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King Kong ride helps boost Universal Studios park attendance

It’s official: Theme park visitors went bananas for King Kong.

The new 3-D attraction starring the overgrown ape helped Universal Studios Hollywood draw just over 5 million visitors in 2010, a 26% increase over the previous year, according to a study released Thursday.

Even so, Disneyland in Anaheim remained the most popular theme park in Southern California, drawing about 16 million visitors in 2010, a decline of 0.5% from the previous year,

Coming in second in Southern California was Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim. The park drew 6.3 million visitors, an increase of about 3%, thanks to its new water-and-light show, World of Color.

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Universal Studios Hollywood, despite the boost in visitors from King Kong 360 3-D, was third in Southern California.

“We’re particularly proud of King Kong 360 3-D, which has become one of our signature thrill rides,” said Xiomara Wiley, a senior vice president at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The ranking came from the Burbank-based Themed Entertainment Assn., a trade group for designers of theme parks, casinos, museums, zoos and other entertainment venues. The latest assessment is based on an annual estimate of theme park crowds by AECOM, a Los Angeles engineering and consulting firm.

Worldwide, the report said, Disney’s Magic Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla., was the most popular theme park, attracting 17 million visitors in 2010, a drop of 1.5% from the previous year. Disneyland in Anaheim was No. 2 worldwide and Tokyo Disneyland was third.

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Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, which was ranked 13th worldwide, enjoyed a 30% boost in attendance last year, thanks to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an attraction based on the series of popular movies. The park drew nearly 6 million visitors in 2010, according to the report.

hugo.martin@latimes.com


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