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2013 Theme Park Attendance Report


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^ Yup, and I totally agree. Trust me, I *LOVE* the SeaWorld/Busch parks and I do fully support them, but I have to be honest, I have seem a downturn in customer service at their Orlando properties even since we've moved out here three years ago. I wasn't impressed with Antarctica as their big "new ride" and at times some of their hospitality seems closer to Six Flags levels than what I expect from Orlando.

 

That being said, I absolutely love their parks, some of the seasonal events they put on are FANTASTIC, but I do wish they'd step it up a little bit when it comes to general guest interactions with their staff. I know finding good help in Orlando is not the easiest because it's a large area with not a huge amount of people to pull from, but they need to turn it around.

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Also this change in Seaworld/Busch attendance was not unexpected. They raised their tickets price 9% and there were plenty of articles last August discussing the increase in their pricing and the plan to increase profits at the expense of attendance. This was well before the Blackfish hype. Remember the movie wasn't shown on CNN or released on video/netflix before late October 2013.

 

http://business.time.com/2013/08/20/why-one-theme-park-company-swears-its-happy-to-be-attracting-fewer-visitors/

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-14/seaworld-swings-prices-up-visitation-flops#r=hpt-fs

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I was just going to mention that. They Busch/SeaWorld parks implememented a new strategy this year with aggressive admission price increases. The idea was that while attendance would drop, they would be attracting an audience with a higher disposable income who would spend more in park, and due to slightly smaller crowds, would have a more enjoyable time in the park, leading to a longer stay and more spending. The drop in attendance was expected, but if I recall correctly, revenue has actually been up each quarter. There was a big write-up on it on Screamscape awhile back. So I guess they know what they're doing.

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Moving away from the Seaworld discussion, has anybody else noticed the extreme difference between Disneyland and California Adventure attendance? The parks are 50 yards away from each other and yet DCA has HALF of the attendance of Disneyland. That doesn't make sense to me. Both parks have had similar crowds every time I've visited.

 

I'm not a statistic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but is it possible they're lumping the one-day passes to Disneyland with the Park Hoppers and just counting one-day passes to DCA separately?

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Moving away from the Seaworld discussion, has anybody else noticed the extreme difference between Disneyland and California Adventure attendance? The parks are 50 yards away from each other and yet DCA has HALF of the attendance of Disneyland. That doesn't make sense to me. Both parks have had similar crowds every time I've visited.

There is the same stigma that surrounds Disneyland that surrounds Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, etc... Disneyland is the "Magic Kingdom", "The park that Walt built", "The Classic", etc.... The "Disneyland" parks always come out might higher in attendance because it's the primary park that people go to a Disney resort for.

 

I know it probably seems like they are getting the same attendance, but I know aren't. There are still many people who will go to Disneyland first, and the 'other Disney park" second. And I don't think that will ever change.

 

Look at the difference between Magic Kingdom and Epcot. And both seem just as crowded to me. I mean, Epcot is GIANT and I've seen night after night of the entire lagoon PACKED WITH PEOPLE to watch Illuminations, yet it comes in at almost 8 million people fewer than Magic Kingdom. (Or the difference of Cedar Point & Kings Island's ENTIRE year plus a bit of Knott's - and that's only the DIFFERENCE between attendance of the two parks!)

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A big deal is being made out of nothing with this whole decrease in SeaWorlds attendance. The park's revenue INCREASED in the last year; guest spending was projected to be as high as ever. SeaWorld doesnt give two craps about attendance when theyre making record-number revenues. Thats all that matters anyway.

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To comment on the Busch Gardens Williamsburg attendance decline, I have noticed across the state in the Roanoke/Virginia Tech area where I live that BGW has completely stopped advertising and promoting themselves compared to just a few years ago when half of TV/radio commercials were theirs (insert stupid Sesame Street Forest of Fun music here)... It definitely seems more and more people are going to Kings Dominion and Carowinds around here ever since the Intimidators were added. Since we live 3 hours from each of them the Intimidator 305 vs. Intimidator debate is quite popular around here.

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How is it that we are 4 pages into this discussion and no one has mentioned that a regional park like Hersheypark beat any of the Six Flags parks in attendance? I find that astounding!! I mean SFMM and SFGADV are the two flagships and they both are behind a small, chocolate funded regional park with no huge corporate backing. That is amazing that Hersheypark can do that. Kudos for them for doing the things to bring visitors in and provide them with what they want. I think bigger corporations lose sight of what's really important and only worry about the "turnstyles" and forget about the guest experience aspect.

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I think the big jump between the Disney parks is many people treat Magic Kingdom as a multi-day (visit) park, and the others as 1 or half day. Remember this is counting admissions, not individual people, so two visits to the MK looks like 2 people. The actual "people" number to the MK is probably much less.

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How is it that we are 4 pages into this discussion and no one has mentioned that a regional park like Hersheypark beat any of the Six Flags parks in attendance?

 

Six Flags are regional parks too. 85% of their guests live in a 150 mile radius of their parks. Hersheypark is also located in a tourist area and has a longer operating sesason that many Six Flags parks.

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^ A common misconception about Hersheypark is its size. It's far from small, sure it has some compact aspects about it but it's certainly large enough to be classified as such. Another thing to remember is that it's not necessarily a regional park. Hershey PA by itself is a major tourist destination. It actualy serves 3 of the 4 largest CSA's in the BOSWASH megaplex conglomeration(New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore/Washington), so in some ways it's better geographically-positioned than most other parks in the country. The attendance is warranted, and I believe it climbed into the top 20 in the last decade or so, which parallels the time they were heavily investing in coasters.

 

The park is very well rounded as far as the customer base is concerned, as it thoroughly caters to families as well as coaster fanatics, which tends to occur more commonly in smaller parks, hence the "small park" identity. It also isn't affiliated with any mainstream entertainment organizations unlike Six Flags and Cedar Fair which are loaded with branding.

 

In other words, it's understandable why someone would think it's a small park.

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That was actually really interesting to read! Disney is not surprising. What DID surprise me was the fact Typhoon Lagoon actually beat out Blizzard Beach. I personally think that Blizzard Beach is a MUCH better water park... But that's just my opinion... Still very interesting to how all the parks compare.

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That was actually really interesting to read! Disney is not surprising. What DID surprise me was the fact Typhoon Lagoon actually beat out Blizzard Beach. I personally think that Blizzard Beach is a MUCH better water park... But that's just my opinion... Still very interesting to how all the parks compare.

I think there is some perception that Blizzard Beach is more for "thrill seekers" that want a water park and that Typhoon Lagoon has a bit more to offer for families. That's at least the vibe I get when you hear the tourists talk about the two water parks. "Blizzard Beach has that giant scary drop slide and Typhoon has the really nice lazy river and wave pool."

 

So I think that's why you see the numbers the way they are. More people are probably attracted to the "family" park.

 

but I agree with you, I like Blizzard Beach better!

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I didn't know Everland and Nagashima Spa Land are crowded parks until just now. I always thought Everland's insane line was due to the terrible operation.

 

Everland's a crowded park anyways, plus with operations you got to pick your days carefully, we are only a 20 minute drive from the park so we use the app and weather forecast to guess the crowds. We went on Sunday since my wife predicted due to wednesday and friday being a public holiday and a very low chance of rain it'd be fairly quiet (turns out this thursday is the busiest day yet this week with lines of over an hour even for the flats whereas we walked on 90% of the rides on Sunday) TR coming soon . I'd be interested in hearing why you think Everland has terrible operations though since this has only been an issue for me within the last year or so. The ride operators are still incredibly efficient and friendly but its the overall park operations I haven't liked this year.

 

Saying that i'm glad to see Lotte World overtake Everland, looking back at some of my first TP's from when I arrived in Korea I really didn't enjoy Lotte World compared to Everland but over the last few years Lotte World have really worked hard to make the park amazing whereas Everland has slowly gone down for me. Lotte World have added mutiple attractions all over the park for different people and updated old ones (Atlantis got a 6 month refurb to return it to its "original glory"), put themed facades around the chain restaurants to make it blend in and now seem to run fast pass even on dead days to give people the option as well as working with Goddard Group to re-do the entrance area, added new food options and just generally improved the park all around. Sadly with the space queue lines can still be a problem when it's busy though for some rides

 

Everland on the other hand while still a fantastic park has switched their rides to half day operations on weekdays so rides alternate when they are open and can result in longer lines than there used to be (still a lot of weekdays where the park will be dead though if your lucky), never run the regular fastpasses for the two rides that are listed on the map as having them (at least I have never seen them with them even on busy days) which means pthe only option is the $80 star package that gives them one time access to 3 rides and entrance and have switched a few attractions so they are fast pass only rides with a system which involves just showing up at one of the multiple booths around the park and being handed paper tickets without any form of scanning meaning people can exploit it. They also tiered the season pass so the prices went up if you were some-one who could only go on weekends since the old became the smart season pass with a few black-out dates. Also even though the ride is only a year old they cut the kids 3D movie to only 1 showing an hour instead of half hour much to some of my youngest students disapointment.

 

These are all minor things and again Everland is still a great park but with only one new major attraction being added whereas things like Eagles Fortress and the big wheel just stand rotting away and with other additions being just changing the movies on existing rides, I feel Lotte World has put a huge amount of effort into improving their park and attractions and refreshing popular ones (again Atlantis) and in terms of operations whereas quite a few areas of Everland have started to feel old (and not in a good way like some of Disneys older rides ) and the operations and new systems feel like i'm being forced to spend more time and money than I used to. It's nice to see Lotte World have got a big increase after all the little efforts to improve the atmosphere of the park.

 

i'm quite suprised how highly some of the smaller water parks of Korea did, some of them i'd never even heard of and looking them up don't seem to be too special. I guess Koreans really love their waterparks.

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with no huge corporate backing.

 

Hershey isn't huge corporate backing? Am I correct in assuming that they're still backing the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company that owns the park, arenas and teams that play in them along with a ton of hotels?

 

Personally I find it more shocking that Canada's Wonderland, Kings Island, Cedar Point and Hersheypark beat Magic Montain which is open all year while all of those parks are seasonal. Cedar Point's numbers are particularly impressive as that park doesn't even open until May when some other regional parks (like BGW) have already been open for up to 2 months. Canada's Wonderland's proximity to Knott's is really surprising too as Knott's is not only open all year, but it's open 364 days out of the year (unlike Magic Mountain which goes to weekend operations in the winter) and during the month of October they collect day admission and a separate admission for Knott's Scary Farm. I'm assuming the size of the parks plays a role though as Knott's is pretty small.

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^ It's not really that shocking TBH, Canada's Wonderland has always been on top in regards to attendance. It doesn't surprise me to see it so high up since it's typically the highest attended regional park in the country. Kings Island on the other hand... was the park in the top 20 under Paramount ownership? I don't recall it being that high up on the list before. It'll probably overtake CP this year with Banshee in the mix.

 

Hersheypark just so happens to be in a perfect spot, so attendance is bound to be pretty high. It's surrounded by Pittsburgh, Philly, DC, Baltimore, and New York, it's located right in the middle of Dutch country (which means it's already surrounded by major tourist attractions like Gettysburg), and it has the Hershey name attached to it. And did I forget to mention it sits next to a concert venue, and has a zoo/waterpark combination inside? All those pretty much contribute to the park's popularity.

 

MM getting a small increase was a surprise to me. I'd expected Throttle to draw a few more people, but I guess it didn't pull the numbers that they were hoping for. This year's new family area doesn't seem like it would pull huge numbers either. Seems like Gatekeeper pulled bigger numbers for CP.

 

Seeing BGW and BGT's numbers dip doesn't come off as a surprise to me, especially after the massive budget cuts both parks had to face, plus neither park had any new rides to show off. In Williamsburg's case, the park had almost no advertising (even for Verbolten since a lot of locals I talked to seem to have no idea the park even got a new coaster to begin with).

 

Seeing a drop at SWO despite the new ride and surrounding parks getting a serious boost from new attractions surprised me somewhat until I remembered the whole Blackfish controversy. Maybe the parks took a bigger hit than expected - still the parks got decent numbers enough I guess.

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with no huge corporate backing.

 

Hershey isn't huge corporate backing? Am I correct in assuming that they're still backing the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company that owns the park, arenas and teams that play in them along with a ton of hotels?

 

Yes, Hershey itself is a huge corporation, but what I was referring to is that their main business is not amusement parks whereas you have Six Flags that all they do is amusement parks. Hershey Entertainment has their hands in many things from arenas to zoos to a very successful amusement park.

 

I understand what everyone says about location being perfect for Hersheypark, but it really is the only draw. It's not like it's located next to a huge metroplex with tons of things to do. And I don't really seeing it being a draw for the Baltimore/DC area as you have Six Flags America and Busch Gardens much closer. I see Hersheypark as being a destination location, where you plan to go there, it's not like a local park.

 

KI has jumped up because it has become a better park and draws from a large area from Columbus, CIncinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, Charleston.....basically there are a bunch of decent sized cities within a 1-2 hour drive from there so it makes it easy for people to get to.

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Hershey actually is located RIGHT near Harrisburg too which isn't a major city by any stretch but it's a decent base of locals... the Harrisburg metro area is the 49th largest metro area in the U.S. and is home to 1,228,559 people. The park really isn't quite as "in the middle of nowhere" as it appears to be.

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