The Magic Kingdom park of Walt Disney World in Florida is with over 20 million annual visitors the most visited theme park in the world. The top 25 amusement parks in the world, which includes four European parks, attracted more than 235 million people last year. As a comparison, the 20 largest water parks attracted nearly 29 million visitors.
Amusement parks globally remain a popular attraction for a day out. An analysis of data from the most recent 'Theme Index’ released by the Themed Entertainment Association and engineering firm Aecom, shows that the largest amusement parks in the world last year (again) saw an increase in their attendance. The 10 largest holding companies of amusement parks together drew more than 420 million visitors, 7.2% more than the year before. More than half (56%) of them went to one of the top 25 amusement and theme parks in the world, with a total attendance of more than 235.6 million. The top 25 parks also grew in the total number of visitors in 2015 – in 2014 the 25 most visited attraction and amusement hubs attracted 223.5 million visitors.
Walt Disney Attractions – consisting of a large number of Disney theme parks, including Magic Kingdom and Epcot at Walt Disney World, Florida, US, as well as Disney theme parks across the rest of the world – is the world's largest holding company with nearly 138 million visitors visiting its global attractions in 2015. The #2 is Merlin Entertainments Group (including Legoland), which drew less than half that number, with around 63 million visitors. #3 is Universal Parks & Resorts, especially known for the iconic Universal Studios theme parks. The top 10 is pretty much unchanged since 2014. At #7, the Chinese Chimelong Group last year managed to overtake SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Fanta Wild was the sole newcomer to enter the top 10, with nearly 23.1 million visitors (+ 77.4%), the owner of the 12 Chinese theme parks came in at eighth place.
Top 25 global theme parks
The top five global theme parks consist of Magic Kingdom (Florida, US), Disneyland (California, US), Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disney Sea. Of the top five, only Universal Studios Japan, is not part of the US Disney conglomerate, which was founded in 1923 as the Disney Brothers cartoon Studio. Of the top 25 most visited theme parks globally, 10 are Disney parks, which are spread out across the world.
In 2015, Magic Kingdom saw its attendance grow by 6% to a total of nearly 20.5 million. Disneyland in California grew faster than the leader, but was visited by 2 million fewer people. In Japan, however, two top-five Disney theme parks were defeated by Universal. Disney parks in the country saw a decline in their number of visitors, while the number of visitors to Universal Studios Japan grew by a whopping 17.8%. The double-digit growth is due partly to the Harry Potter attractions at the park being open for the whole year.
The rest of the top 10 includes four other parks that are, just as the Magic Kingdom, located in Florida. Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista parks Epcot (11.8 million), Disney's Animal Kingdom (10.9 million) and Disney's Hollywood Studios (10.8 million), come in at sixth, seventh and eighth place respectively. The ninth spot also goes to Disney, but this time in Europe, taken by Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris, which welcomed more than 10.3 million visitors in 2015 – 4.2% more than in the previous year. Tenth place, again, goes to a park located in Florida, namely the original Universal Studios park in Orlando.
Following two additional US theme parks at #11 and #12, the first Asian amusement park, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin, China, takes thirteenths spot with almost 7.5 million visitors. The four parks that follow are also found in Asia, including Everland and Lotte World in South Korea, Ocean Park in Hong Kong, and Hangzhou Songcheng Park in China. The spots #19, #20 and #25 also go to Asian theme parks.
In addition to Disneyland Paris, there are three other European theme parks in the top 25. On the 21st spot is Europa Park in Germany while #23 goes to Tivoli Gardens in Denmark. The Dutch theme park the Efteling takes the 24th place with almost 4.7 million visitors in 2015. The theme park has over the past decade managed to bump visitor numbers by 1.5 million – reflecting average annual growth of 3.9%.
Zooming in further on European parks, finds the rapidly growing Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris just outside the global top 25. In 2015 the French equivalent of the world's #8 (Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida) saw its number of visitors increase by 7.8%. In total, five of the top 20 European amusement parks are in France, four are in the UK and three in Germany. Denmark, Sweden and Spain each count two parks in the top 20. The Efteling is the only Dutch park among the globe's leaders.
Biggest water parks
The data further provides a snapshot of the most visited water parks in the world. Water parks are amusement parks with swimming pools and often a large number of water slides, where visitors are often only allowed in with appropriate swimwear.
Last year the most visited water park in the world was the Chimelong Water Park in China, with a total number of visitors amounting to more than 2.3 million. The top 3 is closed by Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, both water parks owned by Disney, attracting more than 2 million visitors – they booked 5% growth between 2014 and 2015. Of the global top 20 water parks only three are found in Europe: Theme Erding and Tropical Islands in Germany and Aqua Palace in the Czech Republic. They find themselves on respectively the 12th, 15th and 18th place.