The Shanghai Disney Resort that opened June 16 will undoubtedly be one of the most popular theme parks in the world in the not too distant future, and the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood is sure to significantly boost that facility’s popularity. But the long-time leader in the list of the most popular theme parks worldwide remains Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, with other Disney Mickey Mouse haunts right behind.
Theme parks are extremely popular with kids of all ages eager to enjoy their roller coasters, water rides, and movie characters from the Star Wars, Pixar and princess characters at Disney sites to Minions, Transformers and Hogwarts students at Universal Studios in Florida and now California. Attendance grew by 5.4 percent at the top 25 amusement/theme parks in the world from the 2014 to the 2015, with the top 25 parks in the world attendance-wise garnering 235.6 million visitors.
Over the past decade, there has been a shift East as more theme parks and attractions opened in the Asia-Pacific region, and that was before the opening of Disney’s new park in China. >he area used to have 35 percent of the theme parks worldwide, North American had 52 percent and the Europe, Mediterranean, and African areas had 13 percent. The numbers by 2015 shifted to 42 percent, 47 percent, and 11 percent respectively.
Disney popularity overall has held steady throughout the past decade with 57 percent of attendance at all of its parks in 2006 and 55 percent in 2015, which also reflects its newer Asian properties. Their theme parks brought in nearly 138 million people last year.
In 2015, the top amusement/theme parks in the world were the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom in Florida, Disneyland in California and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan (the latter was one of the few parks that had a decline in attendance from the prior year). Other Disney attractions in the top 25 globally were #5 Tokyo Disney Sea in Japan, #6 Epcot in Florida, #7 Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, #8 Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, #9 Disneyland Paris in France, #11 California Adventure, and #19 Hong Kong Disneyland in southeast China.
What about the others? Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, and Universal Studios in Florida were the only non-Disney properties in the top 10, ranking numbers 4 and 10, respectively. The remainder of the top 25, in order, included Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Florida; Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Hengqin, China; Everland, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea; Ocean Park, Hong Kong; Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea; Songcheng Park in Hangzhou, China; Universal Studios Hollywood, California; Nagashima Spa Land, Kuwana, Japan; Europa-Park, Rust, Germany; Sea World, Florida; Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark; De Efteling, Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands; and Songcheng Romance Park, Lijiang, China.
Waterparks generally do not draw as high an attendance at theme parks because they are more weather dependent. The only three to draw at least 2 million visitors the past two years were Chimelong Water Park in Guangzhou, China, and Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, both at Disney World, Florida. While they draw smaller crowds, the other top water parks worldwide reflect a global popularity with sites in the Bahamas, Brazil, South Korea, Dubai, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, Texas, Czechia, Indonesia and Colombia besides others in Florida.
Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss
Themed Entertainment Association: Global Attractions Attendance Report
Travel and Leisure: World’s Most-Visited Theme Parks
World Atlas: Most Popular Theme Parks in the World
Los Angeles Times: Disney’s new theme park in Shanghai may be the capstone to CEO Robert Iger’s career
Photo courtesy of Chris Harrison’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons license