Disney theme park attendance up in 2009

Despite tough economic times, attendance numbers for most Disney theme parks around the world increased in 2009, with crowd numbers jumping 8% for Disneyland in Anaheim, according to a new report.

The news was not so bright for other Southern California theme parks.

The report, published by the Burbank-based Themed Entertainment Assn., shows that overall theme park attendance in North America dropped about 1.3%, a reflection of the ongoing weak economy.

“Under the circumstances, in 2009 the major parks did remarkably well,” said Steve Thorburn, president of the nonprofit association. The latest assessment is based on an annual estimate of theme park crowds by AECOM, the Los Angeles-based management support firm.

Disney does not reveal attendance figures for individual parks, but theme park experts say the estimates are typically accurate. A Disneyland spokeswoman declined to comment on the estimate.

Attendance at Disney World in Florida rose 1%, from 17 million in 2008 to 17.2 million in 2009, according to the report. At Disneyland, crowd numbers jumped 8%, from 14.7 million in 2008 to 15.9 million in 2009. Disney’s neighboring California Adventure saw an increase of 9.5%, from 5.6 million in 2008 to 6 million in 2009.

Crowd numbers were also up slightly for other Disney parks in Florida, including Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Meanwhile, attendance at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles dropped 6%, from 4.6 million in 2008 to 4.3 million in 2009, the report said. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park also lost ground, with attendance declining 6.5%, from 3.6 million in 2008 to 3.3 million in 2009.

Park officials at Knott’s Berry Farm declined to comment on the numbers. Universal Studios did not return calls seeking comment.

Attendance also dropped at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia and at Raging Waters in San Dimas.