U.S. theme park attendance grew by 4 percent over 2003, to 169.1 million visitors, the magazine reported. A weak dollar has helped keep U.S. tourists at home, and made the U.S. a more afforable destination for many Europeans.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom continued to lead the world's theme parks in attendance, attracting 8 percent more visitors this year, for a total of 15.1 million ticks of the turnstyles. Anaheim, California's Disneyland jumped its Tokyo sister for the number two slot, with a 5 percent increase in attendance bring the flagship Disney park to 13.4 million visitors for the year.
Both the Tokyo Disney parks were flat in 2004, with Tokyo Disneyland bringing in 13.2 million visitors and Tokyo DisneySea attracting 12.2 million.
Disneyland Paris help on to the number five slot worldwide, with 10.2 million visitors -- flat from last year.
The Disney World theme parks continued to rule the Orlando market, with Epcot, Disney-MGM and Disney's Animal Kingdom taking the number three throgh five slots for top U.S. theme park attendance.
None of the positions among the U.S. top ten changed, with Universal Studios Florida capturing the sixth slot, followed by its sister Islands of Adventure. Disney's California Adventure, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood again rounded out the top ten in the U.S.
Here are the year-end attendance estimates for U.S. theme parks, from Amusement Business magazine:
|Theme Park||2004 Attendance||Increase from 2003|
|Magic Kingdom||15.1 million||8%|
|Disney-MGM Studios||8.2 million||7%|
|Animal Kingdom||7.8 million||7%|
|Universal Studios Florida||6.7 million||14%|
|Islands of Adventure||6.3 million||13%|
|California Adventure||5.6 million||6%|
|SeaWorld Orlando||5.6 million||4%|
|Universal Studios Hollywood||5 million||8%|
However, my notes from last year show AB's estimate of USF's 2003 attendance at 6.9 million, and of IOA's at 6.1 million. That would give IOA a 3% increase (not 13%) and USF a 3% decrease.
I'll check with my hard copy of the magazine when I can dig it up, and look for changes on the AB website. (It's subscription-only, otherwise I'd provide a link.)
As for my home parks, Paramount's Kings Island saw a 7 percent increase and 3.5 million visitors this past year. It was the highest ranked regional park. Cedar Point saw a 4 percent decrease this past year with 3.1 million visitors. Also worth noting is Paramount's Canada's Wonderland, which saw a 30 percent attendance increase to actually finish ahead of Cedar Point this year with 3.4 million. Paramount seems to have their stuff together, and with the Italian Job coaster going into both PKI and Canada's Wonderland, they will be sitting pretty next year as well.
Came across this list of the top 25 in attendance for 2004.
I wouldn't use the "percent" changes much at all this year in trying to compare parks or their respective growths. They are kind of useless in my opinion, especially with the artifical and questionable growth shown for Universal Orlando. In order to post 14% and 13% increases at USF and IOA in 2004, respectively, the parks would have only drawn around 5.9 million for USF and 5.5 million for IOA in 2003. That would be considerable all-time lows for UO, which I just don't believe happened in 2003.
Looking down the list, Paramount showed well, as did Disney and Universal. Busch was flat, and the only bright spot for Cedar Fair was Knott's, due to massive discounting on kids' tickets. Indeed, Kings Island now beat Cedar Point. And with new themed attractions at PKI next year, compared with flat rides at CP, expect PKI'd lead over CP to extend in 2005.
(I'd also look for Busch to rebound next year, with what looks to be strong attractions in Tampa and Williamsburg in 2005. The SeaWorld parks need some help, though. Stripped-down thrill rides -- a la San Diego's Journey to Atlantis -- won't get it done.)
Six Flags, however, is the financial disaster here, as the halt in capital expansion we forecast here on TPI more than two years ago finally creamed the company in its attendance numbers.
1. Magic Kingdom/WDW - 15.1 million (14.044 million in 2003) #1 in 2003
2. Disneyland - 13.4 million (12.72 million in 2003) #3 in 2003
3. Tokyo Disneyland - 13.2 million (13.188 million in 2003) #2 in 2003
4. Tokyo Disney Sea - 12.2 million (12.174 million in 2003) #4 in 2003
5. Disneyland Paris - 10.2 million (10.23 million in 2003) #5 in 2003
6. Universal Studios Japan - 9.9 million (8.811 million in 2003) #6 in 2003
7. EPCOT - 9.4 million (8,620,768 in 2003) #8 in 2003
8. Disney-MGM Studios - 8.26 million (7,870,733 in 2003) #10 in 2003
9. Lotte World (South Korea) - 8 million (8.5 million in 2003) #9 in 2003
10. Disney's Animal Kingdom - 7.82 million (7,305,600 in 2003) #11 in 2003
(Everland in South Korea, #7 in 2003 dropped out of the top 10)
Well, I also find it interestesting, especially after Disney's CFO Tom Staggs went on the record in the Disney's 4th Quarter and Year End Conference call on November 18th....
>>Disneyland Resort had high single digit declines in attendance during the 4th Quarter (July thru September 2004). Mr. Staggs states that the cutbacks in discounting is the main reason for the attendance drops.
And so far during 1st Quarter 2005 (October and early November 2004), there have been modest attendance declines at the DLR.<<
To me, high single digits is 7 to 9%, so if we had that much of a decline during most of the summer, where did the attendance come from..
Well, we know that the "Pay for Disneyland, get DCA for FREE" was offered for the first four months of the year (January thru April), so what happened in May and June, well, we had a new ride, which more than likely increased the AP attendance, as AP holders came out to check the new ride.
So why has attendance dropped so much from the first half of the year, as compared to the second half of 2005?
How much higher would the second and third quarter have to have been to offset the 7-9% decline in the strongest quarter of the year, plus the decline in 1Q '05?
And is that reasonable, given that there were no new rides during that period (just a Snow White show)? Plus, Space Mountain was down the whole time, with significant downtimes from Thunder. And wasn't Splash down for part of that time, too?
And there is simply no way DL and DCA could have had big gains after such a wretched summer for both parks. Maybe they were wrong on the UO parks last year, but by so much???
Too much here is suspect.
(Only posting Disneyland related info)
>>Revenues at Parks and Resorts increased 21%, or $1.3 billion, to $7.8 billion... $609 million from the Walt Disney World Resort, and $95 million from the Disneyland Resort.
At the Disneyland Resort, increased revenues were primarily due to higher guest spending at the theme parks and hotel properties.
Across our domestic theme parks, attendance increased 7% and per capita guest spending increased 6% compared to the prior year. Attendance and per capita guest spending at the Walt Disney World Resort increased 10% and 4%, respectively. Attendance at the Disneyland Resort remained flat while per capita guest spending increased 7%.<<
So, could the AB/ERA numbers be wrong?, heck this is the OFFICIAL document from Disney and is regulated by the SEC....
To my eyes, Disney's report seems much more in line with what I saw at Disneyland in 2004 than the AB estimate. Throw in the funny numbers with Universal over the past two years, and I've got some concerns about the AB numbers, too.
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort
Theme Park Insider Books