Comcast (CMCSA -3.41%) keeps ramping up its efforts to pack more overnight guests into its Universal Orlando theme park resort. Comcast is introducing Universal's Aventura Hotel today, and when it begins receiving guests in the summer of 2018, it will be Universal Orlando's sixth hotel.
The news of the 16-floor hotel tower isn't really a surprise. Universal Orlando filed plans with the county this summer, labeling the 600-room going up on six acres adjacent to the Sapphire Falls that opened in July and the Volcano Bay water park that will debut next summer as Aventura.
There seems to be plenty of construction work to be had at the Central Florida resort these days. Universal Orland's first step into building out its resort happened between 1999 and 2001 when it opened the Islands of Adventure theme park and the first three hotels. They were high-end Loews-managed properties, totaling 2400 rooms. These next three hotels -- from Cabana Bay Beach Resort in 2014 to Sapphire Falls this summer to Aventura in two years -- will bring the room total up to 6,200.
Trying to catch a mouse
Comcast will still be a far cry from Disney's (DIS -1.33%) rival resort. There are now more than 30,000 rooms available at Disney World. However, just as Disney realized a long time ago that keeping folks as overnight guests makes them more likely to spend their entire vacation on the resort, Universal Orlando realizes that filling up rooms will help fill its theme parks.
Comcast doesn't need a lot of help with drawing guests. It's been trouncing its larger peer since the 2010 opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure.
|Park||2009 Attendance||2015 Attendance||Change|
|Universal Studios Florida||5,530,000||9,585,000||73.3%|
|Islands of Adventure||4,627,000||8,792,000||90%|
Universal Orlando may be closing the gap, but it has a long way to go. More hotels and the introduction of its first on-site water park next summer will help make it more of a one-stop destination.
Aventura will join Cabana Bay and Sapphire Falls as its value-priced offerings. They won't offer complimentary access to the Universal Express expedited ride queues that guests at the first three hotels receive, but the three newer properties do offer early entry to at least one of the parks every day.
This doesn't mean that Aventura will seem like the cheap properties that can be found in abundance through Orlando and neighboring Kissimmee. All of the rooms will feature floor-to-ceiling windows. This will also be the the resort's first property with a rooftop bar. More importantly, for Comcast investor purposes, it will keep another 600 guests on its turf and away from Disney or any other third-party hotelier. Theme parks have become a real estate game, and Comcast isn't afraid to play.