Despite Economic Woes, Americans Are Still Getting Their Kicks At Theme Parks

Some Americans might be cutting back in tough economic times and tightening purse strings on big splashy purchases — but skip checking out Hogwarts in Harry Potter World? Not gonna happen. Despite financial woes across the country, theme park attendance was up for 2011, partly due to the boy wizard wonder and his magical, imaginary land.

The Los Angeles Times cites attendance figures estimated by Themed Entertainment Assn., a trade group for the theme park industry, which says attendance increased by 2.9% last year.

The uptick was led by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Fla., which made up about half the rise in numbers. That number is based on an annual estimate of theme park crowds by AECOM, an engineering and consulting firm. And even without that bit of theme park magic that Harry Potter inspires in fans, attendance would’ve been up 1.6%.

At the home of Harry Potter’s park, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, attendance hit 7.7 million, which was an increase of 29% over the previous year. Alohamora, indeed.

It wasn’t just the magical gang raking in the numbers, as all of Southern California’s major theme parks saw an uptick in visitors as well, including Disneyland, SeaWorld San Diego and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Theme parks in North America saw attendance jump in 2011 [Los Angeles Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. who? says:

    Am I the only one who would rather read War and Peace on a Nook than go to a theme park?

    • nugatory says:

      no you’re not.

    • Coffee says:

      I would rather go to Ikea, and that store makes me want to drop LSD and eat someone’s face.

      • IR1 says:

        I would have said “too soon” but I laughed super hard… so… nothing to do here…

      • xyzzyman says:

        If you ever get that much energy where you’re worried you will eat someones face, just go to Ikea and make your first stop the cafe and pig out on the mashed potato’s and swedish meatballs… You have two orders of those it melllows you out beyond belief and your 5 hour Ikea trip will be magical… (I’ve never smoked weed but I think it’s the same effect.)

        • Clyde Barrow says:

          My great grandma was Swedish. She lived to be 93 and fed me well on Swedish food. I am sorry to say this but IKEA does NOT sell good Swedish meatballs. I’ve tasted better meatballs in a can of Chef Boyardee spagetti. If you want great Swedish food, go to a Swedish Restaurant.

    • frodolives35 says:

      You must really hate theme parks. What a sleeping pill (and was used as such) even worse then Moby Dick.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Even War and Peace Cliff Notes is 120 pages.

    • polishhillbilly says:

      same here. the money wasted at a theme park could be better used by paying off debts, instead of creating them.

    • nikalseyn says:

      I prefer Dostoyevsky, especially Crime and Punishment. But, a book, not some new-fangled contraption that does not “feel” or “read” like a book.

    • samonela says:

      Yes, but one wonders if it would have still been as successful had it been published under its original title, “War, What is it Good For?”

  2. t2fastspin says:

    Platinum Passes for me the the kids! Can’t beat 5 laps on Millennium Force on a Friday night!

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      In 2001, CP had ‘Millenium Mania’ on Thursday and Friday nights after Labor Day for about 3 weeks. It was under $20, but only 16 rides were open (mostly rollercoasters including MF). We went and there couldn’t have been 2000 people in the whole park.
      I did MF 19 times, my son did 20 times. Our longest wait (for the front row) was 20 minutes, counting the 5 minutes of silence for 9/11.
      They didn’t do that again, and when I asked why, it was because they didn’t make enough money. Huh. Every single person we talked to that was there thought it was the greatest thing CP had ever done.

    • Mah Freedoms says:

      Don’t forget Kings Island with those platinum passes! =P

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Forget the Harry Potter theme park, that’s old news. I want to see a Hunger Games theme park. That shit would be real!
    I figure it would have the feel somewhere between Guantanamo Bay and the DMV.

  4. Coffee says:

    Despite Their Pernicious And Deleterious Effects On The Human Soul, Americans Are Still Getting Their Kicks At Theme Parks


  5. finbar says:

    Havn’t been to one in years. Any recomendatiosn for NorCal/Bay area?

    • Coffee says:

      Don’t go to Six Flags in Vallejo unless you want to kill yourself. Great America is all right, especially if you like violent roller coasters.

    • IR1 says:

      Yeah Great America is fine. But its really your only decent option. I live 15 minutes away from Great America and have only been there like 4 times in my life. While I have been down to Disneyland like 20 times.

  6. Galium says:

    Actually the increase is from all the people in Florida and California that lost their homes. They had nowhere else to go. You can go to any theme park and see families just roaming around pretending to be just like everyone else. They can be spotted though, just look for the family with the hats with the torn mouse ears, theme parks shirts that are dirty and ill-fitting etc. If you see a family fitting this description at a park, be generous. Buy them some hotdogs and when you give the hotdogs to them, tell them you understand and they have nothing to be ashamed of. This will make theme parks a whole lot more interesting.

    • frodolives35 says:

      It would be cheaper to pay their rent then buy then food at a theme park.

    • Carrie317 says:

      This is one of the stupidest comments I have ever read. Seriously.. I love in Orlando. I visit theme parks like 2x a week. I NEVER see anyone there with torn mouse ears and dirty shirts. If the people are so poor, how are they affording a MINIMUM of $200 Annual passes to Universal or more for a Disney pass??? If I have nowhere to go, the last place I am going to is a theme park.. maybe a public park but NOT a THEME park.

    • bizinatch says:

      I actually think this is the funniest thing I have ever read in my entire life! Thank you. I’m posting it on Facebook. I could only wish Twitter would allow that many characters.

  7. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Pack up the Family Truckster, kids. We’re going to Wally World! No, not that one, the OTHER one! The FUN one!

  8. HogwartsProfessor says:

    ALOHOMORA. Not Alohamora.

    “It’s Levi-O-sa, not Levi-o-SA!”


  9. pika2000 says:

    Theme parks in California saw an uptick because the Californians cannot afford to go out of state/overseas, thus they just go to the local theme parks instead.
    Theme parks in Orlando saw an uptick because of people from Brazil.

    • zantafio says:

      also known as “Brazilians”

    • EarthAngel says:

      And they are everywhere. Seriously it is difficult to go to any of Orlando’s parks without seeing large groups of tourists carrying Brazilian flags.

      DS and I got stuck one of the Forbidden Journey with a couple of Brazilian girls. We were stuck for quite some time. The announcer only gave instructions in English, even though it was obvious most of the riders only spoke Portugese.

  10. eezy-peezy says:

    these parks are great if you have kids, what I don’t get is adults going to them without kids. I went to D-World in FL and found it fake and boring.

  11. Kuri says:

    But, but, the commoners should be sitting at home staring at the walls!!!! /s

  12. BigHeadEd says:

    I’ve got friends that work at WDW, so I never pay to get in, and I love to drink around the world at EPCOT, fake or not, it’s a great way to kill a day.

  13. technoreaper says:

    Theme park costs are out of control. Thank god I don’t have kids.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Entertainment costs here are out of control, if you have children and you want to do something with them plan on spending at minimum $50-100 for a few hours or less of entertainment. Even going to the ice cream parlor is insane here, since when does it cost $3 for a basic, size small ice cream cone. By the time the kid gets sprinkles and a larger size its up to $5 per kid. Sundae’s can be even more, some are $6 here and that is without whipped cream and nuts. Take a kid and a couple friends to the ice cream parlor and you are out $30 or more easy. The movies cost $15 or more per ticket for the mandatory 3D showing, not counting snacks and drinks, which are outrageous, before you know it you have spent $100 for a night out at the movies.

      A day at the theme park for 4, 2 kids, 2 adults will easily set you back $200 or more just for admission, that doesn’t include mandatory parking costs or food costs or the cost of extras if you don’t bring your own food or aren’t allowed to bring your own food. You are fleeced even before you get in the place.

      Take a kid to a carnival you have to pay $20 per wristband for ride for a couple hours for a parking lot carnival or you are stuck paying $3-6 PER RIDE here. Its like $3 just to play one game that you can’t win for a minute or 2. I have been to enough carnivals to know that these are the prices here. Now I love carnivals, but I had to stop going because the costs are now exceeding the value, aka there is no value. That $3 ice cream cone from the parlor now turns into a $5-6 ice cream cone at a carnival… These costs are almost worse than shelling out for the park experience.

      I am starting to think video games and netflix are the way to go here… but if I had kids I would have a really hard time finding affordable entertainment options for them.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      A movie costs $12 and last 2-3 hours. For $50-75 you can spend the entire day at the park and never not be entertained. Yes there are lines at many rides, but the little kid stuff is generally short lines and there’s more non-line attractions for them as well.

      I’m not saying the price isn’t inflated, but it’s also not completely out of touch for the entertainment level you actually get.

      • technoreaper says:

        It’s because of people like you that the costs are out of control. You and many other Americans need to be careful about your personal finances. I know what’s coming, “I can afford it, I have a great job, I’m better than you, you need to get a better job and stop being a bum, blah blah.” Don’t come whining to me when you can’t pay your bills and go under after you lose your job or the market goes down like you did last time then.

  14. daemonaquila says:

    Craziness. There is no theme park that’s remotely worth the exorbitant cost… and the parking fees… and BS like thumbprint scanning or other methods they use to try to make sure not one single person swaps tickets/season passes. Why yes, paying through the nose to spend 20 minutes on rides and 6 hours waiting in line is such a great way to spend a day.

    But in a culture that still shops at Best Buy, watches the Kardashians, and puts up with the TSA and airline gotcha fees, no surprise that people are still shelling out their hard-earned cash for this crud.