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2009 TEA/AECOM Attraction Attendance Report shows resilience, stability in the theme park industry


Related: Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Announces 16th Annual Thea Award Recipients / Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Re-Ups Thorburn as President

The definitive annual attendance study for the themed entertainment industry has been released by the Themed Entertainment Association and the Economics practice at AECOM. Download it here:  Attendance Report.

Note: This release contains corrections to the version first distributed on 26 April 2010.

Despite challenges presented by reduced consumer spending and budgets in 2009, the theme park industry managed to weather the storm at a level equal to or ahead of many other industries. An annual attendance study for the theme park industry released today by the Economics practice at AECOM (formerly Economics Research Associates [ERA]) and Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) cites slightly below 186 million visits to the top 25 worldwide parks, a decline of 0.2 percent from the previous year. 

“The international theme park and visitor attractions industry is coming off a challenging year due to the global economic recession, ” said Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) president Steve Thorburn of Thorburn Associates, in spring 2010. “The figures within the 2009 TEA/AECOM Attraction Attendance Report reflect that. But they also reflect the resilience and creativity of the industry and show us the way to future growth. Under the circumstances, in 2009 the major parks did remarkably well.”

In 2009, most of the top theme parks and leisure destinations saw either flat attendance or a decline. This was due in large part to reduced spending and travel by consumers reacting to the recession, along with the effects of the H1N1 flu virus. “Most parks felt the impact of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, ” said Ray Braun, Senior Vice President, AECOM, and head of its Entertainment and Recreation Economics operation. The strategies employed by theme parks to sustain numbers and make the best of a troubled situation underscore the basic fundamentals of good business in the visitor attractions industry: reinvestment in the guest experience, creative targeted marketing and building the relationship with the customer.

The TEA/AECOM Attraction Attendance Report identifies the top commercial theme parks and waterparks around the world and reflects their performance for the previous year. Global attendance data are broken down by geographic region, by chain and by type of venue. The report is a valuable business reference and resource for the industry.

Download the report here: Attendance Report.

Key Figures from the Report
(All figures for calendar year 2009 unless otherwise indicated.)
(This table contains corrections to the version first distributed on 26 April 2010)

• 185.64 million: The total theme park attendance for top 25 worldwide parks, a decline of 0.2 percent from 2008

• 121.4 million: Total visits to the top 20 theme parks in North America, a decline of 1.1 percent from 2008. Since 2005, attendance to the top 20 theme parks in North America has grown by 2.8 percent

• 57.3 million: Attendance for the top 20 European theme parks, level with 2008 numbers. Total attendance for top 20 theme parks has grown by 7.3 percent since 2005

• 65.5 million: Total visits to the top 10 Asian theme parks down 3.5 percent from 2008. For the new top 15 Asian theme parks, total attendance was 77.6 million in 2009, a decline of 2.9 percent compared to 2008

• 12.3 million: Attendance to top 10 theme parks in Mexico and Latin America up 1.3 percent from 2008

• 20.7 million: Top 20 worldwide waterparks attendance in 2009 – an increase of 2.1 percent from 2008

• 12.8 million: Total visitation to top 15 waterparks in US, a growth of 3.0 percent from 2008 and 11.6 percent from 2005

About the numbers

AECOM obtains the figures used to create the TEA/AECOM Attraction Attendance Report through a variety of sources, including statistics furnished directly by theme park and waterpark operators, historical numbers, financial reports, the investment banking community and local tourism organizations, among others. The global visitor attractions market is studied as a whole, and each of its four main regions is also studied separately: North America, Mexico/Latin America, Europe and Asia. There is also a table of the top waterparks in the world and in the United States, and of the top global chain operators.

About TEA 

The TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) is an international nonprofit alliance founded in 1991 and based in Burbank, Calif. TEA represents some 7, 000 creative specialists, from architects to designers, technical specialists to master planners, scenic fabricators to artists, and builders to feasibility analysts working in more than 600 firms in 39 different countries. TEA presents the annual Thea Awards and the TEA Summit and hosts the annual SATE conferences (Story, Architecture, Technology, Experience). TEA also produces a variety of print and electronic publications, including the annual Theme Index (TEA/AECOM Attraction Attendance Report), TEA Project Management Guidelines, and TEA Annual & Directory. Visit


The Economics practice at AECOM is the world leader in real estate consulting services. It advises clients on economic and financial planning issues for a myriad of commercial land uses, including theme parks, hotels and resorts, cultural facilities, sports venues and major events, tourism, complex mixed-use developments as well as economic regeneration schemes. The Economics practice at AECOM has made important contributions to some of the world’s most innovative and successful projects. AECOM (NYSE: ACM) is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM employs approximately 45, 000 people and serves clients in more than 100 countries and had revenue of $6.1 billion during the 12-month period ended December 31, 2009.  More information on AECOM and its services can be found at


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