TEA 2016 theme park attendance report reveals big year for Universal Studios, but Disney remains on top

in Theme Parks

The annual Global Attractions Attendance Report from the Themed Entertainment Index (TEA) has been released for 2016, and while Disney still dominates the top charts, Universal Studios had a very good year.

Overall, Universal Studios saw increased attendance at each of their parks while Disney’s numbers took a slight dip. As competition heats up between the two parks, this is a trend worth watching in the coming year.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando remains the number one park worldwide with 20,395,000 visitors in 2016, down just 0.5% from 2015. California’s Disneyland took the second spot with 17,943,000 visitors, though that’s down 1.8% from 18,278,000 guests in 2015. At number six, Epcot took in 11,712,000 guests, down 0.7% from the previous year.

Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, which saw massive crowds this past weekend with the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar, came in at number seven with 10,844,000 visitors, down 0.7% from 2015. It will be interesting to see where Animal Kingdom lands next year with the inclusion of Pandora visitors.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios came in at number eight with 10,776,000 guests, down 0.5% from 2015. Like Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios may see a spike in attendance after the new Star Wars and Toy Story lands have been completed.

Rounding out Disney’s parks in North America, California Adventure came in at number eleven with 9,295,000 guests, up 5.7% from the previous year.

Universal Studios Hollywood had the greatest increase in attendance this year thanks to the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened in April. Coming in at number fifteen overall, the park had 8,086,000 guests in 2016, up 13.9% from 7,097,000 guests in 2015.

Universal Studios Orlando came in at number nine with 9,998,000 guests, up 4.3% from 9,585,000 in 2015. Islands of Adventure took the number ten slot with 9,362,00 visitors, down 0.2 percent.

SeaWorld Orlando continues to fall down the list, coming in at number twenty-five this year. The park welcomed 4,402,000 guests, down 7.9% from 2015.

Overseas, Disney parks in Japan also had a strong year. Tokyo Disneyland took the third spot with 16,540,000, down 0.4% from 2015. Tokyo Disney Sea came in at number five with 13,460,000, down 1.0% from 13,600,000.

However, Disneyland Paris took a dip, coming in at number thirteen with 8,400,000 guests, down 14.2 percent.

Universal Studios Japan also saw an increase this year, up 4.3% and coming in at number four with 14,500,000.

Shanghai Disneyland, a new entry this year, came in at number twenty-one with 5,600,000 visitors.

Attendance at the top 20 water parks in the world grew by 3.6 percent. Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach came in second and third, respectively. Typhoon Lagoon had 2,277,000 visitors, down 0.7%, and Blizzard Beach saw 2,091,000 guests, down 0.8% from the previous year.

SeaWorld took another dive with Aquatica, which came in at number seven with 1,536,000, down 4% from the previous year.

We’ll have to wait until next year to see where Universal Orlando’s new Volcano Bay water park falls on the list.

Other things to note from TEA’s findings:

  • Though Disney’s attendance slipped a little, their revenue was up 5% at domestic operations.
  • Universal Orlando’s share of the theme park market has risen to 25 percent while Disney’s has fallen below 70 percent.
  • 148 million people visited the top 20 theme parks in North America, up 1.2 percent.
  • Overall attendance changes from 2009 – 2016: Universal Studios +90.6%; Walt Disney World +13.1%; SeaWorld Orlando -24.1%

The full 2016 TEA Global Attractions Attendance Report can be viewed online.