TEA/AECOM 2018 Theme Index global attendance report.The Walt Disney theme parks extended their lead on the rest of the industry in 2018, according to the just-released
Worldwide, Disney theme parks held the top four spots, led by Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and with Tokyo DisneySea jumping Universal Studios Japan for the fourth spot. Tokyo Disney's 35th anniversary "Happiest Celebration" was a huge hit for the resort, driving major attendance gains for the resort's two theme parks, while possibly drawing fans from Universal. Meanwhile, the top Korean theme parks continued their slide, suffering attendance declines for second year in a row.
Chinese theme parks continued to grow in 2018, led by double-digit percentage gains by Changzhou China Dinosaurs Park, Chimelong Paradise on Guangzhou, and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, which cracked the global top 10 in attendance.
Global Top 20:
In the United States, the big story last year was the resurgence of the SeaWorld theme parks, led by a 20 percent jump in San Diego, a 16 percent jump in Orlando, and a nearly five percent increase at Busch Gardens Tampa. Free beer really does help, doesn't it?
North America Top 20:
Previous theme park attendance reports:Tweet
And now prepare yourself for the Drum Major of the Disney Tribute Band - TH Creative!
Hit it, TH!
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea is quite impressive. Disney looking undisputed world wide and in North America (almost sweeping the top 6 spots in North America).
I'm actually proud of Sea World doing so well. Busch Gardens too! I'm a fan of beer so it does make sense to me.. hehe
Lots of data here to parse that go far beyond the generalizations made by economists, not industry professionals (disclosure, I work for the firm that produces this annual report, but in a completely different industry).
The first set of numbers that caught my eye were those for the Cedar Fair parks. Cedar Fair as a chain was more or less FLAT (0.7%) in a year that saw 5.4% growth across the industry leaders. What's worse is that Cedar Fair invested heavily in products that didn't seem to move the needle much at all. Hangtime only saw a 2% increase at Knott's, while Steel Vengence, the most lauded roller coaster in years, only gave Cedar Point an identical 2% bump. What is Cedar Fair doing wrong, because they seem to be following the same trend that Sea World was mired in over the last 4+ years?
The next set of numbers I find interesting are for DAK. Let's remember that PtWoA didn't open until late May 2017, so this year's DAK attendance is the first representation of a full-year's operation with the Avatar IP. I'm sure this will draw ire from TH, but the numbers seem to show that the new land has not had as profound of an impact as initially anticipated. If we look at the 2016 DAK attendance (10,844,000) and average that out per month, we get 903,667. If we assume the attendance remained flat until PtWoA opened, then the expected attendance for the first 5 months of 2017 (before PtWoA opened), you'd end up with 4,518,333. If you subtract that from the actual attendance for 2017 (12,500,000), you end up with the actual impact of PtWoA, which was almost 8 million or 1.14 million per month (an increase of 26% directly attributable to Avatar). However, if you project that monthly attendance into 2018, you end up with 13,680,000, which is more or less the actual attendance presented in this report (13,750,000). That means while PtWoA gave an initial and decisive jolt to DAK, it has done little to inspire further attendance increases, and while the year over year numbers show an uptick, the reality is the appeal of Avatar has flattened. One could also assume that additions to other WDW parks might cannibalize DAK (as DAK likely did to DHS and EPCOT in previous years) when new attraction open in coming years. The bottom line is that PtWoA is NOT the theme park equivalent to Broadway's "Hamilton" as TH so often claims.
The DHS numbers are also very interesting, because Disney opened TSL in the middle of the year. DHS was essentially flat (-0.5%) from 2016 to 2017 despite a dramatic reduction in the park's offerings. While there was a 5% increase from 2017 to 2018 (half a million more people or 1,370 more entries per day), it essentially falls in line with global trends. The economists point to the addition of TSL as a key driver to DHS's increase, but could it simply be that guests were avoiding the park in the past and coming back in 2018 at the same rate as everywhere else in the world? Similarly, are guests still holding off coming back to DHS waiting for Galaxy's Edge, or is WDW's smallest park hamstrung by its small size and limited attraction portfolio? The 2019 and 2020 numbers will paint a clearer picture for DHS, but it makes me wonder if Galaxy's Edge will be able to drive double digit growth beyond its first year at a park that will always be limited by its smaller overall capacity? DAK barely reached double digit growth after 18 months of PtWoA, and while Star Wars is a more wide-reaching IP, will it be able to overcome the capacity issues of the park where it is being installed? In other words, did Disney make a mistake at cloning Galaxy's Edge into DHS, or should they have instead put it into its own park or one with the benefit of space and growth potential (EPCOT)? Definitely some questions to ponder over the next year or two.
The report peripherally discusses the use of IP, but I think the numbers across the board demonstrate that parks MUST invest in IP if they want to drive success. You can stem the tide and grow modestly using generic theme and place-building, but if you want to have an impact in what is a very mature marketplace, you have to lean on widely recognized and popular IP. The trick is to convert IPs into appealing theme park attractions while they are still in the public consciousness. Wait too long (like Avatar and maybe LOTR if the fanboys get their way at Fantastic Worlds), and you might see a strong bump to start, but then a rapid leveling off that requires more investment to continue to drive growth.
It's time for Disney to build another park.
Looking at the numbers though, if you build it, invest in your parks people will come. So why is it Disney are so slow with investment? When you are getting increases of 10% then you should be spending billions - it's a no risk investment.
Akin to how they won't hesitate to spend billions on the movie division, yet that is substantially more riskier.
Magic Kingdom is unbearable to visit these days with it's crowd levels, that is not built to handle such capacity. Tron will only make it worst.
First and foremost, congrats to DAK for the monster 10% increase. Pandora and 'Flight of Passage' (widely regarded as the best attraction in Central Florida) has delivered beyond expectations.
But bigger than that (and reaching beyond the tribalism where folks like RM like to trade [typically in 1,000+ words per post]) if you believe the TEA/AECOM estimates, my hometown of Orlando has parks that welcomed in excess of 83 million visitors in 2018. And that's not counting the water theme parks or DSTP. Congrats to Disney, Universal and Sea World!
I feel validated: when UO was having mega success I called that at some point Harry Potter hysteria was going to trickle off and they were going to have a really hard time adding something else that would be nearly as popular.
Since Potter opened they have opened a bunch of attractions but none have been a big success other than the other Potter land. Looking at Volcano Bay's reviews on tripadvisor it is one of the worst rated attractions in Orlando (I understand that a lot of that is from its disastrous first year, but when Avatar opened at the same time even though it was packed all the time it was still getting glowing reviews on tripadvisor). Universal's execs we're all "this is the Disney killer, we're no longer #2" blah blah blah. They said it about Potter, they said it about Volcano Bay, they are saying it about Fantastic Lands, Nintendo, etc. UO has still never even come anywhere close.
I don't feel the same way about WDW, when the Star Wars hysteria dies off I think WDW will still have massive popularity and sustainably grow attendance. Disney from a corporate level just seems to be much more strategic: over the past few decades they have slowly amassed much better IP, grown a much bigger and more diverse fan base, the attractions are better quality and not rushed to meet tight deadlines, and they are the masters at spreading things out over time to keep the success consistent. Just look at the infrastructure projects that people don't even think about that they have been planning for years like the massive solar farm and massive new housing campus for interns.
2 quick non-Disney things:
I'm so happy for Sea World's growth. I'm a big fan of all 3 parks, especially the San Diego one, and a 20 percent growth bodes well for the park and chain. Bravo!
Second point, this site needs a Chimelong Ocean Kingdom page!
I think TH is right that this was a great year for Central Florida.
Also, Waterparks is interesting. I grabbed this from the report (lots of neat stuff in there)
1 CHIMELONG WATER PARK, GUANGZHOU, CHINA 1.9% 2,740,000
2 TYPHOON LAGOON WATER PARK AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT, ORLANDO, FL, U.S. 5.0% 2,271,000
3 DISNEY’S BLIZZARD BEACH WATER PARK AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT,
ORLANDO, FL, U.S.
4 PARQUE AQUÁTICO THERMAS DOS LARANJAIS, OLIMPIA, BRAZIL -1.8% 1,971,000
5 AQUAVENTURE ATLANTIS BAHAMAS WATERPARK, PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS 0.0% 1,831,000
6 VOLCANO BAY WATER THEME PARK AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT,
ORLANDO, FL, U.S. 15.0% 1,725,000
7 AQUATICA ORLANDO, ORLANDO, FL, U.S. 8.5% 1,556,000
8 THERME ERDING, ERDING, GERMANY 13.6% 1,500,000
9 HOT PARK RIO QUENTE, CALDAS NOVAS, BRAZIL -3.2% 1,433,000
10 AQUAVENTURE WATER PARK, DUBAI, U.A.E. 3.5% 1,397,000
Russell Meyer, Cedar Point isn't really doing anything wrong, its just they are really a glorified regional park. Yes, they have resorts unlike most regional parks, but the resorts themselves wouldn't bring in anyone outside of the region. Yes, they have some great coasters, but so do many other regional parks, and while coaster enthusiasts would travel to great distances to ride them, I'm not sure how many would make that trip more than a few times (and maybe no more than once). Coaster enthusiasts like to find "what's new and different" and are more likely to travel to a different park.
@Rumblemike - I also find the water park numbers interesting. I was most surprised at Volcano Bay's numbers since 2018 was its first full year of operation (opened in May 2017). If you aggregate the 2017 attendance over the 7 months of operation, you end up with 215,286/month, which equates to 2,571,429/year. Obviously weather from January to March will limit attendance during those months, even in Central Florida, but for the new park to not at least reach 2 million in its first full year of operation has to be a disappointment. That is further put into perspective by Aquatica, which brought its attendance back to 2016 levels, when it's 2017 decline was attributed to the opening of Volcano Bay. While it's clear that there was room for another water park in Orlando, it's not much of a growth market. You also have to wonder whether AECOM/TEA has the same reporting accuracy with water parks as they do with theme parks seeing as they just started tracking those data over the past few years - was the 1.5 million 2017 number for Volcano Bay anywhere close to accurate?
@Twobits - I would agree with that, but I think Cedar Fair strives for the Sandusky flagship to be much more than a regional amusement park. They have invested heavily in the park in recent years, and have even more investments on the way for its upcoming 150th anniversary season (2020). It also doesn't explain the tepid numbers for Knott's which the chain has also invested in heavily in recent years. Certainly, the SoCal park has to go head to head with a juggernaut in Disneyland, along with a thrill ride rival in SFMM, but they appear to be treading water right now with the prospect of getting hammered once Galaxy's Edge opens next week. Cedar Fair has smartly advised investors that they expect a meager 2-3% growth over the next 5 years, but is that for a lack of ambition or because they see themselves as limited because of the mature market dominated by Disney? Cedar Fair under Kintzel wanted to push the envelope, not necessarily to be like Disney or Universal, but to raise the bar and strive to be more than just reaching for table scraps left over from the "big boys". Cedar Fair seems to be happy with scraps right now under Zimmerman.
A couple of observations.
@ the_man - In the first decade of this century Disney barely did squat at Walt Disney World. In the second decade, Disney has been knocking it out of the park at Disney World. Which decade is representative of true Disney corporate behavior?
The Magic Kingdom has about 50 rides and attractions. The two Universal parks in Orlando together have about 50 rides and attractions. The Magic Kingdom drew 20.8M visitors in 2018. The Universal parks combined drew about 20.5M visitors in 2018. Does having near equivalent attendance on a per ride basis mean that Universal has caught up to Disney in Orlando?
Overseas non-Disney and non-Universal parks can crack the top 20 in attendance. Why are there no domestic non-Disney and non-Universal parks in the top 20 worldwide?
For that matter, what's with the Europeans? Disneyland Paris is the only European theme park in the top 20 worldwide? Are theme parks primarily an American and Asian affection or is there something else in play here?
I decided to look at the relative attendance at the multi-gate resorts that placed all of their parks in the TEA/AECOM report, to see which resorts did the best job of distributing their visitors across all their gates. The percentages are the percent of their resort's top park's attendance that each park attracts.
Walt Disney World
Magic Kingdom, 20.859 million
Disney's Animal Kingdom, 13.75 million - 65.9%
Epcot, 12.444 million - 59.7%
Disney's Hollywood Studios, 11.258 million - 54.0%
Tokyo Disneyland, 17.907 million
Tokyo DisneySea, 14.651 million - 81.8%
Disneyland, 18.666 million
Disney California Adventure, 9.861 million - 52.8%
Universal Studios Florida, 10.198 million
Islands of Adventure, 9.788 million - 96%
Disneyland Paris, 9.843 million
Walt Disney Studios Park, 5.298 million - 53.8%
In each case, the resort's original park leads in annual attendance. Universal Orlando does the best job of evenly distributing its guests, with Tokyo Disney following. Hollywood Studios and Epcot need help at WDW, but help is on the way.
That leaves DLP and Disneyland, where Disney California Adventure continues to attract the lowest percentage of its sibling among all major multi-park resorts. And that gap is only going to get bigger in 2019 with Galaxy's Edge. I don't know that the Marvel plans announced so far for DCA in 2020 will be nearly enough to bring DCA's percentage up significantly.
I agree the company under invested in the WDW parks in the early 2000's but that's old news. Your comment about WDW having less attractions per park than UO I think is irrelevant, Cedar Point has like 70 rides which is more than both UO parks put together does that mean Cedar Point is going to do better as a business than UO?
I have to disagree that Avatar FOP is the best attraction. I would put it behind both major Potter attractions and Spider-Man, and I might even prefer Everest to it. It is great, no doubt, but it is not Fantastic Journey.
@the_man - I'm not sure about corporate Disney. In the 1990's we saw a big investment on the part of Disney in the parks. In the 2000's we had a drought. In the 2010's, Disney went big time. I would love for this to continue but Iger's salary is starting to increase like Eisner's salary did in the 2000's. Will human and corporate behavior repeat?
I also said nothing about WDW having less attractions per park than UO. When I made the comparision between just the Magic Kingdom and the combined UO parks, I was having fun with the statistics. All I was asking is that if you compare the parks on an attendance per attraction basis can Universal say that they are just as good as Disney in Orlando?
Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, 20,859,000
Just think of the amount of STROLLERS AND EVs in that number :-D
All the more reason to visit a less busy, and better, park (or two) down the road...
Just finished reading through the report. Why is the Middle East completely left out of it? Anyone have any insight? That seems pretty odd.
I look forward to this thread every year.
First year of over half a billion guests for the TEA/AECOM Index and positive overall. I consider the annual TEA/AECOM Index the closest thing our industry comes to having official figures though note that a different source reported some different figures for the European market on May 9 making headlines for claiming Disneyland Paris had 4%:increases in 2018 and 10,046,000 guests as opposed to the 1.9% increase and 9,843,000 reported in this Index. Tokyo Disney Resort's record year no surprise since OLC shared that already though note Universal Studios Japan's results were impacted by multiple natural disasters in high season in 2018, and Comcast has blamed this specifically in their own results. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom has been the best performing domestically owned and operated theme park in China since opening day, so no surprise there. To answer Clayton's question regarding Middle East gates, they're part of the European totals as EMEA, as are Africa- though yet to have a theme park in the region outside of Europe see enough guests to crack the top performers list. Likewise Australia is included in Asia/Pacific. Both perform better in water park rankings but end up not making their respective region's top theme park charts.
It dosen't matter if Magic Kingdom has 50 or 100 attractions - the point is quality attractions. The vast majority are old, ancient, and regular carnival rides.
Look at attractions like Peter Pan, Pirates Caribben Haunted Mansion, Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Winnie the Pooh over at other parks in Asia - and then look how horrendous they are in Orlando.
"It's time for Disney to build another park."
I'm not so sure. If you look at Robert's latest post, he reinforces a concept that I've been expousing for the last several years - "Cinderella and the Ugly Stepsisters."
Basically, I believe that corporate Disney has discovered that what brings visitors to Disney resorts is the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland parks. The other parks are secondary. I know on an enthusiast website like this I might get some argument, but I've never heard anyone outside of a local making a trip to a Disney resort and seeing just a secondary park. Almost always they go to a secondary park and the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland park. The new attraction or land in the secondary park may be the primary driver for the visit, but the ambiance of the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland park will almost always be sampled.
Thus corporate Disney will carefully balance the investment and the timing of the investments in the Disney resorts to favor the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland parks. Significant investment may take place in the secondary parks, but the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland parks always have to be #1 in attractiveness and enjoyment.
So, will Disney ever build a 5th (Which is it, TH Creative, 5th or 6th?) park in Walt Disney World? Not in the near future (10 years out). More income can be obtained by maximizing the income opportunities in their current parks than by making the massive investment in a new park.
Bingo. My response was intended to quiet the demands for a fifth park. It just doesn’t make business sense right now.
AndrewMciveR can you expound on your last post about the Disney rides in Orlando? I'm trying to understand your angle.
Well there is a mistake in the list from europe the efteling is 3th with 5,4m visitors against 5,298 m for walt Disney studio parks paria.
@tim about the europeans. Well speaking as a Dutch citizen we don't really do that many theme park holiday's like you have for example in central Florida. The only exception is Disney paris. For the others its just a day trip and you have a lot of local amusement parks. At a language barier and most visitors are from that country.
It really is amazing that MK has more visitors over a year then there are people living hére.
Index does correctly show Efteling at 3 and Walt Disney Studios Paris at 4 for Europe with those exact totals so not sure what error ernestomodena is seeing....European theme parks have actually the highest percentage of venues with on-site resort hotels for guests and most of the major ones have significant percentages of guests from abroad. They're masters of selling short break hotel stays, which is why Merlin Entertainments has insisted on having on-site resorts at every one of their theme parks and why Port Aventura World, Europa-Park, Efteling,Tivoli Gardens, Parc Asterix and Liseberg have all expanded their on-site hotel operations. What they have lacked more often than not is true year-round destination appeal, which several are attempting to change....
That would be "8th,' actually.
Oh, so you're pulling a Volcano Bay and counting the water parks now?
TH only counts water parks if it works in his favor :-D
Actually, it was Universal Creative who designated water parks as theme parks. Why argue?
Incidentally, if we accept the TEA/AECOM eatimate, that means the WDW parks welcome an average of about 160,000 guests per day.
Why would you say there is no need for another gate?
Visitor numbers are going up - more people being crammed into parks - and you are suggesting they don't need to expand?
That isn't how business works.
The only other option would be to massively increase the size of the current parks. Go to Magic Kingdom now, and look how horrendously busy it is, at the expense of customer satisfaction.
If there is no new park - build up these parks and create more space for the millions of extra tourists appearing.
But that itself would lend itself to many millions more coming, so you just increase the crowd levels. The only solution is to spread people around more - ie, build another park.
Think about this: when Tron opens it will be MK's first new big ride in almost 30 years (I don't count the Seven Dwarfs coaster or Little Mermaid on the scale of something like the mountains or Tron). And the Star Wars Smuggler Run will be Disneyland's first major thrilling e-ticket in 24 years. Yet they are still the #1 and #2 theme parks in the world attendance wise. So yea clearly Disney has figured out that expanding the other parks is going to drive attendance to the flagship park as well (hence why they keep doing it while spending so little in the flagships).
Personally I love the idea of adding Star Wars Land to Disneyland (even though I don't give a rip about Star Wars). Like it or not Star Wars is a major pillar of the modern Walt Disney Company, if you see the employees wearing the Disney company t-shirts they now say "Disney, FOX, ABC, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN." It says Star Wars instead of Lucasfilm. Before making the first new Star Wars movie Bob Iger told JJ Abram that he was making a $4 billion movie. They didn't pay $4 billion for Indiana Jones and Howard the Duck.
No one other than deluded fanatics and marketing departments ever considers non-theme park venues as a theme park gate. Disney Springs is awesome but it is certainly NOT a "theme park " nor does it have a "gate. ' it does have a brand identity, "Indulgence" which it has always had, and Disney certainly does not consider it a "theme park" nor do the Operating Participant tenants that work here. We're proud of this entertainment and shopping complex for what it actually is. Our brand identity is not "delusion" and it's a mall world after all;)
I made a mistake. The Magic Kingdom only has 38 attractions (according to TPI's Magic Kingdom page) instead of the 50 attractions I stated earlier. I was thinking of Disneyland which actually has 46 attractions. Which begs the question, "Does Disneyland with 46 attractions and smaller crowds provide a better value than the Magic Kingdom?"
For those of you who may care about the attraction count by park:
MK - 38
DAK - 22
Ep - 17
DHS - 16
USO - 23
IOA - 23
DL - 46
So, on an attendance per attraction basis, Disney World is kicking Universal Orlando's butt. And they're doing that in all of the Disney World parks not just the Magic Kingdom. (Is anybody surprised?) Looks like Universal has a lot of catching up to do in Orlando even after all of the Comcast millions.
Not that many years ago, I would have agreed with your last post entirely, but after watching corporate Disney for the last several years I've realized that they are incredibly smart and have figured out how to maximize income with the least investment. Not that they're being cheap - they're not, but they are getting the most bang for the buck possible.
By building MyMagicPlus or what we call Fastpass+ they have:
1. Guaranteed a set number of experiences on desirable attractions
2. Guaranteed a certain level of customer satisfaction
3. Spread people thoughout the park both in physical and chronological dimensions
4. Pushed people into shops and restaurants thus increasing non-gate income
5. Get people to stay in the onsite hotels to they can maximize the advantages of the FastPass+ system and extended hours.
They've also targeted the upper class income households with expensive upsell events like reserved seating for fireworks show, dessert parties, character meals, etc.
And the upper class income households can afford to visit Disney World on a more frequent basis, and they're largely recession-proof.
There's so much more that Disney does to maximize the revenue stream with the minimum investment, and I'll leave it to other people to offer examples if they care to, but the bottom line is that until Disney feels that they have maximized the income opportunities in their current set of parks, you will not see a new park added to Disney World. New rides - yes, new lands - yes, new parks - no.
>>>Russell Meyer, Cedar Point isn't really doing anything wrong, its just they are really a glorified regional park. Yes, they have resorts unlike most regional parks, but the resorts themselves wouldn't bring in anyone outside of the region
I'll attest to that. Unless you're someone who is going to go out of their way to research coasters, the Cedar Fair family and Six Flags family basically have no profile presence to international visitors - the average international tourist has never heard of em.
I do remember many years back some advertisements for Busch Gardens, but not for a very long time. There's some awareness of the Sea World parks, but mostly from Blackfish.
Yet, everyone knows where Disney's and Universals parks are. I doubt it would be hyperbole to suggest there are african tribesmen living a days walk from the nearest TV who know where Disneyland is.
Getting to the "International Destination" tier for theme parks is pretty much impossible. Only two brands have ever done it. The only other brand I think that potentially could is Legoland, but the way its parks are I don't think it can achieve it.
If there ever will be another player in that part of the sandbox, it will be a name that nobody is saying today.
>>>@ the_man - In the first decade of this century Disney barely did squat at Walt Disney World. In the second decade, Disney has been knocking it out of the park at Disney World. Which decade is representative of true Disney corporate behavior?
Although it may be true on some level Disney and Universal compete, I think this actually shows that the two players in the "International Destination" tier need each other. Disney has had to try harder because Universal became competitive. Whether you're a "Disney Fan", A "Universal Fan", or just a Theme Park Fan, there's no denying thats good for everyone.
>>> I know on an enthusiast website like this I might get some argument, but I've never heard anyone outside of a local making a trip to a Disney resort and seeing just a secondary park. Almost always they go to a secondary park and the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland park.
Bingo. My Orlando trip, if you'll remember, had two Disney days. The question wasn't "Which parks should we do" but "Which park other than MK should we do".
As for another gate at WDW. Unless you Americans start getting more Vacation days, I see no upside for Disney. They have enough there to keep you for a week. I understand you guys can typically count on about two weeks or so, so thats one week of fun, one week of family/social engagements. We Europeans/British get more, but are you going to get enough of us to justify rolling out another few days worth of attractions?
Now more gates at Non-US parks might make some sense. Turn them into more than just a Weekend Trip.
Both Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland have land set aside for a second gated theme park and look likely to be doing so at some point. OLC has officially nixed plans to develop a third gate at Tokyo Disney Resort any time soon on their current, massive expansion plans. The plans for Disneyland Paris Resort so far are about expanding the existing pair of theme parks, especially Walt Disney Studios Paris. Universal does have room to develop a second gate for their upcoming resort in Beijing and note that both Shanghai Disney and Universal Beijing have mentioned that their respective second gates would be based on Chinese culture. Note that the Chinese government's boycott of tourism to Korea in 2018 certainly hurt South Korean theme parks...
Not sure I can be called a "Disney homer". I've regularly applauded the efforts of Universal Orlando and Universal Creative. Most recently on March 12, 2019 ("I have said two or three times that Hagrid will be one of best themed coasters in Central Florida.").
And again on February 21, 2019 ("This will ABSOLUTELY be one of the best themed coaster experiences in Orlando. It will be every bit as good as Big Thunder Mountain and better than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I'd put it just behind Space Mountain and Expedition Everest. But the HP community will LOVE this attraction. Well done Universal Creative!")
I am also the guy who has posted this a few years back: "Seriously, there is no denying that the team at Universal Creative has consistently outpaced WDI since the opening of Islands of Adventure. Universal Creative is the GOLD STANDARD for innovation in theme park design.'The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man,' 'Men in Black: Alien Attack,' 'Revenge of the Mummy' 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.' There is not a single WDW attraction that is anywhere near as innovative."
"Homer"? I don't think so.
In fact, sir, I am absolutely in step with your perspective. I think Universal Orlando is top notch. I just dismiss those who claim that they will "catch Disney". Example: In 2017, TPI reg Keith Schneider popped a discussion topic under the headline: "Universal Orlando is One BIG IP Away from Blowing Open Orlando!" That's the type of assertion that makes me push back. And I do that consistently. I believe Universal Orlando will maintain a successful model -- regardless who owns the parks.
Now, on this particular thread, you write: "Universal's execs we're (sic) all 'this is the Disney killer, we're no longer #2' blah blah blah. They said it about Potter, they said it about Volcano Bay, they are saying it about Fantastic Lands, Nintendo, etc. UO has still never even come anywhere close."
So, when you REALLY give consideration to my perspective on TPI, it seems like you are in agreement with me.
So does that make you a "Disney homer?"
Tim Hillman writes: "I made a mistake."
I respond: No ... Not you! Manfully conceded my friend.
In full disclosure I deleted my comment (i'm sure while you responding to it) because I felt my snarky commentary, while humorous, wouldn't actually add anything to the discussion.
And yes I am in agreement with you about WDW vs UO and pretty much always have been. It was just a joke. For reasons of clarity i'm going to repost:
the__man: the resident checked out old man
TH Creative: the resident Disney homer
Russell Meyer: the resident TLDR
Thanks to Robert for dropping links dating back to 2002. It allows us to (kind of) add up the bills.
Some important notes: The estimates linked at the top of this "Blogflume" are not all from TEA/AECOM. Thus they are not using the same methodology. In fact, since the TEA/AECOM report is (in fact) an estimate, I am sure they have tweaked their methodology over the years.
Universal Creative established the standard that water parks should be considered theme parks. And I have absolutely no sound reason to disagree with that assertion.
Unfortunately, unless I missed something, I can't find any water park stats in the links to the reports from 2002 - 2006. So Disney gets no credit for the attendance at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
Regardless, if my math is correct (absent the numbers from Disney's TL and BB) from 2002 to 2018 the Walt Disney World theme parks have welcomed 861,135,000 guests and Universal Orlando has welcomed 245,148,000 guests.
Which has Disney outpacing Universal by 615,987,000 guests over the past 16 years.
Of course that doesn't include the millions of guests who visit the Disney Springs theme park every year.
If Disney Springs has a Marvel store, doesn’t that mean it is not a theme park in the eyes of lawyers?
No relevance since the store doesn't use the Marvel name- it is Super-Heroes Headquarters. Doesn't magically make Disney Springs a "theme park " since the legal agreement is regarding the use of that IP overall. Had the store been in a hotel on property, still couldn't legally use that IP in any way. And if Universal chooses to name a store at CityWalk after that IP, they legally can- still wouldn't make CityWalk a "theme park" either. By the way, the predecessor to TEA/AECOM Index was Amusement Business, part of Billboard- and they did not track water parks nor museums in their annual attendance figures. Those were added in later as the water park business grew globally though the bigger oddity isn't anyone claiming water parks are theme parks- it's the lack of including water park resorts in any way when that segment of the water park side of the industry has grown and is significant. But, since those facilities are considered exclusive perks for guests of those resorts,and not open to general public, they're not included. I think the next evolution for the annual index is to change the regional listings and stop lumping the Middle East and Africa with Europe as EMEA and stop including Australia/Oceania with Asia- much like the way Latin America totals are separate from North America's USA/Canada totals. Or just combine Latin America,Africa,Middle East and Australasia into a new "Southern Hemisphere " regional grouping. Either method would be preferable to the existing practice and better serve the industry in those markets.
As much as we would like to see a fifth gate at Disney, they have no monetary reason to make this happen. Attendance is up despite higher ticket and hotel prices. Disney is also courting upper class families with more money to spend, so not only is attendance up, spending per person is also increasing. You have to look no further than the food options around the parks and the resorts. Disney chefs are finding new ways to present food, and as Ruby Payne said in her "Framework for Poverty", presentation of food is important to the upper class.
I think there's evidence on both sides regarding the viability of a 5th WDW theme park (it's not worth the words or effort to challenge TH's ridiculous assertions, just dismiss them as such). Robert makes a good point about the percentage of admissions to the supplementary WDW gates. It's absolutely true that when visitors come to Orlando, they almost always carve out a full day for the Magic Kingdom, and then fill their remaining days with the other parks. Tim also makes a solid point in that MK has a greater natural capacity and draw with far more attractions than any of the other WDW parks - in other words, there's simply more to do at MK with an appeal that is more broad than any of the other WDW parks. Unless/until the other parks can get closer to the admissions of MK, Disney would be unwise to attempt to open a 5th gate because the thinking is that those other gates represent untapped potential.
However, there's validity to the other side of the argument as well. Avatar demonstrates this better than anything, and perhaps Galaxy's Edge will further bolster this line of thinking. The bottom line is that vacation days are finite, and guests will gravitate to whichever park(s) that provide the most appealing experience. Let's say a family has 5 days to spend in Orlando theme parks. Magic Kingdom automatically gets 1 day (and maybe even 2 if they're a first time visitor). Then the remaining days get handed out to parks based on interest, new attractions, and other external factors (lines/crowds, discounts, past visits, etc...). I think the attendance numbers have shown that while overall tourism to the Orlando region has increased, there has been significant fracturing within visits between WDW and UO. While I do think the WDW parks compete with themselves to a certain extent, there is definitely some cannibalization of guests from the complex up I-4. What used to be a guaranteed 5-day visit to WDW is increasingly becoming a 3-day WDW and 2-day UO vacation. Even with the increase in park hopper prices and per-day costs of shorter passes, guests are starting to choose variety over loyalty. A 5th WDW park would break that trend, making the decision to visit UO an either/or one instead of a compromise. As PtWoA showed, Disney can juice the attendance at an existing park with a new, fresh IP and a groundbreaking attraction, but those gains are short-lived as guests seek the next new thing. Galaxy's Edge will do the same for DHS, but the real question will be if the park can continue to grow, or simply succumb to the size/capacity limitations of the smallest WDW park. After all, even with Star Wars, DHS can't be expected to come anywhere close to the attendance levels of MK for the simple fact that pushing that many guests through the gates would be unbearable and untenable.
The question then becomes would building a 5th park solve the inherent issues with WDW and MK's dominance? I think it would, because it would suck some of the life out of UO (and Sea World), forcing guests to forgo trips to the other resorts because WDW could not be fully appreciated without giving Disney your full-devoted attention. Guests would still visit the other WDW parks because they have compelling attractions and draws that could not be missed at least every other trip. It also gives Imagineering the platform to build the next generation theme park. For as much as Disney has been trying to break the original concepts of DAK, DHS, and EPCOT, they are still grounded in their original designs and conceits. A new park would give Disney the chance to build something never seen before - perhaps directly targeted at their key consumer (upper-class families). Maybe the Star Wars Hotel is the test case for such a concept.
There's definitely sound reasoning on both sides of the aisle here, and I'm looking forward to see how this plays out over the next decade.
RM: "WDW is increasingly becoming a 3-day WDW and 2-day UO vacation."
I Respond: That's total conjecture with no solid data to back up the assertion.
In regards to building a new theme park what a lot of people don't take into consideration is diminishing returns. It cost a ton of money to maintain and operate a theme park, and theme parks demand constant capital expenditure for the rest of eternity once they're built. Not only do they have to build, operate, and maintain the park but they also need to build more maintenance warehouses, more costuming warehouses, more college program apartments, staff all of those things, and pay more taxes. So unless it's 1: going to extend most people's length of stay as opposed to cannibalizing another parks business and 2: going to significantly drive new visitation (of people who wouldn't have come anyway) it doesn't make sense to do it.
That being said it looks like the past couple years WDW has been preparing zoning for a major new attraction so they do see major growth coming, i'm not sure when that's going to be but at some point they probably will build another park. For all I know that could be decades from now.
There's no solid data to dispute my assertion either TH. The fact of the matter is that since WWoHP in 2010, UO has increased its attendance from just under 12 million to over 20 million (a 67% increase). WDW has gone from just over 47 million in 2010 to just over 58 million in 2018 (an increase of 23%).
Those are pure facts. Now you can come to your own conclusions as to why UO has grown at a faster rate over the past 8 years, but the differential in growth between the 2 resorts certainly indicates a change in the way visitors to Orlando are spending their finite vacation time. Perhaps you'd like to provide a theory to explain why UO has grown at a faster rate over the past 8 years than WDW.
I believe that the tipping point for Disney to make a decision to build a 5th (non-water with rides, restaurants, and attractions) theme park hinges on the success and effect of the third Universal Orlando theme park which will open in 2025 (my pessimistic conjecture on a realistic opening date).
The following questions will have to be answered:
1. Will Universal's Fantastic Worlds (UFW) cannibalize patrons from the Disney parks?
2. Will UFW cannibalize patrons from the existing Universal parks?
3. Will UFW cannibalize patrons from the other Central Florida attractions like Sea World, Legoland, Kennedy Space Center, and Busch Gardens? or
4. Will UFW create a new set of patrons without taking away from the other parks?
These are long term questions that won't be answered until the latter half of the 2020's, and Disney has plenty of time to maximize their revenue streams through their existing plans, so even if all signs point to a need for a 5th park whether it is a defensive move to protect customers (Honestly, does Disney need to do anything defensively?) or a strategic move to create more customers or to get more revenue from their existing customer base.
So, the bottom line in my estimation is that even if all of the signs point to a need for a 5th Disney park for whatever reason, you won't see it until the 2030's.
I'm still disgusted by the lost decade at the start of Iger's tenure. He invested nothing in the parks.
Wasted investments like 'magic bands', 'Disney Springs' - at the expense of adding nothing to parks was disgusting.
Every 10 years or so, Disney have always added a new park to their resort. Iger would be the first CEO to not to have done this.
Corporate Disney would rather do everything on the cheap, build slowly, and give money to investors.
That's a good point Tim, though as you say Disney rarely does anything these days from a "defensive" posture. However, as we've seen with UFW, it can take anywhere from 5-10 years to go from the beginnings of development until there are even shovels in the ground. I don't think Disney would be willing to allow UO that much traction in the market after UFW opens, which means they either have working plans ready to go for a 5th park, or have enough ready-to-go concepts to fill a 5th gate - that's what Imagineering does for living after all. While Disney's previous posture was predominantly reactionary, they have been aggressively proactive over the past 2-3 years, and would want to keep the pressure on to maintain market dominance.
I think the level of success of Galaxy's Edge (and cannibalization of attendance from other WDW parks) will guide Disney's decision on a 5th gate. They're not about to wait 5+ years to see how UFW goes and then wait another 5-10 years after that to study Universal's results and then design and build a new gate. They have plenty of data right now to tell whether a 5th gate would be financially profitable (not just on its own, but advantageous to all of WDW), and will gain even more insight over the next year with Galaxy's Edge. I also think with the current WDW theme parks starting to homogenize that Disney might take advantage of a niche market that may be far more profitable and lucrative than anything we've seen before - think Discovery Cove of theme parks.
Disney reserves their American right to plea the fifth in Florida if they ever see the need to:) Presume any such plan will not begin in any real way till the current CEO actually steps down and leaves...
>>>3. Will UFW cannibalize patrons from the other Central Florida attractions like Sea World, Legoland, Kennedy Space Center, and Busch Gardens? or
I think this is likely. I remember when I was planning my trip, the Universal Website was keen to sell me a Universal/Busch Gardens/Sea World/Aquatica package ticket. If Universal had more gates to create a "Whole Week" proposition on their own, then they'd be able to cut their partners free.
RM writes: "There's no solid data to dispute my assertion either TH."
I respond: Which would mean my assertion that your theory is based upon "total conjecture with no solid data" would be correct.
Try a little harder to keep up.
And I’ll repeat it, Universal Orlando is STILL one BIG IP away from blowing open Orlando! And if Universal can source the right IP to do so, all the other dominos will fall, including the need for a 5th gate at WDW.
Regarding the possibility of Disney building an eighth WDW park I imagine the reality of building multiple attractions, retail, food and beverage, administrative, civil and back of house construction and the production of new entertainment could reasonably regarded as a pretty tall order. Additionally, I would assume the US economy and world events will have a significant impact on whether or not the company decides to build another park.
Having said that, I assume (and it is just my assumption) the plans of Fun Spot, Universal, Sea World or Gatorland are probably much lower on the list of important considerations.
I think Nintendo World is gonna be the bob-omb whenever they get around to making it. Pegging other karts with Koopa shells and eating mushrooms to go "faster" and win the race. Gonna be a lit area!!!
Andrew writes: "I'm still disgusted by the lost decade at the start of Iger's tenure. He invested nothing in the parks."
I Respond: Yeah, the company has been really struggling under his tenure. The decisions to buy Lucas, Pixar, Fox and Hulu and open the resort in Shanghai are all examples of Mr. Iger's lackadaisical approach.
Conveniently leaving out the billions wasted on the unnecessary MyMagic+ for Walt Disney World Resort that has been supplanted everywhere else by mobile apps. Or not standing behind the chosen successor Tom, who would have been the first Disney CEO from the theme park side of the business, and basically treating Parks and Resorts as a cash cow for the media side of the company. Hard to believe how many Cast Members now fondly remember Michael Eisner and his Disney Decade compared to how our side of the Disney empire is regarded under the current regime. Still insist main reason he dropped his political aspirations for now is knowing Presidents have to name an actual successor!
Am I the only person on this site who likes MyMagic+?
Like it or not, it is a redundant and unnecessary system and cost billions. Everything it does can be handled by other means, which is why it remains a Florida only boondoggle and a pain for every department of Walt Disney World Resort- and those billions could have been reinvested in the world's most popular theme park destination resort in way better ways. Will be the first thing to go after He Who Will Not Be Named retires to his multiple sports related conflicts of interest. By the way, dumping the Seven Service Guidelines for what became the Four Keys is another example of how little regard the CEO actually has for Walt's legacy. Shanghai and Paris both now showing off how easier it is to offer every MyMagic+ convenience with RFID and guest's own devices as opposed to this boondoggle.
Tom Staggs wasn't from the theme park side of the business, he was an investment banker and then hired into Disney as a corporate strategic planning manager. After working his way up through corporate he became the Chief Financial Officer then him and Jay Rasulo (who was in charge of parks and resorts) jobs were switched in 2010 in order for both to gain experience in another major segment of the business as both were potential candidates to be the next CEO.
In 2015 it was determined Staggs was the better candidate and they named him Chief Operating Officer ultimately making him #2 in the company, then a year later the board decided he wasn't fit for the job. The current guy from consumer products has been in the parks role about as long as Tom Staggs was. If Bob Chapek is the next CEO he would actually have more parks experience then Tom Staggs did.
I don't have any issues with him just trying to state the facts.
Perusing through the TEA/AECOM report I caught this little nugget.
"The Six Flags chain also showed increases for 2018, largely driven by the acquisition of five new parks bringing about 2 million in additional attendance."
So in a good economic year when the top domestic chains (Disney, Universal, and Sea World) posted pretty decent growth, the mid-level operators (Six Flags and Cedar Fair) were flat.
How do you interpret this data? Can you say that the offerings by Cedar Fair and Six Flags aren't as appealing to the public as they once were? Or do read this as there's a limit to the number of people withthe resources to visit theme and amusement parks and the top tier parks are grabbing a bigger share of the pie.
Personally, I see this as the beginning of a slow decline for the regional parks, but there is the possibility that the good economy has more people able to afford a vist to the top tier parks that probably would have visited a regional park in leaner times.
I know there isn't a whole lot of love for the regional parks on this website, but some of us enjoy the occaisonal day riding the coasters (unless you're an idiot who tries to ride too many too quickly), and would hate to see the loss of a nearby thrill ride experience.
It's been like that for decades, regional parks haven't really grown attendance wise because their markets have pretty much plateaued. Unless they can get the people who live in the area to visit more, or they are in growth city, they have pretty much no growth potential. The parks in Orlando, Paris, Shanghai etc are all major international destinations and can poach visitation from all over the world. As long as there's money flowing somewhere Orlando's leaders will find them.
20 or so years ago all the seasonal parks started building water parks which greatly increased visitation and since then they have been growing revenue by raising prices, doing more upsells like dining packages and expensive line skip programs.
Cedar Point, who you could say is the most destination of all the seasonal parks, is trying to copy the ESPN Sports Complex to drive attendance and increase length of stay which seems to make sense for them.
For "The Man": Tom Staggs was with Disney since 1990 and is credited with the actual work to get Disney both Pixar and Marvel that others are so keen to credit Iger for. Meanwhile, Jay Rasulo was mostly from the travel industry side of the company and Bob Chapek is mostly from consumer products/merchandise. All three are considered more from the Parks & Resorts side of the Disney empire as opposed to from the Studios or from ABC/Cap Cities- and Tom was the official "heir" as C.O.O. before the forces from the media side of the Board made it clear they didn't think he had enough experience in cable and television for the top job. So yes, he is considered the "Parks & Resorts" candidate for the top gig and no, it doesn't look likely Bob Chapek or any other viable candidate from the Parks side of the business is likely to succeed when Bob Iger retires.
For Tim: Plenty of us are fans of all theme parks, including regional theme parks:) Both Six Flags and Cedar Fair operate regional chains that feature precisely one true year-round theme park, which certainly limits their overall performance compared to operators who have their gates open year-round. Both have plans to try to overcome this, but for now the two big North American regional theme park operators continue to run what amounts to a seasonal business. Disney, Universal, Merlin and SeaWorld run year-round. Becomes an apples and oranges comparison business-wise...
I just don't feel good about the seasonal parks future. Their growth should approximate the growth of the population, but it doesn't seem that that's the case.
And Six Flags is growing through acquisition which preceded their last crash.
At Bakas: "Tom Staggs was with Disney since 1990 and is credited with the actual work to get Disney both Pixar and Marvel that others are so keen to credit Iger for."
I Respond: You got a source on that? Or are we just taking your word for it?
Of course I do- and if you actually just google "Tom Staggs" it's even on his Wikepedia listing, first paragraph! And all of which is well known for those of us who were around for it when it was actual news. Just go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_O._Staggs
By the way, as demonstrated by the guilty grandma last month, is TH Creative still allowed in through security at the Disney theme parks? Would appear your "THC" Content would get you trespassed;)
It was Iger's idea to buy Pixar, he realized he wanted to do it when watching the parade at Hong Kong Disneyland and realizing all of the popular characters were Pixar characters. Bob also had to convince the board it was a good idea and talk Steve Jobs (who hated Disney at the time) into selling it to him.
Of course there are execs under the CEO who do a lot of the work to make it happen, but to say Staggs was responsible for Disney buying Pixar is not accurate.
I wish the 2018 attendance totals would include Busch Gardens Williamsburg, just curious if 2018 exceeded 2017. Outside of Southern CA and FL, I think BGW is the best theme park.
It's been great reading all the back and forths about the attendance figures at Disney and UO, in particular. But nowhere do I see anyone mention the breakdown of numbers between tourists and pass holders ?
Most on here, especially those commenting, are vacation visitors, and seem to view the numbers as purely tourist based. It isn't though. Pass holders are the lifeblood of any park, and without us, would they still command such a huge number of visitors every year ?
Myself, and other Disney pass holders I know, visit the WDW parks at least once a week. Sometimes more, especially EPCOT at the moment with the concert series going on.
One can't deny the fact the numbers are impressive, and as a pass member at SeaWorld, I know first hand the amazing uptick in visitors the park has seen over the past 18/24 months.
Is it all down to tourists/visitors though ... ??
For John Brosnihan- The TEA/AECOM index only publishes results for the top 20 theme park gates in the region so can only be certain that Busch Gardens Williamsburg had less than 3,107,000 guests in 2018. Their water park Water Country USA, however, ranked 6 in North America, up 2.5% to 729,000.
For Makorider: sorry but TEA/AECOM Index does not differentiate or breakdown details on who these attendees are, whether day guests, pass holders, on-site resort guests, foreign vs domestic visitors, local vs out of area, etc. While these numbers remain the closest gauge for the industry they are still not "official "and plenty of these venues do not share specific totals let alone breakdowns of details on guests. So presume based on what we already know that passholders and locals figure in the grand total estimates, not just visiting day guests. These are still estimates. Remember, a recent published index for just European theme parks and attractions showed slightly different results for the same parks, same year, just weeks ago- and generated headlines claiming Disneyland Paris was up 4% and had passed ten million guests for 2018 instead of the Index which reflectes 1.9% and under 10 million. No confirm from Disney of whether either estimate is closer to accurate let alone if those guests are Passholders.
>>>It was Iger's idea to buy Pixar
I'm sure he certainly had the idea, but I am not convinced he was the only one.
TBH, I'm suprised Apple didn't end up buying Disney, or some merger arranged between em. If Jobs had lived a little longer I think it would have happened.
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And if you're not a Disneyland or Magic Kingdom style park, the best you can do if you share that market with the Disneyland/Magic Kingdom park is 50-70% of the attendance. It doesn't matter if you're a Disney park park sited with a Disneyland/Magic Kingdom park or a Universal Park, that "magical" 70% barrier will never be broken. Even with Star wars.... and Marvel.... and Avatar.... and Harry Potter.... and Nintendo.
Unless you're Tokyo DisneySea which arguably is the best theme park in the world.