As Disney Struggles, Universal Theme Parks Thrive

Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal

In 2020, theme parks around the world were hit with a devastating blow when they were forced to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the closure, Walt Disney World still managed to top all others, with 7 million people visiting Magic Kingdom Park alone before the closures. However, the theme park giant has been struggling lately, with many Guests divided on how they feel about CEO Bob Chapek and the mixed feelings about the introduction of Disney Genie and Genie+.

Credit: Disney

While Disney may be dealing with more unhappy Guests than they have in the past, one of their main competitors — Universal Studios — is thriving. In fact, Universal theme parks saw their highest profitability since early 2020, before the shutdown. Due to the fact that it was able to open months before its sister theme parks, Universal Orlando Resort drove Universal’s high numbers and profitability.

Universal Orlando

Credit: Universal

When it comes to Florida theme parks and the competition between Disney and Universal, Disney has traditionally been at the top, with Universal seeming like the younger sibling following in Disney’s shadow. However, that has changed since COVID. Universal has really been leading the way when it comes to reopening — it opened one month before Walt Disney World — as well as leading in increasing capacity and easing health and safety restrictions, such as mask mandates.

Credit: DisneyDining

All of these changes and capacity increases lead to Universal theme parks seeing a staggering 118% increase in profitability. Reporter Ashley released the numbers that were reported during a Comcast — who owns Universal — earnings call.

Comcast Q3 earnings report is out, and the company’s theme parks division continues to show recovery: “Theme Parks delivered its most profitable quarter since the first quarter of 2020, driven by Universal Orlando…”

While Universal saw the biggest increase in crowds and profitability, Disney is not being left in the dust. The House of Mouse theme parks are still seeing a profit since losing billions of dollars during the shutdown and the company reported that crowds had bounced back to about 85% of pre-COVID levels at Disneyland Resort in Southern California. Disney World had seen a slow down in attendance, but that is now is now a thing of the past — most likely due to the Florida Resort kicking off its 50th anniversary celebration on October 1.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!