Year 2019 was a year of moderate performance for the world’s most popular theme parks and water parks, and a variable year for museums depending on region, according to the most recent TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, released on July 16, 2020 and available free online. Globally, Disney remains the top theme park operator, and the Louvre in Paris remains the world’s top-attended museum.
John Robinett, senior vice president – Economics, AECOM said, “After clearing the half billion attendance mark in 2018, the world’s top theme parks, water parks and attractions continued to climb to 521.2 million in 2019 for a 4.0% annual growth rate as represented by the top 10 attraction groups. The Asian operators once again dominated – with OCT, Chimelong, and Fantawild all reporting high single- or double-digit increases.”
Robinett added, “As a whole, 2019 was a rather mild-mannered year in the industry, with stable results in the established European and American markets being supplemented by moderate growth in Asia. This could indicate that some pre-recessionary pressures were building under the surface before the tectonic COVID-19 shifted the foundation of the world’s health and economies.”
The 20 most-visited museums in the world performed well and remained relatively stable in 2019, globally attracting some 105.5 million visits overall compared to 108.1 million in 2018.
The TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index is an annual, calendar-year study, jointly produced by the Themed Entertainment Association and the Economics Practice at AECOM since 2006, tracking attendance numbers of the world’s top visitor attractions. Charts are accompanied by analysis from industry specialists in the Economics practice at AECOM. The report studies the sector by region (The Americas, Asia-Pacific, EMEA), the global market as a whole and the top operators. In 2012, TEA and AECOM expanded the annual attendance report to include the Museum Index, looking at the world’s top museums and studying them by region.
TEA COO Jennie Nevin said, “The Themed Entertainment Association is delighted to continue its longstanding collaboration with AECOM to produce the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, which the industry and press depend on as a critical resource year after year. The Theme Index helps TEA in its mission to educate and enrich the industry and promote best practices that lead to success and innovation.”
THE AMERICAS – THEME PARKS AND WATER PARKS
The Top 20 theme parks in North America saw 1.2% growth overall in 2019, representing 1.9 million new visits. The top 20 water parks in North America added nearly 200,000 visits in 2019, an increase of 1.2% over 2018. The top 10 water parks in Latin America passed the 10.0 million mark in collective attendance for the first time – 10.2 million visits representing a 2.5% year-over-year increase.
Kathleen LaClair, associate principal – Americas, AECOM, said, “Collectively, we’re seeing the operators and parks in this sector doing all the right things – make strategic acquisitions, invest in new lands and rides, extend the season and customer base with new events, and focus on the guest experience to drive performance. These practices will continue to be important as the industry moves forward.”
ASIA-PACIFIC – THEME PARKS AND WATER PARKS
The visitor attractions sector in the Asia-Pacific region overall showed attendance growth of 1.6% for calendar year 2019.
Chris Yoshii, vice president – Economics, Asia-Pacific, AECOM, said, “The most dramatic increases in Asia’s theme park markets in 2019 were in China. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom became China’s top-attended theme park. Its 11.7 million visits in 2019 reflect an 8.4% increase from the prior year, coming in about 500,000 higher than Shanghai Disneyland. OCT, already the largest theme park operator in China, rose in the ranks above Universal Parks and Resorts to be the third-largest in the world.”
Beth Chang, Executive Director – Economics, Asia-Pacific, AECOM said, “Chinese tourists have been staying closer to home, which is good for domestic markets but has meant lost revenue to other countries. Operators are working to salvage what they can of the summer season, with an emphasis on local markets. The development pipeline remains strong.”
EUROPE – THEME PARKS AND WATER PARKS
In the EMEA region, the 20 top-attended theme parks in 2019, all in Europe, exhibited stability, with relatively flat attendance. Disneyland Paris kept its rank as most-attended theme park in the region. In the water parks sector, Northern Europe and the UAE continue to dominate this region.
Jodie Lock, senior associate economist, AECOM, said, “Growth in EMEA theme parks and water parks in 2019 was primarily driven by operators rolling out new rides and attractions, new hotels, and special events and celebrations, backed by strong marketing. The Middle East has seen much development. Looking ahead, in light of decreased tourism and restrictions related to COVID-19, parks will likely put new emphasis on generating revenue.”
Asia’s top 20 museums gained global market share and Europe’s manifested significant attendance growth in 2019, while in North America, visits to the top museums declined due to a variety of factors.
Linda Cheu, vice president at AECOM, said, “History shows that attendance swings at the world’s top museums are primarily driven by the presence or absence of blockbuster exhibitions. The size and character of the industry will likely shift post-pandemic. Attendance declines for 2020 are inevitable, and recovery will take time. However, the performance of museums in 2019 demonstrates continued public enthusiasm for what museums have to offer.”
The 2019 TEA/AECOM Museum Index also includes a special list of new and noteworthy museums around the world, charted by region.
EFFECTS OF COVID
The 2019 TEA/AECOM Index is a portrait of calendar year 2019, which ended prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 the global visitor attractions industry is facing significant new challenges, and the current report touches on these while remaining primarily focused on 2019. As 2020 continues to play out, the effects of the pandemic and other factors shaping the future of the industry will be studied in detail and presented in next year’s report.
ACCESS THE FULL REPORT
The TEA website and AECOM website are the official sources to view and download the most recent, full version of the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, as well as past editions dating to 2006, free of charge.
Judith Rubin, editor of the report and director of publications for TEA said, “The TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index stands as an invaluable and meticulously researched business and educational resource. Members of the media, researchers, analysts, industry companies, operators and investors, students and many others turn to it year-round for statistics, industry background and insight. Now in its 14th annual edition, it shares a wealth of historical and current information.”
TEA International Board President Michael Blau of Adirondack Studios said, “The TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index is an important aspect of how our global membership association serves the global industry with information and resources. TEA values its continuing partnership with AECOM.”