California, Florida theme parks still draw biggest crowds

California, Florida theme parks still draw biggest crowds
Photo courtesy photographerglen on Flickr (Creative Commons).

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's Cedar Point and Kings Island were the most visited theme parks in the nation last year outside of the usual hot spots in Florida and California, according to a new report from an industry trade group.

Rankings: Disneyland No. 2 most-visited in the world >>

Cedar Point in Sandusky came in 14th in the nation in attendance, and Kings Island near Cincinnati was 15th, the Themed Entertainment Association reported. Both had around 3.2 million visitors in 2012.

Disney's Magic Kingdom near Orlando, Fla., was the most visited park in the country — and entire world — last year with 17.5 million visitors, the report said.

Altogether, the top nine parks on the list of most-visited in the U.S. were Disney parks and Universal parks in Florida and California. SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Diego were No. 10 and 11, followed by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif.

Cedar Point attendance was up 2.5 percent, and Kings Island's was up by 2 percent last year, according to the association. Both are owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., which was the seventh largest theme-park group in the world last year.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported the rankings Tuesday from the Themed Entertainment Association, which represents developers, designers and producers from around the world.

Janet Harrah, senior director for the Center for Economic Analysis and Development at Northern Kentucky University, said higher attendance at the Ohio parks is a good indication that the economy is improving in the state.

"When the economy is doing better, people have more money to spend on entertainment," Harrah said.

The full theme park report can be found online.