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US Theme Park Attendance Is Soaring Higher Than a Roller Coaster — Dollars and Sense

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Americans may have fewer entertainment dollars to spend these days, but according to new attendance estimates, they seem to be spending more of them at theme parks — and the Harry Potter phenomenon has a lot to do with it.

Themed Entertainment Assn., a California-based trade group for designers of theme parks, casinos, museums and other entertainment venues, reports that last year, attendance rose about three percent at the top theme parks in the US.

Analysts say the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Fla. accounted for about half of the total increase, and that overall attendance at the park itself went up a whopping 29 percent compared to 2010.

Disneyland, the most popular theme park in Southern California, and sister property Disney California Adventure both saw attendance rise about one percent in 2011. Other Golden State attractions like Universal Studios Hollywood, Knotts Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia also saw modest increases.

But the California park with the biggest rise in attendance? No contest. That was San Diego’s SeaWorld, which enjoyed a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

[Los Angeles Times]

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