Friday, June 17, 2011

The 2010 Theme Park Attendance Results

Due to my love for the theme park numbers and competition that follows (and my inability to be patient), I e-mailed the TEA and asked for their 2010 attendance report, since they usually release it in April/May and it had mysteriously not come out yet. What can I say? I love numbers and wanted to see how much of a punch Harry Potter delivered. Without explanation, they kindly e-mailed back and told me they would send the report as soon as it was ready. Surprisingly, they actually stayed true to their word and in the nicest manner sent me a rough draft of the report. So now, without further interruption, I am going to present the 15 most-visited theme parks around the world.

Here are the 2009 Numbers

Once again, a million thanks to the TEA.

The percentages indicate the change in attendance between 2009 and 2010.

#1: Magic Kingdom

#2: Disneyland

#3: Tokyo Disneyland

#4: Tokyo DisneySea

#5: Epcot

#6: Disneyland Paris

#7: Animal Kingdom

#8: Hollywood Studios

#9: Universal Studios Japan

#10: Everland

#11: California Adventure

#12: Islands of Adventure

#13: Universal Studios Florida

#14: Lotte World

#15: Hong Kong Disneyland
A few things stood out as I saw this report. Mainly, the power of Harry Potter. Islands of Adventure’s attendance exploded by over 30% in a struggling American economy. And this comes as a major surprise seeing that nearly every Disney park in the Central Florida area dropped heavily in attendance. To add to that, Sea World in Orlando dropped over 10%, and after one year as the top non-Disney park, slipped from #12 to #16. Very shocking and sadening fall, since its been improving a bit in recent years---AND they got rid of that awful Believe show.

To add to the numbers falling, all the water park attendance dropped in Central Florida, especially Aquatica and Wet n' Wild. And adding to this news from the TEA, the attendance of the first quarter of 2011 in Harry Potter Lan--er, Islands of Adventure had gone up over 80%. Should Disney be sweating? Not now, but in the future if those numbers still linger they may have to pull a few trump cards. Even the dated and mediocre Universal Studios went up heavily as a result of the younger brother raking in the millions.

Hollywood Studios is now the least-attended Disney park, losing to Animal Kingdom. While Everest, the Nemo show, and our reviving love towards animals boosted the park to recover after a sluggish start; Hollywood on the other hand has struggled to bring in the numbers even after Toy Story and American Idol. And after experiencing Star Tours II open up Star Wars Weekends, it looks like the muggy streak may not end. The park really hasn't gotten much of a boost with the release of the revival. Perhaps limiting Fantasmic to a few nights is starting to take effect. And perhaps the dying appeal of American Idol, their attempted new flagship attraction, also had an effect.

Magic Kingdom is once again the top banana, but the lead over Disneyland is swindling. And with the Fantasyland expansion not arriving until.....well, we don't know, and with the other parks not providing enough incentive to make you vacation there, can Disneyland claim the top spot of 2011? Or could it be one of the parks in Japan? Both Disney parks in Japan, despite being far behind, went up over 5% last year. And with American tourism still low and Asian attendance remaining high, we might see a foreign winner in the future. I lie, its hard to bring down Magic Kingdom, and unless they screw up the marketing for the new Fantasyland (Like they have for....everything in Hollywood Studios), Magic Kingdom's throne should be safe for a while.

Only two parks in the top 15 are not Universal or Disney, with Disney once again occupying the top 8 parks in the world, and the top 6 in the United States. Everland once again is the top park not from the theme park industry giants as it consistently rakes in at least 8 million visitors in a country that doesn't have a strong tourist economy when compared to the other competitors. With an 11.6% boost, its another example of the Asian theme park economy not being affected by the small American slump.

Bottom Line: The top 10 remains dominated by Disney, even though Epcot and Animal Kingdom moved up a notch or two while Disneyland Paris and Hollywood Studios dropped. Harry Potter is sending Universal Studios to numbers it couldn't dream, as now they overtook Sea World Orlando and became the top non-Disney parks in North America--and are even creeping into the top 10 as Harry Potter Mania continues to overwhelm and meet the customer demand. While Disney shouldn't have to look in the rearview mirror anytime soon, I am sure they'll have to check the gas and see what they can deliver in the tank. Only time will tell if this new controversial Fantasyland expansion can actually deliver the phenomenal boost that Universal has been receiving from the famed wizard.

Only time will tell if Harry Potter is the next Star Wars, or the next Lord of the Rings--an epic that ran its course and doesn't quite have the lasting power of the most potent franchises. As for the overseas markets, they are definitely improving a bit, with Japan being the outstanding example and rising global leader China not being too far behind.

In the meantime, congrats to Disney for being #1...and #2...and #3....but don't slack off too much now, because Universal is back with a vengeance.

A million thanks to the TEA for making this possible.

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