Universal Orlando’s two theme parks once again beat out two of Disney World’s four theme parks in attendance, showing that the resort’s post-pandemic gains weren’t a fluke.
The attendance news came from the latest annual report from Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the economics practice at professional services company AECOM, which estimates theme park attendance at the world’s most popular parks.
In the 2021 report, the major shift was both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure outdrawing Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, while Magic Kingdom retained its No. 1 spot in both the North American. and world rankings. Universal parks had previously not bested any of Disney World’s parks in attendance in reports dating back to 2008.
In 2022, Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ attendance of 10.9 million — a 27 percent bump from 2021 but below its pre-pandemic levels — beat Universal Studios Florida (10.75 million guests), but not Universal Islands of Adventure (11.02 million guests). Both Universal parks attracted more guests than Epcot (10 million) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (9.02 million).
Magic Kingdom once again reigned supreme as the most-attended theme park in the world with 17.13 million visitors, a 35 percent jump from 2021 while still falling short of the 20.9 million in 2019. Disneyland Park returned to the No. 2 spot with 16.88 million guests, having been hampered in recent attendance reports by being closed for most of 2020 and part of 2021.
Overall, the 20 most-attended theme parks in North America saw attendance grow by 32 percent from 2021 to 2022.
Repeating its practice from the past two years, TEA/AECOM continued to list parks in order of their 2019 attendance. Its justification was that, “2022 attendance trends were still impacted due to agency restrictions limiting travel, operating days, and capacities in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, this obscures attendance shifts among the parks and may mean that parks are left off the list simply because they didn’t make the 2019 rankings. Rather than present the data in this manner, Theme Park Tribune has organized TEA/AECOM’s list to show the top ten most-attended theme parks for 2022 in North America:
- Magic Kingdom: 17.13 million
- Disneyland: 16.88 million
- Universal Islands of Adventure: 11.02 million
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10.9 million
- Universal Studios Florida: 10.75 million
- Epcot: 10 million
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9.02 million
- Disney California Adventure: 9 million
- Universal Studios Hollywood: 8.4 million
- SeaWorld Orlando: 4.45 million
The only change among the top 10 from 2021 was SeaWorld Orlando unseating Knott’s Berry Farm for the 10th spot. The Orlando park did debut its delayed Ice Breaker roller coaster in 2022, whereas Knott’s did not add a new attraction last year.
Only three North American parks among the top 20 (from 2019, that is) saw attendance drop year-over-year in 2022. All three were in the Six Flags chain: Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Great America, and Six Flags Great Adventure. Unlike its competitors, Six Flags did report attendance losses throughout the chain last year as new CEO Selim Bassoul’s strategy to raise prices without adding new attractions backfired.