by Sara Warden
2 min read AUGUST 2019 – The theme park industry in Orlando is about to get an Epic addition. Comcast NBCUniversal, parent company of Universal Studios, announced a fourth theme park to add to its Orlando portfolio. Although it is keeping its cards close to its chest, the company has made no secret of the significant economic opportunities Epic Universe will open up for the entire state of Florida.
“Our new park represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Universal’s parent company Comcast Corporation. “It reflects the tremendous excitement we have for the future of our theme park business and for our entire company’s future in Florida.”
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, for every $1 spent on travel and tourism, $3.2 are returned to the economy. An economic impact study for Universal conducted by UCF economics professor Sean Snaith found that construction of the new park alone will inject around $11.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit into the Florida economy.
In particular, Universal will fund 50% of the Kirkman Road extension, which will allow access to the area where the new park will be located. “The Kirkman extension will improve transportation through a busy and growing portion of our county and open up the entire area for additional development, including an important expansion of our Convention Center,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
According to research by WeSwap, the average daily spend by real travellers in Orlando comes in at around $144 per day, with $52 spent on eating out, $66 on entertainment, $27 on transport and $43 on shopping.
Although no concrete details have been announced on capacity, the new park will be built on a 750-acre site. As of July 2019, the current Universal theme park covered 840 acres, meaning this new development has the potential to almost double the theme park’s current 75-million capacity.
Taking just a conservative estimate of an additional 25 million visitors per year, that’s still a whopping $3.6 billion in income for the park. According to Universal, it contributes more than $302 million in annual state and local taxes, a number that will nearly double when the new theme park opens.
Universal Orlando’s combined direct and indirect economic benefit to the Florida economy since Universal Studios opened in 1990 is $73 billion, and the industry continues to grow. In 2018, the theme park segment of Comcast’s balance sheet came in at $5.7 billion, up 4.4% on 2017.
The direct investment being made by Universal is substantial in itself, but the knock-on effects for the economy are undeniable. The new theme park will increase the 25,000-strong staff at the theme park by another 14,000, significantly boosting quality of life and opportunities in the area and allowing the region to flourish.
“The investment Universal is making in our community and the benefit all of us will see is substantial,” said Demings. “This will benefit nearly every segment of our economy, from tourism to high-tech.”