Written by David "Indy" Graham
What would be the first thing you would think of if someone said the names MCA, Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Seagram, DuPont, Vivendi, General Electric, Blackstone and Comcast? Do you think of things you put in your house, or maybe commercials you might see on one of the media giant outlets? For most people they wouldn't think of Universal or theme parks in general, but each of those companies has owned a part of Universal in just the past 60 years.
It wasn't until Comcast stepped into the role of full ownership in 2011 that Universal found the parent company with the financial backing, the willingness, and more importantly the belief, in the theme parks to help make them what they are today. Yet today it is a business outlet and one that made Comcast about one-third of NBCUniversal's total operating cash flow last year. That's a jump of about 7.5% over the prior year or about $1.46 billion in revenue for them. Seeing the financial return theme parks can make, NBCUniversal CEO Stephen Burke (who plans to full retire on August 14, 2020) was quoted back in 2018 making bold promise that Comcast would invest more money in its theme park business than it spent to acquire NBCUniversal. So what does that really mean?
According to the information I found, NBCUniversal reportedly spent $250 million building the Hogsmeade section in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened back in 2010. Comcast spent about another $400 million to construct Diagon Alley as well as another $300 million on Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. That type of major investment is why Stephen Burke said "Disney will no longer get a free ride", and it shows as Disney supposedly spent around $1 billion to build Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
So what does the future hold for Universal even with Steve Burke assuming the role of NBCUniversal chairman till August? Later this year, Universal has already opened Universal's Endless Summer Resort - and plans to open Dockside Inn & Suites March 17, 202, and in Spring they will open The Bourne Stuntacular. In 2021 is the unannounced Jurassic Park roller coaster (rumored to be called Velocicoaster) which is currently under construction at Island's of Adventure. All of this is just in Orlando, and not counting the other parks they have with Universal Beijing to be added to the list in Spring 2021.
Comcast had promised to open a new attraction each year so that leaves 2022, which should put the new attraction in the Studios side as they seem to rotate each year bewteen the 2 current dry parks; or could Volcano Bay finally see that 5 acre expansion? And unless you are living under a rock for the past year, 2023 will be an exciting year as Universal's Epic Universe is set to open that year. It will be the first major theme park to open in Orlando since Disney's Animal Kingdom opened April 22, 1998 and Universal's Islands of Adventure on May 28, 1999. Any way you look at it Comcast is definitely expanding it's Universe in Orlando.