A new Orlando theme park for Universal seems more likely after the prospect of a third gate was called “attractive” in an earnings call for Comcast.
Rumours of a new Orlando park for Universal has been on the cards for some time. However there has been no confirmation from the company until now.
Last month a subsidiary of Universal filed with the patent office to trademark the name Fantastic Worlds.
During the second-quarter earnings call on 26 July for Comcast, Universal’s parent company, the company was asked about the filing.
Jessica Reif-Cohen of Bank of America Merrill Lynch queried the application, saying: “Is that an indication that you’re planning another gate in Orlando? Could you talk about plans and timing on that?”
“In terms of a new gate in Florida, we are looking at it,” said Stephen Burke, Senior EVP and CEO of NBCUniversal. “We filed basically a name registration.”
“We have a lot of great IP,” Burke continued. “We love the theme park business. It’s one of our best, most consistent businesses. And we think we have a lot of – a very long runway and that another gate in Florida would have the advantage of turning Florida from a two- or three-day destination to potentially a weeklong destination. We think that would be attractive.”
The company purchased land near the current Universal resort complex back in 2015 and in April this year, it filed permits with the state of Florida, indicating it is preparing to start preparation work.
Universal has announced the intention to construct Nintendo-themed lands in Orlando as well as other destinations. Expansion is seen as a vital step as rival Disney continues to upgrade its Orlando parks.
Positive growth for theme parks
Comcast has reported that the theme park sector of its business has grown in the second quarter.
Theme Parks revenue increased 3.6% to $1.4 billion and EBITDA increased 3.4% to $569 million. On a year-to-date basis, which smooths out the spring break timing differences, revenue increased 8.6% and EBITDA increased 12.3%.
The positive results were attributed to new attractions including Night Parade in Japan, Kung Fu Panda in Hollywood, and the opening of popular new rides such as the Fast & Furious-themed ride in Orlando.
Trade war impact on Universal Beijing
In the earnings call Burke was also asked about the impact of a potential trade war between the US and China.
He said, “In terms of China, no sign of any changes related to whatever friction there might be between the two countries. We’re actually starting vertical construction. Things are going very, very well and we continue to believe a Universal Park in Beijing is going to be a huge addition to our Theme Park segment.”
Universal has also been expanding its hotel options at the Orlando resort, in collaboration with its partner Loews Hotels.
“Adding hotel rooms has also been a key driver in Orlando,” said Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast during the call. “We’re excited to have the Aventura Hotel opening in a couple of weeks, bringing total on-site rooms to over 6,000, which is two-and-a-half times more when compared to five years ago, with still more capacity to grow.”