Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Comcast Is Doing What Disney Can't This Week

By Rick Munarriz - Apr 5, 2017 at 3:13PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Comcast's Universal Orlando's new "Tonight Show"-themed attraction is open for technical rehearsal, and it's a bigger deal than you probably think.

A new ride officially opens tomorrow at Comcast's (CMCSA 1.18%) Universal Studios Florida, and Comcast is making sure that everyone knows about the the Tonight Show-themed attraction. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is being heavily promoted through Comcast's NBC, and understandably so since it's the network behind the iconic Tonight Show

Fallon has been filming his show from Orlando all week, playing up the new ride that simulates a race through New York City and beyond. The ride has been open to guests on a limited basis for more than a month through technical rehearsals, but Thursday will be the attraction's official debut with Fallon on hand to kick off the festivities.  

Jimmy Fallon outside of his new ride at Universal Studios Florida.

Image source: Universal Orlando.  

It's time to race

Comcast's Universal Orlando resort has been closing the attendance gap with Disney's (DIS 3.69%) much larger resort in Florida in recent years. Universal Orlando's least visited theme park attracted 2.04 million fewer guests than Disney World's least visited park in 2015, according to industry tracker Themed Entertainment Association. Six years earlier, the deficit was a whopping 4.76 million. The 2009 arrival of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an ambitious 2014 expansion of the Potter universe so it spans both parks connected by the iconic Hogwarts Express train, and a massive push to build out on-site hotels have helped Comcast catch up to Mickey Mouse.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon won't be the biggest new thing coming to Orlando this year. Disney's Pandora -- The World of Avatar and Comcast's own Volcano Bay waterpark open next month, and both of those projects are larger and costlier than this week's debutante. However, Comcast has a leg up on Disney when it comes to promoting the Tonight Show-themed ride in that it owns the property, a rare role reversal in this battle for tourism dollars.

Comcast isn't afraid to reach out of its portfolio for hit franchises that it can transform into theme park attractions, and Harry Potter is the best example. Disney, on the other hand, rarely delves outside of its owned properties, and the few times that it has gone this route -- Star Wars, The Muppets, Indiana Jones -- it has eventually acquired the intellectual property outright. Disney doesn't have the same luxury this time around. It's at the mercy of James Cameron and a rival movie studio to breathe new life into the franchise. 

It was easy to question Comcast's decision when it announced a Fallon ride would be coming to the park, but this week we're seeing the advantages of a home-grown franchise and the ease to promote it seamlessly. Disney is going to generate plenty of buzz for Pandora next month, but it's going to be harder to promote it on ABC, Disney Channel, and other properties without coming off as a hard sales job. Well played, Comcast.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$97.78 (3.69%) $3.48
Comcast Corporation Stock Quote
Comcast Corporation
$39.57 (1.18%) $0.46

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/25/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.