Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will make its debut at Universal Studios Florida come 2017, replacing the outdated Twister attraction.
Comcast's theme parks were already having a good week. The leading Internet and cable television provider reported a 14% year-over-year increase in revenue for its theme parks. Disney doesn't report until Thursday, but revenue for its theme-parks segment has risen just 6% through the first nine months of fiscal 2015. That's not likely to snap out of the single digits anytime soon.
Comcast's been posting consistent double-digit growth since it expanded its Harry Potter themed lands to both Universal Orlando theme parks last summer, but it's also been ramping up the resort to keep its growing guest counts entertained.
Universal Orlando is getting a new King Kong ride, a hotel, and a water park next year. Now we know that 2017 additions include a Fast & Furious ride as well as the freshly announced Fallon attraction.
Despite having twice as many theme parks and far more land at its disposal in Florida, Disney isn't matching Comcast's enthusiasm. Outside of a Frozen-themed boat ride, a global update to its Soarin' attraction, and a delayed Avatar project that should finally open in 2017, there won't be as much to see at Disney in the next two years. Pixar Land and Star Wars Land will be game changers for Disney's Hollywood Studios, its least visited park, but if Disney isn't willing to commit to a date for either project, you know they're several years away from entertaining guests.
Along the way we're also seeing Comcast act smarter. Let's take its newly announced attraction. Why is Fallon getting the theme-park treatment? Well, he's The Tonight Show's host on NBC, a media network that Comcast conveniently owns.
Disney's been doing this for decades, digging into its bag of properties to dream up proprietary attractions. Universal has done this to some extent, but it's not the owner of the Potter and Marvel franchises that make up some of the resort's most popular rides.
Opening a ride themed to Fallon is risky, of course. Who knows what the climate of late-night television will be in two years? Who knows where Fallon will be within the rapidly evolving scene? Viewers can be fickle. However, it's hard to argue against anything that Comcast has done since taking over the Universal theme parks that were part of its NBC Universal investment. It's moving quickly to try to close the gap with Disney, and if Mickey Mouse isn't careful it just might get there.