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In this Monday, Aug. 5, 2019 photo, guests cool off under a water mist at the globe at Universal Studios City Walk at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando.
In this Monday, Aug. 5, 2019 photo, guests cool off under a water mist at the globe at Universal Studios City Walk at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando. (John Raoux/AP)

Universal is betting Nintendo will be “the next big thing on the horizon” at its new theme park in Orlando and elsewhere just like Harry Potter was, the company said Thursday, confirming the video game company’s characters are coming to its third Florida park.

The war between Universal and Disney escalated Thursday after Universal announced it will build a new theme park called Epic Universe.

“Based on our research, (Nintendo) is one of the biggest potential drivers of attendance that you could have of any intellectual property," said NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke during a Comcast fourth-quarter earnings call. “It’s up there with Harry Potter. ... Nintendo is very rarefied air.”

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Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is building Super Nintendo World in Japan that’s set to open this summer, but the brand will also be coming to Universal parks in California and the third gate under construction in Orlando that opens 2023, the company said Thursday.

Burke called the Japanese park “spectacular from a creative standpoint. It’s really unbelievable.”

Last week, the company showcased new smart wristbands that will let Japan park-goers interact with Super Nintendo World and get digital coins, similar to playing a video game.

Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings showed theme park’s revenue jumped 3% to $1.6 billion compared to the same time period in 2018. Comcast’s fourth-quarter revenue of $28.4 billion beat the Wall Street estimates, Reuters reported.

The theme parks business will keep being a moneymaker, Burke said.

“We still don’t have the share that I think we deserve given the quality of the experience we’re giving our guests,” Burke said, adding he sees opportunities to grow the parks business over the next five to 20 years.

Universal is building its third theme park gate, Epic Universe, in the shadow of the Orange County Convention Center. Executives have said their plan includes not just rides but also hotels, shopping and restaurants.

“We are going to make the largest investment we’ve ever made in a park,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts during a press conference in Orlando last year.

Epic Universe will join Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, further intensifying the competition between Walt Disney World, theme park analysts have said.

“It’s a boxing match,” theme park analyst Dennis Speigel told the Sentinel last year.

Got a news tip? [email protected] or 407-420-5470; Twitter, @GabrielleRusson

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