ORLANDO, Fla. — Despite the continuing pandemic, Universal's theme park executives are optimistic, saying the division is starting to show signs of rebounding.

What You Need To Know

  • Earnings report: Universal theme parks revenue down 81% in 3rd quarter

  • Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Japan still operating in limited capacity

  • Executives say they are seeing improving trends, could break even in 2021

Comcast, which is the parent company of Universal Parks & Resorts, released its third quarter earnings report for the three months ending on September 30, giving a glimpse at how the parks are faring since reopening with limited capacity and enhanced health safety protocols.

Revenue for the theme parks fell 81% in the quarter to $311 million, according to the report. 

In an investors call, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said theme parks have seen the most pressure from COVID-19. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Japan, which reopened in June, are still operating in a limited capacity, which is one of the main reasons for the revenue decline, the company said.

Universal Studios Hollywood in California, meanwhile, remains closed as a result of state restrictions. Roberts said the company doesn’t know when the park will reopen.

Despite the theme park industry taking a beating during the pandemic, Universal's parks are rebounding in places where they are open, such as Florida and Japan, and attendance has been growing, according to executives.

Regardless of what happens with Universal Studios Hollywood's reopening timeline, executives said the company's theme park business could break even sometime in 2021.

The results come during what would typically be a very busy time for Universal Orlando, which canceled this year's edition of its popular Halloween Horror Nights event.

Last year, when the Halloween season was underway, Universal parks brought in $1.6 billion in revenue during the third quarter. Without its big after-hours event this year, Universal instead offered modified Halloween experiences and opened two haunted houses to daytime visitors at Universal Studios Florida. 

The limited capacity and slow recovery also has led Universal to lay off an undisclosed number of workers in Orlando in recent months, and extend the furloughs for thousands of others. Several attractions such at Fast & Furious — Supercharged were temporarily closed as the resort made operational changes. 

Universal's Volcano Bay water park will undergo a "seasonal closure" on November 2, with plans to reopen on or before March 1. 

Universal Orlando's Epic Universe theme park, on which construction was paused earlier this year because of what executives said was uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, was not mentioned during the investors call Thursday. The park was initially on track to open sometime in 2023.