Universal theme parks are gaining attendees each year, while Disney's parks are losing them.
Disney has a variety of theme parks all over the world, from Disneyland in California to Disney World in Florida, all the way to Tokyo Disneyland. The roller coasters and life-like Disney characters are enough to inspire any 5-year-old to run screaming to their parents so they’ll bring them to Disneyland. However, according to the latest data from the Themed Entertainment Association, attendance at Disney is dropping while their competitors are seeing an uptick in attendees.
In 2022, Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland Park in California had the highest attendance ratings in the world, an impressive feat after the 2020 pandemic cut their attendance down by nearly a third. Since Magic Kingdom and Disneyland opened their doors after the pandemic, their attendance slowly began climbing back up year over year. However, they are still several thousand attendees away from their impressive pre-pandemic attendance level ratings.
Meanwhile, Disney’s theme park competition is climbing the attendance rating charts, with some even exceeding their pre-pandemic attendance levels. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida both landed in the top five most visited theme parks in the world, with Islands of Adventure seeing nearly one thousand attendees more than 2019. Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World both landed in the top ten as well, and their attendance is only a few hundred away from their pre-pandemic levels.
One potential reason for the drop in Disney theme park attendees could be that families simply can’t afford to buy tickets anymore. With prices rising due to inflation, families are struggling to buy groceries, let alone tickets for the whole family. Plus, with new Disney movies flopping left and right, it’s not making the parks as enticing for children.
A standard theme park ticket for Disney World is currently $109, and attendees can only go to one of their four locations (Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park). If attendees want to see all four parks, then they can purchase a 4-Day, 4-Park Magic Ticket for $396 (saving $40). It might not sound too expensive for a single adult, but it could break the bank for a family of five who also needs to purchase airfare, hotel rooms, and food throughout their stay.
A standard ticket for Universal Studios or Islands of Adventures will also cost around $109, or you can get an adult 2-Park, 1-Day Ticket for $164 to bounce between the two theme parks. Both of the Universal parks have upped their game over the past decade by adding the immersive Wizarding World of Harry Potter and expanding their Jurassic Park sections. And while these parks are certainly family-friendly, they offer plenty of attractions for adults, so some families can cut costs by leaving the kiddos at home.
If you’re headed to any of the above theme parks, we recommend trying to find a good deal online so that you can save money for a pint (or two) of Butterbeer at Universal Studios or for drinking around the world at EPCOT.