Attendance increased at Universal Orlando, dipped slightly at Walt Disney World and took a dive at SeaWorld last year, according to an industry report that tracks major theme parks.
Universal Orlando was the king of attendance gains with a 6.5 percent increase at Islands of Adventure and a 4.3 percent jump at Universal Studios in 2016, according to the annual report from the Themed Entertainment Association and the engineering firm AECOM, which attributed the gain to the popularity of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Decreases at the Disney parks for 2016 ranged from 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent, including a drop of 97,000 visitors at Magic Kingdom. But the largest theme park operator in North America reported a rise of o.5 percent at domestic operations, including increased guest spending, cruise line bookings, food, beverage and merchandise spending and higher room rates., reportedly driven by higher average admission prices.
Attendance dropped 7.9 percent at SeaWorld, according to the report.
“TEA/AECOM attendance numbers are estimates and not based on actual numbers,” SeaWorld Entertainment said in a statement.
Disney and Universal did not comment on the report.
The three major theme parks do not release attendance figures. AECOM obtains the figures used to create the TEA/AECOM Theme Index through a variety of sources, including statistics furnished directly by the operators, historical numbers, financial reports, the investment banking community and local tourism organizations, according to their website.
Attendance at the top 25 theme parks dipped by 1.1 percent, while the world’s top 10 theme park operators saw a 4.3 percent increase at their properties, from 420 million to 438 million visitors.
The report also shows attendance at the top 20 water parks worldwide grew by 3.6 percent, and attendance at the world’s top 20 museums increased by 1.2 percent.
“Following record setting numbers in 2015, attendance results in 2016 were more modest but still reflective of a healthy, growing industry,” said John Robinett, senior vice president of economics at AECOM. “The major theme park operators continued their positive performance, and most markets saw slow, steady growth, while weather, tourism and political issues contributed to minor declines in others.”