Thanks to the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) we have our 10th year of accurate theme park growth trends and analysis. The latest report covers the theme park industry in 2015 including estimated attendance figures for the top parks. Estimated since most theme parks don’t report their attendance numbers publicly.
Top theme park and amusement groups around the world
- Walt Disney Attractions* – 138M, 2.7% growth
- Merlin Entertainment Group – 63M, 0.2% growth
- Universal Parks & Resorts – 49M, 11.8% growth
- OCT Parks China – 30M, 7.8% growth
- Six Flags – 29M, 11.4% growth
- Cedar Fair – 24M, 4.9% growth
- Chimelong Group – 24M, 26.4% growth
- Fantawild (New) – 23M
- SeaWorld – 22M, 0.3% growth
- Songcheng – 22M
*It’s interesting to note that Disney reported a slight decline in its overall attendance for 2015, but TEA has them growing. It’s also a bit of a misnomer to have Merlin Entertainments on the list. Why they do have some theme park and amusement park properties (LEGOLAND comes to mind), they also include a lot of exhibits and museums in that count.
Disney still has a commanding lead. Even nearly 12% growth from Universal still leaves them at just a third of Disney’s reach. Still those guests have to come from somewhere and those include Disney customers. What’s really sad is SeaWorld’s number. Without Aquatica in Texas, you have to wonder if they would have grown at all.
When it comes to individual parks, there are some interesting changes too. The Magic Kingdom remained at the top with 20.5M visitors, at 6.0% growth over 2014. Disneyland grew even more (9.0%) and reclaimed the #2 spot on the list with 18.3M guests as opposed to Tokyo Disneyland which fell to third place and actually saw a decrease in attendance of -4.0% to 16.6M. Disney had also better keep an eye on Universal Studios Japan, it grew 17.8% last year (in large part due to Harry Potter) and past Tokyo Disney Sea, which shrank by -3.5% and had 13.6M guests, for 4th place.
Top Theme Parks Worldwide:
- Magic Kingdom – 20.5M visitors, 6.0% growth
- Disneyland – 18.3M, 9.0% growth
- Tokyo Disneyland – 16.6M, -4.0% growth
- Universal Studios Japan – 13.9M, 17.8% growth
- Tokyo Disney Sea – 13.6M, -3.5%
- EPCOT – 11.8M, 3.0% growth
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 10.9M, 5.0%
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 10.8M, 5.0%
- Disneyland Park, Paris – 10.4M, 4.2%
- Universal Studios (Orlando) – 9.5M, 16.0%
- Disney’s California Adventure – 9.4M, 7.0%
- Islands of Adventure – 8.8M, 8.0% growth
18. Universal Studios Hollywood – 7.1M, 4.0% growth
19. Hong Kong Disneyland – 6.8M, -9.3%
22. SeaWorld, FL – 4.8M, 2.0% growth
Alarm bells should be going off for Hong Kong Disneyland. You don’t drop nearly 10% in a year unless something is wrong. Is the unrest in Hong Kong really impacting the numbers that much or is it symbolic of a general weakness in China’s tourism market. That might signal bad things for Shanghai Disneyland too. SeaWorld had better make some improvements if it wants to stay on the list. With only one of its three parks in the top 25, and anemic growth, they’re really struggling (of course, that’s not news).
For 2016, keep an eye on Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which should drop drastically (a huge portion of the park is behind construction walls right now), and Universal Studios Hollywood, which should rise considerably (they just added Harry Potter).
Still, it’s a good year over all for theme and amusement parks. Overall attendane is up about 5.4% and there are a lot of big projects set to open in the future. Which theme or amusement park is your favorite? How do you think they’re doing.