NBCUniversal's theme parks continue to perform well for parent company Comcast Corp., especially its international parks in Japan and China as Covid-related restrictions there have loosened. And while domestic park growth rates have slowed after an explosive year in 2022, they continue to perform well, executives said on Comcast's earnings call Thursday morning.
Domestically, Universal Studios Hollywood had a record first quarter thanks to the opening of Super Nintendo World, and Universal Orlando continues to perform above prepandemic levels.
Mike Cavanagh, head of NBCUniversal and Comcast president, said Universal's domestic parks saw "unprecedented visitation" in 2022.
"As expected, growth rates have slowed down, but performance continues to be solid," he said. "Go-forward booking again still looks to be solid."
In the first quarter of the year, theme park revenue was up 25%, to $1.94 billion. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization soared 46%, to $658 million.
Theme park experiences based on intellectual property, both those owned by Comcast and licensed, has been targeted as a major growth area for the company, according to Cavanagh.
"Our parks are resonating with our customers, and this segment is clearly on a roll," Cavanagh said.
Domestic and international parks are doing well, he said, and "this outstanding performance provides us with even more confidence that the investments we're making in new lands and attractions will also generate strong returns."
He specifically pointed to a new Donkey Kong expansion of Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan; Universal's third gate in Orlando, Epic Universe, planned to open in 2025; and smaller park concepts like a horror experience in Las Vegas and a family theme park in Texas.
Cavanagh took over NBCUniversal from former CEO Jeff Shell this week after Shell departed the company following an inappropriate relationship with another employee. Cavanagh called his dual role as Comcast president and head of NBCUniversal "quite sustainable," noting he was already overseeing the company and close to other leadership.