The 2017 TEA/AECOM Theme Index theme park attendance report is out. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom remains the world's most visited theme park, with more than 20 million annual visitors. But the big growth was among Chinese theme parks, with Oct Parks China, Fantawild, and Chimelong Group all posting double-digit increases to cement their places among the top 10 theme park chains in the world.
"The industry resumed its historic pace of growth in 2017," John Robinett, Senior Vice President, Americas, AECOM, said in a press release. "Major theme park operators had an outstanding year with significant overall growth led largely by properties in China."
"The Chinese market has responded enthusiastically to high-quality theme park offerings, as demonstrated by the success of the Chimelong parks and of Shanghai Disneyland in its first full year of operation, with Universal Beijing on the horizon," Chris Yoshii, Vice President, Asia-Pacific, AECOM, said in the statement.
Among U.S. parks, Disney's Animal Kingdom and Universal Studios Hollywood posted the biggest attendance gains in 2017, with Animal Kingdom driven by the new Pandora: The World of Avatar land and USH enjoying the continued success of the park's recent expansion, including the first full year of operation of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
But the SeaWorld parks continued their slide, with Knott's Berry Farm taking SeaWorld Orlando's traditional spot at number 10 — the nation's largest non-Disney, non-Universal theme park. SeaWorld San Diego now trails Six Flags Magic Mountain along with Knott's and the Disney and Universal parks in the Southern California market. Busch Gardens Tampa posted the next-largest drop in 2017, showing that the problem at SeaWorld lies with the chain, not the brand.
The only other North American park to show a decrease in 2017 was Disney's Hollywood Studios... because construction. Meanwhile, rival Universal Studios Florida cracked the 10 million threshold for the first time.
As for water parks, Universal's Volcano Bay attracted 1.5 million visitors in its first, partial year of operation, placing it sixth worldwide and third in the United States, trailing the Disney water parks but coming in ahead of SeaWorld Orlando's Aquatica. That park suffered a 10% attendance drop, and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach also saw losses, so it appears that Volcano Bay may have cannibalized a good chunk of the market for Orlando water parks.
Global Top 20:
Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, 20,450,000, 0.3%
Disneyland, 18,300,000, 2.0%
Tokyo Disneyland, 16,600,000, 0.4%
Universal Studios Japan, 14,935,000, 3.0%
Tokyo DisneySea, 13,500,000, 0.3%
Disney's Animal Kingdom, 12,500,000, 15.3%
Epcot, 12,200,000, 4.2%
Shanghai Disneyland, 11,000,000, (partial year in 2016)
Disney's Hollywood Studios, 10,722,000, -0.5%
Universal Studios Florida, 10,198,000, 2.0%
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, 9,788,000, 15.5%
Disneyland Paris, 9,660,000, 15.0%
Disney California Adventure, 9,574,000, 3.0%
Islands of Adventure, 9,549,000, 2.0%
Universal Studios Hollywood, 9,056,00, 12.0%
Lotte World, 6,714,000, -17.6%
Everland, 6,310,000, -9.5%
Hong Kong Disneyland, 6,200,000, 1.6%
Nagashima Spa Land, 5,930,000, 1.6%
Ocean Park, 5,800,000, -3.3%
And the North America Top 20:
Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Universal Studios Florida
Disney California Adventure
Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Hollywood
Knott's Berry Farm, 4.03 million
SeaWorld Orlando, 3.96 million
Busch Gardens Tampa, 3.96 million
Canada's Wonderland, 3.76 million
Cedar Point, 3.60 million
Kings Island, 3.47 million
Six Flags Magic Mountain, 3.37 million
Hersheypark, 3.30 milion
Six Flags Great Adventure, 3.24 million
SeaWorld San Diego, 3.10 million
Six Flags Great America, 3.04 million
Meanwhile, none of the theme parks in the Middle East made it on to the EMEA region's top 20 theme parks list, once again, meaning that all of the parks in the United Arab Emirates drew fewer visitors than Heide Park's 1.48 million in 2017, as the German park took the last spot on the European and Middle East region's list. A UAE waterpark topped the region, however, with Aquaventure at 1.35 million visitors, though all three UAE parks in the EMEA top 10 posted attendance declines last year.
You can view the entire report on the TEA's website. [PDF file]
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