The annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, the definitive annual attendance study for the themed entertainment and museum industries, was published today. Theme park numbers for calendar year 2013 show substantial growth internationally, with the top North American parks surpassing pre-recession days, water parks emerging in Latin America, Asia continuing to surge forward and the Middle East resuming development activity. Globally, the top theme park operators posted attendance growth of 5.4 percent overall, and the top 25 theme parks grew at a similar rate of 4.3 percent. The top museums also performed well, up over 7 percent internationally.
Read the report from TEA/AECOM (PDF) or read the press release.
I found this bit interesting:
2013 represents the fourth straight year of growth since the worst of the Great Recession. Looking back a full decade, those numbers are also up significantly.
In 2013, the Top 20 theme parks in North America attracted 135.1 million visits; in 2004, 115.4 million visits. That’s an increase of 17 percent. By contrast, U.S. population grew about half as quickly, at 9 percent. Attendance at alternative leisure activities was stagnant or even declined. For example, Major League Baseball attendance grew only 1 percent, National Parks recreational visits declined by 1 percent, and movie theater ticket sales dropped 11 percent.
Growth in tourism also plays a major role. The number of person trips by U.S. residents for leisure purposes increased 11 percent from 2004 to 2013, and international arrivals increased an amazing 51 percent! Areas with major theme park concentrations, such as Orlando, Los Angeles, and even the Upper Midwest, are benefiting.
It looks like the Busch/Sea World parks are having a tough time of it, except for Aquatica.
Well, not exactly. If you look at the earnings report, they're still on track for something like a 30% margin. I don't know if it's intentional (disclaimer: I do work contract for the company, but don't have access to any information about this), but it seems like they're pursuing higher per caps instead of higher attendance.
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