After a fairly at 2016, the industry resumed its historic pace of growth in 2017 fueled by Disney, China, and Indoor Entertainment Centers. The top 25 theme parks expanded volume by 4.7%.
The major theme park operators had an outstanding year with 8.6% overall growth led largely by properties in China, where attendance swelled by nearly 20%. China now generates about a quarter of the major operators’ overall attendance. Global attraction attendance at the major operators is now almost half a billion visits a year, and is more than double the attendance of all the major sport leagues around the world.
Looking at our major geographies this year, Asia’s attendance expanded by 5.5% driven by Mainland China with Shanghai Disneyland’s rst full year responsible for much of the gain. North America had steady results of 2.3% exceeding 150 million visits for the rst time. The mega-destination that is Orlando saw major attractions open at both Disney (Pandora — The World of Avatar) and Universal (Volcano Bay) in 2017. Representing a third of North American attendance, Orlando should continue to develop with $10 billion of investment in future attractions, RDE (retail, dining and entertainment zones), and hotels slated for the next ve years. Volume rose in EMEA at levels similar to last year’s at 3.8% with most parks having modest performance and Disney Paris driving the numbers. The Indoor Entertainment Center (IEC) sector was also very active in EMEA this year (as well as in other regions). Latin American theme park attendance fell o a bit due to troubles at one park, with the overall top 10 parks sliding 2%. However, interest and investment continue in this market.
Turning to water parks and museums, overall global water park attendance at the top parks was up 1.6% with particularly strong performance in some of the European parks. While the Top 20 museums were relatively at, regional museums had a strong year with 5% growth fed by some new entries and strong performance in Asia. Several museums had remarkable years such as the Victoria & Albert (up 25%), the National Gallery of Art (up 23%), the Louvre (up 10%) and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. which drew 2.4 million visitors.
On the whole, 2017 re ected a return to healthy growth with signi cant capital expenditures in the industry, both in traditional attractions, attraction-adjacent hotels, and new, IP-branded indoor attractions. With stabilized global economies, and signi cant planning occurring now for future investment, prospects look good for the industry in the short- to mid-term.
Resource: TEA AECOM 2017
Resource: TEA AECOM 2017
Resource: TEA AECOM 2017
The Asia-Pacific region experienced a strong year in 2017 overall, in terms of attendance growth at the top theme parks, averaging 5.5%. This growth was primarily driven by Mainland China where some parks did especially well, with double‐digit, year‐over‐year increases.
Parks in Korea such as Lotte World, Everland and others saw a fallo in attendance, which we attribute to geopolitical events that discouraged tourism from Mainland Chinese, a key tourist demographic. Lotte World and Samsung Everland were particularly hard hit.
In Japan, theme park visitation grew slightly. Looking at individual parks, the big story there is Universal Studios Japan. This property continues to do very well and posted another record year with 3% growth, reaping the bene ts of a signi cant re-investment: the new Minion Park and Minion ride that opened in spring 2017.
Attendance at the Osaka park has steadily grown from 8 million in 2009 to nearly 15 million in 2017. Since early 2017, USJ has been wholly owned by NBC Universal.
In 2016, the 15th anniversary of Tokyo Disney Sea Resort brought a healthy increase to that park, and it was able to add to that in 2017 due to a popular new ride, Nemo and Friends SeaRider.
The story is somewhat mixed in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Disneyland saw attendance stabilizing at 6.2 million in 2017, where previously it had been declining for two years, likely due to minimal reinvestment. The new Iron Man Experience that opened in early 2017 helped drive new tra c and stabilize the situation. Ocean Park Hong Kong saw an attendance decline again in 2017, of about 3%, and a rainy summer didn’t help things, but the extent of the decrease was likely o set by the new Metro stop right outside the park gates.
On the Mainland, the biggest success story is Shanghai Disney Resort, which drew 11 million attendance in 2017 — its first full year of operation — coming in ahead of expectations, with continued good performance so far for 2018. The markets have responded strongly in terms of general popularity, length of stay and repeat visitation. Shanghai Disney was honored with a number of TEA Thea Awards in 2017, celebrating the park as a whole and distinguishing several individual attractions.
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai continues to show healthy, year-over-year attendance increases, with growth of 15% in 2017 — a remarkable achievement especially in view of the wet summer weather. This park received a Thea Award in 2017 for its new Journey of Lights nighttime parade. The generally strong performance includes good levels of hotel occupancy and o -season visitation.
Chimelong conducts excellent national marketing and advertising campaigns to help keep traffic owing to its resorts. And as the high-speed rail network continues to expand in China, it is increasingly convenient and a ordable to travel around the country.
OCT Parks and Fantawild are two chains that posted strong growth for 2017 as well. This is largely attributable to capital investment. These two groups have contrasting paths to success. Growth at OCT, a state-owned enterprise, is mostly based on acquiring and improving existing parks and attractions that have adjoining land for further development. OCT put resources into its parks in Chengdu and Shanghai, developing new areas and attractions. Fantawild’s approach is to develop new parks that feature their own IP and characters from movies, television and cartoons produced by the Fantawild Animation company and well known in the domestic Chinese markets — the best- known being the Boonie Bears. Fantawild and other Asian operators are adopting a cross-platforming model for IP as is practiced by many Western IP owners.
This feeds a trend we have been observing in China, a desire for more localized, Chinese content that applies not only to characters and IP but also to food, events, and design features.
We have forecast for several years that China would become the largest theme park market in the world by 2020. That forecast is still on track, especially with Universal Studios Beijing due to open around that time, and many other projects still in the pipeline.
The success of Shanghai Disney has been very encouraging, showing developers that they should invest in world-class and best-in-class projects, and the market will respond. Having a theme park is still seen as an important asset to a modern city in China, and we are going to continue to see new projects and new announcements. The factors that fuel this development are all still there: economic growth, a rising middle class, rising disposable income, the inclination to travel, better transportation infrastructure, and automobile purchases. These are all positive factors driving increased consumer demand for entertainment experiences.
The Chinese government has put some regulations in place that may a ect how parks are developed in the future. One measure is aimed at de-linking theme park development from large-scale, mixed-use projects. This will probably be a healthy thing in the long run, as some parks are being built for the wrong reasons and in the wrong locations in order to move real estate. A second measure has to do with imposing a size threshold to limit the number of megaparks, by requiring a national approval process for anything over 5 billion RMB (about $770 million USD), which leaves anything below that threshold to provincial jurisdiction.
Southeast Asia remains a promising market with a lot of interest in entertainment projects. The challenges to faster growth are the relative di culty of acquiring large areas of land, and less robust transportation infrastructure. With a booming middle class, large young populations and rising disposable income, Southeast Asia is poised to become a strong theme park market in the near future. We can expect new theme park projects around major cities of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, and Ho Chi Minh.
Similarly, India remains a promising market for the mid- to long-term. The economy continues to grow with a rapidly developing middle class. However, high regulation, high tax rates, and lack of large land areas for development are hindering growth. Nonetheless, India remains a promising future market.
TEA AECOM GLOBAL ATTRACTIONS ATTENDANCE REPORT 2017.