The future of theme parks is very much up in the air at this moment. We don't know when places like Disneyland or Universal Studios will be opening, and we have no idea what they'll be like when they do. However, perhaps the even bigger question than what will happen to the parks that we know, is what will happen to the future plans for those parks that we were expecting. New areas like Disneyland's Avengers Campus have been officially delayed and other projects, like everything Walt Disney World has going at Epcot are expected to open later than was originally planned. But bigger than all that is Epic Universe, an entirely new park being built at Universal Orlando Resort.
Epic Universe was an outlier back in the middle of March when other parks were closing and construction was ceasing, because Universal had said that, with the proper precautions being taken, construction of Epic Universe was still going to move forward. However, as part of parent company Comcast's earnings call this morning (via the Orlando Sentinel), it was revealed that construction of Epic Universe has now also been halted.
While construction of the new park has stopped, no specific announcement was made regarding the announced plan to open Epic Universe in 2023. Since the window for opening the new park is currently a year long, and one assumes there was some sort of cushion built into the construction schedule to begin with, the park could still open on time. And if it opened later in 2023 than Universal initially planned, we'd probably never know anyway.
However, Orange County mayor Jerry Demings recently stated that he had been in contact with "senior officials" at Universal, and that now Epic Universe would be delayed by a year, meaning the park will now open sometime in 2024.
It was also revealed on the earnings call that if the theme parks are closed through June, it could mean a $500 million loss for Universal. It's clear that nobody at the company has any clue at this point when the parks will reopen, though it is believed that when they do open there will be "pent up demand" and so the expectation is that the park business will be strong once opening is allowed.
Certainly, a massive undertaking of an entirely new theme park is the sort of thing that, because of its size, can be drastically impacted by even a small period of work stoppage. These things can't stop on a dime and they can't start off that quickly either.
And while there certainly will be those that rush out to Universal parks as soon as they can, the economic impact of the massive shutdown is expected to be far reaching. Universal's business will likely be down even after the parks are open, which means the company may not have the money needed to build Epic Universe in quite the way, or at the very least at quite the speed, that was originally planned.