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Disneyland Article
Disneyland Drops From 2nd To 11th In Worldwide Attendance Rankings Report Shows

Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
September 29, 2021
October 07, 2021
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Disneyland toppled from the second spot in the worldwide attendance rankings in 2019 and fell out of the global top 10 in 2020 as theme parks around the globe faced widely differing reopening restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on data from a new report.

Global theme park attendance declined 67% at the 25 most-visited theme parks from 2019 to 2020, according to a new report from the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced theme parks around the world to close for months in 2020. California theme parks were among the last to reopen globally after a yearlong government-imposed closure that stretched from mid-March 2020 to early April 2021.

The theme park world was so topsy-turvy in 2020 that the annual TEA/AECOM attendance report opted to not rerank the top 25 from 2019 — reporting the new 2020 headcounts without reshuffling the rankings from the previous year. We went to the trouble of reranking the top 60 parks for 2020 below — and as you can see, chaos reigned.

California theme parks were hit hardest, with attendance dropping at least 80% during closures that stretched throughout the year. Chinese parks reopened sooner during the pandemic with some seeing drops as low as 11%.

As it has for decades, Disney dominated the TEA/AECOM attendance rankings in 2019 with all 12 worldwide parks in the top 25. That wasn’t the case in 2020, with three Disney parks tumbling out of the global top 25.

The Magic Kingdom held onto the top spot worldwide in 2020, but the pandemic reshuffled the deck below with Disneyland falling from the second to the seventh most-visited Disney theme park in the world.

The new silver medalist in the Disney theme park empire: Shanghai Disneyland, which reopened in May 2020. Disneyland’s attendance also fell behind Disney’s other Florida parks and Tokyo Disneyland — which all reopened in July 2020.

Disneyland dropped to 11th place on the worldwide attendance rankings with Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Florida and China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom and OCT Happy Valley Beijing jumping ahead of the Anaheim theme park.

Disney California Adventure fell even further — from 13th place worldwide in 2019 to out of the top 25 in 2020. DCA ranked ahead of only the two least-attended Disney theme parks that perennially occupy the bottom of the Mouse House’s attendance list every year — Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park in France.

Shanghai Disneyland’s ascent to the second spot on the worldwide attendance list saw the Chinese park leapfrog Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as Universal Studios Japan and China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.

The surges and declines in the worldwide attendance rankings reflect local COVID-19 restrictions that kept theme parks closed or allowed them to reopen. Theme parks in California and Japan declined in the attendance rankings while parks in Florida and China rose in the rankings.

Five Chinese theme parks leaped onto the reranked top 25 worldwide leaderboard — including a pair of OCT parks owned by the Chinese government. China’s OCT Happy Valley Beijing moved from 24th place in 2019 to the 8th spot in 2020.

California theme parks that were closed throughout 2020 from the start of the pandemic in the United States fell hard in the attendance rankings.

Universal Studios Hollywood plummeted from 15th worldwide in 2019 to outside the top 25 in 2020 — falling behind Hersheypark, a chocolate-themed regional amusement park in Pennsylvania.

Knott’s Berry Farm dropped from the top-visited Cedar Fair park in 2019 to fourth in the amusement park chain in 2020 — with Ohio’s Kings Island leapfrogging Knott’s, Canada’s Wonderland and Ohio’s Cedar Point.

The theme park world was so upside down in 2020 that Six Flags Mexico drew more visitors than Six Flags Magic Mountain — which had five times more attendance than the Mexican park in 2019.

Because of the way TEA/AECOM handled the 2020 rankings, it’s impossible to know if any newcomers that lurked outside the regional rankings in 2019 could have jumped into the resorted global theme park attendance rankings presented here. That means there are likely some parks in Asia, Europe and North America that should be on this list that are not.

Top 20 Theme Parks Worldwide for 2020

Attendance shown in millions

1. Magic Kingdom (Florida) 6.941

2. Shanghai Disneyland (China) 5.500

3. Universal Studios Japan 4.901

4. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (China) 4.797

5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Florida) 4.166

6. Tokyo Disneyland (Japan) 4.160

7. Epcot (Florida) 4.044

8. OCT Happy Valley Beijing (China) 3.950

9. Universal Studios Florida 3.908

10. Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Florida) 3.675

11. Disneyland (California) 3.674

12.Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Florida) 3.638

13. Fantawild Adventure (China) 3.421

14. Tokyo DisneySea (Japan) 3.400

15. OCT Happy Valley Shenzhen (China) 3.120

16. Efteling (Netherlands) 2.900

17. Everland (South Korea) 2.760

18. OCT Happy Valley Shanghai (China) 2.730

19. Chimelong Paradise (China) 2.681

20. Disneyland Paris (France) 2.620
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