Universal Orlando profit up despite drop in attendance

Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 1:03 AM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: We missed this last week... thanks Brian Noble for the spot. -J]

The operating company for Orlando's No. 2 theme-park resort, Universal City Development Partners, said Thursday that it earned $27.1 million during the three months that ended June 28, up 29 percent from $21.1 million during the same period last year. Operating profit, which strips out expenses such as interest payments on debt, rose 15 percent to $51.4 million. Attendance dropped 14 percent from a year ago, sinking from 2.9 million paying visitors to 2.5 million. Sales fell 11 percent, from $242 million to $216 million.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:10 AM

Well im sure it doesnt help that a coaster was supposed to open during those periods. I would expect there are some out there that are using the "will go when it opens theory", or even waiting for HP to open as well. I often wonder on the heels of a major opening if parks typically go soft for a bit prior. I know BGW did a bit prior to the opening of Griffon.

But I will agree on it seeming a tad slower. I will have to upload my wait time signs that I took pictures of when we went there a few days ago. By noon the max time never exceeded 30 mins for any ride. We knocked out both sides in < 3 hours.

Perhaps we got lucky, but at Sea World or Disney we never saw lines of < 30 m.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009 9:54 PM

The big news though isn't that attendance was down. The big news is that guest spending was up.

Universal is the only operator to have pulled that off, with the possible exception of InBev (whose numbers I have not seen for 2Q).

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009 11:44 PM

I'm going to take a stab at this "guest spending going up" (?) thing. Universal has gone *all out* on promoting the daily meal plan. And it seems to have been doing brisk business on my last few visits. I remember visiting USH an eternity ago (Van Helsing was just opening up) and Tina and I raving about their meal deal - it was a pretty new idea then.

Seems to have caught on across the chain....and seriously, the food cost is low enough for these deals to do QUITE well. I recall the USH one definitely included beverages though, and the Florida park deals...don't seem to. I would love to see the numbers, but I'm betting the recent implementation and heavy promotion of the deals here drove the (relative spike in) in-park spending....

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Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:17 AM

One of the things they also do well is give annual passholders discounts all over the place, including on most food. The hotel discounts alone make an AP a no-brainer. I paid for mine many times over that way.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009 6:47 PM

I totally agree with you Jeff.. I used to go to Universal on just a 2 day pass or whatever, but the cost break vs the # of times we plan on going, this time I decided to opt for a pass. We saved on shops, food and the night activities. I think it was an excellent deal.

Also discovered my wife get into Universal free due to her being a BEC Employee, so all we had to buy was just my pass. Naturally Disney doesnt reciprocate so we are stuck with our $500 each passes. BLA!

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