Friday, April 06, 2007

EPCOT Attendance

This will be quick, as I'm still out of town, but I logged on to bring you some news about EPCOT's attendance in 2006. TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association) and Economics Research Association have released their annual survey of global theme-park attendance.

For a park that is criticized as "boring" and "too adult," EPCOT holds up remarkably well. Here's the list of the top 10 parks around the world last year:

1. Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World -- 16.64 million guests

2. Disneyland -- 14.73 million

3. Tokyo Disneyland -- 12.9 million

4. Tokyo DisneySea -- 12.1 million

5. Disneyland Paris -- 10.6 million*

6. EPCOT at Walt Disney World -- 10.46 million

7. Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World -- 9.1 million

8. Disney's Animal Kingdom -- 8.91 million

9. Universal Studios Japan -- 8.5 million

10. Everland in South Korea -- 7.5 million

You can glean from this list what you will. There is no doubt most will look at this and say, "Well, there you go -- all of the Pixar-ization, cartoonifying and Princess-izing has worked for EPCOT."

Don't forget, though, that all Walt Disney World parks saw an increase in visitors, and the happy world of The Magic Kingdom actually saw the smallest increase (9%) while EPCOT saw the biggest (11%).

EPCOT needs no help to attract visitors. It will never, ever be the sole reason a family of five from Milwaukee visits Walt Disney World ... but it clearly is the second choice of many. Is that because it has more thrill rides and more cartoon characters? Perhaps?

Then again, has it always been successful, and might it be more so if it stayed true to its vision and kept a close eye on remaining the park of discovery, exploration and (yes) education that it was intended to be? I don't know. It's definitely worth thinking about.

Because of those 10,460,000 people, I can pretty much assure you, they didn't all just wait in line for The Seas With Nemo and Friends, Soarin' and Mission: Space, then bolt out of there. They like EPCOT. They've made it the third most-attended Disney theme park in the U.S. They obviously respond to its unique nature and the fact that it is different than the other parks.

It's nice to know EPCOT still works. And I hold to my belief it could work as well -- or better -- if the vision of EPCOT Center were brought back to it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this bit of info. Very interesting...

kcausier said...

As a member of a family of five from Milwaukee, I can certainly say that I would make the trip just for EPCOT. To be honest, I haven't been since, oh...maybe, 1999 but I have amazing memories from the several trips I made before that point. I can't speak to the mission of Epcot today, but I enjoy this shared memory of what it once was and what it could aspire to be in the future. My only regret is that I never got to share a Guiness with my father at the Rose and Crown. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, both my boyfriend and I enjoy EPCOT much more than anything else at Disney.

With the exception of roller coasters. Everyone loves roller coasters. =)

Seriously though, we really do prefer EPCOT to the other parks.

Found you through Athenamama's links.

critikalerror said...

Has anyone heard anything else about that?

I'm going to be down there in the Fall on the college program, and I've heard people who are currently in it say that Spaceship Earth is going to be down for refurbishment from July until Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had a chance to go on the new Mexico boat ride? I went last night and was surprised to see the line filled the entire queue area and spilled out into the area in between it and the restaurant. (We ended up waiting maybe 25 minutes.) The first scene with the pyramid and the volcano is untouched (that's a good sign), so the view from the restaurant is exactly the same. In fact, almost every physical set piece is untouched (except the last room with the fireworks (which are still there). Basically, the movie screens tell the story. Donald is supposed to be playing with the Three Caballeros, but instead is going sight-seeing. The other two birds try to find him. You see just as much of Mexico as you did in the original ride, but now have a story holding them together, instead of the horrible hodgepodge from the original ride. Yes, the Small World-ish dolls are still there next to the dancing skeletons. The fireworks room has the 3/4 carousel replaced with a stage and the three caballeros playing their song.
When the overlay was announced, I said that any change (excluding the first scene by the restaurant) would be a good thing. I couldn't be happier. We waited 25 minutes and I would gladly do it again. The ride still retains the travelogue feel of the original, but in my opinion it feels less thrown together and more cohesive. Also, I think it does at least as well a job representing Mexican culture as the original, non Disneyfied version. Why? Now there is no embarrassing scenes of the people trying to sell you stuff. Also, the video loops are longer (and don't seem like video loops. Gone is the scene where the boat goes by and the wake magically vanishes. Now something goes in front of the screen before it resets.)
When we got off, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and everyone was in agreement that it is better then before. A classic? Still no. But worth going on? Yes. I think it may even be better then Maelstrom.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm surprised to hear that California Adventure and the new Hong Kong Disneyland do not make the Top 10!

Anonymous said...

Where does the California Adventure come in?

Anonymous said...

California Adventure is 13th and Hong Kong Disneyland is 18th. The only Disney park that does not break the Top 25 is Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris. While the report doesn't give the Studios' overall rank, it says it is 11th among European parks with 2.2 million visitors. To give you an idea, the #25 park overall has 3.91 million...

Anonymous said...

Kat: Actually, I don't love roller coasters. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of my favorite rides in all of Disney, but I just don't enjoy any of the other coasters.

All the more reason Epcot's my favorite park!

Epcot82 said...

Embarrassing -- the information that Sdav10495 offered about DCA is exactly what I intended to add as a footnote, which is why I have the unused asterisk in the blog post!

Thanks for that contribution, Sdav!

It is really quite astounding that Disney has a park that attracts only 2.2 million people a year, but if you've ever been to Walt Disney Studios Paris, you know why. It honestly, in a word, sucks. That the park is open 365 days a year and gets attendance of 2.2 million people (that means about 6,000 people a day) really speaks volumes about the creative problems at WDI. Next door to the most beautiful Disney theme park ever created is perhaps the WORST Disney theme park ever devised.

Kat -- thanks for visiting, I'm glad you found EPCOT Central!

Twirlnhurl ... thanks for the report! I am glad you liked the ride. What I find most fascinating about your comments is the overall feel that adding the Three Caballeros didn't really change a whole lot of the ride. So, I ask, did you enjoy it more because of the Disney characters, or because the ride was somehow better?

I'm afraid that there is a feeling among many park guests that if something doesn't have the characters then it's "not good." It's a scary mindset, but one that is pretty rampant in the U.S. these days -- that something has to be instantly recognizable or instantly "understandable" to be "good." Just look at the stuff Hollywood is putting out!

More to the point, had Disney Imagineers chosen not to layer in the Three Caballeros but instead improved the video loops, spruced up a few effects and put a little work into adding a more cohesive story, would the ride have been equally improved?

I don't doubt the place was mobbed. You know, in Disney's mindset, if it's not popular, it's not good.

Which, strangely enough, gets me back to the Walt Disney Studios Paris. Heheh.

Anonymous said...

As a preface to the reply, I have never seen the movie The Three Caballeros, but I do think they were part of the reason why the ride is better. I do think there needs to be something "grounding" the attractions in the World Showcase. If it is a character, so be it. I think we all agree that The American Adventure is one of the best things in the World Showcase, and there are many reasons. Attention to detail, a wide, grand subject matter, simplified into a cohesive picture that can be seen in one sitting, and Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, grounding the story with guides who experience the story with you. The Three Caballeros overlay adds the two missing details that make the American Adventure work. The characters ground you and give a story which allows the grand picture (that Mexico is a beautiful place to visit... the history aspect of the original is dropped, probably because it never worked in such a small space and time period to be taken in one satisfying sitting. Yes, it could have been done with an all new character (or a character from Mexico's history, but I think that aspect of the China film is done so poorly that it ruins the experience), but why bother introducing a new character when Disney has such a large library to pick from. Isn't the whole reason why Disney has the potential to be a great educator that it has the entertainment capabilities to take the familiar, the comfortable, and do something extraordinary with them? To let those characters become the teachers? I think so.
I'm not saying the Three Caballeros quite achieve that, but they come close.

J Gall. said...

Kevin Yee makes a really stupid mistake in his review of Gran Fiesta this morning and it's kind of pissing me off. He calls Jose Carioca a Spanish speaking character. I wonder when Brazilians stopped speaking Portuguese?

Epcot82 said...

When "new Disney" got a hold of them, I imagine! ;-)

I've met people who are surprised to learn that people speak Spanish somewhere OUTSIDE OF MEXICO. It's quite scary!

Scott said...

The Spaceship Earth rehab is official:

Anonymous said...

i'm not from milwakee but Epcot is the reason I go to Walt disney world


Anonymous said...

We just got back to Minneapolis after making a trip mainly for Epcot! It's definately my favorite, with the Magic Kingdom a close second. ( We also made the mistake of going to Universal Studios, but that's a whole 'nuther story.) Anyways, I even like Beverly!