The average attraction visitor has double the disposable income of the typical resident of Metropolitan Orlando, an example of the changing demographics at theme parks, according to a tourist industry report.

Voice of the Visitor: 2017 Outlook on the Attractions Industry, an annual study of people who visited an attraction last year, also shared the good news that theme park attendance is expected to rise 3.6 percent this year. And for the second year in a row, Orlando, Las Vegas and New York ranked the highest in visitation and intent to visit.

The study surveyed more than 1,500 U.S. leisure attraction visitors.

While most hourly theme park workers can’t afford to buy tickets and food for a family of four for a day at a theme park, the average visitor has the disposable income. The average annual household income for guests at theme parks was $86,000, according to the study. That’s twice the $43,000 that residents in Greater Orlando bring home and way above the $55,775 median annual household income nationwide, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Local theme parks have received flak about upcharges that only the wealthy can afford but the study reveals they’re on the right track. Guests with higher incomes can afford to pay extra to skip lines, get prime viewing for shows and rent hotel-style cabanas to avoid the heat.

Theme parks’ changing demographics could also be seen in an increase in millennial visitors. The report found that 18-29 year olds are the largest group of theme park visitors at 46 percent – a nearly 10 percent increase from 2015. This generation was also the most impressed with technology with 59 percent saying it made them more likely to return and 44 percent say tech gadgets encourage them stay longer.

Two thirds of those who visited a theme park traveled more than 50 miles from home, up five points over 2015. And while smaller theme parks can depend on locals, the numbers emphasize that Orlando’s major attractions need to keep enticing international visitors to continue their growth.

Theme Parks and water parks had strong use of season passes with one third of guests using their theme park season pass and 23 percent using water park passes during their most recent visit.

Not only do pass holders visit more often, but they also buy more merchandise and more uncharge experiences. Loyalty and repeat guests are a big part of any theme parks’ success. That’s why the two percent jump to 86 percent in theme park repeat visitation bodes well for Central Florida’s tourism industry.

“We use this report, an invaluable tool for attraction managers across the country, to understand guests’ intentions and interests at destinations throughout the year,” said Mike Konzen, principal and chair of PGAV Destinations, which commissioned the study. “The insights are tremendously relevant and the outlook is quite fascinating… We’re seeing a great deal of evidence of increased expectations among those guests.”

On a five-point scale, theme parks had some of the lowest guest satisfaction rates at 4.26 among attractions like zoos, museums and theaters. However, more than half (55 percent) the respondents said they would still recommend the park to their family and friends.

Market researchers blamed some declines on the politically and culturally tumultuous 2016. The survey was taken before one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history and may have made attraction visitors more critical of the value of their dollars and more apprehensive about the future, according to the report.

 

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