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Harry Potter, 'Walking Dead' boost attendance at Universal Studios Hollywood

July 21, 2016, 11:21 AM · Attendance soared at Universal Studios Hollywood following April's official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, according to an analysis of online tracking data. And attendance at Universal's original park jumped again after July 4's opening of The Walking Dead Attraction.

Check-in and background tracking data from Foursquare showed that Universal Studios Hollywood's market share nearly doubled year over year from April 2016, when Potter opened, compared with its market share in April 2015. Foursquare's data suggested that the increase was driven mainly by Millennials, which the company says now make up about half of USH's attendance.

Foursquare's USH attendance data
Chart from Foursquare, via

Meanwhile, Universal Studios Hollywood has rolled out yet more changes to its annual pass program. The park has added free parking (before 5pm) to its $289 Gold Annual Pass and added Front of Line access to all attractions (not just the Studio Tour) to its $589 Platinum Annual Pass. The park also offers a $119 Season Pass that's good for 132 weekdays and 42 weekend days between now and Feb. 28, 2017. The Gold AP is good for 337 days a year and the Platinum has no black-out dates, just the same as before.

Across the country at Universal Orlando, the resort has lifted remaining summer blockout days for its Power Pass holders.

BTW, is it too much to ask that Universal Parks & Resorts adopt a common term for the days that certain annual passholders can't use their passes to get admission to the parks? Like all the Disney parks, Universal Orlando uses the term "blockout," while Universal Studios Hollywood uses "Black-out." /ocd

Anyway, all this attendance and pricing news fits with our emerging conclusion that variable pricing at the nation's top theme parks is helping to smooth attendance — pushing it lower on what in past years traditionally have been busy days while pushing it higher on what used to be relatively slow days. At the same time, Universal Studios Hollywood has been enjoying an attendance surge across all days, while attendance has remained steady year over year at the Disneyland Resort and the Orlando theme parks overall are having a soft-than-usual summer.

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Replies (8)

July 21, 2016 at 11:31 AM · Going from 2.5% to 4.5% marketshare is an 80% increase. This is a huge boost for Universal Studios Hollywood. I can't wait for them to break new ground for new attractions.
July 21, 2016 at 11:35 AM · Tip for USH visitors: Take advantage of extended evening hours in the park. While attendance is up at USH, it is heavily loaded toward the morning, and wait times tend to drop significantly in the late afternoon and evening. With no night-time entertainment and still a relatively small line-up of attractions, people fill WWoHP for the early admission then hammer the rest of the park at opening, then they finish and take off by mid- to late-afternoon. The 5pm free parking cut-off also helps keep local APs from coming in and making up the slack in the evenings, too.
July 21, 2016 at 11:54 AM · Gosh, USH has been going *nuts* with adjustments to their AP system ever since Wizarding World opened -- seems like there's a new change on a weekly basis! But this one in particular is very good for local guests. Including free parking (before 5pm) with the cost of a $289 Gold level AP is a very attractive move. Much better than having to shell out $18 for parking every visit. I still can't justify the cost of the top $589-per-year Platinum level, but front-0f-line access to all attractions certainly adds an extra layer of appeal. Maybe if they also added unlimited butterbeer refilling stations, I'd finally bite. ;)
July 21, 2016 at 1:17 PM · If only they would put on a night time show - really would be an all day park. They miss out on a trick by not doing something at night.
July 21, 2016 at 1:20 PM · Do you know if these changes are retroactive? I bought the Gold Pass in April and am curious as to whether the free parking is grandfathered into previously purchased passes or only good for new sale.
July 21, 2016 at 8:21 PM · I think if they can eliminate the 5pm parking cut off for the Platinum pass, it'd make more sense. And keep it for the Gold pass.
July 21, 2016 at 9:01 PM · Still looks like a low market share. Is that the Cali market?
July 22, 2016 at 12:59 PM · Wishing some of that USH attendance magic could blow west to Orlando.

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