Universal’s attendance at its open Orlando and Japan parks typically hovers around 25%, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts disclosed Tuesday as he expressed his belief that business will rebound in the future.
“At the right time, we can invest in theme parks — but not now,” Roberts said, discussing one of Comcast’s hardest-hit areas during the pandemic. “We’ve slowed down some investments in theme parks, but I hope they’ll come back and want them to come back.”
Roberts answered questions about Comcast’s business and its future during the virtual Goldman Sachs Investor Conference.
Universal Orlando reopened in June following a three-month shutdown from the coronavirus that’s killed nearly 13,000 Floridians.
Since then, Universal fans celebrated some positive news like the construction progression of an unnamed Jurassic Park-themed roller coaster or two Haunted Houses and a new Halloween Horror Nights tribute store that sells spooky-themed food, a consolation prize for the marque event being canceled this year.
But Comcast also disclosed this spring it paused construction on the new Orlando park, Epic Universe, amid the economic uncertainty. The company has not said when it plans to start building the park although Comcast had acknowledged construction was very early into the process.
“All things considered, it’s a big capital swing, so better to really march forward with that when we have just a bit more visibility on what’s going on with the economy post-COVID,” Comcast Chief Financial Officer Mike Cavanagh said in May. “I can’t tell you when that’s going to be when we revisit it.”
On Tuesday, Roberts stressed the importance of a coronavirus vaccine for business to bounce back.
“As I think about the entire company, probably 70% of the COVID effect is this one conversation,” Roberts said, adding, “there’s only so much we can do about that.”
Roberts touted Universal theme parks as historically one of the fastest-growing areas of Comcast’s business, which gives him confidence about the rebound ahead, he said.
“You have to ask, do you think it’s coming back someday?” Roberts said, adding, “Companies that aren’t as well-capitalized and aren’t part of a bigger enterprise maybe won’t be able to come back.”
But Roberts said he was “really bullish” on Universal theme parks, saying, “I’m optimistic for the long term.”
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