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3 Things We Learned From This Year's List of the Top 20 Theme Parks in North America

2. Frozen stops the bleeding at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Image © Disney

2014 was not a good year for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With attractions closing left and right, many were predicting steep attendance declines for this park in 2014. However, Disney's Hollywood Studios actually posted a 2.0% gain year over year (matching Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom), which was surprising to some considering all the changes that happened last year. 

So how is it possible that attendance at Disney's Hollywood Studios actually grew in a year that saw the most attraction closures in park history? The answer is likely Frozen Summer Fun. Though the event seemed to come out of nowhere last year, the addition of a new show, a parade, fireworks, and even an ice skating rink proved to be quite the potent draw for families, and is almost certainly responsible for propping up this flagging park. 

Image © Disney

Considering Frozen is likely the only thing keeping Disney's Hollywood Studios' attendance in the black, it makes sense why the park is bringing this limited time event back in 2015. Only time will tell if this year's downsized event (which no longer features an ice skating rink or Frozen snowground, thanks to the Toy Story Midway Mania expansion) will boost attendance in the same way that 2014's event did, but Disney is likely hoping that Anna and Elsa will be able to work their magic for the foreseeable future, as the confirmed reboot of Disney's Hollywood Studios is still several years away. 

3. SeaWorld’s problems are only getting worse

In 2013, SeaWorld Orlando was the only theme park in Orlando to experience a decline, falling 5.0% from 2012. Though many cried that the sky was falling due to this disappointing performance, it looks like things got worse in 2014, as SeaWorld Orlando lost a staggering 8.0% year over year. The only park in North America that experienced a bigger loss was SeaWorld San Diego, which lost an almost-unthinkable 12% from 2013-2014.

These steep losses definitely point to some real issues with the SeaWorld brand. Though SeaWorld Orlando did not open any new attractions in 2014, which could explain some of the loss at the brand's flagship park, many were hoping that increased visitors to the Orlando area visiting the newly-opened Diagon Alley at nearby Universal Orlando Resort would help goose attendance as tourists flooded the area. However, based on these figures it looks like any positive effects of Diagon Alley were mitigated by the ongoing issues surrounding SeaWorld. 

After two straight years of steep losses, it's clear that SeaWorld needs to turn things around, and fast. Though we're not expecting much from SeaWorld Orlando in 2015, 2016 will be a pivotal year as it will see the opening of SeaWorld's third roller coaster, Mako, which will be the tallest, fastest and steepest roller coaster in Orlando when it opens.

While this project certainly sounds impressive (and pretty expensive too), SeaWorld recognizes that continuing to do nothing won't get guests back in the park, and this massive new undertaking definitely feels like a last-ditch effort to draw visitors back to SeaWorld Orlando. But Could Mako really save SeaWorld? It's an interesting question, but we'll have to wait until 2017 to find out! 

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There are 2 comments.

How does #8 have higher attendance than #7?

Because of Diagon Alley

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