I noticed on the corporate list Herschend Family Entertainment is no longer in the top 10. Last year they were 10th place with 9.2 million.
My forecast for 2010 attendance is that we see theme park attendance globally increase slightly since the economy is on a recovery path. I see Disney parks have a slight increase, Universal Orlando having a significant increase (not sure if it will counter the 12% they decreased though in 2009). I think SeaWorld will have either a slight decrease or no change in the 2010 report next year (thinking the decrease more likely).
Anyone notice Disney's California Adventure was the second highest increase in the top 25 parks list and the highest within Disney?
Interestingly, even in a down year, folks were still heading to Orlando, but only to go to Disney. Illustrating once again that the other Florida parks (while featuring some amazing attractions) are just there to absorb the Disney spillover. I expect that trend to change a little bit once IOA opens Harry Potter later this year.
Kudos to Six Flags for moving up in the pecking order a bit, to BGW for making gains when everyone else dropped like a rock, and to DCA for its substantial increases. I can only imagine the growth this much maligned location will receive in the years ahead. Furthermore, I expect Herschend will bounce back in the year ahead now that the loss of Celebration City has been accounted for and because of renewed expansion at Silver Dollar City (Tom & Huck's River Blast), Dollywood (Adventure Mountain), as well as continued improvement at Wild Adventures.
And, for the record, I've been calling Knotts Berry Farm the flagship Cedar Fair park since my comment in this thread on October 17, 2009 at 8:20 AM! =)
Now, back to work...ugh, how I miss my carefree visit-TPI-every-five-minutes days...
Still, ya gotta give props to Disney. Hypothetically, if the Potter attractions were to DOUBLE attendance at IOA, it still would not reach the attendance numbers of the lowest scoring WDW park (Animal Kingdom).
Disney just DOMINATES this industry.
Universal is ripe for a monster year. The Harry Potter attractions are opening and there's a roller coaster that many haven't ridden yet. With the economy starting to loosen up a little bit, hopefully people will start coming back like they were a few years ago.
Nice to see Six Flags getting back into the picture. Most of their improvements the past couple of years have been infrastructure ones too. It's amazing what some paint, working attractions, clean sidewalks, a little marketing and better management will get you. With the size of their markets, they have huge potential.
And no, I won't stop calling Cedar Point the flagship park of Cedar Fair. Attendance at Knotts was slightly higher, but I attribute that to the extra operating days and better weather. If Knotts ran at 5 or 6 million, then I might listen to that argument, but they only run a few hundred thousand more than Cedar Point with an operating schedule that's a full 5 months longer. If judgment is going to be made on a park's quality or status based on attendance, then one should look beneath the surface numbers as well. Factors such as operating schedule, location, economic climate, weather, and promotion should be examined. An interesting stat for some of these parks is average number of visitors per day. I present a formula
Total Attendance/number of operating days= average per day
Knotts- 11,000 average per day...based on a 300 day schedule. I think they are open more days than that, but I used the remainder of the calendar.
Cedar Point- 21,324 per day. Based on the full 2010 operating schedule of 136 days.
Canada's Wonderland is well run with no competition. Certainly not dismissing their success, but they benefit from that position as well as being close to Toronto. As for Ohio, if you look at the attendance figures for the two parks in the past 25 years, you'll see that Cedar Point and Kings Island have been battling back and forth in the attendance war for a long time regardless of ownership. Kings Island happens to have the hot attraction in the region and a really good kids area, and people have responded to that. When CP builds a big new ride and people start extending their stays at their hotels again, Cedar Point will pull ahead....and then Kings Island will, and so on. I also think that the company is wisely spending a lot of money at other parks. Kings Dominion and Carowinds are getting the high profile rides this year, and their markets will respond. Don't be surprised if you see Kings Dominion on this list next year.
Still, SFGA numbers seem too low to me based on attendence when I was there, insanely low ticket prices, lots of special events, and pairing up with a resort and giving their guests "perks"
Magic Kingdom being top dog is no suprise here!
And how many people went for their birthday and brought along other friends? And considering that the northern parks are closed during the winter months, how much more would they gain if they were in a warmer climate like Disney World?
Universal ran that huge ad during the super bowl last year giving out at least 100,000 FREE tickets!
If you're a Florida resident Universal is also always sending people free one-day tickets in the mail...
And Sea World along with Busch Gardens offer the Fun Card where you pay for less than a day and come back all year for free.
Disney did run probably their most aggressive discount compaign in their history but they pale so much in comparison to the other discounts the other parks are offering.
Disney is still by far the most expensive ticket in Orlando yet people continue to only visit them because they're Disney and can really get away with anything...
Not so coincidentally, those are three of my favorite non-Disney parks in this country. Quality and value deliver visitors, in any economy. I hope that every park with declining attendance on this list takes it as a challenge to improve its guest value in 2010, no matter what the economy does.
Sure, a tough economy can make it tough to justify a major new attraction. Corporate finances might make borrowing to build difficult. But there's always something that any park can do to improve guest value, whether that be in pricing, cleanliness, customer service, entertainment or food.
Take a look at Magic Mountain, which aggressively has made changes in these areas in recent years. Sure, it was down, too. But Magic Mountain's decrease was the second-smallest in this group (and the smallest of the non-Disney SoCal theme parks), which allowed the park to climb back into the Top 20, after missing out last year. Yes, Magic Mountain debuted Terminator Salvation last year, but other parks that debuted bigger coasters suffered worse declines.
Better customer value helped stanch the losses at Magic Mountain. And great customer value helped Busch Gardens, Holiday World and Legoland increase. Parks that see this downturn as inspiration to make improvements in this area will be the ones that dominate the industry when more customers return.
If a family of 4 visits Disney for 5 days, the park can rack up multiple visits per guest per park per day. If the family simply goes to one park every day regardless of length of visit, Disney has added 20 to their attendance. If they visit more than one park per day on any given day or repeat visit regardless of length of visit, the numbers add up even more. Multiply those potential numbers with the amount of Disney hotel rooms, and you begin to see how attendance can pile up quickly.
The hotel packages and park hopper passes are big reasons why all of the Disney properties in Orlando are able to rack up such big numbers. The parks and resorts all feed off of each other, creating massive attendance figures full of short term pass holders. That's why Disney chose to pretty much give away their hotel rooms when times were tough instead of free park tickets, because they know their customer and they know their habits. A free park ticket only gets the customer for one day. 3 or 4 free nights at a hotel gets them for almost a week. Does it cost them profit? You bet it does, but they keep the turnstiles going.
Of course there is still a reason why all of those people choose to go to Disney. Aside from all of the formulas, deductions, and numbers, it's still a fantastic place to visit.
Agree with you Robert on the list being short. I would like to see the top 50 as well.
So if this is true, why? and what are the REAL numbers?
But in whole, I can believe Disney parks attendance is still up. Aside from free birthdays and free volunteer day, Disney doesn't do much more advertising that other companies in part...it is Disney World...people from all over the world know about it. It has an image, a presence that makes it the ultimate pilgrimage for entertainment that doesn't need much advertising. Working there, I asked people who came from other countries why they came to WDW, particularly if there was a Disney Park in their country and all they could say was that this was DIsney World, the big one, the legend.
And I agree with the concept that Universal gets the Disney overflow. The Universal parks are not worth traveling all the way to Florida for by themselves, that is until perhaps the Harry Potter World. When that opens, I think Universal will only have an attendance spike for 2 years max. And no doubt that Disney in the end, will benefit from Harry Potter as well, and by the time the HP spike wears off, the new F Land will be done.
But in whole, I can believe Disney parks attendance is still up. Aside from free birthdays and free volunteer day, Disney doesn't do much more advertising that other companies in part because...it is Disney World...people from all over the world know about it. It has an image, a presence that makes it the ultimate pilgrimage for entertainment that doesn't need much advertising. Working there, I asked people who came from other countries why they came to WDW, particularly if there was a Disney Park in their country and all they could say was that this was Disney World, the big one, the legend.
True, Disney offered incredible promotions to drive attendance into the park, but that's the Disney model! Its marketing team understands that getting people into the parks is what makes the money. In-park spending is higher at Disney parks than at any other theme park, period, regardless of attendance. I commend Disney for generating high attendance as a way to boost overall revenue. What parent can say no to the "Daddy, I want..." phrase uttered numerous times at Disney parks, not heard nearly as often at other parks.
Remember the last time you got that "free" ticket to the ballgame? How much did that free ticket end up costing you? Parking, hotdog, beer, nachos...
Disney understands that getting people into the park is the important part; once they are there, the wallets don't get put away. The fact that they had huge promotions shouldn't be an "excuse" as to why they lead the industry in attendance - it was by design, and it sure paid off!
I think it shows just how important local customers are to California Adventure. Even though there is new things coming over the next few years people aren't holding back on visits as many have the luxury of living close enough to Disneyland Resort to visit multiple times a year.
Over at IOA people are holding out as the park relies much more heavily on out-of-state and international guests who are more likely to hold out and plan a trip next year rather than visiting in 2009.
Another issue for seasonal parks could be trying to get employees back to work for two weeks in the winter. Reliance on college, high school, and summer help doesn't guarantee that you can easily call them back to work for a couple of weeks during the holidays.
Seasonal parks that aren't taking advantage of the Halloween season are missing out big time.