2020 Theme Park Attendance Report Quantifies COVID-19 Impact on Disney Parks

    The TEA/AECOM Theme Index for 2020 has been released, providing a peek into the attendance impacts at theme parks worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, which is typically released in the Spring, was delayed until this fall due to the impact of COVID-19 on theme parks as TEA/AECOM attempted to provide accurate data. It is worth noting that data in the report is an estimate of attendance, Disney does not release attendance figures.

    Magic Kingdom remains the most visited theme park in the world with an estimated 6.9 million visitors in 2020, down from 20.9 million in 2019.

    At Walt Disney World, Disney’s Animal Kingdom saw the biggest percentage decrease in attendance, recording a 70% drop from the 13.9 million visitors in 2019. Even with that drop, Animal Kingdom remains Disney World’s second-busiest theme park. Animal Kingdom surpassed EPCOT for the #2 rank in 2017 after the introduction of Pandora – The World of Avatar and has not surrendered that position since.

    Perhaps surprisingly, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – with all of its additions and new rides in recent years – was the only Walt Disney World theme park not to record at least 4 million guests in 2020.

    Here’s a look at the top 12 theme parks as ranked by 2019 figures (there was no adjustment due to COVID-19). This ranking includes all four Walt Disney World theme parks and both Universal Orlando Resort theme parks.

    In total, Walt Disney World theme parks averaged a 68% decline in attendance in 2020 – a daunting figure, but better than the more than 80% decline at the Disneyland Resort, which remained closed for more than a year.

    The 2020 drop in attendance was to be expected, but it will be interesting to see how numbers bounce back in the years to come. Disney Parks, led by Josh D’Amaro, have shown their hands a bit when it comes to their pricing/attendance model. For years, Disney leadership has been all too happy to talk about guest spending figures – “per cap spending”.

    We have argued that recent attendance-limited events that cost nearly double what past events have been priced at actually represent the future of the Walt Disney World theme parks.

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    If per cap spending is the new success metric within Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, we might not see attendance figures hit 2019 highs. Even Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary experienced very limited attendance, with managers estimating a capacity event of over 40,000 guests – a figure that would even be below an average day in 2019.

    We’ll close out the report with a look at the top 20 amusement parks in 2020 compared with 2019. In this report, you can see just how much heavy lifting Florida did in 2020, representing 2/3rds of all theme park visitation. Compare that to 2019 when Florida carried 55% of North American attendance during a record-setting year, and it becomes clear just what kind of impact local and state COVID-19 policies had on theme park operators in 2020.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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