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This year, the improving economy, coupled with dozens of new attractions opening at parks around the country, is expected to pump up attendance figures at North American theme parks.
"The industry is well positioned to have a good year this year," says Gene Jeffers, executive director at the Themed Entertainment Association. "They actually did well last year, considering the economy."
In 2009, attendance at North America's 20 most-visited theme parks slipped 1.1% from 2008, to 121.4 million visits, according to newly released data from the TEA.
Disney's parks in Florida and California, however, bucked the downward trend by posting year-to-year increases.
In fact, the number 1 amusement park was Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World with just over 17.2 million visitors, up 1% from 2008.
This summer's top two destinations – hands down – are Orlando and Las Vegas, according to a recent survey conducted with members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
Orlando ranks highest among the trips that agents are booking – 17.7% say the theme-park capital is this summer's Number One destination. No doubt, that's due in some part to the buzz building over the June 18 opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.
Las Vegas is Number Two at 16.2%.
"There are a lot of discounts and deals right now for those cities," explains Melissa Teates, director of research at ASTA in Alexandria, Va. "But, generally, most people just know they'll have a good time in these cities. Orlando and Vegas really exist as vacation destinations."
Like much of the rest of the travel industry, online travel bookings in 2009 took a hit. Spending by consumers dipped for the first time in recent memory, from $112.9 billion in 2008 to $104.3 billion in 2009 (down 7.6%), according to a report from research firm Forrester.
However, while online bookings for virtually every segment slipped -- including air travel by a punishing 7.7% to $61.8 billion (can you say, "Hello, baggage fees"?) -- online car rentals fared relatively well, sliding only 2.1%, to $12.1 billion.
By comparison, hotels tumbled a staggering 9.9%, to $28.6 billion. Cruise bookings were down a modest 3.4%, to $1.1 billion. Tours were flat, but at just over $600 million, it remains a tiny sector.
In large part, online car rentals can thank the fact that gasoline prices moderated somewhat in 2009. Cash-strapped consumers still stricken with wanderlust had good reason to hop back in their car to take trips.