Attractions industry news

17 May 2018

Theme Index: Success in Europe as waterpark attendance tops 30 million

Waterpark attendance has for the first time broken 30 million visitors among the world's top 20, with particularly strong performance in some of Europe's top waterparks, according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index.

A collaboration of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the economics practice at AECOM, the 12th TEA/AECOM Theme Index is an annual study of global attractions attendance, looking at theme parks, theme park groups, waterparks and museums.

Across the world’s top 20 most-visited waterparks, attendance increased 1.6 per cent between 2016 and 2017 – breaking the 30 million visitor barrier for the first time in the report's history.

Chimelong in Guangzhou, China, retains the title of world’s most-attended waterpark, with a 6 per cent increase year-on-year, up from 2.5 million visitors in 2016 to 2.7 million in 2017. Making its debut on the list is Orlando's Volcano Bay, as the Universal waterpark ranked sixth with 1.5 million visitors in its first year. The largest attendance rise came for 16th-ranked Siam Park on the Canary Islands, which recorded a 20.9 per cent, 200,000 visitor rise to 1.2 million visitors in 2017.

In Latin America, waterpark visits totalled 9.9 million visitors, raising expectations that 2018 will for the first time see that region cross over the 10 million mark. While there were increases at several properties in Brazil, last year's earthquake in Central Mexico led to declines, particularly for Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Oaxtepec – a newly acquired and renovated Six Flags water park operating in its inaugural season.

For the EMEA market, overall attendance was up 3.2 per cent to 9.6 million, though visitation in the Middle East declined. According to the report, this drop was due to "the significant increase in competition for leisure time and spend" in the region, which has had an impact across the board in that area, felt by the region's most visited – Dubai's Aquaventure – which declined 5.6 per cent to 1.35 million visits.

In addition to the success of Siam Park, in Europe, Prague's Aquapalace in the Czech Republic has had an excellent year, increasing its attendance by 18.8 per cent to 1.2 million visitors. Therme Erding in Germany is Europe's most visited waterpark, with numbers up 6 per cent to 1.3 million. This does not include an additional 500,000 visitors who paid to enter Therme's spa so as to make an equitable waterpark comparison on an international basis.

The top 20 waterparks in the US suffered this year, with a 2.9 per cent decline equating to 500,000 visitors lost. Down to 15.3 million among the top operators, the results, says the report, were driven by lack of re-investment to drive new traffic at some parks, and bad weather plaguing others – with many forced to close due to severe storms such as Hurricane Harvey.

In the theme park realm, Disney continues to be the world's top dog, gaining close to 10 million additional visitors through the year. For more, click here.

To read the full TEA/AECOM Theme Index click here.

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