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Theme parks are a popular leisure destination with almost half of American adults having made a visit in the past three years.
Families are the core demographic, with higher visitation rates and in-park spending, and theme parks are investing in ways to attract kid, teen, and adult family members. This includes introducing new attractions built around popular movie characters, developing technological solutions to address pain points, and creating buzz around special events to give visitors a reason to return.
For the purposes of this Report, Mintel uses the terms “theme park” and “amusement park” synonymously. Both terms refer to a commercially operated park which offers rides, games, and other forms of live entertainment in exchange for an admission fee.
The report includes analysis of “destination” as well as “regional” theme parks. For the purposes of this report, “destination” parks are described as parks which attract visitors from around the world; they are full attractions unto themselves and invest heavily in advertising and promotion across the US.

“Regional” parks generally attract visitors from local areas, have a single park location, do not offer lodgings on park property, and do not advertise outside of their region. Regional parks include: Cedar Point, Dollywood, Hersheypark, Kings Island, Six Flags, Legoland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and other local amusement parks.


What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

          • The issues
            • Revenue generation the result of increases in attendance and guest spend
              • Figure 1: Top 20 theme parks in North America, percent change in attendance, 2012-13
            • Reputation management essential
              • Figure 2: Very important theme park attributes, February 2015
            • Attractions linked to popular media characters come with built-in audience
              • The opportunities
                • Invest in attractions for family members of all ages
                  • Figure 3: Adults’ and teens’ past 12 month theme park visitation, kids' theme parks visitation incidence, 2008-14
                • Incorporate technology to streamline guest experience
                  • Figure 4: Most recent theme park visit – purchase/use - technology, February 2015
                • Strategic use of popular media characters provides continued returns
                  • What it means
                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                    • Parks benefit from improving economy and increased population diversity
                      • Attendance and per capita spending increases at parks
                        • Disney leads the market in size and growth
                          • Dip in 6-11 age group may dampen park attendance
                            • Favorable conditions for domestic travel drives growth for parks
                            • Market Size and Forecast

                              • Strong growth predicted to continue
                                • Figure 5: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2009-19
                              • Theme park growth outpaces adjacent markets
                                • Figure 6: Total US revenues and forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2009-19
                              • Market influenced by increased DPI and reduced PSAVERT
                                • Figure 7: Disposable personal income and personal saving rate, January 2005-January 2015
                            • Market Breakdown

                              • Per capita guest spend crucial to overall market health
                                • Figure 8: Percentage change in attendance and per capita spending for major parks, 2011-13
                              • Disney leads theme park market in revenues
                                • Figure 9: Annual revenues ($ millions), 2013 and percent change 2012-13
                              • The virtuous circle of movies and theme parks
                              • Market Perspective

                                • Almost all travel sectors experiencing growth
                                  • Figure 10: Total and US vacations and tourism market value growth, 2009-14 (estimate), 2014-19 (forecast)
                                • Inbound international travel up, but may taper in 2015
                                  • Figure 11: International visits to the US, 1999-2014
                              • Market Factors

                                • Increasing diversity in the US drives attendance
                                  • Figure 12: Past three year theme park visit, February 2015; population change, 2015-20, by race/Hispanic origin
                                • VMT per capita predicted to increase in 2015
                                  • Decline in 6-11 age group may dampen attendance rates
                                    • Figure 13: US population <18, by age, 2015 versus 2020
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Major theme parks see growth in attendance and guest spending
                                    • Disney leads the pack in theme park attendance
                                      • Tiered pricing and season passes drive revenues
                                        • Negative PR has lasting effects for SeaWorld
                                          • New attractions keep guests coming back
                                            • IP continues to drive park visits
                                            • Overview of Leading Brands

                                              • Major theme park brands see increases in attendance and revenues
                                                • Figure 14: Top 20 theme parks in North America, by attendance, 2013
                                                • Figure 15: Top 20 theme parks in North America, percent change in attendance, 2012-13
                                            • Attributes of Leading Brands

                                              • Leading brands are considered exciting, innovative – but overpriced
                                                • Disney Parks thought to be “one of the best park brands”
                                                  • Universal Studios is associated with innovation
                                                    • Six Flags stands out as an affordable park
                                                      • SeaWorld and Legoland have less broad appeal compared with other park brands
                                                        • Figure 16: Correspondence Analysis – Theme park brand attributes, February 2015
                                                        • Figure 17: Theme park brand attributes, February 2015
                                                    • What’s Working

                                                      • Tiered pricing strategies increase revenues
                                                        • Season pass memberships smooth uneven attendance
                                                          • New waterparks enter the market
                                                            • Designers create taller, faster, steeper rides for thrill seekers
                                                              • New arrivals
                                                                • Coming soon
                                                                  • Parks offer seasonal entertainment beyond fixed attractions
                                                                  • Facing Challenges

                                                                    • Brand reputation suffers in light of negative press
                                                                      • Social media campaigns amplify public sentiment
                                                                        • Measles outbreak at Disneyland prompts parental concerns
                                                                        • What’s Next

                                                                          • Parks attract guests with roller coaster/dark ride combos
                                                                            • Mobile payment systems reduce friction in purchasing
                                                                              • Strategic use of pop culture characters drives theme park market
                                                                                • Immersive experiences create new worlds for guests to explore
                                                                                  • Parks find new ways to manage crowds
                                                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Families are key target
                                                                                      • Park reputation crucial in decision to visit
                                                                                        • In-park food and beverage are likely purchases
                                                                                          • Adult-centric activities may drive future growth
                                                                                          • Theme Park Visitation

                                                                                            • Families with children aged 6-11 are key demographic
                                                                                              • Figure 18: Past three year theme park visitation, by presence and age of children in household, February 2015
                                                                                            • Visitation among adults and kids relatively steady, improves among teens
                                                                                              • Figure 19: Adults’ and teens’ past 12 month theme park visitation, kids' theme parks visitation incidence, 2008-14
                                                                                            • Teens visit with family or friends
                                                                                              • Figure 20: Theme park companions of teens, November 2013- December 2014
                                                                                          • Planning a Theme Park Trip

                                                                                            • Destination parks spur longer vacations
                                                                                              • Figure 21: Duration of most recent theme park trip, by destination and regional park type, February 2015
                                                                                            • Trip planning likely handled by one person
                                                                                              • Figure 22: Theme park trip planning responsibility, February 2015
                                                                                            • Theme park website is a valuable resource for trip planning
                                                                                              • Destination travelers more engaged in pre-trip research
                                                                                                • Figure 23: Theme park trip planning process, by destination versus regional parks, February 2015
                                                                                              • Destination trip planners consider co-located parks
                                                                                              • Theme Park Attributes

                                                                                                • Appealing to kids is the most important consideration for parents
                                                                                                  • Admission cost not the primary consideration
                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Very important theme park attributes, February 2015
                                                                                                • Theme Park Purchases and Activities

                                                                                                  • Food and beverage lead in-park spending
                                                                                                    • Ticket packages and annual passes are popular options
                                                                                                      • Families more likely to spend
                                                                                                        • Destination park visitors investing in multi-day tickets
                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Most recent theme park visit – purchase/use – food/beverage, tickets, February 2015
                                                                                                        • Mobile payment systems may increase in-park spending
                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Most recent theme park visit – purchase/use – activities, souvenir, technology, February 2015
                                                                                                        • Strong interest in adult-centric activities points to opportunity
                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Preferred vacation activities for adults, November 2013-December 2014
                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                        • Data sources
                                                                                                          • Market size and forecast
                                                                                                            • Key players
                                                                                                              • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                      • Terms
                                                                                                                      • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Total US revenues and forecast of theme parks, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: Theme park visitation, adults, teens, and kids, 2008-14
                                                                                                                      • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Kids’ action figures, November 2013- December 2014
                                                                                                                          • Figure 31: Kids’ influence on vacation choices, restaurants on vacation, and vacation activities, November 2013- December 2014
                                                                                                                          • Figure 32: Preferred vacation activities, November 2013- December 2014

                                                                                                                      About the report

                                                                                                                      This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                      • The Consumer

                                                                                                                        What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                      • The Competitors

                                                                                                                        Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                      • The Market

                                                                                                                        Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                      • The Innovations

                                                                                                                        New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                      • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                        Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                      • The Trends

                                                                                                                        What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                      Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

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