Universal’s Islands of Adventure drew bigger crowds in 2022 than three of Disney World’s theme parks, according to attendance estimates released in a new industry report.
Attendance hit about 11.03 million at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, according to the new report by Themed Entertainment Association/AECOM. The park has opened several hit roller coasters, including Jurassic World VelociCoaster in 2021 and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in 2019.
That means Islands of Adventure was more popular than Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
But the Magic Kingdom remained the king of the theme parks in the world, with its estimated 17.13 million attendance, according to the report. The Magic Kingdom celebrated its 50th anniversary throughout 2022 in what was an 18-month event to try and draw fans out.
Disney and Universal rarely, if ever, release theme park attendance numbers for each of their individual theme parks, so the predictions in the annual report by the Themed Entertainment Association/AECOM are one of the few places to glean insight into how the industry’s attendance is performing.
For Universal’s other Orlando theme park, Universal Studios Florida, attendance was estimated at 10.75 million, the report said.
At the other Disney World parks, attendance was reportedly at 10.9 million for Hollywood Studios, 10 million for Epcot and about 9.03 million for Animal Kingdom, according to the report’s estimates.
But attendance isn’t everything either, the report also warned.
“Revenues, particularly for the major operators, are higher than pre-pandemic levels, even in instances where attendance has dropped or been controlled,” the report said.
For Disney World, the theme park operator limited its attendance throughout 2022 by requiring passholders and ticketholders to take the extra step of making an advance reservation. That didn’t stop The Walt Disney Co. from making billions off its parks during some of the division’s record-breaking financial quarters.
Meanwhile, at Universal, visitors can spontaneously show up at the turnstiles without advance reservations.
The new industry report touted 2022 as a strong year for theme parks and said guests were returning following the 2020 pandemic that shut down parks across the world — including Orlando’s — for an extended period of time.
“2022 will be remembered by most as a year of relaxed pandemic restrictions, pent-up demand for out-of-home experiences and a return to some sense of normalcy,” TEA and AECOM said in a press release. “Global attractions, with some exceptions, took advantage of these market conditions to attract impressive numbers of visitors through their turnstiles.”