Quality time, rides, and escaping reality: the top global motivators for visiting theme parks
May 11th, 2023, Christien Pheby

Quality time, rides, and escaping reality: the top global motivators for visiting theme parks

Theme parks across the world are evolving their offering in increasingly complex ways. Disney World’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser provides an “immersive, 2-night adventure” – a premium experience that has received criticism for not being premium enough – while Universal is reportedly going all-in on the metaverse.

But are these high tech or luxury experiences a major motivator for consumers?

Our data suggests that a number of global consumers simply don’t visit theme parks at all (26%), particularly in Europe (33%) and North America (30%). Consumers in APAC and the UAE (5%) are least likely to say they don’t visit theme parks.

Looking at those who do go to theme parks, our data suggests that, overall, people are most likely to visit a theme park to spend quality time with friends and family (23%). This is the top-ranked motivation across all regions, with consumers in APAC (28%) and the UAE (27%) most likely to say that hanging out with their nearest and dearest is their main reason for buying a ticket.

The actual rides come a pretty distant second (14%), although they’re considered most important in the UAE (19%). The third most-cited reason is “to escape reality and relax” (11%) – which is more popular in APAC (14%), and slightly less popular in Europe (10%) – and North America (10%), with treating family a close fourth (10%) and keeping children occupied further out in fifth (6%).

Options such as meeting popular characters (2%), purchasing specific gifts/souvenirs (2%), and spending points/vouchers (1%) barely register as primary motivations.

The top attractions at theme parks

On a global level, the most popular attractions at theme parks are outdoor attractions and scenery (35%), with rollercoasters and water rides (30%) close behind.

Live shows and performances are enjoyed by just over a quarter (27%) of consumers, with a similar proportion saying they like seeing and interacting with animals (24%) or immersive/interactive experiences (23%).

4D/IMAX or interactive experiences (19%) and dark/scare rides (18%) were selected by a fifth of consumers, with 15% saying they enjoyed rides for younger children and 13% saying they enjoyed meeting popular characters. Consumers in APAC display greater enthusiasm across every category – they’re twice as likely as consumers in Europe, for example, to say that “meeting popular characters” is a top activity when visiting a theme park (18% vs. 9%). This could be because consumers who go to theme parks in APAC trend younger: 48% are aged 18-34 compared to 36% of those outside of APAC – so it’s possible that some of these older theme park attendees outside of the region could be attending for the sake of children, rather than their own particular interest.

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying for each market. All surveys were conducted online in April-May 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.