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]