TEA attendance report shows Disney still king, Universal gaining ground and SeaWorld losing traction


The annual theme park attendance report, as presented by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM,  is out! The annual report showcases attendance at Themed attractions and museums worldwide, giving an idea of growth and trends in theme park attendance worldwide.  For the  fourth straight year, theme park attendance in North America is up over 2 percent. The report measures attendance over the previous year. While there were some surprises, the majority of the news was expected,  Disney once again coming out on top.How did the rest of the theme park world fare?


What Disney World not only had the number one theme park in North America,  but also the world with attendance topping 18 million visitors in 2013. The attendance spike of 6 percent is attributed to the ongoing success of The New Fantasyland,  as well as a continued swell in international tourism. Universal parks also showed positive increases,  with the largest coming from Universal Studios Florida with a whopping 14% increase, due in large part to Transformers The Ride and Springfield expansions. The big surprise comes from SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment,  whose parks slid overall. While many activists would love to point to the anti-SeaWorld film Blackfish as the reason for the decline,  it’s simply not the case. That film didn’t make it’s largest impact until the 4th quarter of 2013, in which SeaWorld parks were actually up in attendance.  The decline comes mostly from unusual weather in many regions of the country.

Top 20 Theme Parks in North America

1. MAGIC KINGDOM at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL 6.0% 18,588,000
2. DISNEYLAND, Anaheim, CA 1.5% 16,202,000
3. EPCOT at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL 1.5% 11,229,000
4. DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena
Vista, FL 2.0% 10,198,000
5. DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS at Walt Disney World, Lake
Buena Vista, FL 2.0% 10,110,000
6. DISNEY’S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE, Anaheim, CA 9.5% 8,514,000
7. ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE at Universal Orlando, FL 2.0% 8,141,000
8. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS at Universal Orlando, FL 14.0% 7,062,000
9. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD, Universal City, CA 4.0% 6,148,000
10. SEAWORLD FL, Orlando, FL -5.0% 5,090,000
11. SEAWORLD CA, San Diego, CA -3.0% 4,311,000
12. BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY, Tampa, FL -6.0% 4,087,000
13. KNOTT’S BERRY FARM, Buena Park, CA 5.0% 3,683,000
14. CANADA’S WONDERLAND, Maple, Ontario -2.0% 3,582,000
15. CEDAR POINT, Sandusky, OH 5.0% 3,382,000
16. KINGS ISLAND, Kings Island, OH 0.0% 3,206,000
17. HERSHEYPARK, Hershey, PA 1.3% 3,180,000
18. SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN, Valencia, CA 3.5% 2,906,000
19. SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE, Jackson, NJ 5.7% 2,800,000 
20. BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG Williamsburg, VA -4.5% 2,726,000

Looking to 2014, Universal Orlando is expected to once again perform well as the second phase of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will open this summer. The new expansion will link both parks with the Hogwarts Express ride. In 2010 Universal’s Islands of Adventure came put a huge winner with a massive 36% increase over the previous year, and sent Universal well on it’s way to being a formidable force against Disney’s empire. Universal Hollywood also had a great year, with another expected as they recently began revealing the huge concepts that will transform their park within the next few years. Despicable Me was unveiled this year, with Springfield,  Fast&Furious and Harry Potter expected in the next two years. Disney, however has one major project that they’ve announced, and while Avatar will not open until 2017, the growth should continue at Disney.

While theme park attendance is up overall, waterpark attendance dipped slightly with a 2% drop overall. The biggest successes came from Orlando parks which benefitted from a mild fall and winter.
Top 10 Waterparks in North America
3 AQUATICA, Orlando, FL 1.0% 1,553,000
4 WET ‘N’ WILD, Orlando, FL 1.0% 1,259,000
5 SCHLITTERBAHN, New Braunfels, TX 1.0% 1,027,000
6 WATER COUNTRY USA, Williamsburg, VA -2.9% 726,000
7 ADVENTURE ISLAND, Tampa, FL -2.0% 638,000
8 SCHLITTERBAHN, Galveston,TX 0.0% 546,000
9 HYLAND HILLS WATER WORLD, Denver, CO 0.0% 538,000
10 SIX FLAGS-HURRICANE HARBOR, Arlington, TX 2.0% 518,000
11 SIX FLAGS-WHITE WATER, Marietta, GA 0.0% 505,000
12 WET ‘N’ WILD, Phoenix, AZ 2.4% 472,000
13 SIX FLAGS HURRICANE HARBOR, Jackson, NJ 1.9% 432,000
14 RAGING WATERS, San Dimas, CA -5.6% 423,000
15 SPLISH-SPASH, Riverhead, NY -5.5% 411,000
16 WET ‘N’ WILD EMERALD POINT, Greensboro, NC -2.0% 398,000
17 SOAK CITY CEDAR POINT, Sandusky, OH -6.0% 379,000
18 KNOTT’S SOAK CITY USA, Buena Park, CA 5.1% 368,000
19 CAMELBEACH, Tannersville, PA 0.0% 367,000
20 ZOOMEZI BAY, Powell, OH -7.5% 360,000

It will be interesting to see if Wet n Wild Orlando, or Aquatica Orlando can top Disney waterparks this year as both have unveiled new attractions. Neither Disney waterpark has produced anything new in over five years.

Stay tuned as we bring you more from the amusement industry,  and be sure to get social with us on Facebook and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!

To see the entire TEA Attendance report, visit the official website by clicking here!