One segment of U.S. travel and attraction marketing that still strikes fear in competitors around the world.

August 31, 2011

America is the world's leading exporter of theme park thrills. Copyright 2010 Tricycle, The Buddhist Review

America leads the world in theme park attendance. And the Disney brand is the category’s largest exporter,  attracting more than 3 times the worldwide visitors of its next closest competitor.

Our top 20 parks got twice as many visitors as their top 20.

The latest numbers are in, and America is dominating Europe and Asia in a category that demands the latest high-tech wizardry and design genius.

I’m not talking about computers or flat screen TVs or electric cars. I’m talking about theme parks.

According to the Themed Entertainment Association‘s (TEA) latest Global Attractions Attendance Report, twice as many visitors attended America’s top 20 theme parks than Europe’s top 20.

Half of the world’s top 25 theme parks are made in America.

In total, the top 20 American theme parks attracted 121.4 million visitors last year, compared to  just over 60 million for the top 20 European theme parks, and 60 million for Asia’s top parks.

Almost half of the top 25 theme parks in the world are located here in America, and nearly 70% of the top 25 parks worldwide are American brands.

American theme parks draw twice the attendance of those in Europe and Asia.

Disney is America’s largest exporter of U.S.-styled parks.

Worldwide, American-born Disney Attractions ranks as the #1 theme park chain by a long shot, attracting 119 million visitors to its parks in America, Europe and Asia.  To give those numbers some context, Disney attracts more visitors than its next four competitors combined.

There are three ways  American theme parks dominate the category worldwide:

Marketers of travel and attraction brands can learn three lessons from American theme parks:

1.  Innovation

This year dozens of new attractions are opening at theme parks across the country.  And larger parks are constantly pushing the envelop and trying new ideas.

2. Licensing

American theme parks like Universal have licensed and collaborated with creators of  blockbuster movies to bring those movies to life in vivid detail.

3. Exporting

Disney was the first theme park to realize other countries would buy an American “import”. Since then, Six Flags and Universal Studios have learned the rules of the road.

What have you learned from America’s top theme parks?  How could you incorporate that thinking into the marketing of your travel or attraction brand?

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