What will 2010's top 10 for theme park attendance look like?

January 6, 2011, 10:06 AM · With 2010 in the history books, I'm curious what Theme Park Insider readers think the annual U.S. Top 10 list for theme park attendance will look like. Last year, TEA/AECOM released their report for 2009 in April. What's your guess for what that Top 10 list will look like this year?

Cinderella's Castle
Last year's U.S. theme park champion

We've got clues aplenty, as individual parks and companies have released attendance data in federal SEC reports and press releases. We know that Universal Orlando's attendance is way up, and that Walt Disney World's attendance likely was down. Disneyland increased a bit, and California Adventure was up a lot. But we need to put it all together.

Will this be the year that Disneyland reclaims the attendance crown from its younger sibling, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom?

It seems a given, at this point, that - thanks to Harry Potter - Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure will be the first Orlando-area park to beat a Walt Disney World park in attendance. But can it pass even Epcot to become the number two park in Orlando, behind the Magic Kingdom?

Can Universal Studios Florida ride IOA's coat-tails to beat Disney's Animal Kingdom, traditionally the least-attended Walt Disney World park? Or could World of Color boost California Adventure to beating one of its Disney World sister parks?

Will we see just a reshuffling of the Top 10, or will another park knock out Universal Studios Hollywood or SeaWorld Orlando to enter the list?

My best guess?

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

But remember, I'm an idiot when it comes to predictions. Please submit your guess for the 2010 U.S./North America theme park attendance leaders in the comments and we'll see who can pick the Top 10 better than I can.

Replies (9)

January 6, 2011 at 10:49 AM · 1. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
2. Disneyland
3. Epcot
4. Universal's Islands of Adventure
5. Disney's Hollywood Studios
6. Disney's Animal Kingdom
7. Disney California Adventure
8. Universal Studios Florida
9. SeaWorld Orlando
10. Universal Studios Hollywood

I am thinking this was a big year for the Magic Kingdom and IOA. This is my prediction, but it could be wrong.

But here is something that puzzles me: The distance in rankings between IOA and USO and DL and DCA because they are within steps of each other and I have always gone to both for that reason. I guess you can say the same for WDW parks!

January 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM · 1. MK
2. IOA
3. DL
4. DHS
5. AK
6. USF
8. DCA
9. SW
January 6, 2011 at 10:54 AM · It sure felt like it was really busy this year at the Walt Disney World parks... more crowded than usual...lots of 1st time visitors. I am sure the Universal had a huge jump in their attendance thanks mostly to a certain boy wizard.
January 6, 2011 at 11:37 AM · My predictions are the same as Robert's, except having MK at top with Disneyland second. I highly doubt IOA passed over a place like Epcot, but if they did... huge congrats are in order.
January 6, 2011 at 12:22 PM · Islands of Adventure would have had to go up drastically to beat any of Walt Disney World's theme parks. I don't see that happening, even with Harry Potter.
January 6, 2011 at 8:55 PM · North America
(1) Magic Kingdom
(2) Disneyland
(3) Epcot
(4) Holywood Studios
(5) Animal Kingdom
(6) Island of Adventure
(7) Universal Studios Florida
(8) California Adventure
(9) Sea World Orlando
(10)Busch Gardens Tampa

(1) Disneyland Paris
(2) Europapark
(3) De Efteling
(4) Tivoli
(5) Liseberg
(6) Gardaland
(7) Port Aventura
(8) Walt Disney Studios
(9) Alton Towers
(10) Phantasialand

January 6, 2011 at 10:11 PM · #1 Disneyland
#2 Magic Kingdom
#3 Islands of Adventure
#4 Epcot
#5 Disney's California Adventure
#6 Disney's Hollywood Studios
#7 Disney's Animal Kingdom
#8 Universal Studios Florida
#9 SeaWorld Orlando
#10 SeaWorld San Diego

Up & Coming?
Challenging for top 10 Spots!!

#11 Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
#12 Universal Studios Hollywood
#13 Knotts Berry Farm Anaheim
#14 Cedar Point Sandusky Ohio
#15 Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Hopefull Stars of the future that will challenge in 2012!!!

LegoLand California (Keeps increasing its presence in SoCal)

Holiday World (The David that keeps chopping down all the Goliaths in terms of customer satisfaction & ride quality)

LegoLand Florida (Disney does have something to be concerned about with this addition...if Merlin entertainment does what it expects to do!!)

Orlando Thrill Park (if its built)

Six Flags Magic Mountain (Can it be restored to its prime: Green Lantern & Superman!!!)

January 7, 2011 at 6:33 AM · I agree wtih Anthony's prediction

While attendence at IOA will of increased significantly, I think attendence at all parks will have increased as those out of town visitors who have postponed visits to Orlando whilst awaiting the opening of Harry Potter, will have finally swung into town. THey will have visited multiple parks, including MK and Epcot

January 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM · I'm sorry, but you all must not be math majors because Universal's Islands of Adventure attendance WILL NOT surpass any of the Orlando Disney Parks, and probably not the Disney Parks in California either.

Universal has stated that attendance at IOA was up 36% in the previous quarter and year-to-date attendance at Universal Orlando was up 12%. Harry Potter only debuted in June, so you can write off any increase for the first five months of the year. In fact, attendance may have actually decreased as people patiently waited for the opening of Harry Potter.

For argument sake lets say that Islands of Adventure managed to increase attendance by 36% - an amazing feat!

If true, then the estimated attendance would roughly be 6.3 million, far short of Disney Animal Kingdom (9.59 million - 2009) and slightly less than Disney California Adventure that I predict will see attendance rise to 7.0 million (up 15%).

With a 36% increase, attendance at Disney's Animal Kingdom would need to drop 35% for IOA to exceed it. That's not going to happen.

The "Harry Potter effect" has only been for seven months and Universal has already stated that attendance overall is not up 36%. I predict that attendance at Islands of Adventure will be approximately 5.5 million (up 19%). Disney Parks in Orlando will be down about 1 to 3% each and SeaWorld will see the largest attendance drop in Orlando allowing for both Universal Parks to overtake it.

The Top 10 for 2010 should look relatively unchanged:

1. Magic Kingdom
2. Disneyland
4. Disney Hollywood Studios
5. Disney Animal Kingdom
6. Disney California Adventure
7. Universal's Islands of Adventure *up from #9*
8. Universal Studios Florida
9. SeaWorld Orlando *down from #7*
10. Universal Studios Hollywood

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