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So where are the year-end attendance figures?

Written by
Published: December 18, 2006 at 3:29 PM

When Amusement Business magazine folded last spring, the theme and amusement park industry lost its most reputable public source of annual theme park attendance data. At the end of every year, AB published its estimate of visitors for the top 50 theme parks in the United States, as well as the top 10 parks on other continents.

But no more. VNU, Amusement Business' corporate overlord, moved all AB subscribers to its Billboard magazine, but Billboard's offered little coverage of the industry to date. And so far, there's been no sign I've seen that Billboard will pick up where AB left off with the year-end theme park attendance charts.

So, my question is: Is anyone publishing this data this year? And if not, is anyone familiar with AB's methodology for computing these numbers and, if so, are they willing to share? I'd be willing to devote some time and spend a little money to help gather and publish these numbers. Perhaps some other theme park website publishers might be willing to help, too. Lemme know.

Readers' Opinions

From Erik Yates on December 18, 2006 at 5:31 PM
Did they compile this info or did they get it from the parks? If they compiled the info, then I bet you can expect both disney and Universal figures to jump over 200 percent.
From Darrell Shimel on December 19, 2006 at 12:51 PM
Parks used to release figures. But in the 80s, they stopped releasing the figures because it became too big of a driver of stock price. Instead the parks started releasing % change numbers.

AB used a combination of the % change numbers reported by the companies, and a few other factors, like going out on random days and counting cars entering the parking lots and such... To "guess-timate" annual attendance.

Universal seemed to "hint" to AB what there attendance was since they'd make statements like "AB is in the neighborhood". On the flip side, Disney kept saying the AB numbers were off, and getting worse off every year.

In the end, the numbers were of no use except to us on-line geeks that liked to use them to show whatever we wanted the numbers to show.

From Robert Niles on December 19, 2006 at 2:05 PM
I also has noticed that some years one could not do year-to-year comparisons with AB data for the Universal parks. The percent change that AB gave for the Uni parks didn't match the change from the previous year's report, if you kept the reports and did the math yourself (which I did).

That said, someone needs to at least keep track of what's revealed in the various SEC 10K reports and tally a running report on various parks' attendance. I'd be willing to set up a page for that and take one company if other readers or webmasters would agree to follow others. I'll make it a Creative Commons page, too, so that other websites could use the content, so we won't have the copyright issues that we used to have with running AB's entire list.

Volunteers? (People with CPAs or experience reading SEC reports strongly preferred here. This ain't light reading for someone who's not looked through a corporate financial statement before.)

From DICK KNOEBEL on December 19, 2006 at 2:23 PM
That info was gathered by Tim O'Brien who now works for Ripley's. I believe he accumulated most of it by phone, I know that is how he obtained ours. Unfortunately, not everyone is totally honest. obrien@ripleys.com
From Robert Niles on December 19, 2006 at 2:42 PM
Thanks, Dick.
From Peter Kaanapu on December 22, 2006 at 9:05 AM
Perhaps you are aware that AB had a jv with ERA to produce the numbers over the last several years. I understand that ERA has teamed with TEA (the Themed Entertainment Association) to gather this data and it should be out next month. Kudos to ERA and TEA for picking up the slack...

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