47.3 million (47,300,000)
Based on the most recent AECOM Theme Park Attendance report, the annual attendance for the four major parks that make up the Walt Disney World totaled approximately 47.3 million for 2010. The world-famous Magic Kingdom topped the global list with 16.97 million attendees, Epcot was number five with 10.83 million, Disney’s Animal Kingdom held the seventh spot with 9.87 million just edging out Disney’s Hollywood Studios that came in eighth with 9.6 million.
On a side note, if you presume that 75% of the attendees (a guess) are from the United States and that 33.8% of American adults and 17% of American adolescents (2-19 years) are obese, then you’re looking at just about 9.0 million (19.1%) obese attendees walking through the gates every year at Walt Disney World.
[Update – 22 Dec 11] The obesity figures above were provided by the CDC and The Journal of the American Medical Association, both of which define “obese” as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater. When you take into account those individuals who are simply overweight (BMI of 25.0 to 29.9) the prevalence estimates for overweight and obesity combined is 68.0% for adults Americans 20 years or older. Using the same approximation approach above, I would guesstimate that at least 20 million people visiting Walt Disney World on an annual basis are overweight or obese.
Why all the fascination with the girth of Walt Disney World’s visitors? Having just returned from a trip there with my family I was amazed at the lack of healthy eating choices that existed for adults. Most of the fast(er) options were hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and a multitude of fried, high-fat options. Sit-down dining offered a few other options but the vast majority of park attendees seemed to opt for the quick and easy route. If there’s good news it is that the meal options for kids tend to include carrots or grapes as a side option, although the meal offerings themselves were pretty unhealthy. Sadly my own observations of the average attendee’s weight would support the estimates above and being the father of two I worry about their health and what the future holds for them.