There was confusion around the health of the consumer and theme park attendance trends during Q2 2023 where trends in Florida were soft given base-period effects and hot and steamy weather. Similarly, San Diego’s cold and wet early summer was a dampener for SeaWorld.
For Q3 2023, California was again the stronger market and Disney was again the faster horse. However, the trend in Florida stabilized. Disney’s Florida parks returned to growth and Universal Studios Orlando went from down -15% in visitors in Q2 2023 to only -5% in Q3 2023. For Q3 2023, SeaWorld consolidated visitor growth was driven by Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, which was down in Q2 2023 due to adverse weather; SeaWorld San Diego was roughly flat.
The two graphs below show how Epcot was able to consistently gain in visitors versus last year--especially during September--which resulted in a gain of +10% for the quarter. By contrast, Universal Studios Orlando was down -5%. Some have speculated that the Taylor Swift/Beyonce concerts and Barbenheimer Phenomenon may have cut into theme park spending during Q3. As it relates to destination theme parks, we see no evidence that they did.