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Historic levels of growth in global theme park industry in 2017

Historic levels of growth in global theme park industry in 2017
May 18, 2018

Visitation rises to Disney attractions, theme parks in China and indoor/family entertainment centres drove historic levels of growth for the theme park industry in 2017, according to the latest Theme Index and Museum Index report.

Following a year of mixed results for the global attractions industry in 2016, the latest report from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and consultants AECOM shows the industry has seen massive growth in 2017, with major theme park operators experiencing 8.6% overall growth while the top 25 theme parks expanded volume by 4.7%.

Disney led the market, with the operator gaining close to 10 million additional visitors through the year - a 6.8% increase in visitors - up to 150 million in 2017 from 140.4 million in the previous year. 

Disney’s visitation was 84 million ahead of its nearest rival, Merlin Entertainments, which saw its visitation year-on-year rise to 66 million visitors - a 7.8% or 5 million visitor increase. Universal rounded out the top three, with a 4.4% increase of just over 2 million visitors as its closes in on 50 million for the year across its theme park portfolio. 

For the top 10 theme parks overall, attendance growth rose to 475.8 million visitors – an increase of 37.5 million. Within the top 10, fourth-placed OCT Parks China enjoyed the biggest growth, increasing visitation by 32.9% to 42.9 million visitors – a staggering rise of 10.6 million people. 

Overall, attendance at theme parks in China rose by nearly 20%, with the nation now generating approximately a quarter of overall attendance for major operators.

Commenting on this performance, Chris Yoshii, Vice-President for Asia-Pacific at AECOM, advised “the Chinese market has responded enthusiastically to high-quality theme park offerings, as demonstrated by the success of the Chimelong parks and of Shanghai Disneyland in its first full year of operation, with Universal Beijing on the horizon.”

The top 10 global theme park groups in 2017 according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index.

Asia as a whole saw attendance expand by 5.5%. Korea saw a decline in attendance, attributed to the geopolitical climate that discouraged tourism. Parks in Japan received a small increase in visitation while Hong Kong had mixed results with its Disneyland seeing attendance stabilise at 6.2 million while Ocean Park experienced a 3% decline.

Waterparks
Global waterpark attendance saw a small growth of 1.6%, driven by strong performances in some of the European parks while waterparks in North America had a poor year, attracting 500,000 or 2.9% less visitors than 2016.

Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast was ranked the 19th highest performer among the world's waterparks (and the only Australian attraction to feature in the Index), although its visitation dipped by 5% to 1,180,000 from 1,242,000 in the previous year.

Museums
The Museum Index shows that the Louvre in the French capital of Paris recaptured the top spot as the most visited museum in the world, knocking the National Museum of China back into second place. The French museum experienced a 9.5% visitation increase taking its overall figure to 8.1 million. The National Museum saw a 6.8% increase but welcomed 37,000 people less.

Top 10 Museums Worldwide according to the TEA/AECOM Museum Index.


The top 10 museums in 2017 according to the TEA/AECOM Museum Index.

The top 20 museums were relatively flat overall but regional museums had a strong year with 5% growth fed by some new entries and strong performance in Asia. Several museums had remarkable years such as the Victoria and Albert (V&A) with a 25% increase and the National Gallery of Art with a 23% rise.

The report identified several global trends. The development of immersive attractions based on intellectual property is ongoing and being explored globally. Other trends seen in all regions include continuing investment and innovation in water parks, hospitality expansion and interactive guest experiences with role playing.

AECOM Senior Vice-President John Robinett added “on the whole, 2017 reflected a return to healthy growth with significant capital expenditures in the industry, both in traditional attractions, attraction-adjacent hotels, and new, IP-branded indoor attractions.
“With stabilised global economies, and significant planning occurring now for future investment, prospects look good for the industry in the short- to mid-term.”

Key figures from the 2017 Theme Index and Museum Index:

476 million visits to attractions run by the top 10 global theme park groups, up 8.6%.
244 million visits to the top 25 amusement/theme parks worldwide, up 4.7%.
151 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in North America, up 2.3%.
134 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in Asia-Pacific, up 5.5%.
108 million visits to the top 20 museums worldwide, up marginally by 0.2%.
76 million visits to the top 20 museums in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up 1.1%.
67 million visits to the top 20 museums in Asia-Pacific, up 13.3%.
63 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up 3.4%.
59 million visits to the top 20 museums in North America, up 1.0%.
30 million visits to the top 20 water parks worldwide, up by 1.6%.

Click here to download a copy of the Theme Index and Museum Index 2017.

1st May 2018 - DUBAI’S 20TH CENTURY FOX WORLD THEME PARK ON HOLD AS DEVELOPER WARNS OF ATTRACTIONS OVERSUPPLY 

30th April 2018  - VILLAGE ROADSHOW AND CHINESE PARTNERS OPEN WET’N’WILD WATERPARK IN HAINAN

29th November 2017 - AECOM TO OVERSEE US$1.85 BILLION NICKELODEON CHINA PROJECT

26th October 2017 - WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING TOURISM CITIES ALL LOCATED IN ASIA

3rd June 2017 - GLOBAL THEME INDEX SHOWS MIXED ATTENDANCE TRENDS FOR THEME PARKS 

15th November 2016 - INVESTMENTS IN CHINA’S THEME PARKS DRIVING ASIAN TOURISM 

27th May 2016 - ASIAN THEME PARKS LEAD GLOBAL ATTRACTIONS INDUSTRY GROWTH

12th November 2015 - WET’N’WILD’S FIRST CHINESE WATERPARK TO OPEN BEFORE THE END OF 2016

23rd March 2015 - VILLAGE ROADSHOW ADVANCES ASIAN THEME PARK PLANS WITH JOINT-VENTURE WITH CITIC 

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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