Disney and Universal See Big Gains in Orlando After Major Expansions

During the same week a year ago, Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort opened new additions meant to draw bigger crowds to their theme park complexes. The park also placed No. 6 in the Top 20 water parks worldwide, behind Orlando competitors Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, which decreased 5 percent in attendance, and Blizzard Beach at Disney World, which also decreased 7 percent in attendance.

Orlando has $10 billion of investments in the works, while China now accounts for a quarter of the major park operators' overall attendance. A UAE waterpark topped the region, however, with Aquaventure at 1.35 million visitors, though all three UAE parks in the EMEA top 10 posted attendance declines previous year. According to a report by AECOM, Disney's Animal Kingdom saw a drastic increase in 2017, bouncing from 10.8 million visitors in 2016 to 12.5 million.

With the opening of its Avatar-themed land, Disney's Animal Kingdom saw a 15 percent attendance boom a year ago - about 1.7 million more people - walking through the turnstiles in 2017 than in 2016, according to a report released Thursday that tracks attendance at the world's biggest amusement parks. Universal's Volcano Bay debuted in May 2017 and has brought in 1.5 million tourists to Universal Orlando.

Lotte World, 6,714,000, -17.6% Everland, 6,310,000, -9.5% Hong Kong Disneyland, 6,200,000, 1.6% Nagashima Spa Land, 5,930,000, 1.6% Ocean Park, 5,800,000, -3.3%. In 2016, the attendance had dipped slightly from 2015. One longtime attraction, The Great Movie Ride, closed previous year at the park and much of the park is under construction as Disney builds two new lands for Toy Story and Star Wars.

Universal's Orlando theme parks each saw just 2 percent growth.

The 2017 TEA/AECOM Theme Index theme park attendance report is out. Universal Studios Japan has the highest attendance for the operator; it grew 3 percent to almost 15 million.

"The Chinese market has responded enthusiastically to high-quality theme park offerings, as demonstrated by the success of the Chimelong parks and of Shanghai Disneyland in its first full year of operation, with Universal Beijing on the horizon", Chris Yoshii, Vice President, Asia-Pacific, AECOM, said in the statement.

"We have forecast for several years that China would become the largest theme park market in the world by 2020", the report said.

If you're a theme park fan in Southern California, you already know that visiting one nearly requires you to take out a cash advance on your paycheck. The destination announced last week that about 72 million people visited past year.

"Based on the new attractions that are coming online over the next two years, I think we'll hit 75 million", said Dennis Speigel, president of consulting firm International Theme Park Services. "And some things that haven't even been announced yet".

Photo Credit: Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom is shown in this promotional photo.



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