Halloween has come and gone, but don't tell Comcast's (CMCSA) Universal Orlando that the festively frightful holiday is over. Halloween Horror Nights is still going on, a big moneymaker for the theme park operator as it's a separately ticketed nighttime event that kicks off after the day guests have moved on. The hard-ticket event runs through tonight.
Universal Orlando has been hosting Halloween Horror Nights for 28 years, but the Florida theme park resort is raising the stakes this year with a record 10 haunted houses for brave guests to walk through. The big star this year is a house themed to Netflix's (NFLX) smash hit Stranger Things, and Universal is making sure that it can milk that association just a little bit longer. Comcast announced this week that it will open the Stranger Things attraction one more day -- on Tuesday -- for its day guests.
The Stranger Things house will open from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. for guests attending Universal Studios Florida. It's the first time that Comcast has run a Halloween Horror Nights maze during the day. Stranger Things Day as it's being called could be the start of an interesting experiment that can pay off nicely in the coming years.
The Upside Down
Comcast and Netflix have been bitter foes in the past. Comcast and its fellow cable and satellite television providers see Netflix as the poster child of the cord-cutting revolution that's making folks kiss their fat pay TV bills goodbye. Cord-cutters still need connectivity -- and Comcast's Xfinity is a major player on that front -- but Netflix has butted heads with Comcast in the past, calling it out for weak connectivity on Netflix streams.
Comcast and Netflix coming together this season for Halloween Horror Nights is an odd pairing of corporate partners, but it's a win-win situation. The Stranger Things attraction has routinely had the longest lines of any of the Halloween Horror Nights scare mazes, and it's the clear headliner in the event's marketing materials. Netflix is benefiting from brand awareness, drumming up interest as it keeps fans engaged between the second and third seasons.
Stranger Things Day extends the mutually beneficial relations one more day, but this opens up some long-term possibilities for Comcast in Florida. Halloween Horror Nights has built a growing cult audience over the years, and a common request is to offer a year-round walkthrough attraction. Is Tuesday a trial balloon on that front? More to the point, is Universal Orlando testing the possibility of a daytime scare maze for the one or two parks that it will inevitability open on the more than 540 acres that it's developing for future attractions?
Comcast's theme parks have been a bright spot in its operations, but the segment had a rare year-over-year decline during the seasonally potent summer quarter this year. Comcast can't play it safe. It needs to take chances, and that's just what Stranger Things Day may be attempting as it may be more than just a single day in the future. Stranger Things, indeed.