How Did Disney Do Last Year? It Might Surprise You.
We’ve heard from Bob Chapek and others about Disney’s performance during the pandemic.
However, a respected industry source just chimed in with some revealing tidbits about theme park attendance last year.
So how did Disney do in 2020? Honestly, it’s probably worse than you thought.
What Just Happened?
The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) has earned its reputation as a theme park leader, primarily for two reasons.
The first is the Golden Tickets Awards. This past week, the TEA just released its other notable publication.
Yes, we’ve finally got a look at theme park attendance during the pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s as ugly as you’d expect, possibly even worse.
Obviously, we’ll always remember 2020 as the year that Coronavirus shut down theme parks worldwide.
At one point in 2020, Disney had closed all six of its theme parks, a stunning turn of events.
Remember that this is a company that brags about how the sun never sets on Disney.
Park executives say this because at least one Disney theme park operates every hour of the day. Most of the time, it’s at least two.
So, having no operational theme parks proved a stunning reversal of fortune.
Of course, the pandemic didn’t just target Disney’s theme parks, even though it sometimes felt that way.
Instead, the entire industry suffered a body blow in 2020. One of the first TEA statements about the year suggests that the average park dropped 70-80 percent.
The only country that did better was China, whose tight restrictions prevented massive outbreaks.
Some parks there held as much as 50 percent of their 2019 attendance.
Similarly, the report notes that Europe, the Middle East, and Africa suffered less in terms of attendance. Instead, they averaged drops of 60-65 percent.
Perhaps the hardest-hit category of all was the water park industry. TEA posted a table with Typhoon Lagoon ranked first.
That’s absolutely hysterical since this water park closed in January of 2020 for refurbishments but then never reopened. It was that kind of year.
How Was Walt Disney World Attendance?
The recurring theme here is that everything will look terrible unless you put the situation into perspective. So, I’ll try to do that.
Let’s start with the fact that Magic Kingdom remained the most trafficked theme park in the world.
Disney officials likely breathed a sigh of relief at this turn of events, as it was FAR from guaranteed.
Magic Kingdom gained 6.94 million visits in 2020, waaaaaaay down from 20.96 million in 2019. That’s a 67 percent drop or two-thirds of total 2019 traffic.
Please remember that Magic Kingdom closed for almost exactly two months. Then, management employed a tight attendance limit to maintain social distancing.
That aspect plays a critical role in the next bit of information. Disney’s Hollywood Studios proved the least trafficked Walt Disney World park.
If you spent any time here during the pandemic, you understand why this is difficult to believe.
Hollywood Studios usually required the longest wait times for its top-tier attractions among Disney’s Orlando theme parks.
So, that capacity limit undeniably played a factor, limiting Hollywood Studios to 3.68 million last year. That’s down 68 percent from 2019.
Also, that’s not the worst drop, at least percentage-wise. Disney’s Animal Kingdom fell 70 percent to 4.17 million, down from 13.89 million in 2019.
EPCOT fell 68 percent to 4 million as opposed to 12.44 million in 2019.
You can draw your own conclusions here, but the simple fact is that it’s all a huge mess.
Universal Studios Florida actually managed 4.1 million visitors, meaning that it beat EPCOT and Hollywood Studios for the first time EVER.
That’s a somewhat fluky stat, though. Remember that USF operated for about 40 days more than the Disney parks.
The Other Disney Parks
Shanghai Disneyland benefited the most on the charts in 2020, even if it was an otherwise nightmarish year.
Roughly 5.5 million guests visited Shanghai Disneyland last year. It was technically the second most popular theme park in the world in 2020.
Shanghai Disneyland experienced an attendance drop of only 51 percent, the best of any theme park in TEA’s top 20 for 2020.
As chronicled on MickeyBlog, Hong Kong Disneyland proved decidedly less fortunate. It struggled to remain open.
For this reason, attendance fell 70 percent from 5.7 million in 2019 to 1.7 million last year.
The other jinxed Disney park, Disneyland Paris, suffered mightily. Disneyland Park dropped 73 percent to 2.62 million.
Meanwhile, its sibling, Walt Disney Studios Park, also fell 73 percent to 1.41 million.
Tokyo Disneyland really took a drubbing last year. The main park plummeted 77 percent to 4.16 million.
That’s not even the worst part. In terms of actual visitors, Tokyo Disneyland lost almost 13.8 million customers year over year. That’s savage.
If you’re wondering, Magic Kingdom declined by 14 million guests, but it was open substantially fewer days.
Even Tokyo DisneySea wasn’t immune to lower crowds, splendid though it may be. This park went from 14.7 million guests in 2019 to 3.4 million last year.
Still, nobody else can compare with the losses at Disneyland Resort.
Disneyland Park experienced an attendance drop of 80 percent. Only 3.67 million guests visited, a fall of 15 million (!) from 2019’s 18.67 million.
Percentage-wise, Disney California Adventure was slightly worse. It lost 81 percent of guests year over year, finishing at 1.92 million for 2020.
Finally, Disney’s Blizzard Beach managed only 316,000 visits in 2020, down from 1.98 million in 2019.
Technically, Volcano Bay was the most popular water park in Orlando last year. Yikes!