Summertime is peak theme park season but, this year, companies behind Walt Disney World and Universal Studios are hoping the warm months will attract more visitors to their parks after losing billions to their closures brought on by the global pandemic. Now, a couple months into Universal Orlando’s reopening, it's finally seeing more guests roll in, per a new analyst report.
Universal Studios Orlando opened back in June at a time when COVID-19 cases were at a more stable place. The park has recently seen an “uplift in admissions,” with business becoming especially good on Saturdays, according to research analysts Bryan Kraft and Benjamin Soff of Deutsche Bank (via Orlando Sentinel). These are the best numbers for Universal since it reopened its doors but, overall, the attendance at the movie-themed resort is reportedly still down 64% from the virus-free year prior.
Conversely, Disney World reopened in mid-July, during a time when coronavirus cases began to peak in the state, steering visitors away from visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth.” It’s perhaps due to this timing that the House of Mouse’s attendance is worse than Universal’s, with the parks open across the globe allegedly operating at 80% less than in 2019.
The analysts believe Universal’s optimistic report will soon carry over into Disney World’s numbers and “soon see some benefit” too. Disney recently announced a $3.5 billion loss in their last financial quarter, thanks to their park closures alone. This isn’t surprising considering the domestic parks lose out on $20 to $30 million every day their parks are closed. It sounds like Universal Studios had a head start, and Disney could see better business too soon.
Even with this win for Universal after a drought, it’s still not an easy time to be in the theme park business in the current economy. Universal Orlando Resort had to announce a round of layoffs in June due to their decreased attendance.
Universal Orlando was the first major theme park to open but, with that, comes additional health measures to make sure guests feel safe, including few staff members on the grounds. Social distancing signage, required face coverings, temperature checks and cleaning policies are part of what it's like to visit a theme park in the current global climate.
The theme park did have to cancel its annual big draw, Halloween Horror Nights. Both Orlando and Hollywood (which has yet to open) decided to skip out on the scary annual event in 2020. Disney’s California park Anaheim’s Disneyland is also still closed, but the park’s Downtown Disney is currently open with restrictions in place.
These new numbers look to offer a bright future for theme parks, as they settle back into their reopenings for the time being. Do you feel comfortable going to Universal Studios and Walt Disney World? Vote in our poll below and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more theme park news.