The 2013 Global Attractions Attendance Report [PDF] from the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM includes the group's estimates for attendance at top theme parks worldwide, in the United States, and for other regions around the world.
The Tokyo Disney theme parks posted the strongest gains, with a 15.9% increase pushing Tokyo Disneyland past the original Anaheim Disneyland into second place worldwide, with 17.2 million visitors in 2013. The Anaheim park increased 1.5 percent, as Tokyo DisneySea jumped 11.3 percent while holding on to fourth place.
Walt Disney World's Epcot moved up to fifth place worldwide due to a 6.9 percent attendance drop at former fifth-place park Disneyland Paris, which dropped to 10.4 million visitors last year. Epcot was up 1.5 percent, to 11.2 million visitors. Attendance grew 4.3% on average at the top 25 parks in the world last year.
Here is the global Top 10, with 2013 attendance in millions and change from the previous year's revised number:
And the Top 10 theme parks in the United States, where average attendance grew 2.7 percent in 2013 for the Top 20 parks:
Universal Studios Florida was the big winner in 2013, with Transformers and Springfield propelling the Orlando park to a 14% increase in attendance. With The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley opening there later this month, Universal Studios Florida is a strong candidate to post the biggest gains in 2014, as well.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment fell behind in 2013, with attendance declines at the two SeaWorld and the two Busch Gardens parks listed among the Top 20 in the US. SeaWorld Orlando has been languishing since peaking at 5.8 million attendance in 2009, while other major Orlando-area theme parks have seen their attendance surge.
Previous theme park attendance reports:Tweet
Cars Land continues to propel DCA to new heights as it surpassed IOA this year furthering Disney's dominance of the top spots across the board. What a difference a $1.2B investment in attractions makes to a park! (Take that NextGen project!)
Also, the huge jump in Magic Kingdom attendance (huge for a park already pulling in a ton of visitors each year), could be attributed to the much maligned New Fantasyland expansion so many folks on this site (and others) have unjustly panned as being a waste of time and money. Consider the fact that all of these attendance gains were made without the expansion's signature attraction which means even more growth could be coming to the MK next year as well. Could we see Magic Kingdom hit 20M in this decade?? Yikes! Good thing they have expanded and will continue to expand the park, isn't it?
In other park news, Knott's proved that restoring their classic log ride was a good idea, Cedar Point's Gatekeeper brought in some good growth, and two Six Flags parks finally made big positive gains! Sadly, the Busch parks continue to slide, despite being among the most noteworthy "regional" theme parks in the nation. Not sure how they are planning to turn things around, but a gimmicky drop tower and rumored off the shelf coaster may not be the best options. And finally, Seaworld Orlando continues to bear the brunt of Universal's growth. Ouch.
Overall, there is a lot of positive news in the industry, even as the gap between the haves and have nots continues to expand.
I do wish BGT could just pick up the park and move it to Orlando or Buena Vista area... It is a great park but many visitors just do not want to drive to Tampa or do not have a rental car get them there..
But here is the real question Robert: Are You going to the opening of Diagon Alley Media Event?
Could this be the year that a Universal Park actually jumps ahead of either Animal Kingdom or Disney Studios? I ask this because my wife and I are heading to Central Florida from California in October for a cruise out of Port Canaveral and then heading to the Orlando parks. This however will be the first EVER that we spend more days at Universal than at Disney. We will be going to Universal for 2 days and only going to EPCOT and that will be for 1 day.
I can't help to think that I'm not the only one out there that is starting to book Orlando vacations with Universal in mind with Disney as an after thought.
Kudos to Tokyo Disneyland!! That park, and DisneySea are definitely on my bucket list.
Also, if the report is not accurate why is it presented as being accurate? Just to prompt discussion and site hits? Are there other reports we can view that are more accurate?
Funny, TH Creative has been questioning the validity of these reports (for all the Florida parks) for years and only received grief for his comments.... Wonder where he gets his inside info? ;)
I Respond: Please. TEA is an organization that promotes the themed entertainment industry. I have no doubt that ALL of the statistics in this report are inflated. Perhaps Mr. Niles will identify the Tweeter.
Of course we will never know exactly how accurate the report is -- as its methodology remains shrouded in a vague description: "AECOM obtains the figures used to create the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index through a variety of sources, including statistics furnished directly by the operators, historical numbers, financial reports, the investment banking community and local tourism organizations, among others."
Why doesn't TEA/AECOM "show their work." Why don't they discuss the attendance figures related to each park and provide a detailed explanation of how they made their calculations?
After all, there is no charge for obtaining the report -- thus there is no motivation for a competitor to steal their method and produce an alternate (free) product.
One reason that TEA/AECOM might want to keep a lid on its math is because it wants to avoid criticism of its work. Especially poignant criticism that accurately identifies the report's shortcomings.
Hahahaha Just Kidding..
AB was questioned for its numbers and, at that time, I read from accounts by Disney insiders that the Magic Kingdom attendance was inflated to boaster it's anniversary promotion (remember the pink cake castle?). Afterall, it can't be verified since Disney doesn't release its attendance numbers. I often thought this was strange to withhold data since Disney is clearly number one based on anecdotal evidence (was their theme parks ever uncrowded?) and Disney doesn't do the same with their movie box office receipts (we know how badly The Lone Ranger did).
So maybe the attendance numbers are legacy from Disney's mis-direction. I would love a do-over with all of Disney theme park attendance figures, but it might not matter since they will still be number one.
@Brian Provided I can take my lunch breaks IN THE PARK at no cost to me...I'll take that job!
I Respond: How do they accomplish that?
James - you are Hired....
I Respond: Setting aside the Hogwart's Express factor, how do you explain the alleged 14% increase in attendance at USF and only a 2% increase at IOA.
The increase in USF attendance can be explained through the recent additions of Transformers and Springfield. IOA has not added a single attraction since WWoHP opened in 2010 aside from the Spiderman upgrade in 2012.
Based on limited personal experience, as well as reports from our readers, I'd certainly consider an argument that Tokyo Disneyland actually draws more visitors than the Magic Kingdom and that DHS and DAK aren't that far ahead of IOA. But unless parks are all going to put their real numbers on the table, this AECOM report is the best data we have.
I think Schroll is stating the fact that attendance between both parks are aligning. ("nobody goes to USF without going to IOA") Seems like you ignored the park attendance and alleged inconsistency with the percentage difference.
Universal Studios Florida 7.1 14.0%
Islands of Adventure 8.1 2.0%
People are going to IOA and a lesser amount is going to USF.
I think the person who posted above about Universal seeking the thrill park market got it bang on. The money is in the family market, born out year after year by the attendance figures for Disney's 'boring' or 'under-invested' parks.
Disney knows its market and it is paying handsome dividends. Universal may well have the theme park enthusiasts' vote but that doesn't convert into sufficient volume to threaten Disney. Not for a very long time to come....
Perhaps if you provide an educated guess on what you actually think it is, then I'll know what you're coming from. The numbers are already in favor of Disney and you think Universal's numbers are weird. This explain even less of why Disney doesn't release its attendance figures. Perhaps it doesn't want to help the competition or it wants to spike its stock price. Either explanation is inadequate.
It would make sense that Universal Studios attendance has risen as well. I would bet you see 20-30% increases for Universal in 2014 just because of Diagon Alley.
I'm not sure how accurate these figures are, but if they have a 2% margin of error, some parks may have seen no actual increase at all.
This would favor Disney since they have more on-site guests. Universal have to rely on outside visitors much more. Park hopping is also in favor of Disney and it will increase the attendance of the lesser parks more than the top parks like the Magic Kingdom.
Disney's power of mass accumulation helps maintain its momentum. Universal can push its way in with Diagon Alley, but there is still its missing link of a true children's section. It needs a family area similar to Fantasyland that caters to Prince and Princesses. Let's hope they have something like this planned for the future, but perhaps they can do with with another iteration of Harry Potter or break in a new direction from Kings Cross. How about Prince Harry and Kate? Create a mock up of London's Buckingham Palace. Meet the Queen of England. Meet up with the Knights of the Round Table (the fantasy side).
I respond: Because TEA is an organization that promotes the themed entertainment industry and because they don't present a detailed finding. If the Magic Kingdom actually welcomed 18 million-plus guests, show the math that proves it. I mean what do they have to hide?
I Respond (with a shrug): So what? If I visit two or even three parks during a single day, why shouldn't all three parks be credited for an admission?
What does Disney have to hide? Most parks release their actual attendance figures.
So it promotes themed entertainment and Disney does themed entertainment. So business is good for Disney and to TEA by association. If the numbers are phony, it will be self-serving, but it can backfire too.
I Respond: I don't believe that any of the Sea World, Busch Gardens or Universal parks release attendance figures. So I am not sure what you mean by "most."
Anon Mouse: "If the numbers are phony, it will be self-serving, but it can backfire too."
I Respond: And by withholding their methods for calculating their findings they reduce the the risk of being criticized (called "phony").
Don't know if this statement is true or not, but Niles' experts seem to think it is.
I think these numbers may pure fiction and off by quite a huge margin. USF and Disney know exactly how many unique visitors come and go on a given day, seeing that they scan your ticket and fingerprint you every time.
Parks like Busch Gardens and Sea World probably don't see many people visit twice on the same day unless they are staying extremely close by.
A lot of people come back to MK / Epcot for fireworks and night time shows, but I think USF sees more park hopping than any other resort due to the fact they were practically connected via CityWalk and a 5 minute saunter.
Now they are truly connected via Hogwarts Express. Have fun trying to account for all of that in the coming year.
And with Disneyland Resort still fresh in my mind from last year, I think those two parks are even closer than the Orlando Universal parks. But not by much!
Looking forward to the helicopter photos of Universal's entrance the day the gate crasher known as Diagon Alley opens to the public. Also looking forward to waiting at least a month to visit. Early entry is the only way we will get to ride, but there will be people lined up three hours early every day, I'm sure.
I am hoping the seldom used side entrance near the Blue Man Theater let's people in early as well....
I Respond: Um, don't guests "spend" money to get into the parks?
Attending 2 parks in WDW in the morning is not easy, and due to the time wastage involved I would guess rarely done. In Universal Orlando and DLR this is almost the norm due to their proximity.
If anything, USF and DCA are likely overrepresented because these are the parks that would benefit most from this park hopping.
I personally believe that only 1 park visit per person per day be recorded, because this would most accurately reflect true numbers. If 10 people attend a Epcot then go to DHS counting them twice is the same as 20 people attending a single park for the whole day - its misleading. Unfortunately it can be pretty hard to differentiate.
Reviewing the numbers provided in the TEA report:
Disney USA Theme and Water Parks drew a combined 78.851 Million visitors in 2013 vs. 76.276M visitors. That is a combined increase of 3.51%. The Disney annual report noted an increase of 4% for theme park attendance. This adds up even if different park hopping counting methods are used.
More interesting is the international parks. The 2013 total was 53.958M visitors vs. 50.203M in 2012.
That is a combined increase of 6.76%. The Disney annual report reports a reduction of 2% in attendance. That's a difference of about 4.1-4.6M guests. Something is wrong in the world somewhere.
Also of interest, if you use Disney's reported admission revenue total of $4.704B with the TEA attendance total of 132.55M this gives a net admission price of about $35.49/entry. That is about the price of a 10 day ticket to WDW with no options or discounts ($35.40). If park hoppers and/or re-entries were counted separately, My gut instinct would expect the number to be far lower.
(FY 2013 Disney Annual Report pages 33 and 71)
So we have two parks with attendance numbers from public documents. "Mostly" might just mean mostly everyone except for Disney. Goodness THC, you're just spouting off. Please offer me something to prove YOUR point.
It is what it is.
On a side note, after reading through many of the comments in the links Robert provided for previous reports, we've all been arguing about the same things for over 12 years. The commenters have changed (some of them anyway) but the comments are all still the same. And who is that Kevin Baxter fella? I thought I was negative, but man, he HATES theme parks of every kind! Whatever happened to him, Robert? Some of the battles between him and Derek Potter were epic. Interesting stuff...
In any case, Universal might be catching up based on anecdotal evidence and the next closest rival is SeaWorld, which by their own report, hasn't done too well. So I would rather put it on them (the critics) first before raising it to TEA or AB previously. You would think the AB should give up their methods since they went out of business. Well, maybe someone should pay them something for their secrets, you know...
...by the way, can't wait to meet you in person at Cedar Point in August, bro! Concrete/Steel/Iron Jungle, here I come!
It's interesting that we've been accepting the TEA numbers for years, but it seems this year is the point where we all cast our doubts as to where these estimations are coming from. I guess some people have pent-up curiosity or this is an indictment of some fans' desires to see the Disney parks fall in attendance.
James Koehl: I was looking back at the other years and Robert had an interesting idea in which an estimation of the attendance for the months all parks are open (April through October) as an indication of who has a better daily average.
James Rao: You should do some digging on the battles between Kevin Baxter and TH. Someone here mentioned it a few times, so I checked and found some truly great stuff!
How many guest are not accounted for via HHN. Obviously Magic Kingdom would obviously also have a boost via their separate ticketed events also.
It is pretty interesting that other entertainment businesses freely share their results: movie box office is widely reported; Broadway shows list a plethora of data that anyone can see, not just box office, but even percentage of seats filled. Yet theme parks keep this information proprietary. I don't blame them, but it makes things a bit more interesting, doesn't it?
Wait, if TEA/AECOM got its data from "public documents" why won't Universal comment?
And then there is this from the same article:
"Although the AECOM numbers are unofficial estimates — none of the major theme-park operators publicly discloses attendance figures — they are widely used across the industry."
Once again that word is "none" ... Which would be different than the word "most."
Game, set and match.
People trust the report except for THC.
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