Theme park attendance in Asia is poised to overtake North American attendance thanks to integrated resorts that mix casinos, retail, and cultural facilities in a single space, as well as the pending opening of the largest theme park development in China.
According to analysts behind the newly released 2012 Theme Index, theme park attendance at the top 20 Asian theme parks increased by nearly 6 percent in 2012 over 2011 to receive a record 108.7 million visits.
Though largely driven by the post-tsunami recovery of major theme parks in Tokyo, Japan, growth in Asia is also attributed to a few major additions to existing parks like Hong Kong Disney and Songcheng Park in Hangzhou.
The report was produced by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM in the US.
Hong Kong Disney and Universal Studios Japan pulled off notable performances last year, each recording a 14 percent jump in attendance over 2011.
Meanwhile, the scheduled opening of Shanghai Disney in 2015 -- billed as the largest theme park development in China -- is expected to attract a whopping 10 million visitors in its first year and set Asia within “striking distance” of North American theme park attendance, analysts predict.
In an effort to appeal to a broad spectrum of visitors, Asian developers are also incorporating different facitilies like casinos, retail and cultural centers into amusement parks, a move which has proven to become a successful business model, the report adds.
Overall, the average global theme park attendance increased 5 percent.
In North America, growth was driven largely by highly anticipated additions such as Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, and Transformers: the Ride 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Europe, which is still in a recession, suffered with softer numbers, the report said.
And while theme parks in Asia are poised to outpace North America, of the top 25 amusement parks in 2012 worldwide, 12 are found in California or Florida, and nine in Asia. The remaining four can be found in Europe.
Here are the top five amusement parks worldwide in 2012 by the number of annual visits:
1. Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida, 17,536,000
2. Disneyland, California, 15,963,000
3. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo, 14,847,000
4. Tokyo Disney Sea, Tokyo, 12,656,000
5. Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris, Marne-La Vallee, France, 11,200,000