Despite the new attractions and adventurous rides that have recently been added to central Florida’s theme parks, the parks haven’t been immune to the damaging effects of the international recession. A perfect example is Universal Studios in Orlando, which recently released its first quarter reports. The report revealed more discouraging news in and a recurring theme from the past two years: profits were dramatically down. According to the report, profits at Universal Studios Orlando saw a 44 percent decrease from this time last year. 2009 first quarter earnings were $34 million and 2010 has only brought in $19 million.
While much of the blame can fall on slumping tourism dollars, other contributing factors may include the heavy amount of marketing and advertising dollars the resort is leveraging to promote one of the most widely anticipated theme park additions across the world: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For months, Universal Studios has been leaking clips of videos and hints about the Island themed around the bestselling Harry Potter books penned by J.K. Rowling.
Officials are hoping to see an increase in attendance and profits with the opening of the new attraction on June 18.
According to reports from the Orlando Sentinel, attendance was down 10% at Universal’s two theme parks during the first quarter of 2010.
Universal Orlando spent $3 million to advertise the Harry Potter Island in a Super Bowl commercial. In a written statement, Universal Studios President Bill Davis said:
“We are excited about the June 18 grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and what it will mean for our guests and our business. We continue to look to the future and manage our business aggressively.”
The contrast with last year was especially sharp because Universal in 2009 cut deeply into its marketing budget as it sought to reduce costs during the global recession.