Attendance Growth Booming at Florida's Theme Parks
When it comes to Florida's beloved theme parks, Disney's Magic Kingdom continues to reign supreme, welcoming more than 19 million guests in 2014.
Nonetheless the popular attraction has competition from nearby Universal Studios, which experienced a massive 17 percent rise in visitors (8.26 million) last year.
The figures, provided by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM via the Associated Press, show that five Florida theme parks rank in the top 25 worldwide in attendance and that only two of the state's parks failed to record an increase in attendance last year.
"Growth at U.S. theme parks was concentrated in the top nine parks — all Disney and Universal properties — underscoring the growing dominance of the major operators," said AECOM vice president of economics, Americas Brian Sands in a statement.
Disney's Magic Kingdom's attendance rose four percent to 19.33 million to lead all U.S. theme parks. Meanwhile, Disney's other parks — Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios — each recorded a two percent increase in attendance in 2014.
Tampa's Busch Gardens was close behind with a one percent rise in attendance to 4.12 million.
Universal's Islands of Adventure was one of the two parks that failed to increase attendance in 2014, with just over 8.1 million guests visiting the park for the second straight year.
According to the Themed Entertainment Association's numbers, SeaWorld Orlando's struggles continued last year, with the theme park experiencing an eight percent decline in attendance.
However in a statement via the AP, SeaWorld called those figures "estimates and not based on actual numbers." SeaWorld Entertainment's 2014 annual report told a slightly different tale, revealing a 4.2 percent drop in attendance for the year.
With Orlando, best known as the Theme Park Capital of the World, coming off a record year for tourism and another busy summer season ahead, Florida's parks are likely to experience additional attendance growth in 2015.
More by Patrick Clarke
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