So as some of you know, I recently had a tour of parts of asia. I was able to see Hong Kong and Tokyo Disney resorts and was able to get a good sense of how different things are run at each of those places.
Having already a clear idea of my issues with the recent decisions by WDW, it was made even moreso when I visited those parks.
There is no way around this...its more and more clear WDW is being targeted at a very specific audience and not worrying about any other audience.
It is a trend thats been happening for a while, but IMO is picking up speed at a rapid pace. I've briefly discussed it before but I am starting to realize just how broadly this is becoming.
The point is....Disney has targeted kids...especially those under 15 or so much more specifically than IMO they ever have before. There has always been critics of the parks who said that "Disney is just for kids" even if it wasn't, and apparently the management of the WDW parks are now putting everything into making sure it stays that way.
When Walt was in charge, he made it clear that he wanted attractions that the parents could enjoy along with the kids, now it seems to me like they're making attractions mostly for the kids and their parents just go along with it.
We've seen the more obvious results of this, Pleasure Island is gone, Stitch and Monsters Inc are in tomorrowland, and even more stitch is to come. I don't consider their earlier inhabitants to be quite as kid-oriented, especially, of course Alien Encounter which was the complete opposite. The Timekeeper was also not meant for small children.
Of course, before that we saw the destruction of both 20,000 leagues under the sea, which was interesting, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride which had some slightly un-PC themes give way to a huge area based on Winnie the Pooh, which is about as specifically for kids as you can get.
They've moved some great castle stores with artwork and crystal to add a boutique for little girls to be made up like princesses.
At Epcot, there's the Seas with Nemo told on a very kid level and the massive aquarium seems to be nearly ignored. Spaceship Earth has gone from a very dramatic and educational experience to one seemingly "taught" on a 5th grade level and and seeing the ending people like "because their kids were really laughing at it".
Innoventions has even become mostly a kids area, gone are the innovative new products that adults can experience (besides the Segway) and it's mostly kids products, video games, kids fire safety, velcro activities for kids, (and most are cutting edge as of 2004)
Mexico has gone to the 3 Caballeros, Norway has turned a beautiful and very good restaurant into a princess-only place. Now there's the Kim Possible experience which is apparently enjoyed by adults, but let's face it, is also designed for kids.
DHS doesn't seem to be quite as bad, American Idol is more for adults and Toy Story Mania IS something that is really more enjoyable by the whole family.
Animal Kingdom has a Nemo show and Dino-Rama which if you're a kid probably seems like a great addition Yes, Everest is also a big excpetion to this, but again it was probably only built because Beastly Kingdom hasn't been.
...what happened to having a Disney vacation suited to young couples or those who don't happen to have children? Tokyo has TONS of them and they spend TONS of money at the parks, because they're designed on a much more open level with attractions that are interesting to anyone, not just the young ones. Also, the quality that I saw of the merchandise in Tokyo blows away what we have here. I could have bought half of the pirates merchandise and been happy. It's not all low-quality plastic stuff.
But, if you're a kid, I'm sure that seeing the pirates, star wars, princess, hannah montana, jonas bros. stuff in every area would be just fine and you'll beg your parents at every corner to buy more stuff. Food quality is also suffering, but kids are easy, right?
The commercials are all about the kids and the families who have kids, no more talking about what a great resort destination it is for the other things that you can do at WDW, golf, parasailing, "cruising" around on boats, fine dining, etc. which could interest other types of people.
Of course we also see the other effects of this, like seeing massive amounts of strollers all over the place and stroller parking lots the likes of which I've never seen in the 26+ years I've been going to the parks. This is completely different than I saw in Tokyo or Hong Kong which were just as crowded (HK was on Chinese New Year, so it was quite busy).
I think this is going to hurt Disney if they continue to make this their only priority.