In the theme park industry, COVID-19 caused massive shutdowns. For several months, many of Disney’s theme parks around the world were closed. We’ve discussed how this impacted the company on various levels during 2020, but now we’ve got more details about just how attendance levels were impacted at all of Disney’s theme parks around the world during 2020.
Recently, the Themed Entertainment Association (“TEA”) and the economics practice at AECOM released their Theme Index for 2020. The index serves as an attendance report for attractions around the world, including Disney’s theme parks. Their numbers show clearly just how different attendance was at theme parks and water parks in 2020, as compared to 2019.
For the majority of their report, TEA and AECOM kept 2019 rankings in terms of the parks with the most attendance. They noted that “2020 attendance declines were largely due to agency restrictions limiting operating days and capacities in the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, we have kept the 2019 rankings in place for the 2020 report.”
So, while we’ll ignore the rankings for purposes of this article, the report from TEA and AECOM does show the dramatic changes in attendance levels from 2019 to 2020. Magic Kingdom, for example, saw a 66.9% decrease in attendance in 2020 as compared to 2019. The park went from nearly 21 million visitors in 2019 to nearly 7 million in 2020. Of course, the park was closed for several months in 2020, so that make sense, but seeing it represented with actual numbers just makes the impact all the more clear.
Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort saw an even bigger decrease than Magic Kingdom, with nearly 80% less visitors in 2020 as compared to 2019. This also fits the situation well considering Disneyland was closed for most of 2020.
Disney’s other theme parks saw significant decreases in attendance as well — Animal Kingdom saw a 70% decrease, EPCOT saw about a 67% decrease, Hollywood Studios saw about a 68% decrease.
Disney California Adventure Park saw an 80% decrease, and Disney’s international parks were also impacted. But, Disney wasn’t alone. Large decreases in attendance were also observed at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan, and other theme parks.
Worldwide, the TEA/AECOM report notes that the attendance change at the top 25 amusement/theme parks from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease of just over 67%. But the figures are even more impactful when looked at in terms of attendance numbers. The top 25 amusement/theme parks saw about 253.7 million guests in terms of attendance for 2019. In 2020, that number was reduced down to just 83.1 million. That’s a loss of over 150 million guests.
The TEA’s report also takes a look at water park attendance. Like theme parks, water parks overall saw a substantial decrease in attendance in 2020. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park saw about an 84% decrease in attendance in 2020 as compared to levels from 2019.
The report also goes through the numbers as they relate specifically to theme parks in North America…
…Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and more.
Again, none of these results are particularly surprising given the impact of COVID-19 and the extended park closures we witnessed throughout 2020. But, it makes it all the more impactful to see these changes quantified.
In mid-August, Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Disney Company, indicated that during the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 “attendance levels were at or near daily capacity levels which increased throughout the quarter.”
McCarthy also indicated that they’re expecting the parks to be fully staffed by the end of this calendar year, and that they will be increasing capacity as they see an increase in demand.
We’ve certainly seen crowd levels quite high on some days, while it has been low on other occasions. It will certainly be interesting to see how 2021’s numbers ultimately compare to both 2020 and 2019. But it’ll be some time before we get those figures.
We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more updates on the Disney parks’ capacity and attendance, and we’ll let you know what we find. Stay tuned for all the latest information.