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US Theme Parks market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Theme Parks market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel uses the terms “theme park” and “amusement park” synonymously. Both terms refer to a commercially operated park that offers rides, games, and other forms of live entertainment in exchange for an admission fee. National parks, nature reserves, and other municipally operated amusements, such as zoos, museums, and aquariums, are not included in this definition.

Mintel uses the following terms throughout the Report:

  • Theme park visit: any visit to a theme park in the past three years
  • Theme park vacation: a visit to a theme park as part of a multiday vacation
  • Theme park visitor: a person who has been to a theme park in the past three years
  • Theme park vacationer: a person who has visited a theme park as part of a multiday vacation

The Report includes analysis of “destination” as well as “regional” theme parks.

Destination parks

For the purposes of this Report, “destination” parks are described as parks that attract visitors from around the world; they are full of attractions and invest heavily in advertising and promotion across the US. These parks have multiple lodging choices on and off park property.

Destination parks include: Busch Gardens, Disneyland, Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios.

Regional parks

“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.

The Report builds on analysis presented in Theme Parks – US, April 2017. Readers may also be interested in other Reports in Mintel’s travel library including Family Vacations – US, February 2018 and Outdoor Vacations – US, April 2018.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Poelking, a leading analyst in the Leisure & Media sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Driven by an excited core audience willing to pay for admissions prices and beyond, theme parks are expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Still, theme park vacations face stiff competition from other vacation types. Theme parks can work to differentiate themselves by focusing on what sets them apart: rides and attractions. Family is also important, but not everything when it comes to a theme park visit. John Poelking
Leisure & Media Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Destination parks
          • Regional parks
          • Executive Summary

            • Overview
              • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2012-22
            • The issues
              • Vacation competition tough
                • Figure 2: Dream vacations, January 2018
              • Spending on necessities, not extras
                • Figure 3: Theme park trip purchases, January 2018
              • Share of visitors steady
                • Figure 4: Adults’ and teens’ past 12 month theme park visitation, kids’ theme park visitation incidence, 2013-17
              • The opportunities
                • Looking to spend more on travel
                  • Figure 5: Where extra money is spent, November 2017
                • Reaching the same demos, no matter the circumstances
                  • Figure 6: The theme park visitor and theme park vacationer, by key demographics, January 2018
                • Leveraging natural advantages
                  • Figure 7: Benefits of a theme park vacation, January 2018
                • Visitors like families but not dependent on them
                  • Figure 8: Theme parks and family, January 2018
                • A visit doesn’t need to be the same
                  • Figure 9: Attitudes toward theme park visits, January 2018
                • What it means
                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                  • Strong growth ahead
                    • Experience, family crucial to travel
                      • Opportunities among core theme park audience
                      • Market Size and Forecast

                        • Price increases drive strong growth for theme parks
                          • Figure 10: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2012-22
                          • Figure 11: Total US sales and forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2012-22
                      • Market Perspective

                        • Vacation and tourism on the rise
                          • Families looking to relax, try new things on vacation
                            • Mobile tech essential to travel
                              • Experiential travel informing accommodations market
                              • Market Factors

                                • Getting influential iGens, Millennials on board
                                  • Figure 12: Share of population, by generation, 2018
                                • Family median income recovering after recession
                                  • Figure 13: Median household income of families with related children, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2006-16
                                • “Baby bust” leading to fewer households with children
                                  • Figure 14: Share of households, by presence of related children, 2007-17
                                • Spending more on travel
                                  • Figure 15: Where extra money is spent, November 2017
                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                • Slow attendance, high revenue
                                  • Investments in the tried and true
                                    • Consequences of disasters resonate
                                      • New tech excites
                                      • Leading Theme Parks Overview

                                        • Ticket prices drive revenue
                                          • Destination parks dominate
                                            • Regional parks on the rise
                                              • Figure 16: Annual revenues of major parks 2017 and percentage growth 2016-17
                                          • What’s Working?

                                            • The cornerstone of theme park development: IP
                                              • Finding revenue in familiar places
                                                • Rising ticket prices improve top line growth
                                                  • Some shows cost extra
                                                    • Selling the most valuable experience
                                                      • Figure 17: Universal Studios “Enjoy So Much Fun For So Little” direct mail advertisement, January 2017
                                                      • Figure 18: Disney “Enjoy Another Stay In The Middle Of The Magic” direct mail advertisement, October 2017
                                                    • Advancing foodservice to gourmet status
                                                      • Partnerships make engagement easier
                                                      • What’s Struggling?

                                                        • Responding to crisis
                                                          • Hurricane season takes its toll
                                                            • Power outage loses trust
                                                              • SeaWorld continues to struggle
                                                              • What’s Next?

                                                                • The joys of alternative realities
                                                                  • Virtual lines have potential, but still face challenges
                                                                    • Always more characters to explore
                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                      • Parks should work to recapture visitors
                                                                        • Visitors and vacationers cover similar ground
                                                                          • Websites still a popular source of info
                                                                            • Highlighting the uniqueness
                                                                              • Spending on necessities
                                                                                • Family an integral component
                                                                                  • Variety can come from repeat visits
                                                                                    • New, transformative vacations sought by visitors
                                                                                      • Segmentation highlights targeted opportunities
                                                                                      • Theme Park Visitation

                                                                                        • Key opportunity
                                                                                          • Theme park vacations sit in the middle of other vacations
                                                                                            • Figure 19: Types of vacations taken, January 2018
                                                                                          • Attendance steady over the years
                                                                                            • Figure 20: Adults’ and teens’ past 12 month theme park visitation, kids’ theme park visitation incidence, 2013-17
                                                                                          • Destination theme parks dominate vacation space
                                                                                            • Figure 21: Theme park visitation, January 2018
                                                                                          • Theme park visitor and vacationer similar
                                                                                            • Figure 22: The theme park visitor and theme park vacationer, by key demographics, January 2018
                                                                                        • Theme Park Preparation

                                                                                          • Key opportunity
                                                                                            • Websites are the most popular destination for information
                                                                                              • Figure 23: Theme park preparation, January 2018
                                                                                            • Validation, information important to young visitors
                                                                                              • Figure 24: Theme park preparation – Select items, by age, January 2018
                                                                                            • Parents want the updates
                                                                                              • Figure 25: Theme park preparation – Select items, by parental status, January 2018
                                                                                          • Benefits of a Theme Park Vacation

                                                                                            • Key opportunity
                                                                                              • Theme parks face stiff competition
                                                                                                • Figure 26: Dream vacations, January 2018
                                                                                              • Attractions, rides are the biggest selling points
                                                                                                • Figure 27: Benefits of a theme park vacation, January 2018
                                                                                              • Thrills make way for shows as visitors age
                                                                                                • Figure 28: Benefits of a theme park vacation – Select items, by age, January 2018
                                                                                              • Parents want relaxed fun for all
                                                                                                • Figure 29: Benefits of a theme park vacation – Select items, by parental status, January 2018
                                                                                            • Theme Park Reservations and Purchases

                                                                                              • Key opportunity
                                                                                                • Visitors do not want to spend more than they need
                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Theme park trip purchases, January 2018
                                                                                                • Hotel partnerships could appeal to visitors
                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Theme park trip reservations, January 2018
                                                                                                • Older visitors want the spectacle of a theme hotel
                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Theme park trip reservations, by age, January 2018
                                                                                              • Theme Parks and Family

                                                                                                • Key opportunity
                                                                                                  • Family is important, but not everything
                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Theme parks and family, January 2018
                                                                                                  • Young visitors open to going with different groups
                                                                                                    • Figure 34: Theme parks and family – Select items, by age, January 2018
                                                                                                • Attitudes toward Theme Park Visits

                                                                                                  • Key opportunity
                                                                                                    • There’s always an opportunity to see more
                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Attitudes toward theme park visits, January 2018
                                                                                                    • Parents managing expectations for visits
                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Attitudes toward theme park visits – Select items, by parental status, January 2018
                                                                                                    • Spending more to see more
                                                                                                      • Figure 37: Attitudes toward theme park trip satisfaction, by annual household income, January 2018
                                                                                                  • Attitudes toward Vacation Experiences

                                                                                                    • Key opportunity
                                                                                                      • New is always better
                                                                                                        • Figure 38: Attitudes toward vacation experiences, January 2018
                                                                                                      • Deeper connections sought by young theme park visitors
                                                                                                        • Figure 39: Attitudes toward vacation experiences, by age, January 2018
                                                                                                    • Consumer Segmentation

                                                                                                        • Factors
                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Theme park visitor segments, January 2018
                                                                                                          • Family Fanatics (39%)
                                                                                                            • Demographics
                                                                                                              • Characteristics
                                                                                                                • Opportunities
                                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Theme park visitor segments – Family Fanatics, by demographics, January 2018
                                                                                                                  • Involved Independents (31%)
                                                                                                                    • Demographics
                                                                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                                                                        • Opportunities
                                                                                                                          • Figure 42: Theme park visitor segments – Involved Independents, by demographics, January 2018
                                                                                                                        • Childless Crusaders (30%)
                                                                                                                          • Demographics
                                                                                                                            • Characteristics
                                                                                                                              • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 43: Theme park visitor segments – Childless Crusaders, by demographics, January 2018
                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                • Data sources
                                                                                                                                  • Sales data
                                                                                                                                    • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                                                      • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                        • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                              • Terms
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 44: Total US sales and forecast of theme parks, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2012-22