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No Wonder Theme Parks Seem More Crowded-- They Are

2004 Top Ten Theme Parks


Updated December 20, 2004
When you're waiting in a two-hour line to board a roller coaster and you look out at what appears to be wall-to-wall people, do you ever wonder how many guests have wandered through the turnstiles? Do you wonder how many people, over the course of a year, enter the gates of the major theme parks? Well, wonder no more.

Most parks keep their attendance figures closely guarded secrets, but the folks at "Amusement Business," the industry's major trade publication, compile estimated attendance figures that are widely acknowledged for their accuracy. In its recently published charts for 2004, the magazine reported that attendance at the top 50 parks across the world was, on average, up 2.2% from last year. Theme parks (and the travel industry in general) have not fully recovered from the events of 9/11 and the general economic malaise. But after a flat year in 2003, attendance is moving in a positive direction.

The news is even better for the top 50 North American theme parks, which posted a solid 4% attendance jump over last year. "Amusement Business" cited The Magic Kingdom at Florida's Walt Disney World as the number-one most attended park in North America and worldwide, with over 15 million guests in 2004. Let's see...divide by 365, carry the 1, um...that figures out to a whopping 41,000 people per day all vying for a ride on Dumbo. No wonder the place feels a little crowded.

The nearby Universal Orlando theme parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, picked up a lot of foot traffic with 13% and 14% jumps over last year, respectively. Beyond the general tourism turnaround, "Amusement Business" cites the blockbuster Revenge of the Mummy attraction for the jump.

Following are the top ten most attended North American theme parks, according to "Amusement Business." The info includes the name of the park, its location, its 2004 estimated attendance, and how it compared to the previous year's attendance.

  1. The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 15.2 million, up 8%.
  2. Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif., 13.4 million, up 5%.
  3. Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 9.4 million, up 9%.
  4. Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 8.3 million, up 5%.
  5. Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 7.8 million, up 7%.
  6. Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, 6.7 million, up 14%.
  7. Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando, 6.3 million, up 13%.
  8. Disney's California Adventures, Anaheim, Calif., 5.6 million, up 6%.
  9. SeaWorld Florida, Orlando, Fla., 5.6 million, up %.
  10. Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, Calif., 5 million, up 8%.

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