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Disneyland, Knott’s Ranked 2nd, 4th in Park Attendance for 1989

TIMES STAFF WRITER

New rides kept the turnstiles spinning at the nation’s most popular amusement parks in 1989--including Orange County’s Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, which ranked second and fourth respectively in attendance last year.

And Wild Rivers, the Laguna Hills water park, was ranked No. 6 among the country’s water parks last year.

The rankings are included in an annual survey in the current issue of Amusement Business, a Nashville, Tenn.-based trade publication.

The report estimates that a record 254 million people visited U.S. amusement parks last year.

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“Even the areas that were hard-hit by rain and cool weather--notably the Northeast and along the East Coast--held their own” with park attendance up 6 to 8%, said Tim O’Brien, managing editor at the publication.

But not everyone agrees with Amusement Business’s figures. The magazine’s survey indicates that 14.4 million guests visited Disneyland, compared to about 13 million the year before.

Industry sources, however, said Disneyland’s attendence was relatively flat in 1989.

At best, attendance rose only a percentage point or two above 1988 and roughly the same as two years ago, the sources said.

Park spokesman Bob Roth declined comment on Disneyland’s attendance.

Amusement Business attributes the rise in Disneyland’s numbers to Splash Mountain, the multimillion-dollar flume ride that opened in July.

The Blast to the Past ‘60s-themed promotion, which ran in early spring, also helped attract customers to Disneyland this year.

While Disneyland has hung onto its No. 2 ranking for the past several years, attendance has been on a roller-coaster roll at nearby Knott’s Berry Farm.

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After unveiling three minor thrill rides last year, the Buena Park amusement facility jumped from No. 6 to fourth place in the national rankings, with 5 million patrons.

The jump was partly due to a change in how the rankings are calculated. Pier 39 in San Francisco--an open entertainment area with few rides--was dropped entirely from the rankings after placing third on the 1988 list.

Under a new criterion, Pier 39 is no longer considered an amusement park, O’Brien said.

That bumped Knott’s up one notch.

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Then Sea World of Florida slipped from fourth to fifth place--and below Knott’s Berry Farm.

The annual survey also ranked admission prices among the top 40 attractions. On that list, Disneyland’s adult admission price of $25.50 is the second-highest in the nation. Knott’s admission price of $19.95 ranks No. 13.

AMUSEMENT PARK RANKINGS

Disneyland remained No. 2 in attendance in 1989, as Knott’s Berry Farm improved its ranking last year.

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RANKING BY ATTENDANCE Park Location ’89 ’88 ’87 Walt Disney Lake Buena 1 1 1 World* Vista, Fla. Disneyland Anaheim 2 2 2 Universal Studios Universal 3 5 4 Hollywood City Knott’s Berry Buena Park 4 6 5 Farm Sea World of Orlando, Fla. 5 4 3 Florida Sea World of San Diego 6 8 6 California Busch Gardens Tampa, Fla. 7 7 8 Kings Island Kings Island, 8 10 7 Ohio Cedar Point Sandusky, Ohio 9 11 9 Six Flags Valencia 10 9 11 Magic Mountain

*Includes Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center and Disney-MGM Studios theme park.

Source: Amusement Business


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