Top Theme Parks' Attendance Dropped 67% in 2020

September 22, 2021, 11:50 PM · Just how badly did theme park attendance drop in 2020, due to the pandemic? A leading industry report is now providing some numbers.

Attendance at the world's 25 most-visited theme parks dropped by 67.2% from 2019 to 2020, the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM reported today.

The TEA and AECOM typically release their Theme Index global attendance report each spring, but the industry disruption from the pandemic delayed this year's report. The 2020 report also did not provide data for attendance by company or reorder the Top 25 globally.

"Park closures as well as the loss of international and domestic tourists varied from country to country creating a patchwork of performance worldwide in 2020," the authors wrote. "Accordingly, 2020’s attendance is largely a function of regulatory agency restrictions limiting parks’ operating days and capacities and not park popularity and management. Therefore, we have decided to keep our 2019 rankings in place for our 2020 report. This will be re-ranked in 2021 once global health conditions stabilize."

TEA/AECOM reported attendance of 83.1 million at 2019's top 25 theme parks in 2020, down from 253.7 million the year before. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which was closed from March to July in 2020, continued to lead the world's theme parks, with 6.9 million visitors. That was down nearly 67% from 2019's 20.9 million guests.

Elsewhere, cumulative attendance for 2019's Top 20 in North America was down 72.3%, to 44.1 million visitors. The top 20 parks in Asia were down 57.9% to 59.5 million visitors, and the top 20 in Europe were down 65.6% to 22.2 million visitors.

The biggest declines among the world's top 25 parks were at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood, whose 2020 attendance were all down at least 80%, due to California theme parks not being allowed to reopen in 2020 after their closures in March. The smallest declines were at listed theme parks in China as well as at The Netherlands' Efteling, which still was down 46.3% last year.

You can download the 2020 Theme Index report from the TEA's website.

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Replies (8)

September 23, 2021 at 10:25 AM

It sucked that Disneyland and the other California parks were closed, but my kids are in school today, and unlike many parents across the country, I'm not particularly worried about their safety because of California's strict protocols that have yielded among the lowest of transmission rates.

And hey, it sounds like Bob Chapek is going to quickly make back all the money they lost by reaming Disneyland guests in the future, so it all worked out!

September 23, 2021 at 10:32 AM

In a Word.....ouch!!

September 23, 2021 at 12:40 PM

With the massive inflation that has taken place. Disney might find their significant increase will backfire in the long run.

I am sure there are a bunch of die-hards who can't wait to go to Disney who didn't due to COVID.

However, it remains to be seen how many of the non-die-hards will continue to visit, especially at the increased rates.

September 23, 2021 at 12:41 PM

Can't say a shock on this but still striking and little wonder Disney doing stuff to try to make up for the losses.

September 23, 2021 at 1:24 PM

I certainly don't doubt the trends, but there's a couple inconsistencies that make me doubt the numbers, particularly for SoCal's parks. Specifically, how does SeaWorld San Diego, which operated for three months in full theme park mode and then reopened as a zoo for much of the second half of the year have zero attendance, yet Canada's Wonderland has over a million despite not opening at all in 2020? Also, if you estimate the daily attendance numbers, every SoCal park had right around 75% of the average daily attendance of all of 2019 throughout the first quarter of 2020 when they were open, which seems implausible for any except Disneyland as that is the low season for the parks (and the percentages are are suspiciously close to the same). Meanwhile, Florida's numbers on a daily basis seem to be in the 40-45% range, which might actually be a little low but is to me more believable.

I'm very curious to see what next year's numbers will look like. While most parks had delayed starts to the season, a lot were posting record attendance over the summer due to pent up demand and deferred visits. I don't think any park on the whole likely matched 2019's numbers, but all should be a significant rebound from 2020.

September 24, 2021 at 10:28 AM

Glaring errors in the 2020 TEA/AECOM attendance figures...whole thing is one big Asterisk this time around but parks that never opened can't possibly see over a million Guests and parks that did can't see zero.

September 25, 2021 at 5:38 AM

In AECOM pages:
1/ The '-' sign in the tables, does not mean nessessarily zero but means : no data available.
2/ Numbers are provided by the parks themselves = not nessessarily reliable nor comparable. (HOW are the attendance counts made ? Most parks never reveil that. Like for instance: does park hopping counts for 1 or 2 visits? How are year pass attendances 'manipulated' ? ... etc )
3/ Book-years can varie enormously. Some parks make up calendar year stats, many parks stick to curious periods like march to march or september to september.

Take care with the TEA-AECOM 'bible'...

September 25, 2021 at 9:12 AM

The TEA/AECOM report is normally pretty interesting, but for 2020 and 2021 we're jusy going to have to treat it like the statistics from 1941-1945 for MLB when most of the best players were serving in the armed forces during WWII. Any information gleaned from them has to be interpreted within the context of the situation at hand.

One day we may just put a couple of astericks by the attendance numbers and treat them like Barry Bonds batting statistics during his "juiced" years.

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