Harry Potter has elevated Universal Orlando to yet another new height: The most expensive theme park in the land.
Universal has raised the price of an adult one-day, one-park ticket to $88 — $3 more than the equivalent ticket to Walt Disney World theme parks. It's also $1 more than the basic price to a theme park at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
The 3.5 percent increase was part of a series of price increases the resort enacted last week, as Universal continues to ride momentum generated by the $265 million Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened two years ago in its Islands of Adventure theme park.
"Our pricing reflects the high-quality entertainment experience we offer, while still providing great value," Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said Monday.
Orlando's theme-park resorts historically have raised prices almost in lock step with one another. But Universal had in recent years typically not acted until its larger rival, Disney World, moved first. When Universal raised its base price to $85 last year, it did so only about a week after Disney went to $85.
Most of Universal's other ticket prices also rose last week. The price of a one-day, two-park ticket — allowing access to both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida — also jumped $3, from $120 to $123.
Multiday passes rose by slightly smaller margins: A two-day, single-park pass, for instance, climbed from $135.99 to $139.99, an increase of 2.9 percent.
The price of a two-day, two-park pass rose from $155.99 to $159.99, up 2.6 percent. A three-day, two-park pass inched up from $170.99 to $172.99, up 1.2 percent. And a four-day, two-park pass climbed from $175.99 to $179.99, up 2.3 percent.
The price of Universal's most expensive ticket option — a pass offering unlimited admission to its parks, including the Wet 'n Wild water park, over 14 days — rose from $194.99 to $199.99, up 2.6 percent.
The prices of three- and four-day single-park passes remain unchanged — at $155.99 to $165.99 — suggesting that interest in those ticket options hasn't been as strong as others.
All prices reflect base gate prices, though various discounts are available. For instance, all tickets — excluding single-day passes — are $20 cheaper when purchased online. Discounts are also available for Florida residents and children.
Universal also opted — for at least the second year in a row — to leave unchanged the prices of Florida resident tickets when purchased online.
"Our multi-day tickets are popular, and we always work to provide value where our guests want it most," Schroder said. "That's why our Florida-resident online pricing and three-day and four-day base ticket pricing remains unchanged."
Nearly two years after opening the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando is still riding the boy wizard's broom.
Comcast Corp., the parent company of Universal Orlando, said Wednesday that its theme parks continued to post "reliable growth" during the first quarter of 2012. And, as they have every quarter for the past two years, executives credited the gains to the popularity of Wizarding World, as well as a 2-year-old King Kong attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood in California.
"We … continue to be very bullish about Orlando, where you've got Harry Potter over a year old and doing great," Steve Burke, chief executive officer of Comcast's NBCUniversal media unit, said during a conference call with investment analysts.
Revenue from the NBCUniversal theme parks — which also includes licensing fees from overseas parks in Japan and Singapore — rose 5.7 percent for the quarter to $412 million compared with a year earlier.
Operating costs were essentially the same as a year ago at $255 million for the quarter.
Operating cash flow for the parks unit, a measure of profitability, jumped 17.1 percent to $157 million.
Comcast said the gains were driven primarily by higher per-capita spending, which includes both ticket prices and spending on food and souvenirs.
"We continue to have healthy attendance in both Orlando and Hollywood, as both parks benefit from strong growth in international visitors," Comcast Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis added during the conference call.
Universal Orlando no longer reports precise attendance figures, now that it is wholly owned by NBCUniversal, which last year bought out a stake in the resort held by the private-equity firm Blackstone Group.
Theme parks are the smallest of four principal segments at NBCUniversal, alongside cable networks, broadcast television and films. Overall revenue of the media-and-entertainment conglomerate rose 18 percent for the quarter to just under $5.5 billion. Operating cash flow jumped 34 percent to $813 million.
Universal Orlando has also sent us a press release announcing the opening of sales for tickets to this year's Rock the Universe event.
Tickets are now available for Rock the Universe 2012 – Florida’s biggest Christian music festival – happening Sept. 7 and 8 at Universal Orlando Resort.
Guests can rock out the entire weekend with the “Rock Your Weekend” ticket, which includes admission to both nights of the event and three days admission to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This ticket will only be available through Aug. 31, 2012 and will not be sold at the park entrance.
This year’s line-up features some of the most popular names in Christian rock. More than a dozen hit bands will take the stage, including Skillet – awarded a Billboard Music Award for “Top Christian Album” in 2011; four-time Grammy-nominated band Newsboys; rock group Switchfoot, which has sold millions of albums worldwide; and three-time Dove award winner Jeremy Camp. The full line-up is below.
Guests will also enjoy an exciting Fan Zone presented by Coca-Cola including live music by Everfound, Group 1 Crew, Jason Castro and We As Human, autograph sessions with the bands, karaoke and band merchandise. Guests will also experience a Saturday night candle lighting service featuring Tenth Avenue North.
Plus, guests will enjoy the thrilling attractions only found at Universal Studios Florida. They can rock out to their favorite Christian artists at 65 mph on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, laugh along with America’s favorite animated family on The Simpsons Ride and speed through the darkness on the world’s first psychological thrill ride – Revenge of the Mummy.
For more details about Rock the Universe 2012, visit http://www.RocktheUniverse.com
or call 1-866-RTU-INFO (1-866-788-4636).
On another note, Annual Passholders for Universal Orlando should keep an eye on the following website for upcoming information regarding pass holder previews for Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.http://www.universalorlandoresort.com/APminion/