January 21, 2002
Nashville, TN -- Last year will go in the books as a difficult year for amusement parks in terms of attendance. A turn in the economy, declining consumer confidence and the Septemeber 11 terrorist attacks were felt at the gate of many amusement parks.
According to estimated figures released by Amusement Business, attendance was down at most amusement parks in 2001. There were a few parks reporting increases, but mostly due to aggressive promotions and discounting.
Disney's destination parks were the hardest hit, especially after September 11. Attendance at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, the busiest theme park in the US was down 4 percent to 14.7 million.
EPCOT coming off a record year with the Millennium Celebration had the largest decline of all Disney parks. Attendance at Walt Disney World's EPCOT park fell to 9 million, a decrease of 15 percent.
In California attendance at the Disneyland Resort was less than spectacular even with the opening of a new theme park. Disneyland Park, saw attendance decline 12 percent to 12.3 million. Attendance was hit hard after the decline in tourism following the terrorist attacks. But Disneyland also suffered from no new attractions and its new neighbor California Adventure that failed to bring out the crowds during its first year.
Next door at Disney's California Adventure, the new theme park managed only to draw 5 million in its first year. Attendance at the park failed to meet company projections, even after unheard of discounts and promotions by Disney.
Universal's Orlando complex also saw attendance fall sharply after the September terrorist attacks. Attendance at Universal Studios Orlando was down 10 percent to 7.2 million and the complexes second park Universal's Islands of Adventure was down 8 percent to 5.5 million.
Among the remaining parks falling into the top ten SeaWorld Orlando declined only 2 percent to 5.1 million and Universal Studios Hollywood dropped in at the bottom of the list with attendance of 4.7 million, down 9 percent.
But despite the number of parks showing declines there were a few increases to report. SeaWorld California saw attendance increase 13 percent to 4.1 million. The San Diego park reported brisk sales during an annual pass promotion, which helped bring in the crowds.
Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey had attendance increase 1.7 percent to 3.56 million. The park's new roller coaster Nitro, a 230-foot hypercoaster was well received, and despite its close proximity to New York the park still managed to show an increase.
Las Vegas' indoor theme park, Adventuredome at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, saw attendance increase 7 percent to 3.4 million.
In Ohio, Paramount's Kings Island in Cincinnati had a good year with attendance of 3.36 million, an increase of 4 percent. Cedar Point on the other reported the opposite. Attendance at the Sandusky park declined 9 percent to 3.1 million. Cedar Point blamed the economy, terrorism and lack of major new attractions for the decline.
Top 20 US Amusement Parks based on 2001 Attendance
Attedance figures from Amusement Business.