Universal Orlando attendance up 46% in 4Q

Posted Monday, January 24, 2011 11:55 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Universal Orlando ended 2010 with its best fourth quarter on record and its highest annual attendance since 2004, thanks to the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Attendance at the resort's two theme parks skyrocketed 46 percent during the final three months of the year, according to a report filed Friday with federal regulators. The combined fourth-quarter head count jumped from 2.3 million in 2009 to 3.3 million.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, January 24, 2011 12:58 PM

Cheese and Rice!! Some parks don't even see this increase across the whole year.

Monday, January 24, 2011 1:03 PM

Leading into last fall, I was wondering if they were over-spending on advertising, but I suppose it's safe to say that was money well spent. I was there on happy bonus day, and it seemed like everyone was, well, happy about a bonus.

Monday, January 24, 2011 1:51 PM

Well, if the suits with the Mouse ears weren't paying attention before, I think it is safe to say 1 million annual increase in visitors might make them sit up and take notice.

Of course, Universal used to be us Floridians "little secret" but I guess that cat is out of the bag now. And, I'm still going to say that the opening of Legoland in Winter Haven is going to have an impact on the mouse as well. It isn't going to be overly significant but if it takes a family of four away from WDW property for even a half day or a day then that is going to start adding up.

You used to be able to make a pretty good case that there was no reason to leave WDW property if you were only in Orlando for a week. Now I think that argument is pretty thin, particularly when you consider that Sea World has stepped it up a couple of notches in the past few years as well.

I bet the execs at MCO are thrilled.

Monday, January 24, 2011 1:54 PM

Anyone who's been *anywhere near* WWoHP since it opened would have expected numbers like this. It's staggering how busy that area of the park is...it's busier all over the park, and even seems to have created a false lull over at the Studios park. HRRR seems almost like an afterthought at this point...

Monday, January 24, 2011 2:01 PM

I visited both parks pre-Harry and was amazed at the relatively "quiet" vibe of the Studios park as compared to IoA. If that is even more evident now then the Studios park is likely where I'd spend more of my time.

Monday, January 24, 2011 2:24 PM

wahoo skipper said:
I think it is safe to say 1 million annual increase in visitors might make them sit up and take notice.

That's a 1 million increase in the 4th quarter alone. It's up around 2 million over all of 2010.

As expensive as that area was, I bet it's paid off in little over 2 operating years. After that, it's all Phase 3.

Monday, January 24, 2011 5:14 PM

What's HRRR?

Monday, January 24, 2011 5:15 PM


Monday, January 24, 2011 5:58 PM

I just posted some additional photos of it last night...


I want to like it, but it's just so boring.

Monday, January 24, 2011 6:27 PM

Even with Daft Punk playing, there was only that overbanked turn by the station that was exciting. Otherwise its coast...brake...coast...brake...repeat.

Monday, January 24, 2011 6:32 PM

I predicted it's boringness ever since it was announced. It actually LOOKS boring.

FAIL! lol

Monday, January 24, 2011 7:22 PM

That ride is *very* boring... and like Jeff I really did want to like it... Funny thing is that I do until the first midcourse than it is just, torture. One of the worst steel coasters I have ridden.

Last edited by SteveWoA, Monday, January 24, 2011 7:23 PM
Monday, January 24, 2011 9:59 PM

Well at least the "secret codes" for music make it a little more interesting. I listened to Blue Man Group on my ride.

Monday, January 24, 2011 10:19 PM

You know, my quick math leads me to believe that HP may already of paid itself off...

If they had a 46% increase in attendance between both parks (and in 2009 I found out that total attendance was about 10 million), they had an increase of about 4.6 Million... At a gate price of around $100 per day (give or take plus parking and such), they have made around $467 million dollars. The initial investment of that whole area was $200M... Minus advertising, staff wages, misc... It would be less, but the merch sales are insane at that park, so I am sure much of it becomes a wash.

It just seems to me that this paid off for them, two fold... In less than one year.

Do you think I am far off?

Good business :)

Last edited by SteveWoA, Monday, January 24, 2011 10:21 PM
Monday, January 24, 2011 10:35 PM

Well, you also have to account for the fact that servicing less people also means less in the way of expenses, so they likely had fewer people on payroll and less overhead before. It's my understanding that moving all of that merchandise has also required more infrastructure in the way of warehouse space and internal supply chain mechanisms. It apparently takes all night to restock what they sell on any given day.

I think the better way to measure this is on some kind of margin. A good margin in the amusement industry seems to vary from one opinion to the next, but if was 15%, then your "new" net is only $15 per person (assuming the $100 per cap). Even if you slice it that way, the return on investment seems like it would come within a year or two.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 7:47 AM

It's 46% in the 4th Quarter, not overall 2010, so you need to cut your number by a little over 50%. They're still up about 2 million for the whole year, though.

"People who know" told me that their projected ANNUAL merch sales were met by the end of the third month the ride was open so yeah, they're raking it in that way too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:11 AM

Not even the slightest bit surprised by ^that^ in regards to the merchandise. Seriously, there is *never* a time when you can simply walk in and buy stuff...you have to wait in a pretty significant line until you're permitted to go in and spend money on Potterabilia. Can't wait until they begin VQ'ing for the gift shops! ;)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 1:48 PM

Most these parks have needed VQ'ing for restaurants for some time now. Potter is the first time I've seen it needed for shops! I've been to the busiest parks at the busiest times (EPCOT New Year's Eve 1999 anybody?)...and I've never seen lines like that for permission to go in and buy something. And I visited IoA on a supposed down time... :(

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:02 AM

It apparently takes all night to restock what they sell on any given day.

That's a good problem to have.


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