Universal Studios Hollywood sets attendance record over New Year's

January 3, 2017, 9:28 PM · The 2016 holiday season promised to shake up attendance patterns at Southern California's theme parks. Disneyland's move in late 2015 to change its annual pass structure, followed by the changes at Disney and Universal to date-specific ticket pricing, plus the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in early 2016 all promised to affect where local theme park fans and out of town visitors chose to spend their time during what traditionally is the busiest week of the year at local parks.

So what happened? In short, it seems that Santa brought the local theme parks exactly what they wanted.

Disneyland changed its annual pass system to eliminate the Premium no-blockout level, replacing it with a choice of two new Signature-level passes: A no-blockout Signature Plus that cost hundreds of dollars more than the old Premium pass, or a base-level Signature that cost a few bucks more than the Premium but that blocked out the two weeks around Christmas and New Year's Day. It took a full year for the old Premium passes to cycle out, and most of the Premium passholders I know (including me!) switched to the Signature, meaning we likely would be staying away from the parks during the busiest week of the year.

In addition, the holidays would be priced at peak levels under Disneyland's and Universal's new one-day ticket pricing plans, further discouraging visits by people who had the option or inclination to come another day. Disneyland begins its holiday festivities in early November, allowing all levels of passholders as well as day guests plenty of time to experience the season at the parks before the big holiday crush.

The result? The Disneyland Resort didn't have to close its gates to new admissions at any time during Christmas week, for the first time in several years. While the parks remained busy, they never got so packed that Disney had to stop people from coming in.

Where did those other past Disneyland visitors go? It seems that many of them found their way to Knott's Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood, which saw wall-to-wall crowds for most of the week. (Knott's is closed on Christmas day.)

At Universal, the first Christmas season for Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter helped make the park an irresistible draw for many local fans. The park started setting one-day attendance records during the holiday week, leading up an it's all-time one-day attendance record on Monday, Jan. 2, when the park welcomed more than 40,000 guests and actually had to close the gates to new visitors. (FWIW, the Disneyland theme parks have higher capacities than USH, in case you are looking to make apples-to-apples comparisons.)

"The Epic Transformation of our property has had a remarkable impact on Universal Studios Hollywood which was evident by our record-breaking attendance over the holidays," Karen Irwin, the new President & COO of Universal Studios Hollywood, said in a statement. "We're thrilled that so many guests from all over the world had a chance to experience the magic of Hollywood that we bring to life at The Entertainment Capital of L.A."

So Disneyland got to fill its parks without turning people away while offering a better experience than in years past for the people who did visit, and Universal finally got all the way up to hit its max.

Just like they wanted.

Replies (3)

January 4, 2017 at 11:15 AM · Miceage documented the extreme crowding at Disneyland. It was still very difficult to wait for rides. Just wall to wall people. I advise that Disneyland should stop selling single day park admission tickets between December 24 thru January 1st. Only sell park hopping passes as the minimum standard pass. Mandatory park hopping will allow better distribution of guests between both parks. Open the gates to allow better guest flow. Guests should be able to enter the parks through a special corridor so they don't need to re-scan their admission passes. Another possibility is wrist bands so just wave them in.

Disneyland should also redesign its central hub to allow better fireworks and parade viewing. The Magic Kingdom already did. Remove the unnecessary planters and tall trees. Move back the land portals. Remove the Tomorrowland Rocks and the Pixie Hollow (Mermaid Grotto). Allow the parade to circle the entire hub, thus more guest viewing opportunity. The outdoor restaurant seating around the hub should be used for parade viewing. Remove the umbrellas, shade structures, and trees blocking the views.

Construct a new bathroom at the Pixie Hollow location for its impossible to get to the Fantasyland bathroom at the other side during a parade.

I'm glad to hear Universal is doing much better. I thought it was in deep trouble after having to return to its original Annual Passes pricing. Knott's needs better publicity after its Sky Cabin fiasco.

January 4, 2017 at 12:40 PM · I'm glad to see Universal doing well, hopefully more attractions will be coming soon.

Sadly, I didn't see anyone mentioned Universal Studios Hollywood $119 passes blocked ALL of Grinchmas with only 1 Friday not blocked out.

January 6, 2017 at 8:32 AM · Disneyland had make everything right!
@ Anon Mäuschen: Did not heard of "Sky Cabin fiasco." but because of you I did now:


WARNING: Above Page is one of those that WILL slow down your Computer a lot as it is FULL with Advertisings and Tracking Cookies! Use at you own risk! ( Ski Cabin is one of those Tower Sightseeing Rides that sometimes stuck up in the Air and the Saftey Features do not allow afterwards to operrate it so you get a free Thrill Ride by the Firefighters with a 7 h WT... )

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