Theme Park Insider

When Do Kids Get Too Old for Disney?

August 19, 2015, 4:04 PM · Allow me to start off by just saying it: I love Disney World.  Always have, probably always will.  But do I love what Disney has become recently?  No.  You know that old break-up falsehood, “It’s not you, it’s me?”  Yeah, well it’s not me, it’s the mouse.

Why the recent estrangement?  Primarily because my kids are aging out of Disney.  And Disney isn’t doing anything about it.  If you have kids that are 10+, particularly girls, you may know what I’m talking about, or you soon will.

Thanks to tireless scientific research (consisting mainly of watching Pixar’s Inside Out) I have learned that little girls change a lot when they become what is widely known as the preteen, tween, or can-hardly-say-anything-without-whining phase.  They experience moods, behaviors, and ideas that seem alien.  I know this because my daughter’s eyes seem to defy the force of gravity and roll upward as soon as my wife or I speak. 

Now if your daughter is aged 0-10, there is plenty for her to do at Disney.  Probably more so than in any other theme park in the world. There are character dining experiences that allow your princess to meet their princesses for breakfast or lunch or dinner.  Obviously their princesses have a little more royal seniority - nobility-wise - because you have to tithe approximately 37% of your entire vacation budget to grant yourself an audience with them and in return they will sign their royal name to anything… except the final credit card bill on the check at the end of the meal.

Anna and Elsa
Photo courtesy Disney

Then there is an opportunity for her to experience a makeover that, with the help of a fairy godmother-in-training, will style your girl’s hair, makeup, and nails.  She can be costumed like her favorite Disney princess and you can have wonderful photos taken of the whole experience, to always remember when your little girl was transformed into royalty and you were transformed into a pauper.

And those were the days before the juggernaut known as Frozen smashed into your home, placed itself on dinner plates and clothing and toys and kid foods and toothbrushes and sheets and posters.  Most of which you had to obtain by standing in line for hours to buy at your local Disney Store, clicking the refresh button a hundred times a minute on the Disney Store online, or stalking the employees of your local toy store to hunt down the ever-elusive “truck delivery” with such ferocity that they got a restraining order against you. 

It was like a firsthand experience of what it must have been like those first days in Russia when the Communist Party took over everything.  Instead of being out in the frozen weather waiting in long lines for bread, I waited in line to spend my bread on Frozen.  Yeah I like warm hugs too, but I’m not paying $100 on eBay for one.  Okay, maybe just once.

If it sounds like I’m complaining a lot about the cost of all this stuff, it’s because I am.  As the Dad, it’s part of my job description to complain about spending excess amounts of money on vacations, toys, and extracurricular activities, whether it’s Disney, dance, or football. 

Just kidding.  It’s all ultimately worth it when you see her beaming, and you snap the photos, and put the signatures in a scrapbook, and share in her joy, and later recall the amazing experiences and stories.

So what happens to all this wonder and magic?  The clock strikes midnight (on their 11th birthday), it all goes poof, and the carriage is back to being a pumpkin.

Your daughter no longer cares about meeting princesses, the only use she has for a sash from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is as a weapon to strangle her brother with, and that Frozen t-shirt you paid $29.99 for is getting sold in a garage sale for $1.

One day my daughter told us the sad, yet highly amusing, tale of when a classmate in her 5th grade class wore an Elsa shirt to school…  The poor girl would have gotten less mauled by diving headfirst into a shark tank wearing a necklace of live fish.  There’s probably nothing more embarrassing than a 4th Grader loudly asking in front of your 5th grade peers, “Uh, why are you wearing that?”

The things that used to appeal to these little girls no longer affect the young women they are becoming quite the same way.  I am surprised that Disney has not realized this; all they have to do is watch their own hit movie.  Like I did. 

And though I’ve focused on the girls, an argument certainly can be made that Disney is very weak in regard to both genders in this age range.  I would say that currently Disney’s primary appeal to boys at the cusp of the 10+ range would be Pirates of the Caribbean, however there has not been a new movie since 2011’s POC: On Stranger Tides.

Now, let’s look at what, if anything, Disney is doing in the near future to address this age group.  For girls, I honestly don’t see anything on the horizon.  Turning EPCOT’s Norway Pavilion from something educational into a mini-Arendelle is aimed at the little girls who still love Anna and Elsa.

So the answer is: nothing.

As for the boys there is a little more potential now, with the extremely exciting addition of Star Wars Land to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, especially since that park is so entertainment-deprived that it now counts the parking lot tram as a “ride.”

The caveat with this announcement is Disney seems to be missing a golden opportunity to strike while the lightsaber is hot by not having planned better, and actually opened it alongside the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie.  That would have been some billion dollar synergy, there buddy.  You’d have heard “millions of voices suddenly cry out… I have to go to Disney!”

The other consideration here is that there is no announcement as to a projected opening date, and at the glacial (or should I say Frozen? drum roll-rim shot) rate Disney has been building, it may not be open until Episode 9 (or IX for you Roman Numeral purists.)

Of course, they are also building Toy Story Land at DHS, which I think is a bit disappointing in comparison to having a Cars Land, which I know I would have preferred. Toy Story Land appeals to the younger set, so again nothing for the 10+ crowd especially since its only adding a spinner ride (how creative!) and a family coaster.

Here’s the big question: With Disney Springs still under construction, Pandora being built at AK, the joint (and rather massive in acreage) additions of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land, and even an expanded third Soarin’ theater at EPCOT, is Disney stretching its construction abilities too thin building everything pretty much simultaneously? Or are they staggering the builds? Is this a five-year plan? I suppose we won’t know until Disney releases expected opening dates. But that will be something to watch.

Speaking of Pandora – The World of Avatar, I’m not sure how a single movie that came out in 2009 and doesn’t really have the lasting appeal of other franchises (i.e. Star Wars) is going to excite the 10+ demographic, aside from the general appeal that always comes with something new.

Although I understand that Disney is hamstrung by licensing deals in not being able to bring their Marvel juggernaut into play in the Florida Parks (the opportunity remains viable in California), and I don’t pretend to know the intricacies of the deal, I think that is a hostage worth every penny to free, because in the long run will pay itself off in profit.

Sure, you can argue there are still rides and great restaurants and other experiences in Disney (and I agree), but there is one giant thing missing.  Because for a teen, Magic is not the same thing as cool, unless it involves a certain boy wizard with a unique scar. 

And for the time being, that is Universal Orlando’s massive advantage in the theme park wars.  The Harry Potter franchise is that rare beast that holds equal appeal to both genders in the exact age group where Disney has fumbled the ball.  And Universal not only picked it up, but ran it in for a touchdown with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

If that wasn’t enough, they have a T-Rex sized megahit with Jurassic World, and wisely opened a small but awesome addition to Jurassic Park in Islands of Adventure featuring the most popular characters from the film: the velociraptors.  The Raptor Encounter promotes synergy with the film and appeals to the 10+ boys.

Even next year’s Reign of Kong ride touches on the giant creature/dinosaur fascination.  Despite the fact that the original King Kong film came out in 1933, the advantage it has over Avatar is that it’s far easier for a kid to comprehend... 

You say experimental technology that allows someone to become a tall blue alien to join with other tall blue aliens to help them save from a world being exploited for its resources and kids go: Huh, what?  You say giant gorilla fighting dinosaurs and you have a crowd on your hands, getting in line.

The question looms, what can Disney do about this in the future? And with park attendance at all-time highs and a marketing push that has drifted away from the American middle class, do they even care to?

One immediate idea would be to capitalize on the recent Descendants Disney Channel Movie which - unlike the more transient High School Musicals and Teen Beach Movies - is grounded in traditional Disney mythology assembled from established Disney characters and their children.

The only thing for sure is that with the rush to build newer bigger and better, it is certainly a great time to be a theme park fan!

I just remain concerned that even in their rush now to match Universal project-for-project, Disney has lost sight that no matter how strong the magic, even princesses eventually grow up.

Replies (55)

August 19, 2015 at 4:18 PM · I have to disagree. My teens and preteens still love it. My eleven year old took a physics class at the MK this morning through the Disney YES program and loved it. We have had great experiences with those classes. My teenage boys really like EPCOT as they live by their stomachs in the world showcase. Lots of blogs have food crawls like cupcake crawls if they need more directed fun. I don't think they like the trips any less than when they were younger but it is different.
August 19, 2015 at 4:19 PM · This is spot-on. My 12 y.o daughter has definitely aged out of Disney, we haven't been to the parks in over a year. However she and my 9 y.o. son are both crazy about Harry Potter and Jurassic World. We have APs at Universal and go at least twice month, more with HHN coming up. Daughter was mortified when Grandma gave her an Elsa locket for her birthday lol. But, Disney isn't hurting over this at all. They still have record attendance, more than Universal can ever dream of.
August 19, 2015 at 4:27 PM · Great article and wonderful sense of humor!!
August 19, 2015 at 4:32 PM · Have to agree with Melanie. You have a great article on your hands.

I do have a point to make though.

I know Disney is mostly geared to the 2-10 aged crowd, but it works since there is always new children being born and aging, so Disney doesn't lose money off of your statement.

I myself have lost interest in all Disney World parks except MK and the two water parks, the latter of which are on my bucket list.

August 19, 2015 at 4:33 PM · Interesting article. The girl growing up part is relatable because my niece will be 11 by this year. She has spent about 30 days of her life at Disney Parks, and well the wonder is a freight train...she likes it more and more every time.

I think its how she was brought up. The focus of our vacations was and still is on getting there by flight or car, the snacks(churros!), food, and the ride attractions... Never the princesses, autographs, or dressing up. You grow out of those but never of Dole Whips and/or Space Mountain!

August 19, 2015 at 4:37 PM · I think the question is... when does Disney get to young for kids? And I would say it happens around the age of 10. And since there is a never-ending new population of kids in the target audience, I don't think Disney necessarily needs to address the older kids. In a world where Disney and Universal can generally capture different age groups, they don't always have to compete for the same audience. In fact, this fact may be the reason why they both can co-exist in the same city, and I commend both parks for aggressively going for their audiences.
August 19, 2015 at 5:01 PM · While I always loved Disney Parks as a kid, I didn't truly begin to appreciate them until I became an adult. There are so many details to appreciate and things to do beyond princess / pirate makeovers and character autographs. That being said I still enjoy character meals / meet and greets to this day, and I will never outgrow Pirates of the Caribbean. They are still my very favorite places in the World and I will never outgrow them. I much prefer the variety of rides that Disney has over the thrill after thrill (so many screen based) that universal throws at you. With the exception of the Potter lands universal always feels vastly inferior to me as an overall experience experience.
August 19, 2015 at 5:08 PM · When they out grow Disney at 10 to 16, give yourself a break. Actually, it not them, it's you. They don't want to be seen with their parents. Let your kids enjoy themselves with their friends. After they grow out of puberty, they won't mind having you around.
August 19, 2015 at 6:04 PM · I'm 17-years-old and I prefer Disney.

And it honestly breaks my heart that I'm in such a minority. I would say that I probably love Disney now more than I did 10 years ago. Yes, they do make a lot of kids movies, but those kids movies have such mature themes! A lot of them deal with the pressures of growing up, like Pinnochio, Lion King and Inside Out; Beauty And The Beast deals with what true beauty really is; and you have Hunchback of Notre Dame, which deals with such things as religion, prejudice, and even lust!!!

This isn't of course to say that the stuff at Universal doesn't have mature themes of their own (Harry Potter is full of them) but I hate how so many people write off Disney films as just kids films yet if they were to analyze those films more closely they'd see just how much adults could enjoy them as well.

So, in addition, to all the existential terrors that stress me out on a daily basis, I now have to face that I'm out of touch with my own generation...great...

August 19, 2015 at 8:04 PM · Perhaps once children outgrow Disney, it gives parents a time to save up for college. Travel closer to home, or somewhere less expensive, and see different things besides a man made world of fantasy, and let's be honest, shopping. Disney is awesome, br it's not real. We go on vacation to a place that dosen't really exist, just one that looks like it does, and that's why we go. Maybe that's why Epcot has shifted its focus. Look at the attendance of state mane national parks, museums, historic landmarks. There's nothing wrong with going to Disney, but everyone, kids especially, need to do something different. Kids change as they grow up, and while Disney should keep that in mind, so should parents. There's an entire world out there, and not the one created by Disney or Universal. Maybe if kids were well rounded they wouldn't get bored of theme parks, because it's a treat, and not a normal occurrence. Either that or stop letting Disney and others turn theme parks into shopping malls and buy buying into all the junk they sell. You're never too old for Disney, just too cool for it.
August 19, 2015 at 8:17 PM · I am 14 years old and even though I really love roller coasters, I would rather go to WDW or Tokyo Disney Resort than any other park. Even though I love blood pumping thrills, I prefer the Disney Magic. However, I am probably an exception.
August 19, 2015 at 8:22 PM · I'm 15 and I love Disney. I go to Disneyland all the time with my friends, and even thought I prefer Universal Studios slightly, I still love Disney. I woudk rather go to Disney and Universal, then Knott's or Cedar Point
August 19, 2015 at 10:41 PM · I was a 12 year old girl on the Disney Cruise. It was such an awkward time. I was too old for the younger kid stuff and too young for the cool teenager stuff. I hated the experience. It was very boring and humiliating for me.

Also, why has Disney not done anything with boys being HEROES?! Jackpot. Sold. Done. I think maybe they just can't do it in this politically correct climate.

August 19, 2015 at 11:04 PM · You've made a lot of good points your article and I’d like to add one of my own. As someone who’s worked in the video game industry for about six and seven years I've noticed one certain thing with girls and young women.

They love Nintendo.

Whether it’s the games or the merchandise they've always been such huge fans. Games like Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing and Pokémon are big hits with young women and that doesn't seem to change with age. Stop in at Etsy, search for Nintendo and you'll find pages upon pages of merchandise geared towards women, more so than even men. So I have to give a big thumbs up to Universal Studios on obtaining that license. My biggest concern is with Universal not understanding the demographic of Nintendo. It's very similar to Harry potter, but having a much broader demographic of young and old.

Oh and not boys! God, not boys! The second a boy gets to 8 or 9. Nintendo is kryptonite. It's Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty for them or nothing at all.

August 19, 2015 at 11:17 PM · Many teens seem to lose interest in Disney because they want thrills and adrenaline. But many will come back to Disney when they become adults. I know that happened to me, and I don't even have kids. So that's a segment of the theme park crowd which wasn't mentioned in the article: adults-only visitors.
August 20, 2015 at 3:18 AM · All theme parks require a suspension of disbelief to work. If, as an adult, a teenager, a grandparent, or a kid, you lose that ability to "go with it" then a theme park loses its magic. I pray my kids (who are all three above the age of 11 and still love Disney) never lose that ability to dream the dream that Walt dreamed.
August 20, 2015 at 5:26 AM · The worst thing they could do is cater *even more* to teens - there already are so many things aimed at teenagers. At the end of the day, it´s daddy who pays the bill, not the kids who think that superheroes are cool... Ask a 13 year old boy, and he will tell you they should tear down that useless castle and build a cool Iron Man coaster in its place... Listening to what kids think they want will put you on a straight road to ruin...
August 20, 2015 at 5:51 AM · This is a brilliantly written piece.
More articles please Paul!
August 20, 2015 at 6:31 AM · When the kids don't like it anymore I'll just leave them at home and send pictures. Wouldn't be the first time we have gone without them. Hahaha. I think every kid is different. Some become cool kids and wouldn't be seen dead in a Disney park. That happens. Others don't care what these type of people think and just love what they love. We have an 18 year old coming who is very mad she can't get dressed up. Poor thing
August 20, 2015 at 6:31 AM · When the kids don't like it anymore I'll just leave them at home and send pictures. Wouldn't be the first time we have gone without them. Hahaha. I think every kid is different. Some become cool kids and wouldn't be seen dead in a Disney park. That happens. Others don't care what these type of people think and just love what they love. We have an 18 year old coming who is very mad she can't get dressed up. Poor thing
August 20, 2015 at 6:42 AM · We had tons of kids go to Florida with band when I was in high school, and many joined band in the years we went and dropped out on the off years. We had fun, but we were on our own running around without parents, so that might have been part of it. Disclaimer: that was 20 years ago, but most of the rides are still there. It seems like the kids that go for Grad night in California have a great time. My friend told me she had a lot of fun when she was in high school and it is very much a right of passage for them. The times I have been at Disneyland fairly late at night in the last few years, I have seen a lot of people in their late teens and early 20s. One of my co-workers who just graduated from UCLA told me she and her friends were there all the time and took all their friends who visited from out of town. Something at Disney must be appealing to this age group.
As far as "tweens" go, I think there is an unreasonable amount of pressure now for all females aged 11-45 to act, dress, and look like they are 20. Little girls don't really know how to do that exactly so some just violently reject what they understand to be "kids stuff" as a sign that they are adults. Not all kids do this, but many do. It may be a sign that they need to be allowed to make more decisions about how they spend their free time or dress (you can always give them choices between a few acceptable options) or that they should be given more responsibilities at home in exchange for a higher allowance.
Pandora and Star Wars, can be enjoyed by girls as much as boys. Both movies have strong female characters in them. The ladies in the new Star Wars movies look pretty awesome. I know Disney bought Marvel for the boys, but Iron Man 3 had a 42% female audience and Guardians of the Galaxy had a 44% female audience. I think if you want a reason for Harry Potter being more popular with many young girls than Star Wars, I think it is that Star Wars really tripped over itself in the romantic side plot. That dialog between Padme and Ani in Episodes II-III, yikes!!!! I mean Harrison Ford had to fix some of it in Empire Strikes back (I'm talking about the "I love you"/ "I know") to make it not painfully forced. Harry Potter had a lot of tween relationship stuff in books 3 and 4 and some of that was in the movies. In GotG they handled the Gamora/Star Lord relationship pretty well so that fits with my theory. Or just have Thor run around with his shirt off I guess, that seemed to work for the ladies in the movie theater I was in when I saw that movie.
August 20, 2015 at 6:49 AM · I was having a discussion with my wife about this during our trip this past week. Our oldest is turning 10 and already doesn't want to wear anything with characters on it and we've had the talk with her (at her prompting) that the characters are people in costume, etc. We asked her to not tell her younger sister, who is about to be 7 and still very much believes in the magic and she's held to that, but it's going to change how we do Disney in the future. We probably did our last Hollywood & Vine breakfast and have skipped the Disney Jr show, but I'm guessing it will be more about how many times we can ride Rock n Roller Coaster vs making sure we get autographs from Phineas and Ferb. We'll still go, but things will change some in how we do things. Less character meals and more fine dining for example. We're also looking at things like Aulani and the Disney cruises as alternatives to WDW. One thing we all like is how Disney does things. Customer service, attention to detail, etc makes the simple things much nicer. Even though I have girls they both will love the new Star Wars stuff and Avatar land, Toy Story Land, etc. There will be things to do, we will just adapt.
August 20, 2015 at 7:03 AM · Great article. Best line, " since that park is so entertainment deprived it now counts the parking lot tram as a ride". Brilliant.
August 20, 2015 at 7:13 AM · The author overstates the problem/issue. Yes, princesses grow up but Disney still has a great reservoir of IP to mine to keep teenage girls interested. The new Star Wars has a very strong female lead which will appeal to teen girls, and Marvel appeals to girls as well as boys. If they just want thrills and adrenaline rushes, then Six Flags and Cedar Fair are their ticket during the teen years. Then after the grow up some time in their 20s, they will return to Disney again. Attendance and revenue figures bear this out and will continue to do so.
August 20, 2015 at 7:48 AM · You had me at - "The poor girl would have gotten less mauled by diving headfirst into a shark tank wearing a necklace of live fish." hahahaaha....

But I agree, Disney is great for young kids and Older Adults. So Universal is your best option unless you want to venture to an underrated park called Busch Gardens Tampa. This is a great park if you have a rental car. Montu Rules!

August 20, 2015 at 7:57 AM · Sorry, but my girls (now 21 and 19) have always been Disney fans and they'd shout it from the rooftops if you let them. They wore Disney tees in middle and high school and still do to this day (thank goodness for the Disney line of merchandise at Hot Topic). My 19 year old carried an Ariel backpack in high school and her freshman year of college. Her Disney collection and posters are on display in her room. My 21 year old is currently enrolled in the Disney College program and is loving every minute of it. I hope they never outgrow their love of all things Disney.
August 20, 2015 at 9:16 AM · Excellent writing. I have teenage boys. We have a timeshare, so going to Orlando was easy and often for them. But the are stuck-- they do like the "thrills" of Universal but they they prefer the "happiness" of Disney World (their word not mine). Universal is intense-- it's fast and loud and sensory overload. If Universal would had a few more multi-generation attractions that weren't quite so "loud," then Universal would really see attendance skyrocket even more. Disney sent a message to my boys several years ago that they were not valued as much as girls. My boys picked up on it. So while they prefer the "happiness" of Disney, they've picked Universal more recently. Plus, Disney has simply become too much of a hassle with the reservation system. Our boys have been "disappointed" they couldn't get the rides they wanted.
August 20, 2015 at 9:56 AM · Honstly, when theme parks with generally broad appeal start trying to go after specific demographics, that's when they start failing. Disney parks cast a very wide net, and it's unfortunate that there's simply not as much for a tween girl to do. However, the day Disney starts targeting specific developments to such a narrow focus, that's the day they will truly start losing market share. Disney is still one of the few theme parks where an entire family can tour and ride together on most attractions from the 40 something parents to the 6 month toddler. Sure, the thrill seeking teens and tweens might not be engaged by POTC and Jungle Cruise as much as the 2 year old and the nostalgic parents, but it's the idea of enjoying the experience together as a family. For those older kids that want to go out on their own, there's plenty to do that you've conveniently left out...TestTrack for those wanna be girl engineers, a walk around the World Showcase figuring out what cities they want to visit when backpacking following their high school graduation, Tower of Terror and Rock 'n Roller Coaster, and the Kilimanjaro Safari for those considering a career in veterinary science. You've also forgotten the Agent P game in EPCOT and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which are both specifically targeted towards the 8-15 crowd (boys and girls). Additionally, you neglect to point out the behind the scenes tours and upcharge activities that pull the curtain back on the magic that makes WDW a completely different place to those no longer itching to meet Mickey Mouse.

I see plenty of girl tweens and teens having a perfectly wonderful time at WDW, and while new resort developments don't exactly target that demo, the wanna-be-independent types visiting WDW with their family will find a way to have fun. Finally, considering SW a boy-centric franchise is not fair since the movies contain some of the most dominant female characters of all time. Many young girls are drawn to SW, and I think the addition in the parks will hit all of the demos evenly. It's cool to be a nerdy girl these days, and those interested in sci-fi and the like have grown immensely over the years. Additionally, the Toy Story addition may seem a bit of a lean towards the younger kids, but I think TSMM itself skews far older, and the added capacity should allow for more frequent re-rides, which plays on the competitiveness of the older kids.

August 20, 2015 at 11:21 AM · Funny article, and you do have some points, but there's PLENTY to do at Disney parks for 10+ kids. Note, ironically that Disney considers 10+ an Adult (for ticketing purposes). You just need to start going on the Big Girl rides and get away from Meet n Greets and Fantastyland. Now you can watch her eyes roll going down a steep drop (as opposed to when you say something). I just got back from a Disneyland trip with a 14 & 16 year old. We had a BLAST !!! BUT we didn't go on the kiddie type rides unless they suggested it. California Screamin' is fun no matter what age. You just need to adjust the attraction choices to ratchet up to their age range.
August 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM · I do think there will be plenty for my girls to do at Disney when they're older. I think my six-year-old will be done with meeting princesses within a few years, and I'll be thrilled when that happens. Still, there's still a lot to do beyond the princesses and kids' rides. Disney does bug me when they zone in so much on a certain demographic, and adults aren't getting as many cool rides like the EPCOT Center ones unless they're tied to an IP. Still, I doubt kids would lose interest.
August 20, 2015 at 11:49 AM · Wow look at all of those folks that will defend Disney to the END. Jumping on the author who wrote a well-rounded, funny and amusing article.

What the heck is wrong with not Loving Disney? Is there an 11th commandment that says – Tho shall not belittle Disney.

What he is saying is that his kids have outgrown Disney not all kids. And I have to strongly agree. If given the choice we prefer Universal or BGT.

August 20, 2015 at 12:01 PM · ^Paul asked the question, "when do kids get too old for Disney?" and offered his opinion. Others have responded with agreement or disagreement, or with a different take entirely. I don't see a single comment that would constitute "jumping on the author". On the contrary I find most people on this site to be fairly respectful of other people's articles and opinions.
August 20, 2015 at 12:19 PM · Yes James this is a respectful site but there are way too many defenders of Disney here - Immediately they come out of the woodwork.... Disney is still great and my kids and 18 and 20... bla bla bla.

Disney is made for younger kids and there is nothing wrong with that.
They know their target audience.

Forest through the trees brother.... Forest through the trees

August 20, 2015 at 12:31 PM · Brian, you are entitled to your opinion, but it is no more "fact" than the opinion of any other poster on this site. Opinions are like (you-know-whats) - everyone has one. And yes, Disney has a tremendous amount of fans on this site and many others. That's the result of having the most popular theme park "chain" on the planet. You'll have to go to a site geared to Universal or BGT if all you want to read are comments from fans of those parks. Personally, I prefer the breadth of opinion on generic theme park sites like TPI over the narrow views of single park fan boys (and girls). A variety of opinions will stimulate conversation, not kill it.
August 20, 2015 at 12:44 PM · My 15-year-old daughter is ticked off at her parents for taking a trip to Disneyland without her. She is Disney through and through. No aging out for her.
August 20, 2015 at 12:56 PM · Personally, my comments were a retort to the hypothesis, and I think Paul may be overlooking some aspects of the parks that may engage his daughter he might not have considered. Will Agent P, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, or Keys to the Kingdom entertain his daughter as much as WWoHP? I don't know, but while there's clearly a gap in directly targeted activities and attractions towards tween and teen girls, it's not a complete wasteland at WDW as Paul suggests.

Also, while there's nothing wrong with not loving Disney, there's also nothing wrong with noting when others may not fully understand what there is at WDW.

August 20, 2015 at 1:09 PM · I'm a 20 year old woman and I love Disney still. It always feels magical being at Disney World. Just depends on the person - Disney is what you make of it. If you aren't the type of person to let go and enjoy being a kid again, then Disney isn't for you once you grow older. Epcot especially, as the "adult" park, appeals to older ages of both sexes.

Additionally, you don't need to be a boy to enjoy the Star Wars plans just like you don't need to be a child to enjoy what Disney has to offer.

August 20, 2015 at 5:13 PM · I went for the first time in tenth grade and I cried like a baby. I'm now late twenties and go there on weekends just for myself, so "growing out of Disney" isn't a thing that happens to everyone, it's a kid by kid basis. All of my friends are still just as obsessed as they were as kids and are now introducing their kids to the magic. I love universal, but if I'm spending a relaxing day of just enjoying a park I would much prefer Disney. (Also, I had a character back back pack and clothes in fifth grade, the students mocked me relentlessly, but I didn't care because I loved the stuff I had and I hated all of those kids, so I was lucky to not care about being ostracized. Although I do think parents should be working harder to teach their kids to not mock people for their interests.)
August 21, 2015 at 3:14 AM · by the time your in your 20s going into 30s and up you will still love disney its just them fews years as a pre and a teenager when ur more interested in wot people think and say
August 21, 2015 at 6:54 AM · I'd just like to point out that the current infantilisation of Disney's Parks is a relatively recent phenomenon. It's startling how much has been focused on the tots since my first visit in 92.
August 21, 2015 at 12:17 PM · As a 13 year old, this year I had a choice between going to Spain with my friends or going to Disneyland Paris with my family. I chose Disney without a shred of doubt. We will also be going on our 6th Disney Cruise next year. I strongly doubt I'll ever grow out of Disney. Even though I probably enjoy Universal more at the moment, I never want to outgrow Disney.
August 21, 2015 at 12:31 PM · It obviously depends on the kid. I would think normally you're looking at anywhere between 11 and 13. But. We've been taking our daughter to Disney World since she was in a baby carriage and we're still at it. She's 22 now. Just graduated from college. Doesnt matter. She loves it every bit as much now as she did back in the day, and maybe more so, Me too.
August 21, 2015 at 12:43 PM · Great article!
I have the feeling when Disney (or one of his descendants where around the movies where less focus grouped to girls or boys. Even the second wave of successful hand drawn animation movies had a lot of broad appeal. Sure there where some princess movies but also Lion King and Tarzan. Nowadays it's princesses all the way. Sure Frozen has a coming out gay theme but it's hidden to well because it would be to chocking for the general Disney following.
So let's say Frozen is the pinnacle of Disney then Despicable Me is Universal. Three strong little girls with no magic and are no princesses, a criminal who wants to use them and Minions for comical relief. In Gru we see our self, struggling parents loving your kids. A true family movie and sure it sometimes has an edge.

I don't see Universal going for the almost still liquid to 10 years old, just like LEGOland doesn't go for anyone else except for the 3 to 12 year old.
Disney tried once successfully to appeal to everybody but Alien Encounter and the likes closed and all their new stuff is for kids only. That's ok, so all parks have their own identity and that is great. Don't want Universal to be more Disney and don't expect Disney to be more like Universal.

August 21, 2015 at 12:48 PM · This is a "favorite" Disney problem of mine, something I pondered as my kids grew. It also influences adult friends and my wonderful wife, Claire, who pretty much thinks Disney is just for kids and is primarily in the business of selling people junk they don't need. We are DVC members, and are taking our first trio together since our wedding this November.

Anyway, I think the problem isn't really Disney but the culture and the audience they find themselves within. For example, I thoroughly lament the dumbing down of Epcot and even MK and now AK. WDW used to have a fair bit of science and technology in it, and now the idea of learning is apparently no longer connected with whatever passes for "fun" these days.

And, to get back to the point, at adolescence, kids begin to realize that some of the most substantial issues and matters and experiences are not the highly abstracted little kids stories their parents once told but stuff about relationships, biology, sex, and ultimately death. These are not kids topics. They are not topics many parents are comfortable talking with their kids overtly about. But adolescents know almost more than anything else when they are being told a distracting tale. They want the real thing. And Disney has failed -- very possibly under pressure from the culture about them -- to find a way to speak to Genuine, Full Life in ways that relate. Their messages need to be deeply coded so they don't get assailed by kid guardians, whether parents or organizations who think they know better than them, who find such parts of real life distasteful.

My personal thoughts are that, as in the case of religion, kids should be allowed to make up their own minds. Meanwhile, come adolescence, Disney loses and had lost any influence on these young people. And that's very sad, in my opinion, both for the young people and the Disney Company.

I've written more about this elsewhere: https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/purity-in-disney-tangleds-take-on-premarital-sex/

August 21, 2015 at 3:09 PM · I loved the article - mainly for its humor. I don't happen to agree, but that doesn't bother me.

I also thought it was funny that (for me) the ads on the right and left of your article were both for WDW...

August 21, 2015 at 5:44 PM · The article is a fun read. I don't have a daughter but I saw our son loose his spark for Disney in his very early teens. He still loves Universal and is very much looking forward to the Kong addition. Our son loves dark rides...but not just those themed to children's stories and movies which has been mainly Disney's thing for a while now. Hopefully Star Wars land (eventually) can change that trend.
August 21, 2015 at 8:32 PM · I also have to disagree. We moved down to Florida when my little princess was 9 years old. She loved to visit Disney, although the attractions she liked changed with her age. At 9 and 10, she still loved going to the princess meet and greets, character meals, etc. As she grew, she fell in love with Alice in Wonderland. She loved going to the parks with her friends and being able to do things without the parents hovering.... at first it was within the same park, but as they got older, they were allowed to take the transportation and visit other parks as long as they kept in touch. By the time they were 16, they were going to the parks at night without us. It was a great way for us to allow her to have her independence in a safe place. She never got tired of the younger skewed rides, but added more adventurous attractions to her agenda and enjoyed Star Wars weekends, Candlelight Processionals, Flower and Garden Festivals and even the Food part of Food and Wine festivals. If you are thinking you are going to take a vacation to Disney and your tween or teen is going to enjoy the same things, then you are right... they won't... but if you let them take the reigns and give them a little independence, you will find there is plenty for them to do and you won't have to "break up" with Disney.... You will just learn to enjoy other aspects of the parks.
August 22, 2015 at 4:58 AM · I'm now 27 years old, have been going to Disney parks since I was 8, and I still really like it. But then again I was NEVER into princesses and characters anyways.I loved going for the rides, food and atmosphere. I'm not a HUGE fan of Disney World at the moment, but it definitely isn't because I've aged out....

If I asked most of the tweens in my family and their friends along to Disney with me they'd probably die of happiness. Heck they're thrilled for a chance to go ANYWHERE.

So I think it is on a kid by kid basis. If you have "cool kids" who are worried about everyone's opinions then they are probably going to act that way at some point regardless of the theme park you take them too. I really don't see them wanting to dress up as Hermione and wave a wand around either....lol

Also, I feel bad for the poor girl getting roasted for the Frozen shirt in the 5th grade. I sure hope the girls poking fun at her were told that it was NOT ok. So many little girls are becoming way too grown, way too young these days. It's sad.

August 22, 2015 at 10:22 AM · I've always loved going to Disney even through my teen yrs & I still love it and attend SWW every year bc the new SW expansion was not just aimed at boys ;) just sayin'
August 22, 2015 at 10:22 AM · I got really bored of Disney in high school and started going to Halloween Horror Nights and Universal with my friends. The free summer concerts are great at Universal, much better then Frozen summer money grab.

Disney does not care at all about teenagers they ended Grad nights and shut down just about every club at downtown Disney. Universal makes more of an effort to appeal to teenagers and young adults.

August 22, 2015 at 3:38 PM · ^Don't those "free summer concerts" require admission to the park? And, I hate to burst your bubble, but ALL theme and amusement parks are a "money grab". I just got back from Six Flags New England where I had to drop $50 for admission, $20 for parking, and $95 for a Platinum Flashpass (it was a rainy, busy day and I only had about six hours to get all my rides in, so a Flashpass was imperative - and the Platinum Pass is required for Wicked Cyclone). Of course I did not eat at the park cause Six Flags food is expensive and abysmal. Anyway, if my math is correct, my one day at a Six Flags park was more expensive than one day at the Magic Kingdom - where front of the line access is included with your regular admission.

BTW, Wicked Cyclone was a fine ride - but not my favorite "Iron Horse" redo, and Bizarro is still the best ride in that park, by far.

August 22, 2015 at 10:11 PM · Re: fellow anonymous poster. Really? Disney doesn't have anything for teens? I'm just saying, there's a crapload of comments above you that say otherwise. Also, the reason why the clubs in Downtown Disney are closed is because they're undergoing redesigns. They'll reopen sometime in the near future. Lastly, Universal's main problem is that they appeal too much to teens and ignore everyone else. They're only good rides are thrill rides and the family rides range from tolerable to mediocre. Disney, on the other hand, has spectacular thrill rides and family rides.
August 23, 2015 at 8:35 AM · The comment above mine is the definition of fanboy.
August 23, 2015 at 9:38 AM · I think there is an age when you don't care much about Disney... for me growing up I could have cared less about Disney between the ages of 12-25. But once I had kids myself, it all came back around again. Now I take my kids (who are 10 and 8) and we have a blast. I know soon that they will want to do other things, but I'm hopeful that when they grow up and have kids of their own that we can all go together.... grandparents (us eventually), my kids, and grandkids.

There is an age for everything. People. especially kids, change as they grow older. But it all comes back around again at some point. It's no one's fault, it's just life.

August 23, 2015 at 3:28 PM · It depends on the kid. My son grew out of Disneyland by the mid teens. He likes the thrill of the SFMM coasters, but not the looooong lines, lousy service and general dirtiness of the park (some Disney has rubbed off on him!). So he's really not into theme parks at all, now that he's in his early 20s. His sister, now 26, is a different story. She likes new things, and wants to go new places with her boyfriend, but will always love Disney. We still have annual passports, and go a couple times a year. For her, as well as for me, it's more than just rides. And (thank goodness) it was never about "princess" stuff. It has always been the whole package: the history, attention to detail, all the things that make Disneyland unique. In spite of the over-commercialization and corporate decisions in the last 10 to 15 years, the magic is still there for us. She will get older, but will never outgrow it.

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