Skift Take

Good news for Asian theme parks in this report and dismal news for SeaWorld.

With a surge in theme park attendance in Asia, Tokyo Disneyland has surpassed Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., as the second-most-popular theme park in the world.

Attendance at Tokyo Disneyland jumped 15.9 percent in 2013 to 17.2 million visitors, surpassing the original Disneyland, which had tepid growth of 1.5 percent to 16.2 million visitors, according to an annual estimate from Aecom, a Los Angeles consulting firm.

The world’s most popular theme park remained Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, with 18.6 million visitors in 2013, up 6 percent from 2012, according to Aecom.

Overall, theme-park attendance in North America grew 2.7 percent in 2013, according to the estimate by Aecom and the Themed Entertainment Association, a trade group for designers and artists.

Most theme-park operators don’t disclose attendance numbers but concede that Aecom’s estimates are very accurate.

The most dramatic growth in attendance came at theme parks in Asia. In addition to the 15.9 percent attendance boost at Tokyo Disneyland, the report estimates an 11.3 percent increase in attendance at Tokyo Disney Sea, a 4.1 percent increase at Universal Studios Japan, a 10.4 percent increase at Hong Kong Disneyland and a 15.9 percent jump at Lotte World in South Korea.

In Southern California, Disneyland remained the most popular theme park, followed by Disney California Adventure, which hosted 8.5 million visitors, up 9.5 percent from 2012. The report attributed the growth to the popularity of the park’s Cars Land attraction, which opened in June 2012.

Universal Studios Hollywood had 6.1 million visitors, a 4 percent increase, the report said.

Meanwhile, attendance dropped 5 percent at SeaWorld Orlando (Fla.) and 3 percent at SeaWorld San Diego as those parks grappled with criticism from animal-rights groups over the treatment of the killer whales used in daily shows. SeaWorld has attributed the decline to an increase in entrance fees last year.

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Tags: disney, theme parks, tokyo

Photo credit: Disney character Mickey Mouse performs atop a float during a parade at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu. Reuters

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