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2019 Theme Park Attendance Report - TEA / AECOM Theme Index


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The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM have released the 2019 annual attendance report and Theme Index!

 

Click HERE to check it out, as well as former years!

 

Year 2019 was a year of moderate performance for the world’s most popular theme parks and water parks, and a variable year for museums depending on region, according to the most recent TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, released on July 16, 2020 and available free online. Globally, Disney remains the top theme park operator, and the Louvre in Paris remains the world's top-attended museum.

 

John Robinett, Senior Vice President - Economics, AECOM said, “After clearing the half billion attendance mark in 2018, the world’s top theme parks, water parks and attractions continued to climb to 521.2 million in 2019 for a 4.0% annual growth rate as represented by the top 10 attraction groups. The Asian operators once again dominated - with OCT, Chimelong, and Fantawild all reporting high single- or double-digit increases.”

 

Robinett added, “As a whole, 2019 was a rather mild-mannered year in the industry, with stable results in the established European and American markets being supplemented by moderate growth in Asia. This could indicate that some pre-recessionary pressures were building under the surface before the tectonic COVID-19 shifted the foundation of the world’s health and economies.”

 

The 20 most-visited museums in the world performed well and remained relatively stable in 2019, globally attracting some 105.5 million visits overall compared to 108.1 million in 2018.

The current, full report and all prior editions back to 2006 are available to download free of charge from the TEA website and the AECOM website.

 

Top 25 Amusement & Theme Parks Worldwide

 

1. Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World) - 20.963 million (+0.5%)

2. Disneyland Park (Disneyland) - 18.666 million (stable)

3. Tokyo Disneyland (Tokyo Disney Resort) - 17.910 million (stable)

4. Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo Disney Resort) - 14.650 million (stable)

5. Universal Studios Japan - 14.500 million (stable)

6. Disney's Animal Kingdom (Walt Disney World) - 13.888 million (+1%)

7. EPCOT (Walt Disney World) - 12.444 million (stable)

8. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom - 11.736 million (+8.4%)

9. Disney's Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World) - 11.483 million (+2%)

10. Shanghai Disneyland - 11.210 million (-5%)

11. Universal Studios Florida (Universal Orlando) - 10.922 million (+2%)

12. Islands of Adventure (Universal Orlando) - 10.375 million (+6%)

13. Disney California Adventure (Disneyland) - 9.861 million (stable)

14. Disneyland Park (Disneyland Paris) - 9.745 million (-1%)

15. Universal Studios Hollywood - 9.147 million (stable)

16. Everland - 6.606 million (+12.9%)

17. Lotte World - 5.953 million (-0.1%)

18. Nagashima Spa Land - 5.950 million (+0.5%)

19. Europa Park - 5.750 million (+0.5%)

20. Ocean Park - 5.700 million (-1.7%)

21. Hong Kong Disneyland - 5.695 million (-15%)

22. Efteling - 5.400 million (stable)

23. Walt Disney Studios Park (Disneyland Paris) - 5.245 million (-1%)

24. Happy Valley Beijing - 5.160 million (+29.6%, new to global top 25)

25. Chimelong Paradise - 4.905 million (+4.8%)

 

Now, discuss! More images and info from the release will be coming later.

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I love reading through this report every year when it's released. I guess the biggest thing that stands out to me is that Disneyland's attendance remand mostly the same even though Galaxy's Edge was open there for a solid 7 months where as Hollywood Studios had a pretty solid increase with GE being open for less time. I predicted that might happen because of the changes they made to passes and the fact that that park seems to be pretty near capacity all the time before GE opened anyways but it's still a little surprising.

 

It's always interesting to compare Disney World to Universal Orlando, I know that the two properties are completely different but Magic Kingdom alone does almost as much attendance as both Universal Parks combined which is always shocking. Disney parks in Orlando did around 63 million and Universal's did around 23 million. I'm not trying to compare the two resorts or anything but the sheer volume that WDW processes in a year is just insane, that place is an absolute machine.

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I love reading through this report every year when it's released. I guess the biggest thing that stands out to me is that Disneyland's attendance remand mostly the same even though Galaxy's Edge was open there for a solid 7 months where as Hollywood Studios had a pretty solid increase with GE being open for less time. I predicted that might happen because of the changes they made to passes and the fact that that park seems to be pretty near capacity all the time before GE opened anyways but it's still a little surprising.

Galaxy's Edge was there for seven months, but Rise of the Resistance was not. That had to have contributed somewhat. I can see people putting off trips for that reason.

 

It's always interesting to compare Disney World to Universal Orlando, I know that the two properties are completely different but Magic Kingdom alone does almost as much attendance as both Universal Parks combined which is always shocking. Disney parks in Orlando did around 63 million and Universal's did around 23 million. I'm not trying to compare the two resorts or anything but the sheer volume that WDW processes in a year is just insane, that place is an absolute machine.

Personally I'd compare the Universal Orlando parks to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios before I'd compare them to Magic Kingdom. Both sets of parks are two big theme parks, within spitting distance of each other, with straightforward access to their companion resort hotels. You can get to either Disney park easily from Boardwalk and Yacht / Beach Club, and you can get to either Universal park easily from Hard Rock and Royal Pacific.

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Galaxy's Edge was there for seven months, but Rise of the Resistance was not. That had to have contributed somewhat. I can see people putting off trips for that reason.

That's fair, I kind of forgot about that, but still a little surprising they didn't see any increase relatively compared to Studios. Will be really interesting to see how DCA performs after the new Avengers Campus opens, I would guess that park would have a much higher percentage increase in 2021 than Disneyland had in 2019.

 

 

Personally I'd compare the Universal Orlando parks to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios before I'd compare them to Magic Kingdom. Both sets of parks are two big theme parks, within spitting distance of each other, with straightforward access to their companion resort hotels. You can get to either Disney park easily from Boardwalk and Yacht / Beach Club, and you can get to either Universal park easily from Hard Rock and Royal Pacific.

 

That's a pretty fair comparison, with the new Skyliner you could probably even lump in Caribbean Beach, Riviera and Art of Animation. Again it just blows my mind every year the sheer volume that the WDW resort handles.

 

Another observation is that year after year attendance at Busch Gardens Tampa just doesn't ever really change. They reported had 4.1 million in 2009 and 4.3 million in 2006 vs 4.18 in 2019. I was hoping Iron Gwazi would be a big hit for them but given their history that may not really be the case whenever it may open.

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I have always wondered why some parks see a boost in attendance from new coasters and other parks don't. Canada's Wonderland had a big boost from Yukon Striker and Six Flags Great America saw next no boost from Maxx Force.

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I have always wondered why some parks see a boost in attendance from new coasters and other parks don't. Canada's Wonderland had a big boost from Yukon Striker and Six Flags Great America saw next no boost from Maxx Force.

 

My completely uneducated guess is that there are just a ton of economic variables that can affect that metric. General status of the Economy, price of fuel for travel, weather, pricing and promotional strategies by the parks, in the year 2019 international diplomacy lol. There's just a lot that to be factored in.

 

I mean per this report in 2018 Steel Vengance only increased Cedar Point's attendance by like 70k so it's just hard to say.

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That’s been discussed and debated before and nobody except the executives with the parks probably know that info with 100% certainty but these companies publish pretty much these same figures in their annual financial reports for the SEC so because if that Ive always assumes there to be some legitimacy to it.

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Isn’t this the report that’s almost entirely made up? Weren’t they off by like 5 million with Knott’s a few years ago?

It's not perfect, and not every park officially reports their numbers, but the report is sound enough that it's used as a resource by many in decision-making processes. It's been going for a long while now.

 

This reporting is put together by AECOM, a multi-national firm with deep ties to the technical side of the business, and the Themed Entertainment Association, one of the most prominent professional associations in the business (the first being the IAAPA), and the most prominent for creatives.

 

They address concerns each year near the end of the report. Some highlights:

 

AECOM obtains the figures used to create the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index through a variety of sources, including statistics furnished directly by the operators, historical numbers, financial reports, the investment banking community, local tourism organizations, and professional estimates where necessary.
Do some operators exaggerate in order to look more successful? What can you do about that?

 

[...]

 

Misreporting also raises false expectations. If you’re trying to make an investment decision and forecast future performance, you need accurate information. If a property is not investing in regular improvements, yet reports that numbers are stable or growing, the numbers are suspect. Moreover, it’s not the kind of secret that can't be kept for long.

How do you estimate figures for individual parks and museums that don’t report them?

 

Fortunately, with more than 60-years experience working in the attractions industry, AECOM’s Economics practice has a strong understanding of what drives performance at the park level and a robust process to estimate attendance where necessary.

 

Full disclosure. I'm not affiliated with AECOM. I am with the TEA but I do not speak as a representative for them. I did not participate in any of the research nor was I part of the team that put the report together or did QA / QC / GP on it.

 

While I can't promise that the reporting is always completely accurate, I do not believe that their intention is to mislead anyone. I can't speak to any allegations that they mess with numbers they've received from official sources. All I care about is that, despite the competition, it is important for everyone in the theme park world to understand what's working, and what isn't working, to continue to grow.

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I always wonder how the Korean parks manage to draw crowds when they tend to very rarely add any new rides but there's Everland with their 12.9% increase even over the last few years a bunch of rides got closed permanently or made to run cheaper than before.

 

Considering all the Hong Kong news about Ocean Park struggling to stay afloat after Hong Kong's protests, it's interesting to see they dropped only 1.7% compared to Disney's 15%.

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  • 1 year later...

Oh they're not publishing one? That's a shame, it could have been the most interesting report they have ever produced. Obviously it would have been all over the place statistically, especially as a lot of their figures are guestimations, but surely it would have been a useful resource and a useful way to see how different countries' approaches to covid affected the industry, plus their editorial analysis is always interesting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I stand corrected, it was finally released: https://www.teaconnect.org/images/files/TEA_408_342874_210923.pdf and the drops are pretty grim.

I can only really comment on the Korean side but Everland was the only park I think on the top 20 list that never closed for a single day in 2020 and it still saw almost a 60% drop in attendance. Lotte World only closed for 3-5 days only but some much publicized reports of corona positive people being the reason for closures led to an 74% drop. 

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It’s exactly as you’d expect.  Will take a decade to fully recover, just as it did after 2008 recession.  Would not expect to see major spending from parks for the next 5 years or so until profitability has at least stabilized. 

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I have no reason to second guess these number but some of them are still kind of hard to believe. I don't really remember how long the Florida parks were closed, I think it was 3-4 months, but every time I visited late summer and in to the fall of 2020 attendance felt pretty healthy. I know there were attendance limits in place and all but it "felt" like a park like MK would have done more than 7 million being open most of the summer and the holiday season but I guess not. Will be interesting to compare next year's report to this year to see how the recovery is going but like Joey said we're likely looking at a decade long recovery process to get close to the 2019 attendance levels. My guess is next year's numbers will be back up quite a bit with domestic travel being more normal, but the lack of international travel will be very apparent. 

 

Also I had laugh a little bit at the waterpark attendance list where Typhoon Lagoon is still listed as #1 even though it was closed all of 2020.

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^They're ordered by 2019 attendance numbers. If you rearrange them by 2020 attendance, Magic Kingdom still comes out on top, but Shanghai Disney would then be the 2nd most attended park followed by Universal Japan which overtook both the Tokyo Disney parks this year.

 

Like I said previously, I can believe those numbers. Korean parks were some of the only ones in the world to not close for a single day,  Everland which didn't have any closures or corona scares dropped 58% and Lotte World which only closed a handful of times but did have publicized visits from corona patients in the early days when track and trace was able to follow where the cases were coming from had a much bigger drop of 74%. And these are parks that rely on mostly domestic or Chinese tourists, so I can definitely believe some of the Florida parks dropped that much with big closures, especially with the loss of international visitors.

 

It also blows my mind that Woongjin Playdoci Waterdoci, always makes it so high on water park lists for Asia. All the other big Korean parks are huge indoor/outdoor areas with some big raft slides and water coasters etc but Woongjin is almost like a small local indoor park, it has 3 body slides and a body water bowl slide. I don't think I ever want to visit that on any non-pandemic years.

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