Visits to the world's top 25 theme parks grew by 4.7 percent last year, from 233 million to 243 million, driven largely by Disney parks and those in Asia, according to the 2017 Theme Index, a study published by AECOM and the Themed Entertainment Association.
North America’s top 20 theme park attendance grew 2.3 percent, exceeding 150 million visits for the first time. Orlando, home to Disney World and Universal Florida, represents a third of North American attendance.
Disney parks grew 3 percent, driven largely by Pandora — the World of Avatar, its new attraction that debuted in 2017. Animal Kingdom saw a 15.3 percent growth in attendance with 12.5 million visitors in 2017.
The U.S.’s other top operator, Universal, also had a good year, with a 4.9 percent estimated growth in visitation. Attendance at the Universal parks has been primarily driven by the massively popular Harry Potter-themed lands and attractions, the most recent Universal Studios Hollywood addition, stimulating an attendance increase of nearly 1 million. Universal Studios, where the Wizarding World's Diagon Alley is set, saw a 2 percent growth to more than 10 million visitors.
2017 also brought the debut of Universal Florida’s water theme park called Volcano Bay, which drew an estimated 1.5 million in attendance its opening year, according to the study, significantly outpacing the now-closed Wet ‘N Wild.
“Disney is leveraging the power of compelling intellectual property (IP) with Pandora — and new Star Wars-themed lands on the horizon — as did Universal with the Harry Potter attractions, and both set a leading example for the industry,” the report stated.
Top ten theme parks in the world
The report also named the top ten theme parks around the world as:
1. Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida, U.S.
2. Disneyland, California, U.S.
3. Tokyo Disneyland, Japan
4. Universal Studios Japan, Japan
5. Tokyo Disneysea, Japan
6. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida, U.S.
7. Epcot at Walt Disney World, Florida, U.S.
8. Shanghai Disneyland, China
9. Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Florida, U.S.
10. Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, Florida, U.S.