Theme Park Wars: Universal Overtakes Disney!

Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, has reported its first-quarter earnings and the results were… surprising. It’s no secret that Disney and Universal are fierce competitors so it’s always interesting to see how they fare against each other. In the past Disney Parks have always trounced Universal’s theme parks. Not so last quarter. 

Related: Disney Q1 Earnings Call

Universal brought in a total of $1.95 billion last quarter from its theme parks. Disney still comes out ahead of Universal in total revenue which reported a staggering $8.7 billion in earnings. However, in many respects, Universal still comes out as the Q1 winner. 

Related:Underdog No More! In the Theme Park Wars, Universal Has Come to Win

Disney’s revenue growth fell from 4th quarter growth of 37% to 21% percent growth in the 1st quarter. Universal on the other hand is continuing its massive growth trend. The theme parks increased from 12% growth in the 4th quarter to 25% in the first quarter. Universal’s growth is far outpacing Disney’s which is bound to make Universal investors happy (and Disney investors nervous). 

Credit: Universal

Universal credits the opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Hollywood with a large portion of its increase. The popular new world has created a buzz no doubt. Universal hasn’t gone on the buying streak Disney has when it comes to acquiring IP but Between Harry Potter and Super Mario/ Nintendo it seems that when Universal does make a move, it strikes gold.

Related: Super NintendoWorld Avoids Disney’s Mistake

Super Nintendo World takes guests inside the world of everyone’s favorite plumber and does what it does best: world-building. Guests enter the land through a warp pipe like Mario travels through in the game. Once inside, visitors find themselves immersed in a real-life version of the game with interactive elements around every corner. True to Universal’s style, the theming never breaks in the land. This certainly played a big part in the theme park division’s growth. 

Disney shooting range

Credit: Disney

Related: Fans Are Abandoning Disney for a Surprising Location  (No, not Universal)

It can’t go without saying, though, that many families have left Disney for Universal. Disney’s outspoken involvement in politics has caused many families to look elsewhere for vacation. A large majority of those families have switched to Universal. It’s the same caliber theme park in the same locations for roughly the same pricing (Universal is a bit cheaper), so it makes a great substitute. This probably accounts for at least some of Disney’s decline and Universal’s growth. 

Related: Cheerleading Team Bullied Online After EPCOT Fountain Video

About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.