We may still be in the throes of the worst recession since the Great Depression, but that didn't stop Universal Orlando from investing huge amounts of money and taking a chance on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And it hasn't stopped hordes of visitors from shelling out huge amounts of money to take a Forbidden Journey with Harry and the gang. And by "hordes," I mean more than 7.6 million people passed through the turnstiles at Islands of Adventure in 2011 and headed over to Hogsmeade Village according to the annual Global Attractions Attendance Report issued by the Themed Entertainment Association and the Economics practice at AECOM.
That is a 29% attendance bump from 2010 (which is on top of a 30% jump in 2010, the year that Potter opened) and places Islands of Adventure in the tenth position among the most-visited theme parks in the world. It's no wonder that Universal Orlando blinked first and recently announced a price hike raising its one-day, one-park admission from $85 to $88; typically, Disney World, which still charges $85 to enter its parks, has set the pace in ticket pricing. It's also no wonder that Universal Orlando will be expanding its Potter presence in Orlando and building new Wizarding Worlds at its parks in Hollywood and Japan.
Despite all the hurrahs for Harry, it should be noted that all four Disney World parks attracted considerably more visitors than Islands of Adventure in 2011 according to the report. The park with the highest attendance in the world remains the Magic Kingdom with 17.1 million guests. Disneyland Park in California came in second at 16.1 million.
Photo: © Arthur Levine, 2010. Licensed to About.com.