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Despite a wizard year for Universal, Disney retains top spot among world theme parks

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida has retained its position as the world's most popular theme park, according to figures released this month by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

The huge park welcomed 16.9 million visitors in 2010, according to the annual report from industry body TEA, a fall of 1.5 percent on the previous year's figures but still around one million more than the world's second most popular park.

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, welcomed 15.98 million visitors, while Tokyo's Disneyland welcomed just under 14.5 million, a rise of nearly 6 percent on 2009.

Attendance at the world's theme parks grew by 1.8 percent in 2010 according to TEA's figures, although the growth in the numbers showing up at Asian theme parks well outstripped that, up 7.3 percent from 2009.

The organization praised the "remarkable" success of Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which lifted attendance at Universal’s two parks in Orlando by more than 1.7 million visitors last year.

However, the growth was nowhere near enough to threaten Disney's position as the king of the global theme park world - over 120 million people visited Disney parks last year, far ahead of the 41 million which visited the next largest park operator, Merlin Entertainments (which runs Legoland parks, British attractions Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures and Madame Tussauds).

While Asia showed strong growth, TEA noted that development in the Middle East had lost its industry boom status, although the opening of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi was recognized as one bright spot.

When it came to water parks, the region performed much better, said TEA, with Aquaventure and Wild Wadi, both in Dubai, among the world's 20 most popular water parks.

The world's most popular theme parks:

1. Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA
2. Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, USA
3. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo, Japan
4. Tokyo Disneysea, Tokyo, Japan
5. Epcot at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA
6. Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallee, France
7. Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA
8. Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA
9. Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan
10. Everland, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea
11. Disney California Adventure, Anaheim, CA, USA
12. Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando, FL, USA
13. Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, FL, USA
14. Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea

The world's most popular water parks:

1. Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, Orlando, FL, USA
2. Blizzard Beach at Disney World, Orlando, FL, USA
3. Chimelong Water Park, Guangzhou, China
4. Caribbean Bay at Everland Resort, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
5. Aquatica, Orlando, FL, USA
6. Ocean World, Gangwon-do, Korea
7. Wet'N Wild, Orlando, FL, USA
8. Wet'N Wild Water World, Gold Coast, Australia
9. Aquaventure, Dubai, UAE
10. Sunway Lagoon, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11. Summerland, Tokyo, Japan
12. Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, TX, USA
13. Atlantis Water Adventure (Taman Impian Jaya Ancol), Jakarta, Indonesia
14. Water Country USA, Williamsburg, VA, USA