Florida Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom at night [© CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Brandon Watts, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wattsbw2004]
Magic Kingdom at night [© CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Brandon Watts, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wattsbw2004]

A large proportion of Florida’s income comes from tourism. For example, in 2004, tourists spent a record $57 billion, up over 10% on 2003 and that is despite Florida being hit by four major hurricanes in 2004. A significant proportion of that money was spent in the many theme parks in Florida.

Figures dropped off from a peak of around $65m when the recession hit but by 2012 that figure had risen to a record $71.8 billion, up by 6.8% on the previous year.

When it comes to theme parks, Florida probably has more than any other place in the world

Though there were parks in Florida before the Second World War (Cypress Gardens opened in 1936 and started ski shows in the 1940’s) it was Walt Disney’s vision in 1964 to purchase 27,500 acres of swamp and rough bush land near Orlando that really started the theme park business in Florida combining roller coasters, flight simulators, family rides, firework spectaculars and musical shows.

The first Disney park, Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, followed eleven year later by Epcot (Walt Disney never lived to see his dream of the future, having died in 1966), then Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finally Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In addition, Disney also opened two water theme parks, namely Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Meanwhile other parks were built around Orlando including SeaWorld (the largest marine park in the world) and “a href=”things-to-do/universal-orlando-resort">Universal Studios and further afield Busch Gardens Africa opened near Tampa.

The newest Florida theme park is Legoland Florida that is rising from the defunct Cypress Gardens and opened in 2011.

For a number of years, Florida has boasted 8 of the 10 top spots for most visited theme parks in North America (i.e. including Canada) according to TEA/ERA in their annual Theme Park Attendance Reports. The table show estimated 2013 numbers (with 2012 numbers and percentage change):

RankPark and Location20132012Change
1 Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 18,588,000 17,536,000 6.0%
2 Disneyland, Anaheim, California 16,202,000 15,963,000 1.5%
3 Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 11,229,000 11,063,000 1.5%
4 Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 10,198,000 9,998,000 2.0%
5 Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 10,110,000 9,912,000 2.0%
6 Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, California 8,514,000 7,775,000 9.5%
7 Islands Of Adventure at Universal Orlando, Florida 8,141,000 7,981,000 2.0%
8 Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, Florida 7,062,000 6,195,000 14.0%
9 Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California 6,148,000 5,912,000 4.0%
10 Seaworld Fl, Orlando, Florida 5,090,000 5,358,000 –5.0%
 

For historical data, see our article and graphic showing the increase in Florida theme park visitors from 1998 to the present day.

Today there are literally dozens of theme parks in Florida. For more information, click on the related links in the sidebar (right of page).

See also:- Buying Theme Park Tickets

Other pages of interest