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  1. #1

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    Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    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.

  2. #2

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    WDW has always been a kid-driven resort for the longest time and the problem I see is that Disney tries to cater to their "audience". And on paper, it sounds like they're doing their job. But they really aren't. You can't just cater to those already coming. You need to expand and try to get those who AREN'T coming.

    There's a big initiative in most major companies to diversify their staff. Why? Because selling to your own country isn't enough. You need to think globally. With a name like walt disney "world", you would think that global would be their ultimate plan: build a theme park that EVERY one would want to go to no matter where they're located.

    I think you're right on just about everything you commented on. And it's happened in Disneyland to a certain degree as well. Most everything that disappointed me at Disney World was because it felt "dumbed down".


    BUT... look at what WDW does. It tugs at the kids to bug their parents to bring them to Walt Disney World. And it mostly works. If it weren't for the kids, how many grown ups would fly to Walt Disney World? I suppose they tried to lure the grown ups with Pleasure Island. Perhaps it didn't work out as well as they had hoped.

    I think there's a lot more to this than meets the eye. They're obviously targeting kids because it works. I personally feel that they just didn't try luring adults the proper way. Night clubs aren't why people fly to Disney World. It's all about the content in the theme parks.


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  3. #3

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    When I grew up here in Sweden for many going to WDW was something unreal that would never happend but still everybody wanted to go there so much since there was a period when alot of tv shows where centered around the parks in Orlando. It was huge and unique.
    We only had two themeparks in Sweden, and they stunk.
    But today these parks have advenced and a third park is planned. It is as if Disney has lost it grip. Sure we have Disneyland in Paris...
    When people today plan a trip to Florida WDW most seme to be aware that WDW only is for kids and the chose Universal instead since it has rides that everybody can dare to go on and not just the kids.
    There are many many parks and resorts around the world that make WDW less unique. I really think that Disney needs to find way to reinvent WDW and reach beyond the group that keep going everyother year to the Florida parks.
    WDW should be that unique place that nobody can copy and that everybody wants to see. That is not the way it is today.
    Last edited by TimmyTimmyTimmy; 03-24-2009 at 01:33 AM.
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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    Quote Originally Posted by Coheteboy View Post
    WDW has always been a kid-driven resort for the longest time and the problem I see is that Disney tries to cater to their "audience". And on paper, it sounds like they're doing their job. But they really aren't. You can't just cater to those already coming. You need to expand and try to get those who AREN'T coming.

    There's a big initiative in most major companies to diversify their staff. Why? Because selling to your own country isn't enough. You need to think globally. With a name like walt disney "world", you would think that global would be their ultimate plan: build a theme park that EVERY one would want to go to no matter where they're located.

    I think you're right on just about everything you commented on. And it's happened in Disneyland to a certain degree as well. Most everything that disappointed me at Disney World was because it felt "dumbed down".


    BUT... look at what WDW does. It tugs at the kids to bug their parents to bring them to Walt Disney World. And it mostly works. If it weren't for the kids, how many grown ups would fly to Walt Disney World? I suppose they tried to lure the grown ups with Pleasure Island. Perhaps it didn't work out as well as they had hoped.

    I think there's a lot more to this than meets the eye. They're obviously targeting kids because it works. I personally feel that they just didn't try luring adults the proper way. Night clubs aren't why people fly to Disney World. It's all about the content in the theme parks.

    Agreed. ChrisFL makes some great points on the OP, and I've noticed that WDW has felt a little "dumbed down". Unfortunately, I think I may have accepted it as the current direction Disney is taking. I think the best way to appeal to adults is through sophisticated attractions that both adults and their children can enjoy... attractions which reveal different things to each audience. The closest I can think of are Haunted Mansion, DL's Pirates, TSMM, and the various attractions of 1982 EPCOT Center. The movies Wall-E and Ratatouille come to mind as well... kids love the cute characters and funny antics, and adults love the deeper themes and romance. Pleasure Island and ExtraTerrorestrial aren't good examples of reaching to a wide audience, IMO, because they are too scary [EDIT: or inappropriate] for children. Walt's goal from the beginning was not to separate families, but to entertain every member of it.
    Last edited by MarkTwain; 03-23-2009 at 03:38 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkTwain View Post
    Pleasure Island and ExtraTerrorestrial aren't good examples of reaching to a wide audience, IMO, because they are too scary for children. Walt's goal from the beginning was not to separate families, but to entertain every member of it.
    I definitely understand where you're coming from and I agree to a point, but the closing of Pleasure Island just was a sign that Disney overall seems to not be worried about keeping the market of the couples/adults without kids and allowing competitors like Citywalk/Universal to gain that market.

    I don't know why, but it seems like they're finding it difficult to keep a happy medium of attractions that the Walt era seemed to be good at. Like mentioned, POTC, HM, and I'd say Mr. Toad and the Jungle Cruise were also interesting and unique because you couldn't find anything like those attractions anywhere else. It's a different market now, but Disney to me is focusing way too much on the kids and losing much of the things that made it more appealing to the whole family instead of kids with parents in tow.

  6. #6

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    I agree with the cartooning of EPCOT. Even when EPCOT bored me when I was 11, there was something mystical about it. It lured you back.

    I don't have an issue with Pooh, I've even grown to like the ride...I just cannot get over what it replaced. But I cannot support that argument.

    But what the fantastic new Tomorrowland of 1994 has become is just sad. Now that was a theme park environment!

    My biggest lament is the loss of Caribbean Plaza. While it was never a New Orleans Square, we used to have a restaurant, many small shops, courtyards and vendors and themed music and live bands.

    Now we have a toy store, a restaurant that doesn't operate often, and a giant line for PoTC and a stroller parking area that blocks one half of the walkway, while characters block the other half.

    And not only do we play Pirates movie music...they play music from At World's End which is by far the worst music in the trilogy. *sigh*

  7. #7

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    It's really ironic because Walt was once quote saying something like, "You're dead if you just aim at kids."

  8. #8

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    Disney's overuse (cant say the term that better fits) of the Princess and Pirates franchise is what's really detoriating the resort experience for me. You're right about what's happened to Norway and Mexico in the world showcase. The new 3 Caberellos ride takes out all the mystic and wonder I enjoyed about the original ride that was there.

    One thing I dont want to happen to Epcot is for it to become one giant Children's Museum. We have the world's largest Children's Museum here in Indianapolis and while it's huge and full of interesting permanent exhibits it's still a children's museum which means it caters to kids and NOT to adults. You get bored of going there after a few visits.

    I dont blame Disney for having a huge need to cater to kids but I think a lot of family focus has been lost over the years. Most new attractions or money makers in WDW's parks are either too intense for kids or too kiddie for adults. There's a lack of equal balance these days no doubt about it.

    WDW is intended to be one giant escape/vacation destination/resort for all ages. There's still some things that adults can do (golf sites/spas/etc) but it's starting to slowly detoriorate as Disney becomes more focus on increasing stroller use and kid activities in the parks instead of preserving the fantasy-style escape for all ages that truly suites Disney.

    They seem to forget that Disney has a huge advantage compared to other resorts for its nostalgia. Many adults are willing to come back to the place they experience as kids with hopes of reliving the magical experiences they have. If these adults are getting that when they return then that's a huge amount of audience that Disney is gonna lose.

  9. #9

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    Re: Rantings about the target audience of WDW

    Quote Originally Posted by toonaspie View Post
    WDW is intended to be one giant escape/vacation destination/resort for all ages. There's still some things that adults can do (golf sites/spas/etc) but it's starting to slowly detoriorate as Disney becomes more focus on increasing stroller use and kid activities in the parks instead of preserving the fantasy-style escape for all ages that truly suites Disney.

    They seem to forget that Disney has a huge advantage compared to other resorts for its nostalgia. Many adults are willing to come back to the place they experience as kids with hopes of reliving the magical experiences they have. If these adults are getting that when they return then that's a huge amount of audience that Disney is gonna lose.
    Right and Disney also has an advantage of being one of the most all-inclusive areas in the world, yet they've not been advertising that fact very well. Think of how many activities that Disney has created outside of the parks, and how little they market about it. IMO they've decided to completely ignore a large segment of the population who would enjoy that.

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