Monorail at Contemporary Resort

Back in the 1950s, there was a huge baby boom. The families of this generation were the perfect age to enjoy Disneyland, which opened in 1955 and Walt Disney World, which opened in 1971. The children of this generation could now experience these amazing theme parks that were beyond compare.

The Boomer’s children were part of an echo boom when they had their own children creating another huge influx of young people into society. However, what follows is generations of baby busts, and the trend seems to be accelerating.

Blame it on rising student loan debt, the recent recession, or longer life expectancies, but there are fewer young people in society than there were at most other points in history.

Since theme parks’ primary market is families with children, Disney needs to adapt to these changes to stay relevant and profitable. Let’s take a look at the top three ways Disney adapts to the changing demographics in society.

3. Provide upsells

The baby boomers may have been considered old by historical definitions, but these adults are often healthy, fit, and financially secure. As recent empty nesters, they have the time, money, energy, and desire to vacation. If Disney is going to stay relevant, they need to appeal to this demographic.

They do this by offering exclusive, luxury experiences like the Disney Vacation Club, which offers well-appointed villas and discounts. With a 50-year buy in, these adults, who are often also grandparents, can bring their children and grandchildren on vacation with them. Disney is the perfect spot for multi-generational vacations like this!

The monorail is one kind of exclusive transportation that makes the Deluxe Resort Hotels more desirable.
The monorail is one kind of exclusive transportation that makes the Deluxe Resort Hotels more desirable.

Other luxury experiences include deluxe accommodations at Disney resort hotels, premium transportation like Disney’s Minnie Van service and the well-established monorail service, extra park access, and special events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, and The International Flower and Garden Festival and the International Food and Wine Festival both at Epcot.

While any of these experiences would be appropriate for families, they are of equal or greater appeal to older audiences.

2. Offer activities for adults

Not every Baby Boomer is looking for an expensive luxury vacation. Some are looking for a fun and affordable getaway. What’s more, not every adult going to Disney World is a Boomer. Some are younger adults who don’t have children.

Disney also needs to appeal to the middle class even though that demographic is showing decline.

Disney still must offer thrilling attractions, exciting entertainment that is not an upsell, and use established franchises that appeal to adults.  We can see this in Disney’s investment in Avatar, which is the theme for Pandora that just opened in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Star Wars, which will open a new land very soon in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Both of these areas include e-ticket attractions that are not even rated for children. Some people may think that’s odd for a family-centered theme park, but it is on trend for the industry.

Disney appeals to adults who want more thrilling rides but also to families with young kids.
Disney appeals to adults who want more thrilling rides but also to families with young kids.

1. Appeal to families

Please don’t misunderstand. There are still millions of young people in society and millions of families including those still sitting comfortably in the middle class. Disney also needs to appeal to these potential guests with affordable Value resorts and family-friendly and kid-friendly attractions including those with no height or age limits.

Fortunately, this is what Disney was originally built on, so it isn’t a problem for them. Magic Kingdom is especially good at this.

Moreover, the international community is not experiencing this recent baby bust like the United States is, and Disney attractions millions of international visitors every year – especially from South American Countries. In fact, Brazil, which is a huge source of tourism for Disney World, has a more normal age distribution.

Sure, the money is in the wealthier adult demographic, but families are still a primary focus of Disney World.  Disney needs to be sure future generations love Disney as much as current ones do.

Does Disney do a good job appealing to everyone?