Report estimates theme park attendance, Universal Orlando wins big

Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 12:31 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Harry Potter transformed Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure into the fastest-growing big theme park in the world in 2010 and peeled visitors away from Central Florida's other theme parks, according to an industry report released Thursday. Estimated attendance at Islands of Adventure ballooned 30.2 percent for the year as huge crowds descended on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the $265 million themed area that opened in Islands exactly one year ago.

Get the report from TEA/AECOM (PDF).

To read about Orlando parks, read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

For the story in Southern California, read more from The LA Times.

Friday, June 17, 2011 12:34 PM

For long time visitors to this site, you know how I've called b.s. on this "study" before. Some people from certain parks have said the numbers are outright wrong in some cases, especially when it was in conjunction with AB, though obviously I can't say who because I don't want to put their jobs at risk. Most famously incorrect was the Six Flags Worlds of Adventure numbers, where obviously no one's job is currently at risk. :) I suppose it might work as a guideline, but they give no real explanation of their methodology or margin of error. I doubt you'd find a statistician that would take it seriously.

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Friday, June 17, 2011 12:48 PM

This is all I can find about where they get there information:

"AECOM obtains the figures used to create the TEA/AECOM Theme Index through a variety of sources, including statistics furnished directly by the operators, historical numbers, financial reports, the investment banking community and local tourism organizations, among others."

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Friday, June 17, 2011 5:44 PM

Ok, Its a 30 percent over last year, But what about pre recession? I imagine it just brings it back NEAR GOOD TIMES.

Like Jeff said. Not much Actual Growth, Just MAINTAINING by adding new things like most long established parks.

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Friday, June 17, 2011 6:31 PM

Universal had no where to go but up... I must say, I preferred the parks when there was no one there.

I see numbers on other parks in real time, so I question the numbers TEA provides... a LOT.

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Friday, June 17, 2011 10:59 PM

Remember too that Universal had solid profitability despite dropping attendance a few years ago. It's a surprisingly capable org. I don't think they ever truly had bad times in terms of guest experience.

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Friday, June 17, 2011 11:21 PM

CPJ said:
I must say, I preferred the parks when there was no one there.

Well that's not a very sustainable business model. Unless the few people going are spending to compensate for the lack of other guests in the park. :)

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Friday, June 17, 2011 11:41 PM

I really don't have a hard time believing those UO numbers - anecdotally, it's been a zoo since the day "the young wizard" arrived...to the point that Disney really has felt somewhat less crowded.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 12:17 AM

You can really perceive a 1% decline? You should do the study!

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 12:20 AM

Hello have they heard of Blackpool Pleasure Beach??? It's one of Europe's most visited attractions, 5 million visitors plus, yet it is no where on the report. I know their attendance has dropped but certainly not less than 1 millon.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 12:49 AM

If we're calling BS on these numbers, are they wrong because they should be higher or lower? I would think that Knott's would have done better considering it's year-round, but I suppose they rely on a lot of out-of park revenues.

It looks like they are basing their numbers on 2009 attendance, which seemed to hurt almost everybody. Car reports do the same thing, the base year over year and then month by previous month, but they don't often compare to the peak in 2006-2007

Last edited by john peck, Saturday, June 18, 2011 12:49 AM
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Saturday, June 18, 2011 1:19 AM

Jeff said:


You can really perceive a 1% decline? You should do the study!

LOL, probably not. But *relatively speaking*, the increase in attendance at UO (specifically IoA) has made that park seem much more like the crowded areas at Disney. The times when people felt like they had IoA all to themselves - are all in the rear-view mirror. Compared to what's going on at IoA....yeah, Disney feels less crowded. Based of course on expectations built from years of previous experiences.


In reality, I doubt the Mouse has felt the impact of WWoHP...to that extent, I see your point. But compared to the increases going on at UO, the Mouse is...stagnant. (Until the Fantasy Land is completed expansion at least).

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 1:24 AM

Grant said:
Hello have they heard of Blackpool Pleasure Beach??? It's one of Europe's most visited attractions, 5 million visitors plus, yet it is no where on the report. I know their attendance has dropped but certainly not less than 1 millon.

I have a really hard time believing that Blackpool is doing 5 million, and beating Disney Studios in Europe.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 9:57 AM

john peck said:
If we're calling BS on these numbers, are they wrong because they should be higher or lower? I would think that Knott's would have done better considering it's year-round, but I suppose they rely on a lot of out-of park revenues.

Out of park revenues? If you are referring to the line of Knotts preserves, the family sold that part of the business before they sold the park to Cedar Fair.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:09 AM

Probaly not the best summer for a non-HP family to visit Universal, huh? LOL Maybe better than last summer?

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Saturday, June 18, 2011 3:20 PM

I wouldn't trust these figures any more than rumors from Lance. At best, they're educated guesses -- and maybe even not all that educated.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011 3:26 AM

Jeff said:

Grant said:
Hello have they heard of Blackpool Pleasure Beach??? It's one of Europe's most visited attractions, 5 million visitors plus, yet it is no where on the report. I know their attendance has dropped but certainly not less than 1 millon.

I have a really hard time believing that Blackpool is doing 5 million, and beating Disney Studios in Europe.

A cut and paste from the Pleasure Beach website: http://www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/history.php

"Pleasure Beach, Blackpool remains Britain's number one tourist attraction. With over 6.2 million visitors now travelling to Britain's No. 1 Resort Theme Park every year."

Whilst these figures may be quesitonable, my original point was it is not even listed in the Top 20 for Europe, so they either assume it gets less than 1.3million visitors or they have excluded it for some reason or their researchers are useless and don't know of its existence.

Blackpool is a very popular resort in the UK, and with the Pleasure Beach only charging £5 admission (rides are extra) alot of people go through its turnstyles.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011 9:37 AM

I don't get the "everyone's doing it, you should too" advertising for a theme park. I just don't think it is a good idea. Blackpool is telling their potential customers that they have long lines and are really crowded, which is probably one reason people do not like to go to theme parks in the first place.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011 10:48 AM

Well, it beats "Blackpool Pleasure Beach: This Place Sucks It Big Time, But At Least There's No Lines!" as a slogan anyhow.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011 7:23 PM

Out of park revenues? If you are referring to the line of Knotts preserves, the family sold that part of the business before they sold the park to Cedar Fair.

Yes, that's what I meant, and thanks for that info, I never knew they sold that to another company.

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