The TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) and AECOM Global Attendance Report is back! Last year, we discussed every European park and their 2015 attendance ranking. The results of 2016 are in and 5 European parks are in the World’s top 25. What changes did we see with last year’s new theme park attractions? Let’s have a look at the 20 most attended in Europe!
2016 had a slightly decreased number of people visiting the top 20 European parks as one million people less than 2015 went to enjoy these theme park thrills. This brings the number back to 60.5 million which is still quite a good number. But how did the top 20 shift?
20 Tivoli Gröna Lund (Stockholm, Sweden)
Tivoli Gröna Lund remains one of the most popular parks in Scandinavia. As a Stockholm attraction, theme park fans can’t avoid it at all. Numbers are up once more for this park with an increase of 3.4% to 1,500,000 visitors a year. This without a real new ride for 2016, so we’re curious for next year’s results with the addition of the special drop ride Ikaros! By the way, don’t forget that this park is only open for a limited time from May to September so definitely an impressive park.
19 Heide Park (Soltau, Germany)
Heidi Park opened a new themed area last year around ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. This resulted in an increased attendance by 1% to 1,545,000 visitors in 2016. They did experience some problems as Colossus is still closed, but nevertheless this investement for families did boost the numbers slightly. This year, they opened their new dark ride with a Ghost Buster theme. Will that ride keep the numbers going up?
18 Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington, United Kingdom)
Animals remained the key focus for Chessington in 2016. Pandamonium highlighted the panda’s and besides that, a high rope course was installed. In the end, this resulted in 30,000 visitors more than the year before, bringing the number to 1,670,000 in 2016. It was also the final year to experience the well-known darkride Bubble Workx as now, it’s has changed to the Gruffalo dark ride.
17 Thorpe Park (Chertsey, United Kingdom)
Here’s the first change in the top 20: Thorpe Park. It’s down from a shared 14th place to number 17 as attendance remained status quo with 1,800,000 guests. Unfortunately, the investment in Derren Brown’s Ghost Train did not bring any attendance increase, but this year is round 2 with a new improved version of the ride. In 2015, they were down with more than 11 % so they will need to find a way to bring the numbers up again.
16 Parque Warner (Madrid, Spain)
The park which had the most growth in attendance numbers this year is once again Parque Warner. A 9.7 % increase bringing total attendance up to 1,800,000 visitors. This brings them up one spot and this without major investment. The rumors of the Justice League dark ride were incorrect, but they did focus on their super hero characters by installing new meet ‘n’ greets and shows. Also the water park remains an important focus, which will expand this year. Madrid is apparently also increasing it’s number of tourists, which is good news for the park as it deserves to grow.
15 Parc Astérix (Plailly, France)
A status quo for Parc Astérix on all levels. Number 15 (as last year’s 14th position was shared) and 1,850,000 visitors. They invested in an impressively themed Disk’o Coaster last year but attendance remained the same. Parc Astérix is definitely a must-do theme park in Europe but it has one problem: too busy. Of my three visits so far, during all of them the park was packed. Luckily they are investing heavily to keep increasing the capacity of the park. Curious to see how well this year’s family focused coaster will be received.
14 Futuroscope (Jaunay-Clan, France)
Bravo Futuroscope for another year of increased attendance. 2016 brought an extra 5.6% guests to the park, putting the number at 1,900,000 visitors. Futuroscope keeps investing and renewing, which is important for a park of that type. They had many new films playing in their theatres plus impressive new shows. It works for the French and I’m sure this year will be better once more as they are celebrating their 30th anniversary.
13 Alton Towers (Staffordshire, United Kingdom)
Alton Towers is slightly recovering from the incident in 2015 as attendance increased again with 2.9% bringing it just under 2,000,000 guests. It is still 600,000 guests less than 2014 but these things take time of course. The Smiler reopened in 2016 and the focus was on VR with Air turning into Galactica. Next to that, they opened a Rollercoaster restaurant similar to the one in Europa-Park. Hopefully with Secret Weapon 8 next year, they will be back in the game as one of Europe’s leading parks.
12 Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
What can we say about Phantasialand? The 2,000,000 is very very close. 5,000 guests more is all they need for 2017. This theme park is stepping up their game every time and the investments in Klugheim were without a doubt the main reason for the 5.0 % increase. Of course such a major investement will also help for 2017. Taron is one of the best coasters in Europe for sure so you can’t miss out on this park. Lucky for us, they are already planning a brand new unique attraction once more for the future!
11 Legoland Billund (Billund, Denmark)
Lego remained hot in 2016, which resulted in a 2.0% increase for the original Legoland. The investment in the dark ride Ninjago, which is being installed in Lego parks all over the world, was a success. The Danish park kept it’s position that way. As it’s the original park, you have to pay a visit to this park, especially if you’re also a Lego fan!
10 Legoland Windsor (Windsor, United Kingdom)
Close to the original Lego park, is the one in the United Kingdom. Here unfortunately we have one of the decreased attendance numbers as there was a fallback of 3%. A bit bizar, as they celebrated their 20th birthday last year and usually those celebration years are quite good for attendance. The new ‘ride’ was a 4D movie of the Lego Movie, but apparently those films don’t work anymore as novelty.
9 Puy Du Fou (Les Epesses, France)
As you may know or not know, Puy Du Fou is all about shows. The French love this and this resulted in yet again an impressive 8.3 % increase of attendance. Total amount of guests in 2016: 2,220,000! Le Dernier Panache was a brand new spectacular set in the 18th Century with a turning theater, giving an extra dimension! That way, they climbed up in the top 10 ladder and still remain the number 2 theme park destination in France.
8 Gardaland (Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy)
1.1% more visitors for Gardaland keeps them on number 8 in Europe. 2,880,000 guests found their way to the theme park near the lake of Garda. The 2016 investment was a new coaster themed to Kungfu Panda, which was a great addition for families. Merlin can be pleased with this park, as it keeps on growing plus it’s their most succesful park in Europe at the moment!
7 Liseberg (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Last year’s attendance was a bit overestimated by the TEA index. In 2016 they did get 3,070,000 guests which is a slight increase of 0.6%. They kept investing in thrills with a Sky Roller which was put in a renewed garden area. Families however were not forgotten as they added a carousel as well. As they target a broad public, they are well on their way to reach Europe’s top 5. Especially with the Dive coaster that will open next year!
6 Port Aventura (Salou, Spain)
No new rides in 2016 as they were building the second gate of the resort. Yet again, they increased attendance with 50,000 guests, bringing the total to 3,650,000. The goal is of course 4,000,000 for the future with the new theme park Ferrari Land that opened this year. The sunny skies in Salou will keep the guests flowing to Port Aventura World. And Shambala of course!
5 Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen, Denmark)
We already talked about it in last year’s overview and we were right. The park is down in the top 5 as other European parks had a larger growth. A side note for one of those parks is that last year’s numbers were incorrect so Tivoli Gardens actually went from 4 to 5. Tivoli Gardens opened Fata Morgana, a triple ride experience for all ages. Unfortunately, they had a 2% decrease to 4,733,000 guests which is still impressive with the park’s limited opening times during the year.
4 Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands)
Efteling had more visitors last year than Tivoli Gardens! The Baron 1898 effect was also active in 2016 as the park grew once more! 4,764,000 visitors in total, an increase of 1.8 %! No new rides were opened but they added the new fairytale Pinocchio in their world famous fairytale forest. This year they will not only open their biggest investment ever, but a third accomodation opened last week as well. Excellent gifts for their 65th birthday!
3 Walt Disney Studios (Marne-La-Vallée, France)
Last year’s numbers were adapted: 5,050,000 guests. This year, they had a decrease to 4,970,000. Normal? Yes, Disneyland Paris had a lot of construction going on in the resort. Not so much in the Studios, on the contrary! The biggest novelty could be found in this park: the new show Mickey and the Magician. An award winning show that showed a wind of change for the whole resort.
2 Europa-Park (Rust, Germany)
Ah, Europa-Park! What a resort! The Mack family is inspiring for the whole theme park sector as yet again they won the title of best theme park in the world! Number for 2016: 5,600,000 guests! That’s 100,000 more than their celebration year 2015. They opened a new ‘country’ as Ireland was added. It’s actually a revamp of the former Children’s Paradise area, which brought the coaster total to 13! This year they also invested in their most expensive ride ever so looking forward to the 2017 results.
1 Disneyland Park (Marne-La-Vallée, France)
No surprises for Europe’s number 1: a decrease. The park had a lot of construction fences and Paris had less tourists in general due to the terrorist attacks. This made attendance drop with 14.2% to 8,400,000 guests. The decrease is even larger if we compare with the published results from last year as there they were still above the 10,000,000 line. Because of that, they even left the world’s top 10 attendance. Luckily, help is on their way as the Walt Disney Company is waiting to take over. We will soon know if they will have the full control or if it will take them a bit longer. One thing’s certain, this year’s result should be much better with the 25th celebration going strong.
Europe as a whole
Conclusion: Some parks did very well, others had a very hard time. Congrats mostly to Parque Warner, Futuroscope, Phantasialand and Puy De Fou. They each have their own way and strategy to attract more guests. Disneyland Paris needs saving desperatly once more, but that should be arranged in the coming years. For all the results, including the world wide results, just click here.
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