The Themed Entertainment Association and Economics Research Associates have posted their annual report (link to PDF of report) on the industry. The TEA/ERA Attraction Attendance Report identifies the top commercial theme parks and waterparks around the world and reflects their performance in 2008. Global attendance data is broken down by geographic region, by chain and by type of venue.

The Good News

Despite the overall flat numbers for the industry, there are many bright spots for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The Magic Kingdom remains the number one theme park in the world. In the top 10 parks in the world, the first 8 are Disney’s parks. Out of the top US Waterparks, Disney again occupies the top spot. Some other highlights are:

Disneyland Paris

While much of Europe stood still in 2008, strong marketing and strategic investment for the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris saw attendance growth at both the Disney parks.
David Camp, Director, ERA

Tokyo Disneyland
In Japan, attendance numbers for parks were mostly flat or down, with the notable exception of Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) and Tokyo Disney Sea (TDS).

These two parks combined had another record year, sparked mainly by the 25 anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland but also helped by investment in strong marketing and new attractions. TDL’s performance was counter-cyclical and impressive.
Christian Aaen. “

In Japan, the Tokyo Disneyland Resort’s two parks achieved an impressive record season of 26.8 million due to the strong impact of Tokyo Disneyland’s 25th anniversary celebration events, new attractions and effective regional marketing despite the economic downturn. Ocean Park in Hong Kong continued its stellar performance, exceeding last year’s record attendance up 2.2 percent to above 5 million, fueled by ‘Year of the Panda’ and 5 effective seasonal events. Hong Kong saw continued growth in tourism from Mainland China despite some visa restrictions and other impacts on travel. Hong Kong Disneyland is re-bounding from the last couple of years’ lower than expected attendance, up almost 8 percent to 4.5 million. Lotte World reopened in Seoul this year after having been closed 6 months for improvements. China’s Happy Valley chain of regional parks continues to expand and do well.

Key Figures

  • 122.7 million: Total visits to the top 20 parks in North America, level with the performance in 2007. Between 2005 and 2008 the top 20 North American parks grew by a total of 3.9 percent.
  • 57.4 million: Attendance for the top 20 European parks, representing a growth rate of 1.1 percent. Attendance growth of 7.6 percent from 2005-2008 for top European parks.
  • 12.2 million: Visits to top 10 parks in Mexico and Latin America
  • 66.9 million: Total attendance to top 10 Asian/Pacific Rim parks
  • 189.6 million: The total theme park attendance for top 25 worldwide parks in 2008, down 0.3% from 2007
  • 12.5 million: Combined visitation to the top 15 US waterparks, a growth of 1.8 percent from 2007
  • 19.9 million: Total attendance to top 20 worldwide waterparks, up 1.4 percent from 2007.

The full report can be found on Themed Entertainment Association and Economics Research Associates’ website (link to PDF of report).

Wrapping it up

Although travel and tourism have been adversely affected by the strong economic downturn, Disney’s fundamental business remains strong. The attendance at North America’s parks was flat, but not declining, and it was good news from Disney’s other worldwide parks. If the current crowds are any indication here in Orlando, this year should be on track to go from flat, back towards an upward trend in attendance.