ORLANDO, Fla. — Athough theme park attendance has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, Florida theme parks made significant gains in 2021, according to the annual report from TEA/AECOM. 

What You Need To Know

  • The theme parks continue their recovery from the pandemic

  • TEA/AECOM has released the annual theme index report which estimates attendance at the parks

  • Parks made significant gains in 2021 compared to 2020, and Universal parks surpasses some Disney World parks

  • FULL REPORT: TEA/AECOM 2021 Theme Index and Museum Index

The TEA/AECOM Theme Index, released Friday, shows how Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld parks fared in 2021 after low attendance numbers in 2020, which saw months-long closures and operational restrictions.

"The region’s hub of Orlando, Florida, home to many of our list’s top operators, successfully welcomed back visitors anxious to return to the parks while still navigating COVID precautions and reduced international travel,” senior vice president of AECOM John Robinett said in the report.

To come up with the figures in the report, researchers pulled from multiple sources to include numbers supplied by park operators, financial reports and tourism organizations. Most theme park operators do not release attendance figures to the public. Also, due to different operating conditions at parks depending on the country or state, TEA/AECOM did not re-rank the parks from their 2019 order. The report also lists the new attendance estimates from 2021 alongside 2020 numbers.

Magic Kingdom kept its status as the most-visited park in the world with an estimated 12.7 million visitors, an increase of 83% over 2020’s estimated 6.9 million visitors, according to the report. In 2019, TEA/AECOM estimated that Magic Kingdom had 21 million visitors.

As for other Florida parks, Universal made significant gains, with two of its parks surpassing three of Disney World’s parks in attendance, according to the report. Universal’s Islands of Adventure had an estimated attendance of 9.1 million last year, followed closely behind by Universal Studios Florida with an estimated 9 million visitors.

Both Universal parks topped Disney’s Hollywood Studios with an estimated 8.6 million visitors, EPCOT with an estimated 7.8 million visitors and Disney’s Animal Kingdom with an estimated 7.2 million visitors.

SeaWorld Orlando's attendance was 3.1 million, while Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's was 3.2 million. 

Attendance numbers for Legoland Florida are not listed in the report.

To view the full report, click here.

For many in the industry, 2021 was seen as a year of recovery as the parks worked toward returning to pre-pandemic operations by lifting restrictions, bringing back suspended offerings and opening new attractions. 

In Central Florida, Islands of Adventure debuted Jurassic World VelociCoaster in June, while Universal Studios brought back its popular Halloween Horror Nights event that fall. Meanwhile, Disney World continued with its phased reopening plan by reopening more of its resort hotels, lifting more restrictions and kicking off its 50th anniversary celebration. 


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