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From the Orlando Sentinel:

 

Here's the Top 25:

 

1 MAGIC KINGDOM at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA 17,060,000

2 DISNEYLAND, Anaheim, CA, USA 14,870,000

3 TOKYO DISNEYLAND, Tokyo, Japan 13,906,000

4 TOKYO DISNEYSEA, Tokyo, Japan 12,413,000

5 DISNEYLAND PARIS, Marne-La-Vallee, France 12,000,000

6 EPCOT at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA 10,930,000

7 DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena V 9,510,000

8 DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL 9,490,000

9 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN, Osaka, Japan 8,713,000

10 EVERLAND, Kyonggi-Do, South Korea 7,200,000

11 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS at Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL 6,200,000

12 SEAWORLD FLORIDA, Orlando, FL, USA 5,800,000

13 DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE, Anaheim, CA, USA 5,680,000

14 PLEASURE BEACH, Blackpool, UK 5,500,000

15 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE at Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL, USA 5,430,000

16 OCEAN PARK, Hong Kong, China 4,920,000

17 HAKKEIJIMA SEA PARADISE, Yokohama, Japan * 4,770,000

18 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD, Universal City, CA, USA 4,700,000

19 BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY, Tampa Bay, FL, USA 4,400,000

20 SEAWORLD CALIFORNIA, San Diego, CA, USA 4,260,000

21 HONG KONG DISNEYLAND, Hong Kong, SAR, China 4,150,000

22 TIVOLI GARDENS, Copenhagen, Denmark 4,110,000

23 EUROPA-PARK, Rust, Germany 4,000,000

24 NAGASHIMA SPA LAND, Kuwana, Japan 3,910,000

25 PORT AVENTURA, Salou, Spain 3,700,000

 

Scott Powers | Sentinel Staff Writer

6:00 AM EDT, March 14, 2008

 

Central Florida's theme parks saw modest-to-strong growth in attendance last year, displaying resilience within an otherwise softening local tourism market, according to a new report.

 

The report, produced by a research company and theme-park trade association, concludes that 2007 was a particularly good year for Walt Disney World, a decent year for Universal Orlando and a year of modest growth for SeaWorld Orlando.

 

The study, to be published today, says that Disney's Magic Kingdom topped 17 million visitors, retaining its title as the busiest theme park in the world. The report also includes seven Orlando-area theme parks among its ranking of the 10 busiest parks in the U.S.

 

The attendance estimates, produced by Economic Research Associates and the Themed Entertainment Association, are completely unauthorized and unofficial. Disney, Universal and Busch Entertainment do not release attendance numbers for their individual parks, nor do many other companies. But in the absence of any standardized, authorized figures, the annual ERA/TEA attendance study provides the industry's most widely cited gate estimates.

 

The report has its critics, particularly Busch Entertainment Corp., which owns SeaWorld, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and eight other parks. Busch spokesman Fred Jacobs said Thursday the 2006 ERA/TEA estimates were almost all significantly lower than Busch's own attendance counts, and that he had complained strongly to ERA about that. Another knowledgeable Busch source provided the Orlando Sentinel with internal 2007 gate counts for two Busch parks that were both higher than what ERA/TEA is reporting today.

 

John Robinett, senior vice president of ERA, a Los Angeles-based company, defended the report's accuracy and said Busch Entertainment's complaint is a minority view.

 

The study's overall assessment of 2007: a year of steady business in the United States, where the theme-park industry is mature and stable, but one with widely varied results elsewhere in the world.

 

"I think it was business as usual," Robinett said. "Orlando did quite well this year. Southern California was a little slow. The Midwest was modest. You add it up, and it was a year of modest and healthy growth, which is to be expected at this point in our industry."

 

Disney's Animal Kingdom continued to ride Expedition Everest -- its big roller coaster that opened in early 2006 -- to new heights of popularity, according to the report. In 2006, that coaster was credited for driving an 8.6 percent gain in attendance for Animal Kingdom. Last year, the ride and the new Finding Nemo show pushed the park's gate up another 6.5 percent -- the best growth rate in Florida for a second year in a row.

 

Robinett said that, based on published visitor counts for the Orlando area, its theme parks appear to have had a better year than the local tourism scene overall and showed few ill effects from the weakening economy or high gas prices.

 

"I think it shows in some ways the parks can control their own destiny," he said of the report, which is being published today in two trade publications, InPark Magazine and Park World Magazine.

 

Outside the U.S., Robinett said, Europe's theme parks had strong growth, Asia's were weighed down by bad years at a couple of parks, and Latin America's had mixed results. Tokyo Disneyland was the busiest park outside the U.S., with 13.9 million visitors. Disneyland Paris was Europe's busiest, with attendance totaling 12 million.

 

ERA's sources include statistics furnished directly by some theme-park companies, historical numbers, financial reports, the investment-banking community and local tourism organizations, among others.

 

Robinett said some companies cooperate with the ERA/TEA effort and express confidence in the estimates. Busch is not one of them.

 

A Busch Entertainment source, who spoke only on condition of anonymity for breaking with the company's usual policy, said that SeaWorld Orlando's 2007 internal gate count was in the range of 6.2 million, while Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's attendance was in the range of 4.5 million. The ERA/TEA estimates released today report 5.8 million for SeaWorld and 4.4 million for Busch Gardens.

 

Speaking for those and other Busch parks, Jacobs did not confirm those numbers, but he said the ERA/TEA combined estimate released last year for all nine Busch parks open in 2006 -- 21.7 million -- was more than 1 million visitors less than the company's internal count.

 

"As far as other companies are concerned, they might be accurate numbers, but I can tell you they are not accurate numbers for our parks," he said.

 

Robinett acknowledged Busch's complaints but said the easy way to avoid such discrepancies would be for Busch and other theme-park companies to officially release their attendance figures.

 

"You know how our numbers can get more accurate? If the operators give us a little help," he said. "And many of them do."

 

Sentinel Story

 

What I find interesting, is DCA pulling in more people that IOA, and yet it's considered a flop that needs to be extensively redone. Public perception is a weird thing.

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I wonder if it's because a large percentage of DCA's attendence is a result of Disneyland being full or as a free bonus park add on.

 

In a similar light, Disney Paris is bringing in more guests than Epcot, AK, and MGM/DS though it too is usually described as underperforming.

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^I think the "flop" perception comes from how Disneyland outpulls its neighbor by nearly three to one.

 

EDIT: Ya beat me to it, Jon.

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A Busch Entertainment source, who spoke only on condition of anonymity for breaking with the company's usual policy, said that SeaWorld Orlando's 2007 internal gate count was in the range of 6.2 million, while Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's attendance was in the range of 4.5 million. The ERA/TEA estimates released today report 5.8 million for SeaWorld and 4.4 million for Busch Gardens.

I just find it funny that Busch is whining about the figures as much as they are. Maybe I'm wrong, but in my view, the only folks that would really care about precise figures would be investors. And wouldn't they have access to those in the annual reports anyway? Seriously Busch, 6.2/5.8 and 4.5/4.4 is not enough to get your panties in a wad. In fact, shut up and be happy with what you get. When it comes down to it, you're simply the remora to the shark which is Disney anyway.

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I'd like to see a list of the US only in addition to this.

 

You mean like this:

 

1 MAGIC KINGDOM at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA 17,060,000

2 DISNEYLAND, Anaheim, CA, USA 14,870,000

6 EPCOT at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA 10,930,000

7 DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena V 9,510,000

8 DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL 9,490,000

11 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS at Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL 6,200,000

12 SEAWORLD FLORIDA, Orlando, FL, USA 5,800,000

13 DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE, Anaheim, CA, USA 5,680,000

15 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE at Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL, USA 5,430,000

18 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD, Universal City, CA, USA 4,700,000

19 BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY, Tampa Bay, FL, USA 4,400,000

20 SEAWORLD CALIFORNIA, San Diego, CA, USA 4,260,000

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Well done to Blackpool for bringing the only chance the UK has of getting in there (again)

 

I get the impression most people here (and the Simpson's) rate it as a flop but i didn't realize how bad it was. Look how close they are! It almost beats 2 Disney attractions

 

13 DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE, Anaheim, CA, USA 5,680,000

14 PLEASURE BEACH, Blackpool, UK 5,500,000

15 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE at Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL, USA 5,430,000

 

21 HONG KONG DISNEYLAND, Hong Kong, SAR, China 4,150,000

 

The one time I don't care they possibly make the numbers up - its the last year they can.

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Shocked to see Everland as the hightest non Disney or Universal Park on the list. Nice park and everything, but with only two real coasters (as of 07) and it just didn't seem that 'big'.

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What I find interesting, is DCA pulling in more people that IOA, and yet it's considered a flop that needs to be extensively redone. Public perception is a weird thing.

 

You also have to remember, as with all Disney parks, that attendance does not equal single day park tickets.

 

DCAs attendance is highly inflated by annual pass holders, the current TwoFer promotion (3 months out of the year, if a SoCal resident buys a Disneyland ticket, they get a free DCA ticket), Single-day park hopper tickets (only $20 more than a non-park hopper) and other mulitple park hopping days.

 

 

There are FAR fewer than 5,680,000 people buying admission to DCA. I probably have 15 visits in that number and have never purchased admission to the park.

 

 

-Jahan

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Interesting, too, is how Knott's used to pull in over four million a year, and now it's not even on the list. To me, that says something...

 

Eric

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I believe that DCA is a flop compared to all the other Disney North America parks. The Magic Kingdom is getting 17 million compared to DCA's small 5 million. That's a huge difference. Any other park would love to get what Disney is getting, but Disney wants more attendance for that park. They think they can do better.

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If I sound stupid, educate me. (Or just slap me.)

 

It's amazing how a "brand" sells a park. I will never understand this aspect of the amusement industry, especially when you ask just about anyone which amusement park they have the most fun at, or has the best rides, it's none of these top parks. Big parks with few rides get millions of people, vs. medium parks with more rides, better food, and less expensive have less attendance.

 

Heck, if I had the secret, I'd be rich. Lets see...

 

-Make something boring...

-Brand it...

-Force people into believing it's fun or cool...

-People pay you too much money.

 

What am I missing?!?!?

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You also have to remember, as with all Disney parks, that attendance does not equal single day park tickets.

 

DCAs attendance is highly inflated by annual pass holders, the current TwoFer promotion (3 months out of the year, if a SoCal resident buys a Disneyland ticket, they get a free DCA ticket), Single-day park hopper tickets (only $20 more than a non-park hopper) and other mulitple park hopping days.

 

There are FAR fewer than 5,680,000 people buying admission to DCA. I probably have 15 visits in that number and have never purchased admission to the park.

But that goes for ALL those parks. I don't think the list is meant to translate into "this number of people equals this number of tickets sold." I have alveys been under the impression it means "This number of people walked through our turnstiles."

 

IMO, getting someone through the gate, paid admission or not, is a huge win for a park. Once they are in the park, isn't it a common fact that your 'average guest' will spend more money in the park than on admission during a full day visit?

 

If you think the numbers for DCA are high because of annual passes or promotions, think about the number for Blackpool. Most of those are made up because of the parks "Free admission." It will be interesting to see how that number changes next year.

 

--Robb

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If you think the numbers for DCA are high because of annual passes or promotions, think about the number for Blackpool. Most of those are made up because of the parks "Free admission." It will be interesting to see how that number changes next year.

 

--Robb

 

It will be interesting to see next year, but at the same time the admission is still only going to be minimal, I think it's going to be something like £5. Its quite difficult to compare a free/low price entry park to somewhere like Alton Towers, which pulled in less that half the visitors of Blackpool, at 2.4 million. Although as long as the parks continue to make money then thats the most important thing, regardless of how many visitors walk through the turnstiles.

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I'm surprised Kings Island had no increase despite adding Firehawk. This season could possibly be a bust in terms of a downturn in attendance. The park in starting to lack in personality and I've heard people grumble about this to me over the past year. Doing things like not running a side of Racer backwards and charging extra (even for season pass holders) for Haunt is not going to help their cause.

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If I sound stupid, educate me. (Or just slap me.)

 

It's amazing how a "brand" sells a park. I will never understand this aspect of the amusement industry, especially when you ask just about anyone which amusement park they have the most fun at, or has the best rides, it's none of these top parks. Big parks with few rides get millions of people, vs. medium parks with more rides, better food, and less expensive have less attendance.

 

Heck, if I had the secret, I'd be rich. Lets see...

 

-Make something boring...

-Brand it...

-Force people into believing it's fun or cool...

-People pay you too much money.

 

What am I missing?!?!?

 

Which parks are you talking about? Disney? Universal? Not sure I get what you're saying.

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I'm shocked to see how much Great America and Great Adventure have fallen since the 2005 season. I'm sure rising gas prices played a role, but these two parks shocked me in how much they've fallen in attendance.

 

I know Great America hasn't added anything truly major since 2005, but for it to have fallen so much is amazing. With the new coaster coming this year, and the potential dive machine next year, I anticipate attendance to quickly rise back to near the three million mark.

 

SFGADV is also shocking, because even with its location and size, it is pulling in just a few more than Great America. I thought SFGADV rivaled CP in terms of attendance, but it seems to have had a rough year. As with SFGAM, I believe attendance will rise with the Dark Knight opening this year, and the potential dive machine should also help attendance in 2009.

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"Branding" doesn't just apply to theme parks...that's how it works for everything. People want what they are familiar with instead of the unknown.

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^It's on the U.S. list if you click on that link. Because they're open 364 (I think) days a year, plus Scary Farm, they pull in more than Cedar Point.

 

Interesting though that Knotts is open year round, and yet still barely beats out the top seasonal parks.

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Yeah, DCA fell about 300,000 people from last year. That's not very good, but I wonder why?'

 

--Jay

 

I wonder if all the new plans they've announced have something to do with it. A lot of people might be waiting for the dust to settle from the new construction. It'll be interesting to see how many people Toy Story Mania brings in.

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I'm shocked to see how much Great America and Great Adventure have fallen since the 2005 season. I'm sure rising gas prices played a role, but these two parks shocked me in how much they've fallen in attendance.

 

I know Great America hasn't added anything truly major since 2005, but for it to have fallen so much is amazing. With the new coaster coming this year, and the potential dive machine next year, I anticipate attendance to quickly rise back to near the three million mark.

 

I'm not surprised at all. The reason is because the prices have increased with the gate admission. However, in all reality it's not really that much money in regards to admission because of the heavy discount they are doing. This is what happened to Great America when Red Zone took over. Parking was maybe $10.00, and they made it $15.00.

 

Admission was around $44.99 or something like that, and they made it $54.99. So, you wonder why attendance decreased? The season passes haven't gone up that much money at all though. The parking pass also increased by a lot of money. They thing was that they increased admission, and parking when the new ride was only the Tornado. It wasn't the year when you are getting a waterpark with admission.

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