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2001 Attendance Figures

Amusement Business has released attendance figures for 2001. Here they are:

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 6, 2002 at 8:30 PM
Amusement Business has released attendance figures for 2001. They are:

1 - The Magic Kingdom - 14.7 million - down 700K
2 - Disneyland - 12.3 million - down 1.6 million
3 - Epcot - 9 million - down 1.6 million
4 - Disney-MGM Studios - 8.3 million - down 600K
5 - Disney's Animal Kingdom - 7.7 million - down 600K
6 - Universal Studios Florida - 7.2 million - down 900K
7 - Islands of Adventure - 5.5 million - down 500K
8 - SeaWorld Orlando - 5.1 million - down 100K
9 - Disney's California Adventure - 5 million - opened in 2001
10 - Universal Studios Hollywood - 4.7 million - down 500K

Major surprises? DCA is doing better than USH. But with all the free tickets and discounts, that is still a sad number for DCA. And USH should have fallen more than it did. SeaWorld held on to its attendance better than the rest of the Top Ten. Epcot did far more poorly than what was expected. If these estimates are correct, the other WDW parks didn't do as poorly as expected. (Disney reported an 11% increase in theme park revenues, so all the whining was for naught.)

Non-surprises? IOA still isn't a known entity outside Florida. Their attendance figures really should be outdoing USF by now, but they did lose a lower number than USF did. DCA DID end up hurting Disneyland's figures, for their 11% drop is even worse than USH's drop and far worse than sister MK's 4% drop.

Questions for 2002:
Will the Scorpion King coaster at USF scoot that park past the faltering AK? Will AK's lame Dino-rama bring people back? Will a big attraction at IOA make it an attendance equal with USF? Will Epcot continue its slide without anything new until 2003? Will USH fall apart after adding only new shows in 2002?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Robert Niles
Posted January 7, 2002 at 2:27 PM
Great questions there, Kevin.

Does the list you saw go any deeper then the Top Ten? (Haven't seen it myself yet.)

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 8, 2002 at 6:43 AM
It was Top 20, but I didn't want to deal with too much beyond the Top 10. For that list I had to find last years and then change everything from percentages to actual guests lost because I thought percentages were misleading. Fifteen percent of an Epcot total is massive while the same percent of a park lower on the list isn't so awful.

Below are the following Ten, without the changes:

11 - Busch Gardens Tampa Bay - 4.6 million - down 8 percent
12 - SeaWorld California in San Diego - 4.1 million - up 13 percent
13 - Knott's Berry Farm - 3.58 million - down 3 percent
14 - Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey - 3.56 million - up 1.7 percent
15 - Morey's Piers, Wildwood, New Jersey - 3.4 million - up 3 percent
16 - Adventuredome at Circus Circus, Las Vegas, Nevada - 3.4 million - up 7 percent
17 - Paramount's Kings Island, Mason, Ohio - 3.36 million - up 4 percent
18 - Six Flags Magic Mountain - 3.2 million - down 3 percent
19 - Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio - 3.1 million - down 9 percent
20 - Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California - 3 million - no change

Notice how many of this set were UP in attendance? Still, some of this is a little suspect. Santa Cruz and the Adventuredome don't charge admission, so how do they come up with those figures? If you wander through do you get counted? Or do you have to buy a wristband? Which wouldn't count because they both offer single-ride tickets also. I wish they would only count gated parks because I know that 3 million people a year don't ride those rides. Going and riding are two different things.

From Francois Chan
Posted January 9, 2002 at 3:32 AM
I didn't find the fact that DCa outperformed USH to be surprising--DCa is right next to Disneyland; you'd expect a lot of people who plan a vacation in Disneyland to visit DCa on a parkhopper pass during their visit. And, besides, although USH is better than USH, I fail to see everyone's infatuation with USH. It is one of the most overrated parks in the industry (yes, even more so than the Disney parks)...

From Robert Niles
Posted January 9, 2002 at 1:10 PM
I agree with you Francois. Universal Studios Hollywood's high ranking on this site has always confounded me.

The studio tour's great. But if you don't dothe tour, USH isn't much of a park. There's just three rides off the tour, after all (Jurassic, Back to the Future and E.T.) And USH is, hands down, the most kid-unfriendly park I've ever visited.

A great park should offer plenty to do even if you miss the top attraction in the park. USH is a one-trick show.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 9, 2002 at 10:23 PM
Still, that tram tour is easily the most fantastic attraction in any theme park. Nostalgia, variety, excitement, thrills, learning... it's got it all.

This is a studio park, after all. Disney/MGM doesn't have very many "rides" either. USH does have a lot of shows, which are fine. The problem is they just don't change the shows enough. There have been all of two different shows in the WaterWorld theater. There has been all of ONE in the Wild West stadium. Beetlejuice went on for WAY too long before it was let go.

Unlike Disneyland, USH is a major tourist destination, as was proven by the lackluster attendance there this year. There is plenty there for people to do every few years or so.

I am just glad that with every park Universal has built that, UNLIKE Disney, they have improved upon the last park. It makes me long for Universal's third park in Orlando!

From Bryan Fear
Posted January 10, 2002 at 10:36 PM
There's been more than just a Beetlejuice show in that area. Wasn't there also a Conan-the-Barbarian swordfighting show in the 80's in there, and a Frankenstein's lab show there back in the 70's as well? Come to think of it, before Waterworld that stage was also used for Miami Vice, the A-team, and I think something else. Point being, the show there has rotated a lot more.

Three rides or not, Universal is just plain fun. The reason they have less than DCA probably has more to do with location. Let's face it, DCA is in a good location. Disneyland, DCA, and Knott's Berry Farm all so close together. Meanwhile Universal is not in that convenient of a location. ( While there are those who may feel different, people like me and those I know here in San Diego often choose to NOT go to Universal because of the distance. Meanwhile, Disney is practically dead-center the LA, Orange and SD county areas. They are in a position for better customer draw. Universal is too far north. It alienates those not willing to make a 3 hour drive.

Universal only has three rides? Sea World San Diego is no better, but their attendance increased. Same reason. It's just plain "fun" there. Minimal rides or not, it's FUN. Universal too. DCA technically has more rides, but... That whole boardwalk is just... Just... Blah.

From Robert Niles
Posted January 11, 2002 at 1:36 AM
I don't deny that Universal Hollywood's a good park. It's better to have one damn great attraction than none, like, well, a certain other park to the south that's riding off it's immediate neighbor's coattails.

But is it a Top Ten park? I'm not convinced. I'd rate Universal Studios Florida ahead of Hollywood's. I'm also surprised that Sea World San Diego does so poorly in the rankings. I've thought that it does as good a job with its genre as USH does with its.

I've not been to any parks outside North America, but from everything I've heard, I'd suspect that Disneyland Paris, Disney's Tokyo parks and Alton Towers all would make stronger candidates for the Top Ten than USH.

Obviously, the Tokyo parks lag because we haven't gotten enough folks from the Far East on the site. (Language remains a barrier, even on the Web.) But USF, Sea World, and the two European parks have gotten enough votes to be rated, and lag USH.

The lesson? The value of consensus, I guess. And that any one person's opinion rarely matches perfectly with the collective opinion of a larger group.

From Francois Chan
Posted January 12, 2002 at 2:23 AM
Yes, for the record, let me just point out that I do think USH is a fun park...it's just overrated. But it's still a fun visit.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 12, 2002 at 6:34 AM
Okay, Robert, I sat here wondering what the hell you were talking about! I was sitting here thinking, well USF IS doing better than USH! Look at the list! And foreign parks aren't listed cuz its the AMERICAN list. Then I figured it out! You were talking about your site's Top Ten list. UGH! Don't make me think at this time of night!

Anyhow, I have always wondered how you get that list. Is it an overall average or what?

From Robert Niles
Posted January 12, 2002 at 8:36 PM
Kevin, dude, sleep. The time stamp on your posts make ME feel nauseous! :-)

The park rankings are based on an average of the ratings submitted for all that park's attractions. A park has to have at least 50 votes cast for its attractions before it gets ranked.

Given "grade inflation," there's less scoring variance among good attractions than among crappy ones. So a few lousy attractions just kill a park's overall ranking. (See... Epcot.)

That's also what's happening to USF. Nick Studios and King are really bringing that park down.

So it looks like the folks on this site, at least, think it's time for the Big Ape to go.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 13, 2002 at 6:02 AM
Is it just attractions? Although it doesn't seem to make your list extremely odd, I have seen similar lists where places like Epcot are near the top because the few attractions they have are often highly rated. Others, like you said, are brought down by a few lackluster rides. I would hate to see how much IOA would be killing if they didn't have the Pteranodon Flyers, Storm Force or even those stoopid boats for the lazy people.

The unfortunate thing is that theming and atmosphere don't come into play. Or dining. I can understand how hard it would be to make the food thing fair, since some places have food all over the taste spectrum (cough, MK, cough). But eating in some of the Disney/MGM restaurants or the World Showcase restaurants in Epcot is a big part of the fun of those parks. Other parks, like USF, have great food all over, but it isn't really part of the experience there. But it is nice to know that wherever you choose to eat that you won't toss it in disgust (cough, Six Flags Marine World, cough). Which reminds me, I better add some restaurant reviews!

From Robert Niles
Posted January 14, 2002 at 12:00 AM
My mistake. I should have made clear that restaurants are included when computing the rankings. But even they can't save Epcot (though, the closing of JIYI for rehab has helped. Since it's a substantial redo, I'm treating the new version to come as a different attraction, wiping out all those old votes for JIYI. Old votes for any attraction expire after two years, as well.)

From Francois Chan
Posted January 14, 2002 at 10:38 AM
Speaking of number 16 on the list of most visited themeparks in the U.S.(the Adventuredome in Las Vegas), I JUST returned from there! (I've been in Vegas and can comment on Shark Reef at
Mandalay Bay and Race to Atlantis at Caesar's as well)...but where do I comment
on the Adventuredome at Circus Circus?

Actually, it's not that important...it's not really a themepark...more of a fun
(although subpar in comparison to other themeparks) casino diversion.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 15, 2002 at 8:08 AM
The Adventuredome BITES! That one new flat ride looks fun, but I didn't feel like paying for it after all the other crap you pay for in Vegas. The saddest thing is that nearly across the street is the Speed coaster which is more fun than the entire Adventuredome rolled into one.

From Francois Chan
Posted January 16, 2002 at 2:01 AM
Flat ride? Did I miss something while I was there? And you didn't want to shell out five bucks to go on it? Sheesh, you're cheap...;)

I didn't get time to see the Speed Coaster; I'm afraid I missed that one.

And what crap did you pay for in Vegas? Most of the shows are free (i.e. the Bellagio fountains, the short pirate show in front of Treasure Island, the covered walkway on Fremont)--yeah, the theatre shows are expensive (VERY expensive)...and so is the Mustang Ranch (j/k)...but, overall, Vegas is a pretty cheap vacation unless you gamble...

From Bryan Fear
Posted January 16, 2002 at 3:54 AM
Well actually no. The Mustang Ranch has been more affordable than ever if you download/print the coupons from the internet that... Uh,... Never mind. I mean, it's all hearsay. I hear.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 17, 2002 at 10:21 PM
Flat ride: it is called the Inverter. It flings you upside-down a whole bunch of times forward or backward. They have it at bigger carnivals.

I'm talking about all the in-between crap that costs way more than it should. The roller coasters are over-priced (especially that neck-breaking one at New York New York.) The aquarium, the art museum, Madame Tussaud's, the Eiffel Tower, the Stratosphere, the gondolas, the various simulators, IMAX, need I go on? Now I LOVE the shows, especially the Cirque du Soleil shows, and I don't have a problem spending that money usually. But they all happen at night and it is that daytime stuff that adds up. When you are spending 90 bucks on a show, spending 6 on a coaster seems like nothing, until you add in the rest of the "nothings" you spent that day. UGH!

From Anonymous
Posted January 30, 2002 at 2:50 PM
One thing to keep in mind regarding the "numbers" that are posted for the WDW Disney parks: It has been a long tradition of "inflating" the numbers by counting the entries at the gate for each of the parks. You might say "that's OK, so what?", but keep in mind that families buy the multi-day passes for MK, EPCOT, MGM and AK and then go to each of the parks, often in the same day. The reason that MK has such high numbers is because they have the fireworks at night, like EPCOT, and are open later than AK and MGM. It would be interesting to look at overall ticket sales for the four parks, from people buying one-day tickets and dividing the 4-day or more passes among the four Disney Parks- this would give a better idea of what parks people are actually buying tickets for. I believe that IOA and Universal base their numbers on a similiar basis, which could be misleading with the 7-day flex tickets (USF, IOA, Wet 'n Wild, BGTB, SWO), but they don't sell as high a percentage of them as Disney does with multi-day passes. I've lived in Orlando for several years, and the crowds are thinner, more so in EPCOT and Magic Kingdom than in IOA and Sea World. (Sea World has gotten crazy in the last year) Either way, the most amazing park for attracting more interest in Central Florida would be IOA and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay- their holiday (Halloween especially) programs are HUGE sellers, which likely accounts for the skew in attendence between IOA and USF- I don't think there was a single night that Halloween Horror Nights did not sell out this year.

From Kevin Baxter
Posted January 31, 2002 at 5:59 AM
Problem with that analysis is that the attendance figures are estimated by a company that figures it out without Disney's help. Attendance figures are usually "estimated" based on which park was entered first on that day. Otherwise, with all the park-hopping in WDW, the numbers would all be a lot closer to each other. Also, Disney/MGM and Epcot would have higher numbers than MK and AK due to the greater popularity of their nightly shows. MK's parades and fireworks are usually only nightly during the busy periods.

IOA and Sea World clearly don't get the crowds that Epcot and MK get, but they seem more crowded since they are smaller-sized parks and have fewer attractions than those two large parks.

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