Florida Theme Park Attendance Figures 2015

Florida Theme Park Attendance Figures
Florida Theme Park Attendance Figures

Sources: Amusement Business Magazine, Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and Economics practice at AECOM.

Orlando is known at the theme park capital of the United States and rightly so with seven of the top 10 North American theme parks located in Orlando. Worldwide, Disney’s four Florida parks make the top 10 list with Disney’s Magic Kingdom taking the top spot for more than 12 years now.

None of Florida’s theme parks publish actual attendance figures. The figures presented here by TEA/AECOM are estimates based on their extensive research.

Overall, Walt Disney Attractions is far and away the largest theme park company with nearly 138 million visitors worldwide in 2015. Over 40% of those visits were to Disney’s Florida theme parks and water parks.

In second place with nearly 63 million visitors is the Merlin Entertainment Group which operates the various Legoland, SeaLife and Madam Tussauds exhibits amongst others.

Universal Parks and Resorts rank third with nearly 45 million visitors and SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment rank ninth with 22 million.

All of Florida’s major players saw significant growth in 2015 except for the SeaWorld group of parks again which only grew by 0.3%.

Universal Studios continued to see strong growth, up 16% on 2014, fuelled by the continuing popularity of Diagon Alley while attendance at Islands of Adventure increased by 8%.

SeaWorld has been badly hit by the big upsurge in visitors to Universal and the backlash against the “Blackfish” film. Despite a 5.6% increase in visitor numbers the first three months of 2015, SeaWorld saw only a 2% increase over the whole year.

Top 10 North American Theme Parks

For 2015, the top 10 North American theme parks are:

Rank Park and Location 2015 2014 Change
1 Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 20,492,000 19,332,000 6.0%
2 Disneyland, Anaheim, California 18,278,000 16,769,000 9.0%
3 Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 11,798,000 11,454,000 3.0%
4 Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 10,922,000 10,402,000 5.0%
5 Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 10,828,000 10,312,000 5.0%
6 Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, Florida 9,585,000 8,263,000 16.0%
7 Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, California 9,383,000 8,769,000 7.0%
8 Islands Of Adventure at Universal Orlando, Florida 8,792,000 8,141,000 8.0%
9 Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California 7,097,000 6,824,000 4.0%
10 Seaworld Fl, Orlando, Florida 4,777,000 4,683,000 2.0%

All of Florida’s parks were hit by the 9/11 attacks in 2001 but by 2003 most of them started to show signs of recovery. Disney and Universal in particular have seen strong growth in the last couple of years fuelled by new attractions such as New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.

At Universal’s two Florida parks, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Simpsons Springfield area and Transformers with Diagon Alley opening in 2014 have all had an impact. Universal Studios overtook Islands of Adventure in 2014 and Disney’s Californian Adventure in 2015 to grab the number five spot behind the four Walt Disney World Resort parks.

Magic Kingdom still dominates Disney’s other three parks with Epcot slightly ahead of Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

Despite Animal Kingdom often being regarded as a half-day park it holds its own with Hollywood Studios. It will be interesting to see what happens at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as both have major expansions planned over the next couple of years. At Hollywood Studios work has started on Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land whilst at Animal Kingdom the long awaited Avatar themed Pandora is set to open in 2017.

Like in 2014, the big loser in a sense is the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment group. Whilst SeaWorld in Orlando has made a small recovery, SeaWorld in San Diego saw a continued drop in attendance in 2015. SeaWorld was badly hit in 2013 and 2014 by the Blackfish documentary and the fallout and protests that ensued. They are continuing to make a concerted effort to win back guests, highlighting their major investment in rescue efforts of endangered animals and sea life.

Legoland Florida is missing from these figures as it still has not made the top 20 but it continues to grow with the addition of World of Chima, DUPLO Valley and its first resort hotel which opened in 2015.

Top 10 North American Water Parks

For 2015, the top 10 North American water parks are:

Rank Park and Location 2015 2014 Change
1 Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, Orlando, Florida 2,294,000 2,185,000 5.0%
2 Disney’s Blizzard Beach at Disney World, Orlando, Florida 2,107,000 2,007,000 5.0%
3 Aquatica, Orlando, Florida 1,600,000 1,569,000 2.0%
4 Wet ’n’ Wild, Orlando, Florida 1,310,000 1,284,000 2.0%
5 Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas 1,037,000 1,037,000 0.0%
6 Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia 726,000 726,000 0.0%
7 Adventure Island, Tampa, Florida 663,000 644,000 3.0%
8 Schlitterbahn, Galveston, Texas 551,000 551,000 0.0%
9 Six Flags-Hurricane Harbor, Arlington, Texas 549,000 523,000 5.0%
10 Six Flags-White Water, Georgia 541,000 510,000 6.1%

Orlando takes the top four spots with Adventure Island in seventh place. Again Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are ranked first and second. Worldwide, Orlando’s top four make the top 10 but Disney lost the top spot with Chimelong Waterpark in Guangzhou, China ranking first in 2013 onwards.

Bear in mind though when comparing numbers that whilst Orlando’s water parks are open pretty much all year round, most other US water parks including Adventure Island are seasonal and typically only open for five or six months of the year.

History of Attendance Reports

Florida’s theme parks typically do not publish annual attendance figures but over the years a number of organisations have published estimated annual attendance figures for both US and worldwide theme parks, water parks and now museums.

Combining details from the parks own PR releases, financial reports, local tourism offices and other sources, each year they compile top 20 lists showing estimated attendance and percentage change from the previous year.

The current attendance reports are produced by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) in partnership with AECOM. Earlier reports were produced by ERA (now part of AECOM) in conjunction with Amusement Business Magazine (since closed).

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