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U.S. theme parks see a better mobile network experience than the national average

With summertime around the corner, many families and groups of friends will travel to theme parks to embrace the fun and adventure of thrilling roller coasters and lightning-fast rides. But, will they enjoy equally fast mobile internet speeds as well when visiting the parks? In this new analysis, Opensignal looks at the mobile network experience of our smartphone users who visited some of the most attended amusement parks in the U.S., to see how their experience compared to the national averages, and between the included parks and operators. 


Our users generally observe faster overall 5G speeds in theme parks than around the U.S. on average, where they also connect to 5G services for a higher proportion of the time. There are substantial differences in mobile network experience, both between theme parks and between mobile operators.



For the purpose of this analysis, we included all 19 of the U.S. amusement parks that made it into the list of the 20 most attended parks in North America, according to AECOM’s most recent Global Attractions Attendance Report. We also grouped all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Florida together, due to their close proximity — and the same with two theme parks for both Universal Orlando Resort and Disneyland Resort, respectively. As a result, we looked at 14 of the most attended theme parks and resorts in the U.S. The analysis includes all data collected within one mile of the center point of these amusement parks, with the exception of Walt Disney World Resort — due to its significantly bigger area than in the case of other parks — where the radius is extended to 3.5 miles.

Looking at average download speeds, our smartphone users visiting the biggest theme parks in the U.S. enjoy more than 50% faster average overall speeds than the national average. The difference between mobile network experience in the theme parks and the U.S. average is smaller but still statistically significant for 5G Download Speed, with our users connecting in theme parks with 8.8% faster download speeds — which measure at more than 150Mbps. Faster than the national average download speeds around theme parks are an impressive achievement when taking into consideration how many guests visit them which is likely to lead to network congestion.

As many mobile users are likely to share pictures and videos taken in theme parks online and on the go, fast upload speeds in amusement parks are vital for their seamless mobile network experience. Similar to download speeds, we observe substantially faster upload speeds experienced in theme parks than in the rest of the U.S. — 61.7% faster for the overall Upload Speed Experience and 24.3% for 5G Upload Speed.



Network availability is also key to understanding users’ mobile network experience around theme parks. Our 5G users located around amusement parks spend a third more time connected to 5G services than the national average — 41.8% of the time in theme parks compared to 31.1% nationally. This shows that since theme parks are frequently attended areas with high traffic, U.S. operators have prioritized them as areas for their 5G rollouts.

Unsurprisingly, our users connect to Wi-Fi much less regularly in theme parks compared to the national average. They spend less than 20% of their time on Wi-Fi, compared to nearly half of the time around the country on average — which includes their time at work and home. This is logical, as theme park guests spend the majority of their time outdoors, away from buildings, and may connect to Wi-Fi only during meals or in the resort hotels.

Opensignal also analyzed how consistent the mobile experience of our smartphone users is when they connect to mobile services in theme parks. To do so, we looked at Excellent Consistent Quality, which quantifies how often users’ experience on a network is sufficient to support more data-demanding applications’ requirements, such as HD video, group video conference calls, and gaming. Our smartphone users observe a more consistent quality in theme parks, as their connections meet the minimum recommended performance thresholds in 82.4% of tests, compared to 79.1% nationally.

There are substantial differences in the quality of mobile network experience between the most attended theme parks and resorts in the U.S. Looking at the top five amusement parks in terms of Download Speed Experience, our smartphone users enjoy the fastest download speeds in Busch Gardens in Florida and Knott’s Berry Farm in California, with scores of 88.8-101.5Mbps. 


Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay also jointly scores the highest for Upload Speed Experience and Excellent Consistent Quality. The theme park shares the top spot for the former with California’s Universal Studios in Hollywood, with scores of 17.6-20.7Mbps. It also comes jointly first for Excellent Consistent Quality, along with Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. Busch Gardens, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Walt Disney World Resort made it to the top five for all three mobile network experience metrics.



Opensignal also looked at the mobile network experience of our users on three main U.S. carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — across three major theme park resorts — Disneyland Resort in California and two amusement sites in Florida — Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. 


In Disneyland Resort, T-Mobile excels in Download Speed Experience, Excellent Consistent Quality, and 5G Availability, while commanding substantial leads over both its competitors. T-Mobile also shares the top spot for Upload Speed Experience with AT&T, with scores of 15.7-16.4Mbps.


We observe a much tighter competition at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. Our 5G users on AT&T’s network connect to 5G services in this resort for the highest amount of time, beating second-placed T-Mobile by 11.2 percentage points — while Verizon brings up the rear with a score below 10%. T-Mobile and AT&T are joint highest scorers for Download Speed Experience — and for both Upload Speed Experience and Excellent Consistent Quality, our users observe no statistically significant differences between all three major U.S. mobile operators.



Our T-Mobile users enjoy the fastest average download speeds when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, clocking in at 126Mbps, nearly twice as fast as their Verizon or AT&T peers. However, Verizon comes first for Upload Speed Experience with a score of 16.9Mbps, ahead of statistically tied AT&T and T-Mobile. AT&T is the joint highest scorer for Excellent Consistent Quality and 5G Availability at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, sharing these distinctions with Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively.

Fast and reliable mobile services are essential for smartphone users who visit theme parks. Park guests spend a full day mostly outdoors, need to be able to find their families in crowded areas, and often wait for hours in long lines for popular rides, which makes using their mobile phones to pass time only natural. On top of this, many theme parks and resorts have developed their own apps for guests, to improve their visiting experience and provide them with useful information, such as maps or current waiting times for lines. 5G technology is likely to transform the experience of theme park visitors even further and enhance it across different stages, such as entrances, rides, or recreation areas.