SANDUSKY — Attendance at amusement parks in North America grew a modest 2.3 percent in 2017, buoyed by sharp growth at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, where Pandora -The World of Avatar, which opened last year, continues to draw large crowds.
Attendance at Ohio’s Cedar Point was flat in 2017, while Kings Island saw a 2.5 percent increase in guests, due largely to the debut of new roller coaster Mystic Timbers.
The numbers are included in a recent report issued by the Themed Entertainment Association, an industry trade group. Most amusement park companies, including Disney and Cedar Fair, don’t release attendance figures for individual parks. TEA estimates its numbers using information from park operators, historical data, financial reports, banking industry and tourism organizations.
Separate from the TEA report, Cedar Fair announced this week that attendance at its 11 parks through July 8 is down 3 percent. Cedar Point spokesman Tony Clark declined to say whether attendance at Cedar Point, the company’s flagship park, is down this year.
Any drop in attendance at Cedar Point would be a big surprise, given the debut this year of Steel Vengeance, a highly-anticipated new roller coaster that has earned strong reviews from coaster enthusiasts.
In a statement, Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said: “Although early-season attendance at our seasonal parks through this past weekend has not met our expectations, we are encouraged by the positive guest response to our new rides and attractions, in particular our new coasters Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point and Hang Time at Knott’s Berry Farm.”
He added that although attendance and net revenues are down, both in-park and out-of-park spending is up, thanks in part to new hotels, including an addition to Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers that opened this year.