Universal Orlando Attendance Remains Higher Than Most Disney World Theme Parks as Disney Claws Back Market Share

    The 2022 Global Attractions Attendance Report has been published by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the Economics practice at AECOM. The TEA attendance report is the industry standard in estimating attendance at the top theme parks and museums worldwide. While theme parks like Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World do not release attendance figures publicly, the TEA index is widely accepted within the industry as having accurate estimates. In the 2022 report, we can see a continuation of a trend we first spotted in 2021 of Universal Orlando theme parks gaining on Disney, but with some good news for Disney World sprinkled in.

    Universal Orlando Attendance Outpaces Most Disney World Theme Parks

    In what has to be a concerning trend for Disney World (or maybe not), attendance at the Universal Orlando theme parks has outpaced most of the Walt Disney World theme parks. We first saw this role reversal coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it continues in 2022 with many capacity and COVID-19 restrictions removed. Here are the raw numbers rankings:

    • Magic Kingdom: 17.1 million
    • Universal’s Islands of Adventure: 11 million
    • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10.9 million
    • Universal Studios Florida: 10.75 million
    • EPCOT: 10 million
    • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9 million

    As you can see, Islands of Aventure was only eclipsed by Magic Kingdom, which remains the undisputed king of Orlando. From there, it gets interesting considering that in 2019, both Universal Orlando theme parks were ranked lower than all four Walt Disney World theme parks. In terms of market share (between just Universal Orlando and Disney World), Disney World has slightly gained back some of the share it lost in 2021. That’s because while the raw numbers still support Universal Orlando in 2022, attendance at all four Disney World theme parks grew at a higher year-over-year pace. This could be for a variety of reasons, but we’ll just say it’s notable for now.

    In the years to come, the Central Florida theme park war will only get more interesting. Universal Orlando is currently building a third theme park called Epic Universe that is slated to open in Summer 2025. Utilizing popular IPs such as Nintendo, Harry Potter, How to Train Your Dragon, and Universal Monsters, Universal will certainly have a huge attendance draw in the years to come.

    At Walt Disney World, theme parks boss Josh D’Amaro has teased some upcoming developments at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but there are no shovels in the ground yet and the timeline for the Magic Kingdom project could easily threaten 2030 if Disney continues the glacial construction speed that we’ve seen in the parks lately.

    Disney still commands 68% of the market share between the two companies and 64% of the Orlando market when considering SeaWorld, but that is on a slide from 73% of the Disney vs Universal share and 70% of the Orlando market in 2019. While the specific details of the March 2021 article below are largely obsolete at this point, the headline very much could still be written today.

    Universal Bets, Disney Balks on Future of Theme Parks
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