Just a few weeks ago Comcast executives confirmed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, all construction on Universal's Epic Universe has been paused, and the target opening date had been moved. The new Universal Orlando Resort expansion was originally set to open in 2023, and while Comcast CEO Brian Roberts did not say specifically how much delaying construction would impact the project’s overall timeline during the phone call, Orange County mayor Jerry Demings said in a separate meeting that he had spoken to Universal officials and was told that the project has been delayed by a year, making a 2024 theme park opening the new target.
However, as the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic continue to be felt around the world, it looks like Universal has taken more drastic measures regarding the future of this much-anticipated expansion to Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal's Epic Universe delayed until further notice
Though we were originally looking at a delay of a year or so while construction was shut down during the current pandemic, the expectation was that, as soon as it was safe to do so, construction crews would return to work on this massive project. However, the Orlando Sentinel reports that construction on Universal's Epic Universe will not resume until the US economy is in better shape, which could be several years away.
Comcast Chief Financial Officer Mike Cavanagh said during a virtual interview at the J.P. Morgan Investor Conference that “All things considered, it’s a big capital swing, so better to really march forward with that when we have just a bit more visibility on what’s going on with the economy post-COVID,” and declined to offer any kind of target for the project resuming, saying “I can’t tell you when that’s going to be when we revisit it.”
Could we be looking at a cancellation of this project?
Because construction was in early phases and not gone vertical yet, many are wondering if this indefinite postponement could lead to an eventual cancellation of this project. However, when asked about this possibility, Cavanagh stressed Universal is delaying the project, not rethinking whether to do it at all, saying that the company's “confidence is high".
Of course, even though Universal still says that it wants to press on with Universal's Epic Universe, anything can happen in the future, and if the US economy continues to suffer and travel remains depressed for the next few years, development on such a massive project may prove to be cost prohibited and Universal's Epic Universe could end up next to WESTCOT, Disney's America, and all the other parks that were planned, but never became a reality.