Florida dominated in latest theme park attendance report. See where Tampa's parks rank nationally.

And, yes, Disney is still king in attendance.
MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Busch Gardens' Tigris is Florida's tallest launch coaster, and reaches 150ft high. In the Themed Entertainment Association's latest report, Busch Gardens was the 11th most visited theme park in the country in 2018.
MONICA HERNDON | Times Busch Gardens' Tigris is Florida's tallest launch coaster, and reaches 150ft high. In the Themed Entertainment Association's latest report, Busch Gardens was the 11th most visited theme park in the country in 2018.
Published May 23
Updated May 23

More and more people are going to theme parks across the nation, and Tampa's Adventure Island and Busch Gardens are no exception, according to a new report.

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) released its annual theme-park attendance report Wednesday that showed Busch Gardens was the 11th most visited theme park in North America in 2018, while Adventure Island was the seventh most visited water park.

The report shows Busch Gardens increased its 2018 attendance (4.1 million visitors) from 2017 by 4.5 percent. Adventure Island (669,000) — partly because of better weather, the report says increased its attendance by six percent in the same time frame.

Of the 40 theme and water parks listed in the report, only one — Six Flags White Water Atlanta (-5 percent) — reported a decrease in attendance from 2017.

Disney parks once against dominated attendance figures, with Magic Kingdom being the continent's (and the world's) most visited theme park with nearly 21 million guests in 2018. Other Disney parks also grabbed places second through fifth in North America, with Universal Orlando's 10.1 million guests ending the Disney-streak in sixth place.

The Disney dominance continued for water parks as well, with its two Florida-based parks — Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach — ranking in first and second in attendance in 2018, both with just over 2 million visitors.

All-in-all, the combined attendance of the 40 parks surpassed a half a billion visits for the first time in history, the report says.

Related: Read the full report.

“This is equivalent to almost 7% of the world population,” stated the report. "And not only that, but this number keeps growing.”

At SeaWorld Orlando — the 10th busiest park in North America — attendance hit 4.59 million in 2018, giving it and its sister park in San Diego the largest increase in attendance from 2017 of all theme and water parks at 16 and 20 percent each.

"SeaWorld parks had been moving down our charts for several years but 2018 attendance numbers show a nice comeback," the report stated. "The attendance figures recoup the previous year’s decline and surpass it, helped by significant increases at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego as well as a modest increase at Busch Gardens Tampa."

While the theme park industry thrived to its best numbers ever in 2018, the report predicts it'll quickly be passed by 2019's attendance figures.

"Overall, it’s been an outstanding year, as the themed entertainment industry has matured and been recognized not only as a significant driver of international development, economic impact, and tourism, but as a common shared global experience," the report said.

"We’re looking forward to what next year brings with several special new attractions coming on line such as Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, opening in both California and Florida."

Contact Josh Fiallo at jfiallo@tampabay.com. Follow @ByJoshFiallo.

 

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