Predictions for the 2020 Theme Park Attendance Report?

Edited: February 25, 2021, 12:59 PM

What do you think the 2020 TEA/AECOM Theme Index report will look like, whenever it gets released this year?

Obviously, with so many parks being closed then operating at reduced capacities in 2020 due to the pandemic, one might expect the annual attendance report to look a bit scrambled from recent years'. But I suspect that the US Top 10 might end up being the same 10 parks, though in different order. (Here is last year's report, for reference.)

Universal Orlando had an extra month of operation over the Walt Disney World theme parks, but I don't know if that would be enough to dislodge Magic Kingdom from the nation's top spot. Maybe Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure could pass one or more of Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom or Disney's Hollywood Studios, though.

Even though Disneyland was closed from mid-March on, I still think it would come in 7th, based on it being packed for the first two and a half months of the year. SeaWorld Orlando might pass Disney California Adventure for the eighth spot. That makes it a race between Universal Studios Hollywood and Busch Gardens Tampa for the 10th position. If BGT gets it, that would be the only change in the US Top 10.

So to kick off the thread, here's my completely worthless prediction:

1. Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, 5 million
2. Universal Studios Florida, 4 million
3. Islands of Adventure, 4 million
4. Epcot, 4 million
5. Disney's Animal Kingdom, 4 million
6. Disney's Hollywood Studios, 4 million
7. Disneyland, 3 million
8. SeaWorld Orlando, 1.5 million
9. Disney California Adventure, 1.5 million
10. Universal Studios Hollywood, 1 million

What's yours?

Replies (15)

February 25, 2021, 3:10 PM

Considering that the report uses estimates, biased financial reports, and surveys to derive much of the data presented (not actual turnstile clicks from parks themselves), I wouldn't be surprised to see the report to extensively qualify attendance numbers (or perhaps not present them at all because of their unreliability). I think the report will instead minimize the data (along with the likely lack of accuracy), and focus on telling the story of how the pandemic has affected the industry and ways the parks, attractions, and museums adapted to operate through pandemic conditions where local authorities actually allowed businesses to open. The report is also likely to highlight upcoming attractions and additions, including those that were supposed to open in 2020 but were delayed.

It doesn't do the industry any good to present data from what was a very strange year. This report is more or less a brochure for the industry, and trying to present any data from a year where the industry was a shadow of what it should be does not serve their interests, and wouldn't really have much of a place in the publication.

February 25, 2021, 4:20 PM

But publishing the 2020 data this spring provides a cheap, easy way for the industry to promote "Record-Setting Increases!" in 2021.

Edited: February 25, 2021, 7:23 PM

Is this really happening? Someone is cutting a check to the AECOM soothsayers so they can roll some Dungeons and Dragons dice and CLAIM they know the score related to a year that's part Salvador Dali and part William Blatty novel?

"Oh God, help us all." -- Emma Stone

Edited: February 25, 2021, 9:15 PM

Are you saying that the TEA/AECOM report is Fake News, THC?

Edited: February 26, 2021, 10:35 AM

I don't think that's what TH is saying - probably more along the lines of this report being nothing more than an annual pat on the back to industry leaders and publicity stunt to gin up more business in the following year. That's absolutely what the report is, and anyone that sees it as anything other than a marketing tool is fooling themselves.

And yes, the company that I work for is that same one that profits from generating this report (though a different division).

February 26, 2021, 2:49 PM

Okay, putting aside thoughts about the TEA/AECOM reports, does anyone want to post any guesses on 2020 attendance numbers?

Edited: February 27, 2021, 10:06 AM

It's hard to estimate anything right now, Robert, because of California. If Gov Newsom feels enough political heat and opens up California theme parks to be more than the drive thru restaurants that they are right now before the beginning of the summer high season, then you're looking at some pretty decent numbers for 2021.

So, here are my equally worthless guesses:

Magic Kingdom - 10 million
Epcot - 7 million
DHS - 8 million
DAK - 8 million
Sea World - 2.5 million
Disneyland - 7 million
DCA - 4 million
USH - 2 million
Knotts Berry Farm - 1.5 million
Magic Mountain - 1.5 million
Cedar Point - 2 million

February 28, 2021, 6:20 PM

1. Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, 8 million
2 Epcot, 4.2 million
3. Disney's Animal Kingdom, 4.1 million
4. Disney's Hollywood Studios 4 million
5. Disneyland 3.99 million
6. Disney's California Adventure 3.98 million
7. Universal Studios Florida, 3.97 million
8. Islands of Adventure, 3.96 million
9. SeaWorld Orlando, 2 million
10. Universal Studios Hollywood, 37 ... ("37?!") ... See what I did there?

March 1, 2021, 8:05 AM

Looks like a bunch of gas pump attendance estimates, THC.

And #10 USH, not really getting it. Obscure movie reference? Louis Farrakhan numerology? Message from outer space?

March 1, 2021, 5:39 PM


March 1, 2021, 11:44 PM

I really think any sort of report with hard numbers would be a disservice to the industry this year and wouldn't really provide useful data for a comparison due to many restrictions on operation this year, so I'm doubtful there will be an actual attendance report on the 2020 season. Instead, any report would likely look at trends and focus on how those have grown since reopening, as well as how parks have scaled up their operation to handle larger crowds in a safe manner.

However, just for fun, here are my guesses for 2020 numbers from 2019's top 20 parks.

1. Magic Kingdom - 7.9 million, -62%
2. Hollywood Studios - 5.2 million, -55%
3. Animal Kingdom - 4.7 million, -66%
4. Islands of Adventure - 4.3 million, -59%
5. Epcot - 4.3 million, -65%
6. Universal Studios Florida - 4.1 million, -62%
7. Disneyland - 3.1 million, -83%
8. SeaWorld Orlando - 1.8 million, -61%
9. Universal Studios Hollywood - 1.7 million, -81%
10. Busch Gardens Tampa - 1.7 million, -60%
11. Disney California Adventure Park - 1.6 million, -84% (not including Buena Vista Street opening)
12. Hersheypark - 0.9 million, -74%
13. Six Flags Great Adventure - 0.9 million, -74% (including drive-thru events)
14. Cedar Point - 0.9 million, -0.76%
15. SeaWorld San Diego - 0.6 million, -84% (including zoo days)
16. Knott's Berry Farm - 0.6 million, -86% (including "Taste Of...")
17. Six Flags Magic Mountain - 0.6 million, -83% (including drive-thru event)
18. Kings Island - 0.6 million, -83%
19. Six Flags Great America - 0.3 million, -91% (waterpark and holiday event)
20. Canada's Wonderland - 0 million, -100%

On an actual top twenty list, I'd expect everything below Cedar Point to be dethroned by Six Flags, SeaWorld, and/or Herschend parks that haven't qualified in recent years.

March 2, 2021, 3:23 AM

Well done, AJ!

Edited: April 13, 2021, 5:16 PM

FYI, I deleted a bunch of spam responses from this thread, as well as the resulting flame war that broke out between two members in response to those spam posts.

I trust now that the precipitating posts are gone that the flame war will not continue.

April 13, 2021, 6:11 PM

Thank you Robert. That cleanup was long overdue.

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