Florida Theme Park Attendance Trends in 2022

By James | Last updated June 6, 2024

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We explore the USA’s top region for theme park attendance figures. Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the United States, and rightly so. Seven of the top 10 North American theme parks are in Orlando (SeaWorld moved back into tenth place in 2018).

Worldwide, Disney’s four Florida parks and Universal’s two Florida parks make the top 10 list, with Disney’s Magic Kingdom taking the top spot for over two decades now.

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

Impacts On Attendance Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on visitor numbers in 2020 and 2021. Most parks were completely shut for three months or so, some longer. Even when they re-opened, many operated on a reduced schedule.

Magic Kingdom queues near the castle
Magic Kingdom walkers near the castle

Many visitors (both domestic and international) were discouraged from traveling to Florida, and some international visitors, like those from the UK, were not even allowed to travel to Florida until late 2021.

Because of the pandemic, TEA decided not to rank parks for 2020 or 2021 but kept the same overall ranking as in 2019. They repeated this in 2022, but we have reverted to showing rankings based on actual 2022 attendance.

The tables further down the article show the terrible impact the pandemic had on theme park visitor attendance, with a 60% to 80% reduction in numbers worldwide.

Read more about Florida tourism statistics for 2023.

Average Daily Attendance at Florida Theme Parks and Water Parks for 2022

The figures in brackets are from 2019, before the pandemic, and give you a better feel for the average daily attendance at the most popular Florida theme parks and water parks.

If a park is omitted (like LEGOLAND Florida), it does not make the top USA theme parks and water parks list in the TEA lists; hence, there are no published statistics.

Evening attendance at Magic Kingdom, Florida
Evening attendance at Magic Kingdom, Florida

Remember that these are estimated average figures, so during quieter periods, actual daily attendance figures could be considerably lower. Conversely, they will be significantly busier during busy seasons like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Also, expect larger crowds around public holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The figures for 2022 are higher than 2021 but still a bit below the pre-pandemic figures for 2019 for most parks

Florida theme park visitor trends for 2022

All Florida theme parks saw a massive resurgence in visitor numbers in 2021 and 2022, but some, especially Disney, are still well below 2019 numbers.

In 2022, Walt Disney Attractions increased its Florida attendance figures by over 30% compared to 2021 but is still 15% below its 2019 figures. This is mainly because it still restricts daily reservations (most reservations will not be removed until early 2024).

Attendance at the wizarding world of harry potter in Florida
Attendance at the wizarding world of Harry Potter in Florida

Universal Parks & Resorts fared better with a 20% increase in 2022 compared to 2021 and is now slightly above their 2019 numbers, with Islands of Adventure exceeding their 2019 figures.

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment showed a gain of around 30% for 2022 but is still around 10% down on 2019.

Top 10 North American Theme Parks 2022

For 2022, the top 10 North American theme parks are:

RankPark and Location20222021Change
1Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida17,133,00012,691,00035.0%
2Disneyland, Anaheim, California16,881,0008,573,00096.9%
3Islands Of Adventure at Universal Orlando, Florida11,025,0009,077,00021.5%
4Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida10,900,0008,589,00026.9%
5Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, Florida10,750,0008,997,00019.5%
6Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida10,000,0007,752,00029.0%
7Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida9,027,0007,194,00025.5%
8Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, California9,000,0004,977,00080.8%
9Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California8,400,0005,505,00052.6%
10Seaworld Fl, Orlando, Florida4,454,0003,051,00046.0%
11Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, Florida4,051,0003,210,00026.2%

Note: Busch Gardens is included for completeness.

The 9/11 attacks hit all of Florida’s parks 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.

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, but in 2017, they were back in the sixth spot.

Magic Kingdom still dominates Disney’s other three parks, which are jostling for position. However, with the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018 and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019, Hollywood Studios is starting to see increasing numbers, and they now take second place, slightly ahead of Epcot.

It will be interesting to see what happens at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios over the next couple of years. Hollywood Studios has had two major expansions, while at Animal Kingdom, the long-awaited Avatar-themed Pandora has also opened.

Like in previous years, the big loser, in a sense, is the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment group. Both SeaWorlds in San Diego and Orlando had seen double-digit drops in numbers. SeaWorld was badly hit from 2013 onwards by the Blackfish documentary and the ensuing fallout and protests. They are continuing to make a concerted effort to win back guests, highlighting their significant investment in rescue efforts of endangered animals and sea life as well as new attractions, and the numbers are slowly improving.

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 new lands and resort hotels, the first of which opened in 2015.

Florida water park visitor trends for 2022

Orlando took the top three spots, with Adventure Island in sixth place. Because Disney only had one of its water parks open at any one time for most of 2022, Blizzard Beach has slipped down the rankings, and Volcano Bay has risen to the number two spot, just behind Typhoon Lagoon.

In 2022, Aquatica made the most significant gains compared to 2021, with a 35% increase in attendance.

Bear in mind, though, when comparing numbers, that while 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.

Top 10 North American Water Parks 2022

For 2022, the top 10 North American water parks are:

RankPark and Location20222021Change
1Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, Orlando, Florida1,915,0000 
2Universal’s Volcano Bay, Orlando, Florida1,850,0001,691,0009.4%
3Aquatica, Orlando, Florida1,548,0001,147,00035.0%
4Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas946,000888,0006.5%
5Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia707,000700,0001.0%
6Adventure Island, Tampa, Florida636,000593,0007.3%
7Aquatica, San Antonio, Texas631,000586,0007.7%
8Schlitterbahn, Galveston, Texas539,000402,00034.1%
9Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, New Jersey426,000448,000-4.9%
10Cedar Point Shores, Sandusky, Ohio405,000402,0000.7%
 Disney’s Blizzard Beach at Disney World, Orlando, Florida101,0001,201,000-91.6%

Like the theme parks, TEA has not ranked the water parks for 2020 through 2022, and some were shut down for the whole year.

Leading Theme Parks By Attendance 2019-2022

Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World), USA20.966.9412.6917.13
Disneyland Anaheim, USA18.663.678.5716.88
Universal Studios, Japan14.54.95.512.35
Tokyo Disneyland, Japan17.914.166.312
Islands of Adventure, USA10.383.649.0811.03
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, USA11.483.688.5910.9
Universal Studios Orlando, USA10.923.918.9910.75
Tokyo DisneySea, Japan14.653.45.810.1
Epcot (Walt Disney World), USA12.444.047.7510
Disneyland Park, France9.742.623.59.93
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, USA13.894.177.199.02
Disney’s California Adventure, USA9.861.924.989
Universal Studios Hollywood, USA9.
Data from Statista.com

History of Theme Park Attendance Reports

Florida’s theme parks typically do not publish annual attendance figures. Still, over the years, several organizations have published estimated annual attendance figures for US and worldwide theme parks, water parks, and museums.

Each year, they combine details from the park’s PR releases, financial reports, local tourism offices, and other sources to compile the top 20 lists showing estimated attendance and percentage change from the previous year.

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

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