It wasn't that DCA didn't have an audience, it's that the 13 million people that were already going to Disneyland had very little interest in the new artistic direction.
For a lot of people, especially the kind of people who read the New York Times, the word Disney means fake, disingenuous, commercial and artificial.
A bastardized version of art. There are people out there who see Disneyland and it's insistence on it's own conceived reality as silly and foolish (and certainly you've seen that mocked time and time again in movie and song).
DCA was meant to get passed that by producing a world that was visually appealing but still acknowledged the fact that it wasn't real. It was designed to appeal to a group of people who had already rejected Disneyland as a fake experience not worth a visit.
I say this not to defend their decisions or the vision for the park, but only for historical perspective. I know there were a lot of people who didn't understand the point to the park, and certainly I think a majority of people who were visiting Disneyland didn't get it either.
The park is struggling to appeal to the DISNEY audience. At some point I suppose the management decided that it would be easier and far cheaper to just keep producing park experiences that used the exact same formula to appeal to the already existing audience than to attempt to appeal to a new audience.If you think the New York Times author was spot-on with this review, then maybe you can answer me why the park is still struggling to please guests to this day, and why Disney just approved that $1.2 billion budget to fix the place up.
Some of the first decisions they made in changing DCA was abandoning the California theme and adding family friendly cartoon related attractions. Today DCA and Disneyland are getting attractions that follow the same exact formula so closely, that I doubt anyone would object had the attractions built in DCA been located in Disneyland or visa versa.
Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's not. That's a matter of opinion. Some people like getting the same thing over and over and over again. If they didn't, Hollywood would have gone out of business years ago.
A long time ago Walt envisioned a park that had lands that were all unique and different and over time that park just kind of merged into a singular experience. A long time ago Epcot was a park that was fundamentally different from any other Disney experience, and now Disney is spending billions of dollars "fixing" that park to mesh better with the other park experiences. The same thing is happening to DCA.
Let me just sum this up this way. I'm not defending DCA itself as much as I'm defending Disney's decision to try something different, even if it wasn't well accepted by their audience.