Catering to older audiences keeps theme parks afloat

Theme parks all over the world are making changes to stay persistent and entertaining to all ages. One of the most popular theme parks is Disneyland, which first opened in 1955. Over the years Disney lovers have seen the price of admission rise tremendously. Sixty-three years ago, an adult could get into Disneyland for one dollar and pay for rides individually, which cost anywhere between ten and thirty cents each. Now, one adult ticket costs $97.

With the constant changes made to our theme parks, the prices are found to be increasing so much that it makes it harder for some families to attend. Those who can afford it go, while others with huge families have to save up for months.

Disneyland has set the bar high for other amusement parks, forcing other companies like Universal Studios to compete with their numbers to stay on top.

As the years progress, Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, and the other Disneylands across the world have found themselves treading water to remain relevant. Not only have they been changing up their attractions to connect with a larger audience, but are also finding new ways speed up the lines for the rides by using digital fastpasses.

Star Wars’ conversion started with the construction in California’s Disneyland Resort, when the Los Angeles Times announced they converted Space Mountain to Hyperspace Mountain following the release of “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” in December of 2015. From that point on, the company has made new plans to make the Star Wars theme more permanent in Disney.

Within the first few months of 2016, Disney replaced the 3D guest experience Captain EO with Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, as well as the newest upgrade of the Star Tours ride to Star Tours: The Adventure Continues.

The little renditions of the Star Wars theme led Disney to start a large single-theme expansion, reaching 14 acres in both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The company is advertising  the new Star Wars Land as showing guests an unearthly experience while making the characters and their stories come to life.

Analysts like Daniel Salmon of BMO Capital Markets says the new Star Wars attractions will be a “highly successful project long-term,” but will take some time to get used to.

Disneyland’s changes have kept them afloat, while reeling guests into the park more and more. These new projects are hitting a larger audience rather than connecting to children ranging from ages 1 to 13. With that age range being so small, Disney has begun to target older fans with movies like “Star Wars” and “Avatar” to keep guests interested.

In the summer of 2017, Disney opened The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. The ride transports guests to the world of Pandora, with floating mountains and bioluminescent plants. Avatar World brought out the adventurous side of Disney fans, leaving their jaws on the floor. With the addition of “Avatar” to the Disney family, it brings in a new group of fans who appreciate the world of animals and nature, and not just your Mickey and Minnie Mouse lovers. 

Universal Studios is another popular theme park seen in both California and Orlando, Florida. It is known for its Studio Tour ride, where they show the backdrops and sets used in many of their films, as well as the “Jurassic Park” ride, that starts as a calm raft ride through dinosaur exhibits, ending with an 84 foot plunge into water. 

Along with Disneyland, Universal Studios found themselves revamping their park by adding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened in the spring of 2016. After the Harry Potter series ended, the new world brought in fans and allowed them to continue on a Hogwarts story of their own.

Several years ago, Universal Studios Hollywood came out with “The Walking Dead” haunted maze during the theme park’s Halloween Horror Nights. The company based the maze off of the hit television show where a group of people try to survive a zombie apocalypse. Season after season, the show gained more fans and its popularity turned the maze into a permanent attraction that now scares their guests every day of the year.

Although theme parks have found themselves questioning what their guests want, they are quickly learning how to stay relevant by looking further into the movies and stories that their fans are falling in love with. With these consecutive changes throughout the world’s most popular parks, fans and guests don’t see them stopping anytime soon.