This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the US theme park vacations market including theme park vacations market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the theme park vacations market in the US.

Current market landscape

Though video games have long been considered solely the purview of kids, 39% of theme park vacationing adults nonetheless say they want to see more video-game related content at theme parks, second only to movie-related IPs (47%). This is just one way in which the demands of potential theme park vacationers have evolved, and bringing gaming-inspired attractions into a park is one way to attract visitors.

Market share and key industry trends

Travel’s roaring rebound has consumers acting on a lot of pent-up motivations, such as seeing a destination they’ve always wanted to, taking a make-up trip canceled earlier in the pandemic, or simply relaxing. This reorganization of vacation priorities means that theme park vacations have been pushed down on the list of desired vacations – just one third of consumers put theme parks inside their top five types of vacation. So while park visitation has recovered in general, the rebound has come on the back of single-day visits, leaving multiday vacations with a lot of ground to make up.

Future market trends in US theme park vacations

Destination parks will have to do what they can to be competitive, too, as travelers are scrutinizing their travel options, making travel destinations a very hot topic in household vacation discussions. Not only are travelers considering the cost of theme parks in light of inflation, but also their other options for vacations. Relaxing settings and bucket list travel are popular options, working against theme parks as a vacation destination. However, by pivoting some of a park’s attractions and business practices, such as by enhancing the dining experience and placing more emphasis on attractions, parks can meet the changing demands of vacationing families and adult travelers.

Read on to discover more about the US Theme Park Vacations consumer market, read our US Family Vacations Market Report 2020, or take a look at our other Holidays and Vacations research reports.

Quickly understand the theme park vacations market

  • The demographic targets theme parks should focus on for attendance.
  • The types of intellectual property that parkgoers want to see.
  • What guests are willing to pay a premium for.
  • The pain points of planning a theme park vacation.
  • How the expectations of theme park vacationers compare to broader travel expectations.

Covered in this theme park vacations market report

Brands include: Six Flags, SeaWorld, Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Hersheypark, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland, Cedar Point, Peppa Pig Theme Park, Pokémon Go Fest, Harry Potter, Super Nintendo World.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Mike Gallinari, a leading analyst in the Travel and Leisure sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis of theme park vacations market research to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

As travel continues to recover in 2022, different types of vacations fiercely compete with each other for travelers. The multiday theme park vacation, though far from the first choice for vacationers, is nonetheless poised to recover from the pandemic decline. Theme parks will have to balance improving revenue with the tough economic decisions that consumers are making with regards to travel. In this vein, tactics like enriching the in-park dining experience, using tech to improve vacation planning and introducing new IPs to the parks can solidify interest and growth in the future.
Mike Gallinari, Travel and Leisure Analyst
Mike Gallinari
Senior Travel and Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Market overview
                  • Steady growth ahead
                    • Figure 1: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2017-27
                    • Figure 2: Theme park vacation outlook, 2022-27
                  • Key consumer insights
                    • Theme park vacations require extensive planning
                      • Figure 3: Attitudes toward theme park vacation planning, 2022
                    • Challenges and opportunities
                      • Challenge: Other trips take priority over theme park vacations
                        • Figure 4: Vacation rankings, 2022
                      • Opportunity: Video games are a largely unrealized IP at theme parks
                        • Figure 5: Desired park IPs, 2022
                      • Challenge: Consumers have a lot of demands of park eateries
                        • Figure 6: Attitudes toward theme park dining – Any agree, 2022
                      • Opportunity: Guests are willing to pay for access and food and beverage deals
                        • Figure 7: TURF Analysis – Spending on extras, 2022
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • Recovery has arrived, though headwinds remain
                        • Figure 8: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2017-27
                        • Figure 9: Total US revenues and forecast of theme parks, at current prices, 2017-27
                    • Park Visitor Profile

                      • Park visitation is weathering the storm
                        • Figure 10: Park visitation, 2018-22
                      • Parks have wide appeal, but are particularly attractive to young men
                        • Figure 11: Park guest demographics, 2022
                      • Multiday park vacations have fallen since before the pandemic
                        • Figure 12: Park visitation, by visitation type, 2018 vs 2022
                    • Market Factors

                      • The economy continues to frustrate, but regional parks stand to gain
                        • Figure 13: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, 2007-22
                      • High gas prices remain a travel concern
                        • Figure 14: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, 2007-22
                      • Minimum wage increases complicate parks’ labor issues
                        • Figure 15: AriZona tweet, April 2022
                      • Sustainability in travel can pay dividends
                        • Figure 16: Travel sectors most responsible for negative contribution, 2022
                        • Figure 17: Price increase tolerance for sustainable theme park options, 2022
                      • US drops testing requirements, opening up international arrivals
                      • Leading Theme Parks Revenue

                        • Park operators are starting to bounce back from the pandemic
                          • Figure 18: Annual revenues of major parks and % growth, 2019-21
                      • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                        • Mintel Trends
                          • Figure 19: Mintel Trend Drivers
                        • Driver: Value
                          • Disney offerings focus on value
                            • Universal Orlando increases membership value
                              • Figure 20: Universal Orlando Annual Pass announcement, 2022
                            • Driver: Rights
                              • Peppa Pig Theme Park built for the accessibility-forward times
                                • Figure 21: Peppa Pig Theme Park accessibility tweet, 2021
                              • Dollywood continues its namesake’s commitment to education
                                • Driver: Technology
                                  • Hard Rock is a reminder that video games and sports are amusement, too
                                    • Pokemon GO brings players to destinations
                                      • Figure 22: Pokemon Go Fest 2022 Announcement, 2022
                                  • The Theme Park Vacationer – Fast Facts

                                    • How popular are theme park vacations? Who’s interested in going?
                                      • What kinds of IP are important to prospective theme park vacationers?
                                        • What else goes into choosing a park?
                                          • What are parkgoers willing to pay more for?
                                            • Do vacationers need help planning park trips?
                                              • How have theme park dining demands evolved?
                                                • What is tech’s role in the theme park experience?
                                                • Travelers Interested in Theme Park Vacations

                                                  • Current travel environment makes other vacations a higher priority
                                                    • Figure 23: Vacation rankings, 2022
                                                  • Park vacations have a fighting chance among Gen Z and Millennials
                                                    • Figure 24: Vacation rankings, by generation, 2022
                                                  • Theme park vacation interest doesn’t correlate with income level
                                                    • Figure 25: Vacation rankings, by HHI,2022
                                                  • Families see themselves as aging out of theme park vacations
                                                    • Figure 26: Vacation rankings, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Desired Park IPs

                                                  • Video game IPs are surging in popularity
                                                    • Figure 27: Desired park IPs, 2022
                                                  • The comprehensive park has movies and games for all
                                                    • Figure 28: Desired park IPs, by generation, 2022
                                                  • Racing game IPs can draw diverse crowds
                                                    • Figure 29: Desired park IPs, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                  • Video game IPs can convince lower-to-middle incomes to visit
                                                    • Figure 30: Desired park IPs, by HHI, 2022
                                                  • Character preferences change in the preteen years
                                                    • Figure 31: Desired park IPs, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Motivations for Visiting a Park

                                                  • Attractions and rides motivate visits
                                                    • Figure 32: Motivations for visiting a park, 2022
                                                  • Parks have to put in the work to attract Millennials and Gen Zers
                                                    • Figure 33: Motivations for visiting a park, by generation, 2022
                                                  • Perception of value matters to all income levels
                                                    • Figure 34: Motivations for visiting a park, by HHI, 2022
                                                  • Parents want to play off of their young kids’ interests
                                                    • Figure 35: Motivations for visiting a park, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Park Upcharge Opportunities

                                                  • Park vacationers willing to spend on time-savings, dining
                                                    • Figure 36: Willingness to spend on park extras, 2022
                                                  • Vacationers will pay for a variety of upcharge offers
                                                    • Figure 37: TURF Analysis – Spending on extras, 2022
                                                  • High-HHI travelers will pay for time, everyone will pay for food
                                                    • Figure 38: Willingness to spend on park extras, by HHI, 2022
                                                  • Parents will pay more to get kids through the day
                                                    • Figure 39: Willingness to spend on park extras, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Attitudes toward Theme Park Vacation Planning

                                                  • Brands can join communities to bring much-needed value to consumers
                                                    • Figure 40: Attitudes toward theme park vacation planning, 2022
                                                  • Dynamic pricing and fan groups important in engaging Millennials
                                                    • Figure 41: Attitudes toward theme park vacation planning, by generation, 2022
                                                  • Higher-income travelers find value in dynamic pricing
                                                    • Figure 42: Attitudes toward theme park vacation planning, by HHI, 2022
                                                  • Addressing pain points can improve relationships with parents
                                                    • Figure 43: Attitudes toward theme park vacation planning, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Attitudes toward Theme Park Dining

                                                  • Vacationers look for more involved theme park dining
                                                    • Figure 44: Attitudes toward theme park dining – Any agree, 2022
                                                  • Sustainability is a present and future demand
                                                    • Figure 45: Attitudes toward theme park dining, by generation, 2022
                                                  • More Black and Hispanic guests are interested in sustainability
                                                    • Figure 46: Attitudes toward theme park dining, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                  • More dynamic food options can attract higher-income guests
                                                    • Figure 47: Attitudes toward theme park dining, by HHI, 2022
                                                  • Sit-down dining can be a chance for parents to reassess the day
                                                    • Figure 48: Attitudes toward theme park dining, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Attitudes toward Theme Park Tech

                                                  • Tech is seen as making park visits easier
                                                    • Figure 49: Attitudes toward theme park tech – Any agree, 2022
                                                  • Parks should invest more in tech to strengthen future demand
                                                    • Figure 50: Attitudes toward theme park tech – Any agree, by generation, 2022
                                                  • Higher-income travelers want to engage with park tech through apps
                                                    • Figure 51: Attitudes toward theme park tech – Any agree, by HHI, 2022
                                                  • Parents want tech to help them out
                                                    • Figure 52: Attitudes toward theme park tech – Any agree, by age of children in household, 2022
                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                  • Data sources
                                                    • Sales data
                                                      • Forecast
                                                        • Consumer survey data
                                                          • Abbreviations and terms
                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                              • Appendix – The Market
                                                                • Figure 53: Total US revenues and forecast of amusement and theme parks, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
                                                                • Figure 54: Theme park visitation in the past 12 months, 2020-22
                                                            • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                • Figure 55: Table —TURF Analysis – Spending on extras, 2022
                                                              • Methodology

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