Financial Woes? Not Anymore for Universal Orlando.

Universal Studios is reporting a record-breaking year for sales, thanks in part to a certain teen-age wizard.

ORLANDO — During the first three months of 2011 alone, attendance at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure has magically been boosted more than 68 percent. It’s no secret that this dramatic increase in attendance rates is due mostly to the continued success of Islands of Adventure’s newest attraction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Since opening day on June 20 last year, Universal has experienced record increases in ticket sales, food and beverage purchases, merchandise buys, and overall revenue.
Combined attendance between both Universal parks rose by 1.1 million visitors for the January through March quarter; that’s up from 1.7 million a year earlier. When calculated into actual ticket sales, this number reaches a staggering $159.3 million.
Food and beverage sales for the first quarter, which include the ever-popular Harry Potter themed beverages of Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice among other wizardly treats, jumped up 104 percent.
And merchandise sales skyrocketed to 156 percent, proving that muggles are more than willing to purchase themselves a wand or two from Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
Universal annual pass holder Lyndsey Stermer says she isn’t exactly shocked over Wizarding World’s financial success.
“Harry potter fans are crazy and they’re willing to spend money on anything Harry Potter-related,” she said. Like many other Floridians, Stermer purchased her annual pass at a special discounted Florida resident rate offered in conjunction with the opening of the Harry Potter themed attraction.
This turnaround in revenue comes just as executives at Comcast Corporation are in the process of negotiating a possible purchase of the Universal Orlando resort. Earlier this year, Comcast acquired Universal co-owner NBC/Universal and must now decide whether to buy the other half of the resort from private-equity firm Blackstone Group.
But with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter fueling a dramatic financial rebound for the parks, it seems that Universal may be able to retain its current ownership after all.
Universal Orlando President Bill Davis is thrilled about this new direction the parks are taking, and issued a statement noting, “We are very happy with how our year has started, and we are going to work to maintain that momentum as we move forward.”

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