Southern California theme parks lead the increases in annual industry attendance report
Published: June 4, 2013 at 6:30 AM
The 2012 TEA/AECOM Global Attendance Report
[PDF] is out, and Disney continues to lead the way, with the world's top eight most-attended theme parks. But attendance gains in Southern California were the story of the year, as Cars Land and Transformers drove parks there to double-digit attendance gains.
Cars Land drove California Adventure to record attendance last year.
Overall, theme parks saw a 5.2% increase in attendance worldwide in 2012. Here are the top 10 parks worldwide last year, with attendance (in millions) and their change from 2011, rounded to the nearest percentage point.
- Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom 17.5 2%
- Disneyland 15.9 -1%
- Tokyo Disneyland 14.8 9%
- Tokyo DisneySea 12.7 9%
- Disneyland Paris 11.2 2%
- Epcot 11.1 2%
- Disney's Animal Kingdom 10.0 2%
- Disney's Hollywood Studios 9.9 2%
- Universal Studios Japan 9.7 14%
- Universal's Islands of Adventure 8.0 4%
In North America, theme parks saw a 3.6% increase in attendance over 2011, with Disney California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood leading the way.
- Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom 17.5 2%
- Disneyland 15.9 -1%
- Epcot 11.1 2%
- Disney's Animal Kingdom 10.0 2%
- Disney's Hollywood Studios 9.9 2%
- Universal's Islands of Adventure 8.0 4%
- Disney California Adventure 7.8 23%
- Universal Studios Florida 6.2 3%
- Universal Studios Hollywood 5.9 15%
- SeaWorld Orlando 5.4 3%
Disneyland saw a slight decline, but remember that a park gets credit for a visitor if it's the first park that person visits during the day. And with Cars Land drawing so many Disneyland Resort visitors to start their day at California Adventure, that pushed that park's number up at the expense of Disneyland's, even though overall attendance at the resort was up last year.
Universal Studios Hollywood's popular debut of Transformers: The Ride 3D allowed it to move up one spot in the rankings, to number nine, displacing SeaWorld Orlando.
For perspective, the TEA/AECOM reported attendance at museums for first time. Here's the top 10 worldwide. The numbers lag theme parks', but remain in the multi-millions. (And keep in mind that several of these museums offer free admission. Attendance numbers are in millions.)
- Louvre (Paris) 9.2
- National Museum of Natural History (Washington DC) 7.6
- National Air and Space Museum (Washington DC) 6.8
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) 6.1
- British Museum (London) 5.6
- Tate Modern (London) 5.3
- National Gallery (London) 5.2
- Vatican Museums 5.1
- American Museum of Natural History (New York) 5.0
- Natural History Museum (London) 4.9
Previous attendance reports: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002
Published: June 4, 2013 at 6:43 AM
Thanks Robert, I have been looking forward to these numbers.
Universal has been doing great, but I was surprised by Magic Kingdome increase... I guess the new land is a hit...
Published: June 4, 2013 at 7:07 AM
Brian, I wouldn't read too much into those numbers for the Magic Kingdom to prove the New Fantasyland to be a hit. Take a closer look and see that all the Disney Orlando properties went up 2 percent. If I were one of the sharp pencil boys at Team Disney Orlando I would interpret that as a slightly better economy leading to more disposable income which is then spent at Disney World. As I understand it, other than the Be Our Guest Restaurant, the redo of Fantasyland has been a bit ho-hum and hasn't exactly set the world on fire.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 7:09 AM
Yep, TEA/AECOM reported an identical 2.2% increase for all four WDW parks. Which, if you'll notice, was the lowest percentage increase among the Orlando theme parks. Granted, Disney's market lead has the effect of depressing percentage increases (since they start with such high numbers), but that's not something that's going to set the accountants' hearts aflutter. Especially in comparison with Disneyland's numbers.
It is any surprise that Disneyland's president got sent to Florida?
Published: June 4, 2013 at 7:30 AM
The increase in attendance at Disney's California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood is simply astounding. It looks like that $1.1 billion Disney poured into California Adventure may have been a wise investment after all.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 7:55 AM
What's also interesting about SoCal, if you follow the PDF link, is that Knott's got killed last year. So the numbers at DCA and USH did come, in part, at another's expense.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 8:05 AM
I live in Florida, and I traveled to California last year to ride Radiator Springs Racers and Transformers. I'm sure I was not the only out of state theme park fun to travel to DCA and USH to try the new E-ticket rides. For this reason, it doesn't surprise me the big increase in attendance last year.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 8:08 AM
Wow! A 4% drop in attendance for Knott's Berry Farm is big in many ways. It's only 5-7 miles from Disneyland and California Adventure. Disney World representatives made comments a couple of years back saying that if one park brings in new attractions and raises attendance, it helps out the rest of the Orlando parks. This attendance report proves that for Orlando, but definitely not for all parties concerned in SoCal. If your attendance is dropping 4& and your neighbor's attendance is rising 22%, it is time to be worried.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 8:23 AM
Thrilled to see Islands of Adventure continue to grow and reach 8 million visitors.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 8:23 AM
Epcot adds nothing new and is still the 6th most visited theme park in the world. *Sigh*
Published: June 4, 2013 at 8:42 AM
It's interesting to look at the numbers for IOA vs. USF. It should be no surprise why Universal is pouring big money into USF right now, between Transformers, Springfield, USA, and Diagon Alley. Even though USF has some amazing E-ticket rides, it just doesn't feel fleshed-out and complete the way IOA does, at least it hasn't. But, visiting both parks with a (then)?4- year-old last fall, I came away with another reason why USF is having trouble: it has got to be the least child-friendly park in Orlando. I am quite surprised that these updates to the park do not include a revamp of the kiddie play areas. Barney, Fievel, Woody Woodpecker? These are not current properties, and even if the kids like them OK, they make the parents want to run screaming the other direction. Beyond that, there needs to be more stuff for little ones to do scattered around other areas of the park as well. IOA gets a bad rap for being unfriendly to little kids, but I didn't experience that at all--every land has something for them, and the immersive theming makes a big difference too. If they want USF to be a real contender, they'd better put in stuff for little kids to do while their older siblings are busy riding the Gringotts coaster.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Disneyland dropped 1.1% (177K) is equivalent to Knott's dropping 4% (146K). You can blame DCA. These are the only 2 parks in the top 20 to lose attendance.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM
The report only accounts for the first theme park a visitor enters during the day. If a guest goes to Disney's California Adventure first, and then goes to Disneyland, then their only tracked as attending California Adventure. When you account for the massive increase of California Adventure's numbers with only a slight 1% drop for Disneyland, this is probably what happened. Especially since most people who do park to park tickets will want to finish their day with Disneyland's night show. Knott's Berry Farm only consists of one park. So their 4% drop in attendance is legitimate. That is a big factor for them to consider on what they need to do to draw in fresh crowds.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 12:06 PM
"The report only accounts for the first theme park a visitor enters during the day."
So what? At WDW, where they have park hopping too, all four parks have increased attendance by 2.2%.
DCA gets the credit, while Disneyland suffered slightly. That is the truth. To Disneyland's credit, it still has higher attendance and longer operating hours.
The rumors are DCA will get another new E-Ticket soon, perhaps Monsters themed, then Disneyland will get one. This will ensure both parks will have attendance that are closer rather than 2:1.
After visiting DCA last month, I noticed that I go to the new rides and haven't bothered with Paradise Pier. What a change. It used to be that I had no choice but to visit the carnival section. On the other hand, DCA's revival made Disneyland seem tired, but they do have some nice additions like the Magical Map show and the Princess Fantasy Fair.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM
So what? First of all Disney World has 4 parks that have been enjoying quite a bit of popularity for a while. For those parks to have a big increase with Disney World's aggressive marketing campaigns as of late isn't to shocking.
California Adventure has never enjoyed the popularity of Epcot or the other 2 WDW parks. For a massive chunk of visitors to go there, WHATEVER THE REASON, and raise the Disneyland Resort's total park visitors by more than 1.25 million in a year is MASSIVE.
My original point though was the attendance decrease that Knott's Berry Farm is having. 4% may not seem like a lot, but when you balance all the factors, that can result in a harsh blow to the shareholders.
Whether Disneyland Resort's 1.25 million visitors+ is to blame for this or not, Knott's Berry Farm may need to reconsider their marketing approach
Published: June 4, 2013 at 1:18 PM
Knott's sat last year out. This year's it's trying with the revamped Log Ride, new Boardwalk carny rides, and vastly improved food offerings. I'll have a post in a couple weeks about what Knott's could do to improve its standing in the market, but I think it's worth acknowledging that Knott's didn't even really try to compete with Disney and Universal last year.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Thanks Robert! I look forward to reading the article. I like Knott's Berry Farm a lot, especially for a Cedar Fair property. They seem to project a more family owned amusement park feel, while still being part of the larger corporation. I would hate to see them go under.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 1:36 PM
It's always fun to read the numbers from TEA/AECOM. I wish we'd see greater detail related to its methodology -- as the description provided is quite short on details.
Nonetheless Walt Disney World certainly has reason to celebrate. Especially the Magic Kingdom -- which (typically) dominated the Central Florida market.
And that dominance does not even include the potential impact of the Fantasyland expansion -- which was only open during the last month of 2012. When the Mine Train family coaster opens in 2014, attendance at the Magic Kingdom could very well surpass 18 million guests.
In fact (according to the report) we could combine the reported attendance of BOTH Universal Orlando parks and the Magic Kingdom would still outpace that number by more than 3 million guests.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 1:41 PM
WOW! That is unbelievable on the Magic Kingdom's end. I look forward to the mine coaster opening. I always visit Orlando in the "offseason", February or late April/May. No matter when I go though, the Magic Kingdom is always PACKED! Thank God for the free Fast Pass.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM
I think Knott's disappointing numbers was more because of USH's gain than DCA. USH and KBF have historically battled it out for the #2 spot for SoCal theme parks behind Disney, and it appears USH has taken the upper hand. KBF will probably show gains this summer, but one has to wonder how they will fare after USH's Harry Potter expansion.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM
I'm surprised than in spite of the dramatic increase one year ago in prices for tickets and annual passes, Disney California Adventure (and the Disneyland Resort) posted such big increases. From the vociferousness of the complaints, one would imagine that lots of people stopped buying tickets and/or didn't renew their passes.
I guess it's true that people vote with their pocketbooks, and that Disney knew what they were doing when they raised prices so dramatically in May 2012.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 5:00 PM
One more thing -- one might have imagined that Knott's would have benefited from the negative reaction to Disney's price increase. There were reports last summer that Knott's was doing really good business in the weeks following the Disney price increase.
Was it just a temporary bump that disappeared after the first few weeks?
Published: June 4, 2013 at 5:04 PM
TPI has acknowledged that DCA has helped DLR maintain standing over USH and KBF. Also ABC is easy as 123 and is as simple as Do Re Mi.
Published: June 4, 2013 at 6:27 PM
MK's numbers are amazing!
Published: June 5, 2013 at 5:01 AM
For Knott's fans it should be noted that when my family travels to SoCal later this year, we'll hit the Disney parks (of course) and Magic Mountain (gotta go to the Coaster Capital of the World), but we are also planning on Knotts over USH. I am sure my family is not the only one with such "radical" plans! Knotts took the time to redo a beloved classic (Timber Mt. Log Ride), while USH is a couple years away (maybe more) from being worth the time and expense ($80 a person for what exactly???) of a single day visit. Everything good at USH (except the Studio Tour) is better at USO, so when hard decisions have to be made (like where to spend my one last "free" day in SoCal), I'll take a classic like the Timber Mt Log Ride over the Studio Tour in a heartbeat.
Can't imagine what DCA's numbers will look like in 2013 after a full year of Radiator Springs Racers.... 8.5 to 9 million maybe? Wow. What a tremendous success story that 1.1B makeover turned out to be for Disney. As we've always said, "If they spend it, we will come."
Published: June 5, 2013 at 6:41 AM
Their methodolgy most likely has a lot to do with guessing and drunk executives. That is alright, what else should they do. They can hardly publish the drunken executive methodology, even so that one promises to be quite accurate. German family owned companies like Europapark or Phantasialand have a crazy secrecy culture, still they have some number for those two. Some parks do publish exact public numbers.
Considering Disney is a public company, their public disclosures area also quite bad. Would be quite angry as an investor about how intransparent Disney is.
I am a bit surprised Europapark only increased by 100k, since roomnights sold in the region went up a lot more last year.
Disneyland Paris is fascinating: The sixth most visited theme park in the world, some 50 € spent per visitor is still unable to make any money.
Epcot: Look at it on google maps, that park is twice as big as the magic kingdom parks. Disney built a freaking giant there, that thing must have been incredible expensive. Despite all the flaws and lack of reinvestment, this park is still amazing, and probably unprofitable just like Disneyland Paris.
Iceland of Adventure: Oh come on, that Potter ride cant possibly be that great. Id be more willing to re visit with the old price and the shorter lines pre Potter. Congratulations to the marketing people, for turning this park arround from undervisited to overvisited by high spending Potter fans. To bad it took an expensive license to achieve that.
Published: June 5, 2013 at 7:33 AM
Anonymous writes: "Epcot: Look at it on google maps, that park is twice as big as the magic kingdom parks."
I Respond: Yeah, and if you look really close you'll notice that about half of that space consists of a lake. See it? Look closer. There it is!
Published: June 5, 2013 at 1:23 PM
I love how certain people cheerlead the attendance numbers when they are favorable to their beloved parks.... and question their accuracy when the "competition" sees a massive increase in last years report.
That my friends, is fanboyism in a nutshell.
Published: June 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM
Published: June 5, 2013 at 3:32 PM
Published: June 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM
Wait a sec ... I have to go look that up.
Published: June 5, 2013 at 3:54 PM
Many Zoos look like much closer competitors to theme parks than museums to me. For example, look at the new indoor area, with a boat ride in Leipzig:
2 million visitors with relativly high prices in the not so well off former communist region, quite an achievment.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 1:21 AM
Last year I certainly questioned the accuracy of the report -- and this year is no different. In both cases I express concern about the lack of detail presented related to the report's methodology (consistency). If you read the explanation provided by the publisher it becomes apparent that different methodologies have been used for different parks. Meaning the accuracy of one park's statistics may be on the money because the calculation was used by one methodology as opposed another park's assessed performance that uses a different methodology.
Indeed, on this thread an anonymous poster writes: "German family owned companies like Europapark or Phantasialand have a crazy secrecy culture, still they have some number (sic) for those two." To provide these park numbers a different means of calculation may (or may not) have been used.
It should also be noted that yours truly noted in his 2012 posts: "Of course I may be wrong"
Published: June 6, 2013 at 7:46 AM
It would be obvious the methodology is kept as a secret, but I wonder why you would doubt the data since no one has claimed it was wrong. Not all theme parks are equal. That's why there are different methods to derive the data.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 1:46 PM
Anon Mouse writes: "It would be obvious the methodology is kept as a secret ..."
I Respond: Why?
Anon Mouse: "...but I wonder why you would doubt the data since no one has claimed it was wrong."
I Respond: Disney used to release park attendance figures but then stopped. For the Disney company, or any park operator, to make any comment regarding the accuracy of an outside assessment (good or bad) offers no benefit to the company.
Anon Mouse: "Not all theme parks are equal. That's why there are different methods to derive the data."
I Respond: You don't understand the history of this type of data. After Disney stopped releasing attendance data, a publication called Amusement Business would do a comparative analysis based upon stockholders reports, regional occupancy rates provided by hotel associations, resort taxes and other data. Amusement Business would compare park revenue posted in annual stockholder reports and then estimate attendance at the Disney parks based upon how that revenue compared to previous reports (taking into account price increases on tickets, food, retail, etc.). But that analysis was dependent upon having previous reported attendance supplied by the company.
In the case of IOA (for example) TEA / AECOM did not have company provided attendance figures to pull from. Therefore, they are applying a different methodology to calculate their estimate. How the report accounts for these differences is not defined. How can a reader be certain about the report's integrity without knowing the manner in which the method was adjusted from park to park? Where's the math? Why not show it?
And by the way: This post is TOTALLY ACADEMIC. I hope someone can address this.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 2:24 PM
The problem in releasing your method for compiling the industry standard report has nothing to do with a lack of confidence. It has more to do with the fact then anyone else could use it to create the same report and therefore make yours irrelevant.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 2:27 PM
"For the Disney company, or any park operator, to make any comment regarding the accuracy of an outside assessment (good or bad) offers no benefit to the company."
Of course there is benefit to Disney. Disney often cites the attendance reports especially if the reports are favorable. If not favorable, they merely say they don't release attendance records. Even if Disney doesn't officially release its attendance records, it can unofficially goose their records to the companies for marketing purposes. This was done for AB's benefit, which I read about in the past.
"You don't understand the history of this type of data."
Everything you said is not news to me.
You still did not say why it matters to have consistency of their methods. If the attempt is to get accurate data for each theme park, the data was already adjusted to be accurate in the rankings.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 3:14 PM
Anon Mouse writes: "Disney often cites the attendance reports especially if the reports are favorable."
I Respond: You use the word "often" -- which implies more than once. Could you provide examples? Maybe a link? Some place where Disney specifically cited a favorable report.
Anon Mouse writes: "You still did not say why it matters to have consistency of their methods."
I Respond: And you didn't respond to my why it would be "obvious the methodology is kept as a secret."
And to be clear, what I actually posted in my response was that the method that Amusement Business employed was dependent upon the availability of previous history -- attendance figures that had been officially released by Disney. Absent the availability of that method (for example, the fact that IOA has [to the best of my knowledge] NEVER released official attendance numbers) what then becomes TEA/AECOM's methodology make their calculations and draw their conclusions?
The reason it "matters" is because this is a comparative analysis. How can one park be listed as #1 if the method that totals the attendance is different from the method of park #2 how does the report account for that deviation? What is the methodology?
Absent the actual math its difficult to claim that the report's conclusion is credible.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 3:04 PM
Robert Morris writes: "It has more to do with the fact then anyone else could use it to create the same report and therefore make yours irrelevant."
I Respond: So what? Why does that matter? The report is compiled by a business association (whose members include major theme park operators) and is distributed for free. They wouldn't lose "sales" nor would they lose some sort of "patent." Where is the liability?
Of course there is reason to believe that TEA might use a method with less-than-credible assumptions. Remember this is a business organization. Major theme park operators are among their members. TEA has motivation to pump the numbers. If the Magic Kingdom (for example) actually welcomed only 13 million guests (as opposed to 17.5 million) it might not be as easy to attract attraction sponsorship. It could also impact its per share price on the NYSE. TEA's purpose is to promote attractions. To report anything other than vibrant success could undermine the status of their membership.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 4:02 PM
"You use the word "often" -- which implies more than once. Could you provide examples? Maybe a link?"
No, I would recommend you do the Google search. It is strange that you would doubt the word "often." It seems like you knew Disney did this in the past, and they did.
"obvious the methodology is kept as a secret."
I said it would be obvious to keep a secret. Since you don't think it is obvious, it is clear that the obvious response that a company would want to keep its research method a secret is sort of lost on you.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 6:20 PM
Anon Mouse Posted: "Disney often cites the attendance reports especially if the reports are favorable."
I don't recall a single time that Disney had cited outside attendance reports in the past and requested that Anon Mouse provide an example ("You use the word "often" -- which implies more than once. Could you provide examples?") and Anon Mouse was unwilling (or perhaps unable) to address that request.
Anon Mouse writes: "No, I would recommend you do the Google search. It is strange that you would doubt the word "often." It seems like you knew Disney did this in the past, and they did."
I Respond: I am unaware of Disney press/publicity ever citing outside "attendance reports especially if the reports are favorable." Which is why I asked the question. You made the claim that they did it "often" so I thought you would be capable of backing up the assertion.
Anon Mouse also Posted: "It would be obvious the (TEA AECOM) methodology is kept as a secret ..."
I asked, "why?"
Anon Mouse replied: "...it is clear that the obvious response that a company would want to keep its research method a secret is sort of lost on you."
I Respond: TEA (who sponsors the report) is not a "company." It's an industry association. It's an organization that advances the interests of the themed entertainment industry. And if the reason is "obvious" as you claim, then what exactly would that "obvious" reason be? This report does not generate revenue. If another entity used the same method TEA/AECOM would not lose money. It costs you and I nothing to click on the link provided by TPI to read the entire report. Indeed they would gain credibility for the conclusions they draw if the methodology were made public.
(See related discussion with Robert Morris).
And hey, if there is any SPECIFIC reason that my perspective is wrong, (a perspective that advocates TEA/AECOM disclosing exactly how it made the calculations it claims to be accurate) then by all means, slap me around.
Published: June 6, 2013 at 5:35 PM
Robert Morris writes: "The problem in releasing your method for compiling the industry standard report has nothing to do with a lack of confidence. It has more to do with the fact then (sic) anyone else could use it to create the same report and therefore make yours irrelevant."
I Respond: Not sure how that scenario plays out. What would motivate another party to steal the methodology and invest the time and money to (I can only ASSUME this is the TEA methodology) go through stockholder reports, hotel association reports, hotel /sales tax revenue data, airport/transportation reports and other source material (at a WORLDWIDE level) to compile and publish an annual report that people can already get ... for free?
What would the thieving entity that steals the methodology have to gain from making that effort?
Again, TEA is an industry association. Like the Association of Jelly Bean Manufacturers or the Brotherhood of Chainsaw Jugglers, TEA wants to pimp its industry. Hiding detailed methodology allows TEA to shield itself from outside analysts who might question its conclusions -- reducing the entire publication to the level of a glorified press release.
Related Story: The annual BOCJ report claims chainsaw juggling jumped by 29% in 2011.
Published: June 7, 2013 at 4:28 AM
Dont know if Universal still releases attendance data, but they sure did so long after Disney stoped to release data for the 100% owned parks, at least still 3 years ago.
(ah i think i remember they stoped after they had no legal responsibility after their public issued debt was paid back or sth like that, far in the realm of speculation here)
Obviously, accuracy differs depending on the effort/legal ability of parks to dodge reporting.
E.g. Oriental Land and Eurodisney at least release agregate data for both parks, while my previous examples Phantasialand and Europapark opt for a gmbh&co kg legal structures to avoid most publicity requirements.
Published: June 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM
"Hiding detailed methodology allows TEA to shield itself from outside analysts who might question its conclusions -- reducing the entire publication to the level of a glorified press release."
Why would mere outside analysts question its conclusion? Before we go there, no one did.
I would think theme parks will challenge such reports as inaccurate or just wrong. At least theme parks can say those reports are inaccurate, but they didn't.
No one has said the reports are wrong.
As for why I don't find you a link, you need to do your own research. You don't know as much as you think. I question you. Who are you?
Published: June 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM
Anon Mouse: "I would think theme parks will challenge such reports as inaccurate or just wrong. At least theme parks can say those reports are inaccurate, but they didn't."
I Respond: Why?! The bulk of the report (published by an organization that is supported by theme park operators) claims business is BOOMING! The only park in the top ten that (allegedly) shows a drop is Disneyland (-1%) and that operation is still the second most successful model on the planet. Why on earth would Disney dispute such a ranking as inaccurate? What value would it have to make such a claim?
Anon Mouse writes: "As for why I don't find you a link, you need to do your own research."
I Respond: So you advance a claim and then ask someone else to prove it for you? I mean, seriously?
Anon Mouse demands: "Who are you?"
I Respond: Kind of a bold question from someone who posts under the handle "Anon Mouse."
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