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Asian market drives expanding global theme park attendances

Asian market drives expanding global theme park attendances
June 5, 2015

Overall attendance at the top 20 theme parks in the Asia increased nearly 5% in 2014, compared to 2013, according to the just released TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index 2014.

The report shows strong growth with more attendance increases than decreases across the board; and the ability to maintain the increases over time with 10 properties among the 25 most-attended theme parks globally, one more than identified in the 2013 report and equal in number to the USA.

Attendance at Asia’s top 20 parks rose 4.9% to 122.5 million last year, compared with 2.2% and 138.1 million for the 20 largest in the USA.

The opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan drove a big increase in attendances at the Tokyo Disney Resort, building on its 30th anniversary promotions in 2013.

In addition, the opening of the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park complex opened in Zhuhai, China also attracted significant numbers and positive reviews - including a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Commenting on the results, AECOM’s Chris Yoshii and Beth Chang wrote in the report “the overall 5% increase, and the fact that there are 10 Asian theme parks on the list of Top 25 worldwide highest attended (theme parks), demonstrates that the Asian market is continuing its growth pattern.”

The Report shows that three Asian entertainment and leisure groups - OCT, Chimelong and Songcheng - are now established in the top 10 theme park groups worldwide.

Commenting on how they got there, Yoshii and Chang wrote “for OCT it is primarily from adding new parks and keeping their existing parks fairly stable.

“Chimelong was propelled onto this list for the first time via the successful opening of Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.

“Songcheng is aggressively growing, adding new cultural parks and show venues in a number of cities. We will see more from all three of these groups; expanding geographically is OCT’s model, and Chimelong and Songcheng both have several new projects in the pipeline as well.

“Two groups, Fantawild and Haichang in China, were squeezed off the list this year but don’t count them out as they expand their portfolios and parks.”

Overall, the report shows that Asia’s larger parks keep getting larger, adding and expanding to leverage their growing market.

For example, Lotte World in South Korea experienced a big increase in attendance almost entirely due to Mainland Chinese tourists visiting the park. Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disney are driving more leisure tourism to Hong Kong, and another tourism bump will result when Shanghai Disney Resort opens in 2016.

Yoshii and Chang suggest that “overall we’ll see more Asian parks appearing on the top-attended charts over time.”

Other comment from Yoshii and Chang on Asian theme parks in the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index 2014 covered:

Shanghai Disney Resort anticipation
The US$5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort is now scheduled to open in spring 2016 with expanded park capacity and with developers taking the time to make sure everything is ready.

It is not unusual for parks in China to open prematurely to coincide with a holiday - but in our opinion, it’s better to take the additional time when possible in order to be truly prepared.

SongCheng and Universal: Reinvestment drives growth 
The very strong year for theme parks in Asia was propelled by the fundamental market growth, particularly in China, based on the increases in wealth and tourism that drive visitation. The other driver of visitation is, of course, reinvestment - keeping the quality bar high and adding new attractions to bring customers back year after year.

This was quite visible in Asian projects that expanded and reinvested in 2014, for example The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan, although open only half of the year, brought the park record attendance for the entire calendar year.

In China, another example is SongCheng, which added a new 4,500-seat performing theatre for live historical dramas, effectively doubling the park’s visitor capacity. The new theatre is very well equipped with all the resources needed to maintain high production value shows. The park itself, themed on the Song Dynasty, is primarily tourism-driven, with success boosted by a very strong group sales and tour program oriented to adults, seniors, and school groups.

Chimelong rising
Open for just 11 months in 2014, and still adding new attractions, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is already at number 10 on the Asia Top 20 list. This performance is especially impressive taking into account that the park is in a new location - with no other theme parks nearby (although convenient to Macau). Ocean Kingdom is very much a destination, and Chimelong opened a 1,888-room themed hotel with the park, and is adding two more hotels with around 2,000 additional rooms. 

The adult admission price to Ocean Kingdom is 350 Chinese yuan (RMB) – 80% higher than the competitive market price (in China) of 200 yuan. This sends a message to the industry that people are prepared to pay for quality in this market. This demonstrable ability to handle higher prices will move the entire sector toward higher quality. 

Yoshii and Chang add “continual reinvestment is necessary to maintain growth, and parks need to be able to raise prices to support the cost of those new attractions, creating magical, innovative visitor experiences that in turn continue to build the market of satisfied patrons.”

As for the ongoing growth of Asian theme parks, Yoshii concludes “we forecast that Asian parks will overtake American parks in 2020.”

Top 20 Asian theme parks attendances in 2014:

1 TOKYO DISNEYLAND, Tokyo, Japan - 17.3 million visits
2 TOKYO DISNEY SEA, Tokyo, Japan - 14. million visits 
3 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN, Osaka, Japan - 11.8 million visits
4 OCEAN PARK, Hong Kong SAR - 7.8 million visits
5 LOTTE WORLD, Seoul, South Korea - 7.6 million visits
6 HONG KONG DISNEYLAND, Hong Kong SAR - 7.5 million visits
7 EVERLAND, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea - 7.4 million visits
8 SONGCHENG PARK, Hangzhou, China - 5.8 million visits
9 NAGASHIMA SPA LAND, Kuwana, Japan - 5.6 million visits
10 CHIMELONG OCEAN KINGDOM, Hengqin, China - 5.5 million visits
11 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SINGAPORE, Singapore - 3.8 million visits
12 OCT EAST, Shenzhen, China - 3.8 million visits
13 CHANGZHOU DINOSAUR PARK, Changzhou, China - 3.8 million visits
14 WINDOW OF THE WORLD, Shenzhen, China - 3.6 million visits
15 CHIMELONG PARADISE, Guangzhou, China - 3.3 million visits
16 HAPPY VALLEY, Beijing, China - 3.3 million visits
17 HAPPY VALLEY, Shenzhen, China - 3.3 million visits
18 HAPPY VALLEY, Chengdu, China - 2.5 million visits
19 HAPPY VALLEY, Shanghai, China - 2.3 million visits
20 FANTAWILD ADVENTURE, Wuhu, China - 2.3 million visits

Click here to view the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index 2014.

The report can also be downloaded at www.aecom.com/themeindex 

TEA (the Themed Entertainment Association) represents some 8,000 creative specialists, from architects to designers, technical specialists to master planners, scenic fabricators to artists, and builders to feasibility analysts working in some 1,000 firms in 40 different countries.

AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves.

Images shows the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan (top) and Universal Studios Singapore (middle).

3rd June 2015 - NEW TEA/AECOM REPORT SHOWS INCREASED GLOBAL ATTENDANCES AT THEME PARKS AND MUSEUMS

20th April 2015 - GLOBAL ATTRACTIONS RECOGNISED AT THEA AWARDS 

15th January 2015 - HARRY POTTER PUSHES UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN TOWARDS ATTENDANCE RECORDS

30th November 2014 - UN REPORT SHOWS GROWING VALUE OF GLOBAL ADVENTURE TOURISM 

23rd April 2014 - AQUARIUM AT CHIMELONG OCEAN KINGDOM CONFIRMED AS WORLD’S LARGEST 

4th April 2014 - VILLAGE ROADSHOW ADVANCES PLANS FOR ASIAN THEME AND WATER PARKS 

18th March 2014 - CHINA ON THE EDGE OF LEISURE BUILDING EXPLOSION 

25th July 2013 - OCEAN KINGDOM PROJECT THE FIRST STAGE IN DEVELOPING THE ‘ORLANDO OF CHINA’ 


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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