Top 20 European Parks of 2015

TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) and AECOM published the Global Attendance Report of 2015 recently. An excellent time to have a look at the latest ranking of the European parks and more.

Overall, 2015 seems to be a good year when looking at the attendance figures in Europe. Only two of the twenty parks had a decrease compared to 2014. The different parks remain unchanged, but the order has shifted quite a bit. Let’s count down from twenty to one!

20 Tivoli Gröna Lund (Stockholm, Sweden)

With seven coasters, quite some thrill rides, dark rides and more, Tivoli Gröna Lund is one of the most popular parks in Scandinavia. Moreover, it’s in the heart of Stockholm and also hosts a lot of concerts througout the year. According to this years report, attandance increased from 1,311,000 visitors in 2014 to 1,461,000 visitors in 2015. This increase of 11.4% is one of the largest increases of all the European parks this year. Their new attraction in 2015 was House of Nightmares, a horror experience developed together with the Sally Corporation.

19 Heide Park (Soltau, Germany)

One of the many Merlin parks in the top 20 is Heide Park in Germany. With several top coasters such as Flüg der Damonen, Krake, Colossus and Desert Race, it attracts quite some guests each year.  They increased attendance with 3.4% by going from 1,475,000 visitors to 1,525,000. In 2015 they opened a swimming pool at their Port Royal hotel and a driving school for children at the park. They also contacted IMAscore to make music for the park and several rides. Listen to previews below!

18 Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington, United Kingdom)

2015 was the year of the Penguins at Chessington World of Adventures. An exclusive live show was introduced with the Penguins of Madagascar. Next to that, a walk-through experience and a rethemed penguin ride opened. This resulted in an increase of 2.5% guests, taking the attendance to 1,640,000 which is 40,000 more than the year before.

17 Parque Warner (Madrid, Spain)

The park which had the most growth in attendance numbers this year is Parque Warner. With an impressive increase of 12.4 %, they went from 1,460,000 in 2014 to 1,641,000 guests. They are climbing up the top 20 from the last spot to number 17. So things are going well in the Spanish park. In 2014 they opened a water park which pushed attendance. Besides that, Halloween and Christmas events are attracting more and more guests.  So they attracted quite some new guests without opening a new ride. Instead, they focused on maintenance with paintjobs and a lot of entertainment. In 2017 a new Justice League dark ride should open.

16 Futuroscope (Jaunay-Clan, France)

Futuroscope is a French park without coasters but a lot of interactive dark rides. In 2015 they welcomed 1,800,000 guests to the park. This was an 8.1% increase in comparison to 2014. They had introduced a new show and at the end also a new Ice Age ride. Futuroscope is definitely a park that keeps investing in its future and this reflects in the attendance.

14 Parc Astérix (Plailly, France) and Thorpe Park (Chertsey, United Kingdom)

No number fifteen but a shared fourteenth position. The previous number 15 was Parc Astérix. They slightly increased attendance with 50,000 guests. No new rides but a new show and quite some maintenance was done last year. Parc Astérix remains a busy park, especially in the weekends, summer and Halloween. It keeps Disneyland Paris sharp and will invest in a new coaster next year.

The second number fourteen is Thorpe Park, previously at number eleven. It’s one of the two parks that had quite a decrease in attendance. This is obviously due to The Smiler incident last year. Several rides were closed immediatly at both Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. Instead of 2,100,000 visitors, they dropped below the 2 million to 1,850,000. This decrease of 11.9% will hopefully be solved this year with the new exclusive dark ride: ‘Derren Brown’s Ghost Train’. Over the last ten years, the park increased its attendance with 2.8%, so in the end they’re doing well.

13 Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)

Phantasialand probably has the following goal: to return to an attendance of 2 million visitors. They are on their way as this year, they welcomed 1,900,000 guests. An increase of 3 % compared to 2014. Chances are that 2016 might be the year as Klugheim will soon open its gates. I mentioned ‘to return’  to 2 million as it is one of the few parks in the top 20 that had a slight decrease over the last ten years. With all the new investments, they’re in the right direction. Phantasialand will probably surprise us even more in the future.

12 Alton Towers (Staffordshire, United Kingdom)

2015 will be a year for Alton Towers to quickly forget. They experienced one of the major coaster accidents in recent history. The Smiler caused a lot of commotion in the United Kingdom because of the victims and the media. Both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park experience a heavy blow. Today, riders can experience the coaster once more. A new secret weapon is on the schedule for next year, which will hopefully help guests forget what happened. How bad was the blow? -25.2% compared to 2014. Attendance dropped to 1,925,000 guests instead of 2,575,000 guests. When looking at the last ten years, due to 2015 they dropped 1.3%. A lot of rides are closed since last year, so we’ll have to wait and see how many people find their way to park.

10 Puy Du Fou (Les Epesses, France) and Legoland Billund (Billund, Denmark)

Puy Du Fou is one of the most unique parks in the list. No coasters and not even rides at all. Only shows, but mindblowing ones. Is there a market for this kind of park? There most certainly is! They went from spot number thirteen to a shared tenth place. An impressive 7.2% increase as attendance went from 1,912,000 to 2,050,000 guests. Every year they introduce a new show and guests can’t get enough from them. In over ten years they increased their numbers their numbers the most of all 20 parks with an excellent 8.7%.

Eventhough Merlin had a backfall with Alton and Thorpe, luckily they also have the Lego parks. Lego is hotter than ever, which can be noticed when looking at the results of the Lego parks. The original one in Billund went up with 6.5% for the second time in a row. The success of the Lego Movie remains and the second one is on its way. They haven’t invested in rides, but this year they will have their biggest investment year.

9 Legoland Windsor (Windsor, United Kingdom)

The new top park in the UK is Legoland Windsor. Just like Billund, the Lego effect is at hand. Another 50,000 new visitors this year. In the last decade they had an increase of 850,000 visitors. The park keeps on growing and is now the most successfull Lego park in Europe. They mostly made small investments in the previous year and this year, a new 4D movie will be playing. Will the bricks remain on top in the UK in the future?

8 Gardaland (Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy)

Number eight is the only Italian park: Gardaland. In 2015 they opened a new B&M drop coaster: Oblivion – The Black Hole. Attendance didn’t drop however, but increased with 3.6%. This year they are building another new coaster in Kungfu Panda theme. The park near the lake of Garda keeps it’s strong position on the European market, but in the last decade there was a slight decrease of 0.8%.

7 Liseberg (Gothenburg, Sweden)

The top park in Sweden remains status quo. The results are identical to last year with an impressive 3,100,000 guests. Last year they opened Mechanica, a thrilling ride by Zierer, but apparently it didn’t have any impact on the attendance. In 2014, they opened Helix, one of the best coasters in Europe according to many fans, which brought an 8.4 increase. But when looking at the last ten years, the coaster brought them back up towards their attendace in 2005, where they had 3,150,000 guests. The park is in good hands and we’ll have to wait and see what they will open in the future.

6 Port Aventura  (Salou, Spain)

20 candles were lit last year for the resort in Spain. In 2015 however, they didn’t have bad numbers at all. 100,000 additional guests towards 2014. This due to a new show with Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna and a first 5 star hotel. But Port Aventura is getting ready for an even bigger year next year. They already introduced their new name: Port Aventura World as a new smaller park is under construction: Ferrari World. No doubt that we’ll see a large increase in 2017 due to the new expected theme park.

5 Walt Disney Studios (Marne-La-Vallée, France)

Time for the top 5 and the parks themselves remain unchanged. The second gate of Disneyland Paris increased their attendance with 4.2% last year. The Ratatouille ride that opened in 2014 is for sure on of the elements of this increase. Compared to other Disney parks around the world, it still remains at the bottom. Yet, the last ten years have been great for the Studios Park. An increase of 7.8% Curious about a more in depth analysis? Just click here to go our Standing Still: 10 years of Disneyland Paris article.

4 Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands)

The only Dutch park on the list and one of the most impressive ones as well. Efteling has a rich history and it keeps expanding. They opened the first B&M Dive coaster in the Benelux last year, which rocketed the attendance to 4,680,000 guests. An increase of 6.8% and more is on it’s way. An impressive new dark ride is on schedule for 2017 or 2018. Next to that, the marketing campaigns are on and the United Kingdom is one of the markets where they hope to attract more visitors from to reach their 5 million goal. The unique atmosphere, impressive rides and well-known fairy-tale forest are a few of the many reasons to visit the park. What are you waiting for? Help them reach the magic 5! And if you haven’t seen their English commercial yet, you really need to click below!

3 Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen, Denmark)

The oldest theme park on the top list is back on track. The ten year results show that in 2005, attendance was at 4,188,000 guests in 2005 and ‘only’ 3,696,000 guests found their way in 2010. Last year however, Tivoli Gardens welcomed 4,733,000 guests, an increase of 5.7 % to the year before and an evolution of 1.2% in the last decade. Last years success was due to the longest summer season ever that the park was open and the improved Friday Rock concerts. The Danish park will need to watch for Efteling if they want to remain in the top 3 since the numbers are very close.

2 Europa-Park (Rust, Germany)

The history books of Europa-Park will definitely put 2015 in as an excellent year. The 40th celebration of the park did not go unnoticed and attracted quite some guests. 10 % more guests as it went to an attendance from 5,000,000 to 5,500,000 guests. A new parade, a new Dome attraction and a lot of festivities led to this incredible result. Europa-Park just has it all: all kinds of rides, the best theme park food out there and beautiful hotels. Actually, it is missing something but construction is already begun on the new swimming paradise that will open in the years to come.

1 Disneyland Park (Marne-La-Vallée, France)

Still the golden spot for the maingate of the Disneyland resort in Paris. With 10,360,000 guests, the park recovered from the loss in 2014 (9,940,000 guests) and went slightly under the results of 2013 (10,430,000). The resort had 14,800,000 guests in total, which is 600,000 more than the year before. Once again, for a full discussion of the last ten year, just click here. No new rides had opened but the Frozen Summer Fun event was a succes for sure. As for the last ten years, Disneyland Park remained pretty much status quo. A logic explanation here is that they did not open any new e-ticket rides in that period of time. So what to do Disneyland Paris… Luckily the whole resort increased attendance of course, thanks to the investments in the Studios.

Europe as a whole

Conclusion: Parks that invest go up. This can either be in a new ride or in maintenance. The report itself mentions that intellectual property from movies or other famous characters is not a must. Creating a unique style can lead up to stunning results like Efteling and Europa-Park. So those that decreased better have a look at the improving ones.

Overall, Europe and the Middle East remain number 3 when it comes to attendance in the world. With 11%, it’s far behind region number one: North America which has a 47% share. The number two however, Asia-Pacific is already at 42% and is expected to become number one in the future. In the top 25 of the world, only the top four parks mentioned to get in. Europe does have some big parks that will probably open in a few years time but it will remain a unique market with parks that are one-of-a-kind. For all the results, including the world wide results, just click here.

cropped-NEW-ECK-logo-Feb-2016-001-Large.jpgThanks so much for reading our Top 20 European Parks of 2015 review. Please keep in mind, all images found on this site, unless otherwise stated, are owned by European Coaster Kings! Sharing them is fine, but only if credit to is given!

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