Annual Theme Park Attendance Report Comes Out Tomorrow

Edited: June 1, 2015, 9:15 PM

The annual TEA/AECOM Global Attractions attendance report will be released tomorrow, June 2. [Update: They've pushed it back one day, until June 3.] What do you think it will say?

Here is last year's (2013) North American Top 10:

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom 18.6 million
Disneyland 16.2
Epcot 11.2
Disney's Animal Kingdom 10.2
Disney's Hollywood Studios 10.1
Disney California Adventure 8.5
Islands of Adventure 8.1
Universal Studios Florida 7.1
Universal Studios Hollywood 6.1
SeaWorld Orlando 5.1

I'm guessing that the Magic Kingdom (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) and the two Universal Orlando parks (Diagon Alley) will be up the most, while SeaWorld Orlando will suffer another decline, as it didn't offer any major new attraction to compete with Potter for the Disney leftovers in the Orlando market.

As for changes in position, I think SeaWorld San Diego will be up a tick in the 11 spot, but not enough to unseat its sibling for the top 10. I'm looking to see if either of the Universal Orlando parks can catch California Adventure, but I would bet that the top five will remain unchanged.

Your guesses?

You Might Also Like:

Replies (43)

June 1, 2015, 12:16 PM

Universal Studios Florida will hit 8 Mil....

Hey Robert? How do they count these?

Let's say (or type) that I have Multi-park Universal Orlando tickets.
I hit IOA in the morning and USF in the afternoon.

Is That 2 attendance visits or 1?
Thanks.


June 1, 2015, 12:28 PM

I've been told that the first admit of the day gets the count. Re-entries to that or other parks do not count. But this is an estimate for companies (e.g. Disney, Universal) that do not release specific park data.

June 1, 2015, 12:48 PM

Will MK hit 19? Probably. I'm guessing all four Florida parks will be up, both UO parks will be up a lot but can't see them passing any of the Mouses properties in Florida. Too big a leap. For Now anyway. I think the mouse may be losing part of the next generation. Those kids that are 12-16 now will be looking to take their kids to UO in 10-15 years instead of just all Disney. That's my theory but who knows. Either way new rides are good for us whatever park they are at.

June 1, 2015, 1:11 PM

Here's an interesting question:

Both Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and Universal Creative are members of TEA. So rather than offer up a big fat, throwin' bones guess (which typically comes with no detailed breakdown of methodology or statistics) why doesn't Disney and Universal simply provide their attendance statistics to the industry association of which they are members?

June 1, 2015, 1:12 PM

With the first park visit rule basis for the report I think USF gets above 8 million along with IOA being just a smidge ahead. SeaWorld falls just below 5 million (but for 2015 report back over 5 million). I think MK tops 19 million, Epcot & DAK also have solid gains. I think Hollywood Studios holds with a very minimal gain.

June 1, 2015, 1:37 PM

The Frozen stuff at DHS will have moved the attendance up a bit, but you have to wonder how much longer Disney's going to get by with a park with just 5 rides. If nothing changes soon, it will start to hit a decline in attendance and quite possibly be overtaken by one of the Universal parks.

June 1, 2015, 1:44 PM

TH,

I think they might (*might*) be more inclined to do that if there were any possible way that those numbers would stay inside TEA.

Edited: June 1, 2015, 1:57 PM

And I think the TEA's fundamental purpose is to support the themed entertainment industry and that the companies that are counted among its members benefit from an appearance that their industry is thriving.

Robert, you are a student of statistics. You have to admit that the fact that the TEA report offers virtually ZERO insight into their math or methodology calls into question its credibility. Especially considering the association's fundamental purpose is to serve its membership.

If TEA wants to claim that its stats are accurate, they have to show their math. And who knows, maybe they will buck past practices and lay out the numbers this year.

June 1, 2015, 2:54 PM

I thought USF was up big this year, like 53% or something, at least for one quarter. I can see it hitting 10M, which would really be something. I would also expect DHS and DAK to drop a bit because of all the construction, but at the end of the day MK will still be top dog by a wide margin.

Wonder if the SeaWorld/Busch parks will take another hit this year?

June 1, 2015, 3:10 PM

For Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom and DHS will probably see an increase (more for Magic Kingdom...possibly as high as 19 million). I don't think we'll see much change for Epcot, and I wouldn't be surprised if DAK dropped a bit to become the least popular WDW park.

At Universal Orlando, I could see USF gaining a million or more, but since IOA will probably increase a bit as well I don't know how likely it is that it would overtake USF. I also think they'll fall short of overtaking DCA, though the parks may get close.

In California, the two Disney parks will probably remain about the same as nothing major was added and the DCA refurbishment boost started to drop off in 2014. USH, on the other hand, will probably see a bit of an increase due to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, but I have a feeling the big boost won't be coming until 2016.

Lastly, SeaWorld. I doubt any of the SeaWorld parks will see a notable increase as 2014 was affected by Blackfish, plus with budget cuts and other issues I wouldn't be surprised if there was an attendance drop across the board. Regardless, SeaWorld Orlando will probably take the biggest hit.

June 1, 2015, 3:25 PM

What will TEA gain from showing their math other than the fact that Disney is always on top. Certainly, Disney can counter by merely showing their attendance numbers, but what fun is that? Disney won't provide their actual numbers means they don't want the competition to know. Disney could also categorically deny the TEA numbers, but they don't do that either. They convey credibility by not disputing it. My feeling is Disney doesn't sit by without influencing the final result in some way that we are not privy to. This was rumored to occur when AB did the numbers.

I expect SeaWorld to be flat this year. I think they are over the Blackfish fiasco and it is no longer on most people's minds.

Edited: June 1, 2015, 3:44 PM

Let's put it this way... no one I know of has quit TEA because of these numbers. They make great fuel for online debates, that I do know.

But... the real numbers I would love to see are the numbers of unique visitors at each park over the course of the year. That means, if you visit a park during the year, you are counted once as a unique visitor, with no counts for repeat visits to that park during that year.

I suspect that Disneyland would plunge down that list and that the Orlando parks would dominate even more than they do now, as APs would be counted just once, and not once for every day during the year that they visited.

Edited: June 1, 2015, 4:14 PM

Anon asks: "What will TEA gain from showing their math other than the fact that Disney is always on top?"

I respond: Credibility. Short of providing a detailed statistical analysis, TEA has to say "Here's the numbers. Take our word for it."

Anon writes: "Disney won't provide their actual numbers means they don't want the competition to know."

I Respond: Correct me if I am wrong, but Universal does not provide their numbers either. For whatever reason.

Anon Writes: "Disney could also categorically deny the TEA numbers, but they don't do that either."

I Respond: Again, Disney is a TEA member and could provide them with attendance figures -- but they choose not to. Why? Well, one scenario would be that the TEA numbers are inflated or at least higher than Disney's actual numbers and that Disney and the share price of their stock are benefiting from the mistake. Again, TEA is a a trade association that exists to benefit its members. By reporting strong attendance figures the TEA report shows the industry has vitality.

And by the way, why shouldn't TEA provide a detailed presentation of how they came to their conclusions? One reason (not necessarily THE reason) is because their analysis and conclusions would be discredited.

June 1, 2015, 3:57 PM

Mr Niles writes: "Let's put it this way... no one I know of has quit TEA because of these numbers."

I Respond: Not sure what that means. Especially considering that AECOM probably crunched the numbers.

June 1, 2015, 4:41 PM

"Disney and the share price of their stock are benefiting from the mistake."

Disney's stock price benefits from reported revenue and income. Assuming attendance is lower, per person spending is higher. Either way, one will look more ridiculous and out of line. Disney says attendance and spending are both higher. I guess the breakdown is unknown.

Edited: June 1, 2015, 4:54 PM

I realize that my "show vitality" theory may very well be wrong. That was certainly only meant to be one possible scenario. But that does not change the fact that absent the actual calculations used to draw the statistical conclusions in the report TEA's numbers lack a degree of credibility.

They should just show the math. They should have some guts.

June 1, 2015, 6:29 PM

Diagon was only open for half the year, so the bump will reflect a substantial increase for only the second half the year with a small increase for the first half. Actual bodies in both IOA & Universal studio will be discounted since TEA only counts the first park visited. Universal say's that 80% of their customers are now purchasing two park tickets, so a person who visits both parks will only count as visiting one. Same situation with WDW with their park hopper tickets. A person might attend two parks in a day, but will only count as one. I would guess that Magic Kingdom's true attendance is over 20 million a year since someone who goes to one of the other three parks earlier in the day, then goes to Magic Kingdom in the afternoon or evening, doesn't count as a guest. This really makes little sense. My opinion,is that this is a major fallacy with the TEA reporting system. They penalize multi parks systems adjacent to each other while giving full credits to park systems like Six Flags & Cedar Point that do not have adjacent parks. Essentially, their methodology is suspect.

June 1, 2015, 8:36 PM

I think the problem lies in that they aren't reporting both numbers. How many guests visited, and how many of those were park hopper guests should be what's recorded.

Edited: June 2, 2015, 1:10 AM

Mr. Pastor writes: "Actual bodies in both IOA & Universal studio will be discounted since TEA only counts the first park visited."

I Respond: Could you please provide a credible source that can verify that TEA "only counts the first park visited?"

Mr. Pastor writes: "A person might attend two parks in a day, but will only count as one."

I Respond: Could you please provide a credible source that can verify this is TEA's methodology?

June 2, 2015, 2:40 AM

Hey Robert, do you think my scathing indictment of TEA's lack of transparency is the reason they pushed back the release?

(Snark!)

Edited: June 2, 2015, 6:53 AM

TH: Insiders like Robert Niles, Lee, & Spirit and others have all reported that is what they have heard through their sources. Of course, no insider ever admits his sources since they wouldn't give info out anymore. And, as you said, TEA doesn't publicly declare their methods so we're all just guessing their results & methodology, which is regularly questioned by insiders every year. For all we know, their guess estimates may be no better than yours or anyone else....Their stuff is really just something to have fun with & argue about. It doesn't really have much relevance beyond that. The only thing that really counts is how much profit the companies are making. And that's public knowledge if they're a public company. And public reports show Universal & Disney theme parks are doing quite well.

Edited: June 2, 2015, 7:55 AM

Mr. Rob Pastor writes: "Insiders like Robert Niles, Lee, & Spirit and others have all reported that is what they have heard through their sources."

I Respond: I could very well be wrong, but I don't recall Mr. Niles ever referencing an inside source that confirmed "TEA only counts the first park visited." Again, I could be wrong -- so maybe you can find the reference. I don't know who "Lee" and "Spirit" are, so ...

Mr. Pastor writes: " And, as you said, TEA doesn't publicly declare their methods so we're all just guessing their results & methodology ..."

I respond: Actually what I said was that absent transparency in their accounting (or showing us the actual math) TEA's results lack credibility. There is no way to confirm the veracity of their findings.

Mr. Pastor writes: "Their stuff is really just something to have fun with & argue about. It doesn't really have much relevance beyond that."

I Respond: That's not exactly true. A cursory search related to last year's report reveals it was covered throughout the media as NEWS by outlets such as the Orlando Sentinel, Forbes, CNN, Yahoo Finance, Motlety Fool. I have little doubt that this year's report will generate the same media attention.

June 2, 2015, 8:14 AM

"There is no way to confirm the veracity of their findings."

If Disney is a member of TEA, they must be standing there grinning.

You're haggling over their methods when it doesn't matter.

It's like guessing someone's age and ranking everyone according to age. Some people are better guessers than others. Everyone knows their own age. Some even said it. The oldest one isn't telling.

Doesn't Tokyo Disneyland post real numbers? You can use these figures as a basis of comparison.

June 2, 2015, 8:56 AM

Universal Japan posted actual attendance numbers also. The latest was just a few weeks ago. I would guess TEA would use those actual numbers since the parks are posting them....Anon: Great comment. Some people are better guessers than others. I totally agree.

June 2, 2015, 10:16 AM

Anon writes: "Doesn't Tokyo Disneyland post real numbers? You can use these figures as a basis of comparison."

I Respond: Could you clarify?

Edited: June 2, 2015, 11:08 AM

"Could you clarify?"

Which sentence needs clarification? No to each of my sentences. They are pretty clear as written.

June 2, 2015, 1:20 PM

I mean "as a basis of comparison" to or for what?

June 2, 2015, 1:25 PM

Also, the only place I find attendance figures related to Tokyo Disneyland or Universal Japan on the web reference TEA/AECOM.

Edited: June 2, 2015, 1:42 PM

Please ask a more confusing question.

You never did a Google search on Tokyo Disneyland attendance? FAIL.

June 2, 2015, 1:51 PM

@ Anon: You wrote: "Doesn't Tokyo Disneyland post real numbers? You can use these figures as a basis of comparison."

I am asking as a basis of comparison to what? Or as a basis of comparison for what?

Also I did do a Google search on that topic and (as I said previously) the only links that I find related to TDL and UJ attendance reference TEA/AECOM.

June 2, 2015, 2:15 PM

Universal Japan had a press release a month or two ago on their attendance. It was in reference to the huge gains from the Potter expansion. They posted actual attendance figures at that time.

June 2, 2015, 2:17 PM

"I am asking as a basis of comparison to what? Or as a basis of comparison for what?"

Like asking if water is wet.

Edited: June 2, 2015, 2:18 PM

Got It! From Screamscape:

(4/2/15) The numbers are in and Universal Studios Japan pulled in 12.7 million guests over the 2014 fiscal year that has just come to a close… up 2.2 million guests from the previous year thanks to the addition of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Still can't find TDL numbers other than TEA's

June 2, 2015, 2:20 PM

No, it's like asking what you meant when you wrote "You can use these figures (Tokyo Disneyland's) as a basis of comparison."

How would it be used as a basis of comparison?

June 2, 2015, 2:30 PM

I recall seeing Disney Japan actual numbers posted in the past by the parks in reference to the numbers pre, year of and post earthquake. That was a couple of years ago though. But, they may have also posted numbers in their expansion plans press release months ago, but I'm not positive on that.

June 2, 2015, 8:03 PM

I was reading on WDW Magic that Sea World has sued TEA in the past for under reporting their attendance. Does anyone know if this is true and any specifics if it is?

Edited: June 3, 2015, 3:14 AM

Regardless of all the typical TPI, discussion thread blah, blah, blah -- When the TEA report is released today, if the contents do not include a detailed statistical presentation showing exactly how they calculated their attendance totals then its credibility should be called into question.

Further, I believe it is incumbent upon commentators and journalists (such as Mr. Niles) who publish the report's conclusion to challenge TEA to release those calculations for public scrutiny.

Of course if TEA won't release those calculations then the report's value is, at best, negligible.

June 3, 2015, 6:07 AM

As I said on your other thread, Len Testa of Touring plans, whose company does extensive statistical studies of Disney & Universal attendance, says that TEA numbers are inaccurate. And yes, TH,for what it's worth, I agree with your above statement.

Edited: June 3, 2015, 8:59 AM

"says that TEA numbers are inaccurate"

Okay, I'll bite again. By definition, the numbers are inaccurate because they are reverse engineering undisclosed numbers. If Len Testa knows the actual numbers, he should share them. Otherwise, he's just messing with you. Plus, since he does "extensive statistical studies of Disney & Universal attendance", he is a direct competitor to TEA.

If you want to know the methods that TEA arrived at its estimates, it might serve some academic interest, but ultimately useless if it cannot be compared with the actual numbers. There's nothing to check its work.

Previously, I mentioned other parks like Tokyo Disneyland provide actual numbers. TEA can check its methods at Tokyo Disneyland with its actual numbers. Get it? TEA can fine tunes its methods by testing it out at other markets, but since they don't have actual numbers at Disneyland and Disney World, there will always be some inaccuracy.

Then again, Disney and Universal are standing right there keeping their mouths shut and you're fuming at TEA.

Edited: June 3, 2015, 9:31 AM

I'm not fuming at TEA. I just think their numbers are suspect, and it seems most of the insiders close to the industry think that also. I think it's interesting to look at their numbers, but I certainly don't look at them as being positively correct, since they aren't official numbers from the park systems, except for the ones that release official numbers. And the fact that the park systems don't advertise or tout the TEA numbers tells me that they are probably not accurate. TEA numbers may well be in the ball park in some cases, but in others they may be far off. Some of the numbers make no sense in light of the park's capacity. Bottom line, I treat their report as something to be interested by, but I sure wouldn't make any business assumptions based on their reports. The main thing that I look at is revenue by the parks when the public companies make their quarterly and annual reports. That means a lot more than guessed attendance figures.

June 4, 2015, 10:23 AM

Robert ...what kind of IP's do you think would make Sea World go back up again? Who would you love to see there? Have you heard of any possible contracts they may be getting anytime soon now that Joel Manby is there? I truly hope they increase their attendance soon.

June 4, 2015, 10:56 AM

They should create a strong deal with Dreamworks Animation. That is probably the most appropriate and most viable entity to partner with. The chain already has rights to Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon is a franchise just itching to be adapted to a theme park setting. The only problem would be Universal's relationship with Spielberg and their existing Shrek-based attractions. If Sea World could find a way to forge an agreement that doesn't infringe on Universal's existing relationship (primarily film distribution rights), being able to tap the entire Dreamworks Animation library could be a strong move if they choose to go the IP route.

However, Manby showed at Dollywood and Silver Dollar City that you don't need high priced IPs to create high quality attractions. Mako and Cobra's Curse are not linked to any IPs, and attractions like Antarctica, Journey to Atlantis, and Curse of DarKastle have compelling narratives using internally-created stories and characters.

Edited: June 4, 2015, 12:28 PM

Madagascar is already featured in Universal Singapore. SeaWorld would only be able to narrowly license DreamWorks Animation IP like the Penguins. They would be unable to license the whole library. SeaWorld should just stay away from DreamWorks since their previous association with Universal is just too deep to overcome. There are few viable IPs for SeaWorld. They should consider going to Fox or Paramount to find some quality IPs. Paramount just released The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. This is perfect.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.



Theme Park Guides

What's New and Under Construction

Universal Orlando

Walt Disney World

Disneyland