Florida Theme Park Attendance Trends in 2022
By James | Last updated August 23, 2023
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Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the United States and rightly so with seven of the top 10 North American theme parks located in Orlando (SeaWorld crept 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on visitor numbers both in 2020 and 2021, with most parks completely shut for 3 months or so, some longer. Even when they re-opened many operated on a reduced schedule.
Many visitors (both domestic and international) were discouraged from travelling 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 graphic above and the percentage changes in the tables below show just what a terrible impact the pandemic had on theme park visitor attendance with a 60% to 80% reduction in numbers across the globe.
Read more about Florida tourism statistics for 2021.
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) this is because it did not make the top USA theme parks and water parks in the TEA lists and hence there are no published statistics.
Bear in mind that these are estimated average figures so during the quieter periods actual daily attendance figures could be considerably lower and conversely, during the busy seasons like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas they will be considerably busier. Also, expect larger crowds around some public holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day etc.
The figures for 2022 are higher than 2021 but still a bit below the pre-pandemic figures for 2019 for most parks
- Magic Kingdom — 47,000 (57,000) visitors per day
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom — 25,000 (38,000)
- EPCOT — 27,000 (34,000)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios — 30,000 (31,000)
- Universal Studios Orlando — 29,000 (29,000)
- Islands of Adventure — 30,000 (28,000)
- SeaWorld — 12,000 (12,000)
- Busch Gardens — 11,000 (11,000)
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon — 5,000 (6,000)
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach — <1,000 (5,000)
- Universal’s Volcano Bay — 5,000 (4,000)
- Aquatica — 4,000 (4,000)
- Adventure Island — 2,000 (1,000)
Florida theme park visitor trends for 2022
All Florida theme parks have seen a massive resurgence in visitor numbers in 2021 and 2022 but some are still well below 2019 numbers, especially Disney.
In 2022, Walt Disney Attractions increased their Florida attendance figures by over 30% compared to 2021 but is still 15% below their 2019 figures. This is mainly due to them still restricting daily reservations (most reservations will not be removed until early 2024).
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:
|Rank||Park and Location||2022||2021||Change|
|1||Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida||17,133,000||12,691,000||35.0%|
|2||Disneyland, Anaheim, California||16,881,000||8,573,000||96.9%|
|3||Islands Of Adventure at Universal Orlando, Florida||11,025,000||9,077,000||21.5%|
|4||Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida||10,900,000||8,589,000||26.9%|
|5||Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, Florida||10,750,000||8,997,000||19.5%|
|6||Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida||10,000,000||7,752,000||29.0%|
|7||Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida||9,027,000||7,194,000||25.5%|
|8||Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, California||9,000,000||4,977,000||80.8%|
|9||Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California||8,400,000||5,505,000||52.6%|
|10||Seaworld Fl, Orlando, Florida||4,454,000||3,051,000||46.0%|
|11||Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, Florida||4,051,000||3,210,000||26.2%|
Note: Busch Gardens is included for completeness.
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.
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 but in 2017 they were back in sixth spot.
Magic Kingdom still dominates Disney’s other three parks jostling for position. The opening of Toy Story Land in 2018 and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019 is starting to see increasing numbers at Hollywood Studios 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 as Hollywood Studios has had two major expansions whilst 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 SeaWorld in San Diego and in Orlando had seen double-digit drops in numbers. SeaWorld was badly hit from 2013 onwards 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 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 2 spot, just behind Typhoon Lagoon.
In 2022, Aquatica made the biggest gains compared to 2021 with a 35% increase in attendance.
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.
Top 10 North American Water Parks 2022
For 2022, the top 10 North American water parks are:
|Rank||Park and Location||2022||2021||Change|
|1||Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, Orlando, Florida||1,915,000||0|
|2||Universal’s Volcano Bay, Orlando, Florida||1,850,000||1,691,000||9.4%|
|3||Aquatica, Orlando, Florida||1,548,000||1,147,000||35.0%|
|4||Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas||946,000||888,000||6.5%|
|5||Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia||707,000||700,000||1.0%|
|6||Adventure Island, Tampa, Florida||636,000||593,000||7.3%|
|7||Aquatica, San Antonio, Texas||631,000||586,000||7.7%|
|8||Schlitterbahn, Galveston, Texas||539,000||402,000||34.1%|
|9||Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, New Jersey||426,000||448,000||-4.9%|
|10||Cedar Point Shores, Sandusky, Ohio||405,000||402,000||0.7%|
|Disney’s Blizzard Beach at Disney World, Orlando, Florida||101,000||1,201,000||-91.6%|
Like the theme parks, TEA has not ranked the water parks for 2020 through 2022 and some of the water parks were actually shut for the whole year.
History of Theme Park 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 park’s own PR releases, financial reports, local tourism offices and other sources, each year they compile the 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).
Sources: Amusement Business Magazine, Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and Economics practice at AECOM.