The 2003 attendance figures are in and everybody is flatter than Gwyneth Paltrow in her Oscar dress! Here are those Top 15:
1) MAGIC KINGDOM-------------------------------- 14.04M - Flat
2) DISNEYLAND------------------------------------- 12.72M - Flat
3) EPCOT----------------------------------------------- 8.62M - Up 4%
4) DISNEY/MGM STUDIOS------------------------- 7.87M - Down 2%
5) ANIMAL KINGDOM-------------------------------- 7.31M - Flat
6) UNIVERSAL STUDIOS ORLANDO----------- 6.85M - Flat
7) ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE--------------------- 6.07M - Flat
8) CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE--------------------- 5.31M - Up 13%
9) SEAWORLD ORLANDO------------------------- 5.20M - Up 4%
10) UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD----- 4.58M - Down 12%
11) BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY------------- 4.30M - Down 4%
11) CIRCUS CIRCUS ADVENTUREDOME---- 4.30M - Down 4%
13) SEAWORLD CALIFORNIA--------------------- 4.00M - Flat
14) KNOTT'S-------------------------------------------- 3.48M - Down 4%
15) CEDAR POINT------------------------------------ 3.30M - Up 3%
So what to make of this? Well, besides the fact that Amusement Business doesn't put a lot of effort into it anymore. They have IOA's attendance being EXACTLY the same! And they can't even bother to get half the names right. It isn't only just "Universal Studios" in Orlando. SeaWorld uses "Orlando" in its title, not Florida. Knott's no longer uses "Berry Farm." And the Adventuredome actually uses "Circus Circus" in its title. (While I am griping, can Busch Gardens stick with a frappin' name in Florida? On their site I have seen it listed as "Tampa" and "Tampa Bay" AND "Florida." Their logo now says "Busch Gardens Tampa Bay" so I guess we should all start using that. Sigh. BGTB just doesn't look right.)
Anywho... The late opening of Epcot's Mission: Space clearly hurt what could have been the most impressive increase this year. Instead that "honor" goes to DCA. If there was ever a more inflated number for a theme park, I have never seen it. That place was pretty dead on summer weekends! If Disneyland ever does do something to its AP program, expect this number to plummet.
My MVP goes, for the second year in a row, to SWO. Up 4% and they didn't even add a new attraction! Disney WISHES they could build gift shops and restaurants and get MORE guests into their parks. Just goes to show what happens when you bother to maintain a certain level of quality, don't it?
The big loser? You'd think it would be USH, and you'd be partly right. They just didn't push hard enough for people to renew their APs. Even with Shrek 4-D. I think 4-D is the big fat loser here! USH, USF, MK and BGTB all debuted big 4-D movies this year to entice guests and no one was apparently enticed. (I have an upcoming Flume on the oversaturation of 4-D attractions.)
So who stands to improve next year? Certainly USH and USF will benefit greatly from the upcoming Mummy coasters. DCA will probably have another increase due to APs running over for a few rides on their Tower of Terror. Epcot should post modest gains, but probably mostly during Spring Break and Summer. SWC's Journey to Atlantis should open well also.
IOA may benefit from spillover from USF, especially if they get the Unusual Driving Machines going. Hey, it would be SOMETHING to advertise! It remains to be seen how much Disney/MGM will benefit from a stunt show (if that opens in 2004). SeaWorld should maintain, with more Waterfront to open next year.
That leaves the "coaster" parks. BGTB, Knott's and Cedar Point attendance relies heavily on new attractions. The first two are already rumored to be getting something big. We shall see.
>>1. The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 14 million, flat
2. Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif., 12.7 million, flat
3. Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 8.6 million, up 4 percent
4. Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 7.8 million, down 2 percent
5. Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 7.3 million, flat
6. Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, 6.8 million, flat
7. Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando, 6 million, flat
8. Disney's California Adventures, Anaheim, Calif., 5.3 million, up 13 percent
9. SeaWorld Florida, Orlando, Fla., 5.2 million, up 4 percent
10. Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, Calif., 4.5 million, down 12 percent
11. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, 4.3 million, down 4 percent
11. Adventuredome at Circus Circus, Las Vegas, 4.3 million, down 4 percent
13. SeaWorld California, San Diego, 4 million, flat
14. Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif., 3.4 million, down 4 percent
15. Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, 3.3 million, up 3 percent
16. Paramount's Kings Island, Kings Island, Ohio, 3.2 million, up 3 percent
17. Morey's Piers, Wildwood, N.J., 3.2 million, down 5 percent
18. Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J., 3.1 million, down 3 percent
19. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, Calif., 3 million, down 2 percent
20. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California, 3 million, flat
21. Paramount Canada's Wonderland, Maple, Ont., 2.62 million, down 7 percent
22. Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas, 2.6 million, down 3 percent
23. Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Ill., 2.57 million, down 5 percent
24. Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa., 2.55 million, down 3 percent
25. Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Va., 2.5 million, down 4 percent <<
SFGAM was Number 23 for attendance which isnt surprising, but seeing that their attendance was down sure was!!!!!!!
With a new coaster addition to the park im sure they felt attendance would be up. And from my visits this year the park seemed alot busier than past years.
As for SF not being able to compete... whatever. There are two SF parks with over 3 million up there, and those two parks had nothing but problems this year. Of course, CP had problems with Dragster, but apparently Pointyheads aren't smart enough to stay home and wait them out.
Anyhow, the whole thing is moot. Disney, Universal and Busch kick BOTH their sorry asses. Hell, the crappy Adventuredome in Circus Circus kicks CP's ass, so it can't be all that great.
You obviously have failed to take into account that CP is a seasonal park. As for Disney, Universal, Busch, and Circus Circus kicking their asses, the only parks I see beating CP are parks that are open 12 months out of the year. I would like to see what Cedar Point's attendance figures would be in a year-round market. They hit the top 15 with about 5 months of operation. Do you honestly think that some of those parks would still be ahead of them? As for SF, I see four parks on that list. Two of them are open throughout the year, another one is just outside Chicago(in a pretty barren marketplace), and the other is in New Jersey, which is one of the best parks they have. With the exception of a couple SF parks, none of them can really do anything in a competitive marketplace. A couple of parks isn't going to do it for SF.
But then again, I can't figure out which SF parks you are talking about that are open all year. SFMM is only open on weekends after October, except for holidays.
Also, take a look at Number 20 up there. The Boardwalk is one of the most seasonal parks on the list. Beyond summer it is rarely open, and its hours are seriously shortened on non-summer days. Furthermore, most of these parks that go year-round have other outdoor activities to compete with. What's there to do in friggin' Ohio?
And I'm not a CP-hater. I'm a Pointyhead hater. Anyone that can't extoll the virtues of their favorite park without bashing another park gets that nod.
When I say "parks open year around", I mean parks that are open after October. CP and PKI go weekends after Labor Day until Halloween. Even though a park like SFMM is only open on weekends, that still leaves at least 50 more operating days a year. The same goes for SFOT, and the other parks that operate in a more favorable weather climate. The slow business thing has some truth to it, but then again, Disneyland rakes in 12 million people a year in the same marketplace. It's foolish to assume that the extra 6 months a year doubles attendance, but warm weather obviously gives Cali and Fla parks more chances to open their gates and therefore, an advantage in potential attendance. If BGTB operated in the north, their attendance wouldn't be near what it was on the list. My point is that I would like to see an adjusted attendance figure based on the number of days that the park was open, not just the amount of people who walked in the gates. By putting the parks on a more level playing field, we would then get a better idea of park rating and popularity by attendance.
As for "friggin" Ohio, there is a lot more competition here than you may think. I'm not sure that you understand the concept of an Ohio winter. Im sure that all the parks and their competition around here would be open and full. There is just one problem, it's 20 degrees outside, and there are a few inches of snow on the ground. It has been like this for a month, and it will continue to be this way until the end of March. Riding Millenium Force or The Beast in 20 degree weather doesn't appeal to anyone.
Speaking as someone who has actually been to a "year-round" park like SFMM on a November weekend, they aren't adding much to their attendance totals. When every non-coaster is sitting there waiting for you to jump on, then you ride it with who you came with and NO ONE ELSE... when a coaster train is sitting there waiting for you to climb on... when you have to wait for two cycles to ride the most popular trains... they ain't doing big business! I would predict most weekend days get no more than 500 people a day. Do the math. 1000 people a weekend x 25 (or so) extra weekends and you have a whopping 25,000 extra people. Say I'm underestimating and there are actually 4000 people a weekend, that's still a paltry 100K.
For CP to gain that necessary 700,000, they would have to get FOURTEEN THOUSAND people a day! Their current average is less than 23,000 a day DURING SUMMER. Give up, cuz year-round wouldn't help them.
I've not included parks that we don't cover (mostly South Korean and Japanese parks and the free piers). The largest park we don't have on the site is Efteling, in The Netherlands, which drew 3.2 million this year for 28th on Amusement Business's list.
My point is this...You can't determine park popularity by simply adding up attendance totals for the year. Disneyland and WDW are clearly the most popular parks, but the rest of the list is in question. If people want to make lists and throw around rankings and such.. (as they love to do in this industry), then they need to work a little harder on their formulas and numbers.
As for parks needing a bunch of people in the parks. I heard Disneyland needed only 1000 paying customers (meaning no APs) in the park to break even. Read MiceAge and you will see that DCA spends most of its year with less than 5000 people in the park, and most of those people are APs, yet they aren't losing loads of money. Parks just close down a bunch of stuff, reduce staffing and lower throughput. You think Disneyland doesn't save gobs of money when they shut down the Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World every September and January? It's more than a little convenient that these months are two of the park's slowest.
I don't much care for DL or MK but my eyes are open enough to realize they are way more popular than CP, and always will be. The Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks will ALWAYS be third-tier. But just be happy they aren't fourth-tier like Paramount.
FWIW, not all of the SoCal parks are open year-round. Magic Mountain is open weekends only during fall and winter, and Legoland closes two days each week during the school year.
That said, annual attendance and park quality are two very different standards by which to judge theme parks. Popularity does not strictly correlate with quality. If it did, "Dinosaur" would not have grossed more than "Chicken Run" and Legoland would be kicking the snot out of Magic Mountain. Sometimes, the market for top quality is smaller than the market for just-enough-to-get-by. On quality, Disney, Universal, Busch and Lego stand far above any other theme park companies. Cedar Fair, Paramount and Six Flags may fight among themselves for supremacy of the second tier.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Hollywood