There's a lot going on at the central Florida tourist destinations run by Walt Disney and SeaWorld Entertainment these days. Both theme park operators opened roller coasters this year. They will be back early next year with shiny new scream machines.

A few miles away from Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando, Comcast's (CMCSA -0.73%) Universal Orlando has had a quiet 2022. It has fewer attractions open now than it did when the year began. There have been no major additions since the popular Jurassic World-themed VelociCoaster opened more than 18 months ago. 

Comcast recently announced a new ride -- more of an attraction, really -- that will open next summer. It's not phoning it in. However, most of the work taking place at Universal Orlando these days is the heavy construction activity taking place off-site where the ambitious Epic Universe will open in 2025. The new park will raise the bar, but a lot can happen in the next three years. 

The Grinch in Santa Claus clothing at Universal Orlando.

Image source: Comcast.

Minions everywhere 

When Universal Orlando closed Shrek 4D in January it dropped several hints that it would be replaced by a new experience themed to the Minions franchise that was birthed from the Despicable Me animated feature. A few months later it would gut the adjacent Classic Monsters Cafe restaurant, leading to speculation that a Minions-themed restaurant was on the way.

Everything became official last week. Comcast announced that Illumination's Villain-Con Minion Blast will be entertaining visitors at Universal Studios Florida next summer. Guests will be given interactive blasters, step onto a moving walkway, and aim at targets in what will likely be an expo center floor loaded with baddies from the Minions movies. The eatery that once celebrated Universal's iconic monsters will be refashioned as the Minion Cafe. The new additions will be right across from the long-running Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction, so the entire section of the park will be rebranded as Minion Land on Illumination Ave. 

Universal Orlando's original park can use something new. Capacity is an issue after the closure of Shrek 4D and the Classic Monsters Cafe. Adding insult to injury, the park closed its Revenge of the Mummy indoor coaster in January for a refurbishment that was supposed to reopen over the summer. It didn't begin thrilling riders again until the fall, and even now it still hasn't officially opened. It's operating as a technical rehearsal, a term indicating that it's running on a limited and unscheduled basis. 

Thankfully for Comcast shareholders the lack of major attractions hasn't kept the turnstiles from clicking. Revenue surged 42% for Universal's theme parks segment for the summertime quarter ending in September. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) soared 89% to blast through record pre-pandemic levels. 

Disney, Comcast, and SeaWorld Entertainment have been faring well in this challenging climate. Guests haven't flinched at price increases to help offset the rising input costs. For Disney and Comcast -- media companies where gated attractions are just one part of a larger entertainment mosaic -- strength at their parks has helped ease the sting of slowdowns elsewhere. SeaWorld attracts fewer guests to its parks on average, but as a pure play in this niche it's a major beneficiary when Disney and Comcast woo global visitors to central Florida and southern California. 

Comcast will need more than a high-tech shooting gallery on a motion-based pathway to keep guests entertained until 2025. It will also need new brains. Industry watcher The Wrap is reporting that several high-level executives responsible for Universal's theme park attractions have taken up the media giant on early retirement plans. The stakes are getting higher as "minions" take over in more ways than one.