Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products (formerly Walt Disney Parks & Resorts) had a record year in 2017. Not only did the theme park segment of the Media Conglomerate have its highest theme park attendance growth since TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) began recording data in 2006, but Disney also outgrew Universal for the first time since the Harry Potter era started.
Walt Disney Attractions (how TEA classifies all Disney theme parks worldwide) grew by 6.8%, bettering the 4.4% growth posted by Universal Parks and Resorts.
Reasons for the massive growth from Disney were the openings of Shanghai Disneyland, which welcomed 11,000,000 guests in 2017, Pandora – The World of Avatar in 2017 which assisted Animal Kingdom in growing by 15.5%, and Disneyland Park in Paris with growth of 15%.
Universal, on the other hand, did not open any blockbuster attractions in 2017, which is why only Universal Studios Hollywood experienced double-digit growth. Volcano Bay did open in 2017 and welcomed 1,500,000 guests, but that was not enough to boost the mostly stagnant numbers across Universal’s other parks.
What does this all mean? It might show that the Harry Potter hype has finally died down as double-digit growths at Universal Parks year after year was not possibly sustainable. On the other hand, it might show that Universal Orlando has almost reached its cap, limited by both the number of hotel rooms on property and the size of the two theme parks.
It would be fair to assume that Disney Parks, especially domestically, will continue to outperform Universal in the coming years with all of the lands and attractions opening in the coming years. Toy Story Land should have a moderate impact on Hollywood Studios’ attendance figures for 2018, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge should have an extreme impact on late 2019/2020 figures.
Coupled with the Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy attractions coming to Epcot, Walt Disney World should continue to outperform the growth at Universal Orlando. What remains to be seen is how the newly announced Endless Summer Resort at Universal and the unannounced Nintendo Land (or possible third theme park?) will impact Universal attendance figures.
For more news from Universal Studios and other theme parks around the country, have a sneak peek at our soon-to-be-launched companion site, ThemeParkNewsToday.com!