limits.

In the earnings call, executives said attendance levels were significantly lower at its reopened parks, but noted the parks were in a better position financially being open rather than remaining closed. However, both Florida park will implement further reduced operating hours starting August 1st. Universal Studios Hollywood in California, which shuttered in mid-March, has yet to reopen.

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Universal Resort Orlando website