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TEA and AECOM publish global theme park attendance numbers for 2011

TEA/AECOM’s annual study of global theme park attendance is a free resource for park operators, land developers & the travel industry. Top worldwide theme parks, amusement parks, water parks, and theme park group operators are named and industry trends are identified. This year: Two top American operators beat recession odds; Asia captures 1/3 of the global market.

The Themed Entertainment Association(TEA) and AECOMhave published the TEA/AECOM 2011 Theme Index: Global Attractions Attendance Report. This definitive, calendar-year study of attendance at major theme parks, amusement parks and water parks is an established, annual resource provided free of charge and widely used by land developers, creative professionals, the travel industry, the business community, the media and theme park fans. The Theme Index is the collaboration of TEA, international non-profit for the visitor attractions industry, and the Economics practice at AECOM, global provider of technical and management support services.

The full report is published online on the TEA websiteand the AECOM website.

The 2011 figures point to economic recovery and increased globalization of the themed entertainment industry. Asia’s Top 20 parks for the first time surpassed 100 million attendance; Asia now represents 1/3 of the global visitor attractions market and could in time surpass the US. The quality of the guest experience at Asian attractions is also rising fast. In North America, Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego were attendance standouts, and Orlando tourism has rebounded. In Europe, hospitality packages and holiday specials helped theme parks maintain patronage and profitability.

TEA president Rick Rothschild
In the 20 years since TEA was founded, the international attractions industry which it serves has had its ups and downs – but overall it has grown and our members have grown with it,” says TEA president Rick Rothschild. “The landscape is more international; attractions and audiences are more diverse; and a new generation of creative storytellers and technical specialists is emerging alongside the veterans. The TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report is one of the critical resources our association provides to help the industry thrive – an annual snapshot to mark important trends, to facilitate networking and the exchange of information, to celebrate excellence and to foster business.”

Quotes from the economics experts at AECOM:

John Robinett, Senior Vice President – Economics, AECOM
“Outstanding performers Universal Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego are a lesson on how to apply reinvestment to beat the business cycle. Overall, without Harry Potter, North America grew at 2.9% in 2011; subtract Harry Potter and it grew at 1.6%. Operators should take this to heart and apply their imaginations.”

Brian Sands, AICP, Vice President – Economics + Planning, AECOM
“SeaWorld San Diego opened the new One World One Ocean show with Shamu and Baby Shamu, as well as Turtle Reef, and experienced double-digit (13%) attendance growth.

“For top parks in Latin America, estimated total attendance grew modestly by 0.7 % to 13.4 million in 2011. Leading the pack were Parque Mundo Aventura and El Salitre Magico in Bogota, Colombia.”

Chris Yoshii, Global Director, Asia, AECOM
“In Asia, the future outlook remains very positive with strong growth in the middle class, urban populations looking for family outings and tourists eager for new experiences. Theme parks experienced very strong growth in 2011, with the Top 20 surpassing 100 million attendance, representing an overall increase of 9.4 percent – despite the disruptions of the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan.

“Significant capital improvements were strongly rewarded by the market: Ocean Park and Disney in Hong Kong (up 29% and 13% respectively), Lotte World in Seoul (up 37%), Nagashima Spa Land in Japan (up 30%) and Dinosaur Park Changzhou, which saw the greatest growth at 52%… Southeast Asia is quietly growing a substantial attractions industry, particularly water parks. Universal Studios Singapore had a strong opening year, with room to grow.”

John Robinett
“With 105.1 million (to North America’s 127 million) Asia represents about one-third of global theme park attendance. The gap will close substantially when Shanghai Disney opens. By adding 5-10 more theme parks, Asia will probably catch up to North America and then surpass it.”

David Camp, Vice President – Europe/Africa/Middle East, AECOM
“This year in Europe almost all of the Top 10 parks grew in attendance, including Disney (up 4.7%), Efteling (up 3.1%), Tivoli (up 7.2%) and PortAventura (up 15.5%)… The majority of the Top 20 parks in Europe now have hotels, busy with guests who often visit the park on 2 days for each overnight stay. It’s become an important business driver.”

TEA/AECOM 2011 Theme Index:
Global Attractions Attendance Report

  • 198.1 million: Total attendance for Top 25 worldwide parks, +4.8 % from 2010
  • 127 million: Total visits to Top 20 theme parks in North America, +2.9 % from 2010
  • 105.1 million: Total visits to Top 20 Asian theme parks, +9.4 % from 2010
  • 57.8 million: Attendance for Top 20 European theme parks, +2.8 % from 2010
  • 24.4 million: Top 20 worldwide water parks attendance in 2011, +9.4 % from 2010
  • 13.4 million: Total visits to Top 10 Latin American theme parks, +0.7 % from 2010
  • 12.1 million: Total visits to Top 10 Asian water parks, +22.3% from 2010

Top 5 theme parks worldwide, ranked by attendance: Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World (Orlando), Disneyland (Anaheim), Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris (full Top 10 with numbers are in the complete report)

Top 5 theme park groups worldwide, ranked by attendance: Walt Disney Attractions, Merlin Entertainments Group, Universal Studios Recreation Group, Parques Reunidos, Six Flags (full Top 10 with numbers are in the complete report).

For additional figures and analysis of global theme park attendance, previous editions are available in the TEA Publications Archive.

The 2011 TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report identifies the top commercial theme parks and waterparks around the world and reflects their performance for the calendar year. Global attendance data are broken down by geographic region, by chain and by type of venue. The report is a valuable business reference and resource for the visitor attractions industry, developers and the media, and widely read among the community of theme park fans. It is available free of charge from TEA and AECOM.

AECOM obtains the figures used to create the TEA/AECOM Theme Index through statistics furnished directly by theme park operators, financial reports, the investment banking community, local tourism organizations and other sources. The global market is studied as a whole, and its main regions are also studied separately: The Americas, Europe and Asia. There is also a table of the top water parks in the world and in the United States and Asia, and of the top international group operators.

The TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) is an international nonprofit alliance founded in 1991 and based in Burbank, Calif. TEA represents some 7,000 creative specialists, from architects to designers, technical specialists to master planners, scenic fabricators to artists, and builders to feasibility analysts working in more than 780 firms in 40 different countries. TEA presents the annual Thea Awards and the TEA Summit and hosts the annual SATE conferences (Story, Architecture, Technology, Experience) in both Orlando and Europe. TEA produces a variety of print and electronic publications, including the annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index, TEA Project Development Guidelines and TEA Annual & Directory. Visit TEA on the web at

AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural, and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 130 countries and had revenue of $8.2 billion during the 12 months ended March 31, 2012. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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