Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Walt Disney World: Marketing to Diverse Demographics

I had mixed feelings when I found out that my last family vacation was going to be to Florida and that Disney World was going to be part of it. I hadn’t been to Disney World since I was nine years old, so I was afraid it would be kind of lame considering I am not a kid anymore (and neither is anyone in my family).

However, the trip surprised me and actually turned out to be one of the most fun and amazing trips I have been on! The youngest in my family is my little sister, who is 20, and we all had a complete blast! It turns out that Disney World attracts people of all ages, not just children.

Businesses that can attract anyone and everyone are the best family destinations out there. It is not always easy, though, to successfully attract everybody. But Walt Disney World is perfect, considering they provide so much! They succeed because…

Disney World’s lodging has something for all age groups.

Disney provides many places to stay during vacations with them — some that especially attract adults, and some that uniquely attract children.

For example, their popular All Star Resorts cater mostly to children but they don’t isolate adults. I checked these out during my trip and thought they were super cool; I am 22 years old and I was just amazed by them. Disney has three different All Star Resorts: All Star Movies, All Star Music, and All Star Sports. They all are themed and decorated in high quality Disney decorations. In my opinion, the coolest was the All Star Movies Resort. Their lobby and pool area was all decorated with Disney-themed movies. Toy Story was one of them, so they had one of the lobbies themed as Andy’s room with all of his toys. Down in the pool area they had activities set up throughout the day for the children to participate in. 

As interesting as the All Star resorts were, the adult-centric resorts were absolutely breathtaking. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort was elegant and I really wish I could have stayed there. It is a lakeside resort that makes you feel very high class. You can sit along the beach with service at your feet with any drink or food available. They also provide a Supervised Activity Center for adults who brought children, so that adults can enjoy their time and not have to worry about their kids running off. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is similar to the Yacht Club in the sense that it is also on the lake, and provides many of the same services.

TAKEAWAY: It’s a huge thumbs-up for your company to offer accommodations for specific age groups. You need to have unique perks that people will remember and want to brag to their friends about. Business spreads like crazy when people are talking about it! In the case of All Star Resorts, children will likely go home and tell their friends they got to stay in “Andy’s Room” with all of his toys, and their friends may end up begging their parents to go there, too. Adults like to brag as well, whether it is by telling their friends how their trip went or by posting pictures on Facebook about the amazing hotel where they stayed. To mimic Disney’s success, find your business’s perk and don’t be shy about showing it off!

Disney’s night life primarily appeals to adults.

Has anyone been to Downtown Disney? I never even knew what it was until I went there this last October, but it was honestly one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. This part of Disney is definitely geared more towards adults, because it is a chance for adults to get out and have some fun. The area consisted of some shops, restaurants, a few bars and night clubs, live entertainment, and the best part: a little margarita bar. And being in Downtown Disney was a completely different atmosphere. It was sort of like being in Downtown Chicago, except it specifically spoke to fans. 

As I shared before, my family is all in the adult range, so the downtown area was perfect for us. My mom, sister, and sister-in-law loved visiting all of the different stores, so they shopped for most of the night while my dad and brother listened to live entertainment by the margarita bar (I was torn between both because both shopping and margaritas are two of my favorite things). However, this just goes to show that Downtown Disney wasn’t dull even when catering to different types of people.

TAKEAWAY: Not only is it important for businesses to worry about entertaining different age groups, but it’s also key to make sure there’s something for every interest. For the most part, everyone can stick together and do the same things at Downtown Disney. But when they want to split up, it is important to offer something that specific groups would enjoy. If your company’s products or services are one-sided, then it may be time to re-evaluate to see if there’s room for improvement.

Disney’s collectibles convey urgency, as well as inspire brand discussion.

Disney is well known for their souvenirs, and they sell a variety of products that people could easily start collecting. And the best part? Their collectibles appeal to adults, children, men, and women, so no one’s left out. Their collectible pins are among the most popular offerings — collectors buy Disney-themed pins and then spend time trading them with other tourists (or employees) in the parks. 

The idea behind the pins is to get people to interact with one another and share in a love of all things Disney. I saw both adults and children buying and trading them throughout the day; it’s a fun way to get people more involved with a brand. Besides these awesome pins, customers can also collect Vinylmations (plastic figurines) and the movies themselves.

TAKEAWAY: Collectibles or limited-edition products market your business because they play on a sense of urgency and drive people to take action. Customers will be happy to snag collectible items, and your business will grow when people pay attention to what you’re offering. In Disney’s case, the pin trading helps market their business because of the conversations that come along with it. If you are making small talk about what you have been doing so far on your trip, it will give others activity ideas and encourage them to spend more money. Even if it doesn’t make sense for your company to offer collectibles, you can still take this advice to heart. For example, you could offer a limited-run coupon and ask customers to share it with others — this would urge word-of-mouth and give clients an exclusive tidbit at the same time.

What do you think about Walt Disney World’s commitment to their diverse audiences? Would you do anything differently? Have you had a similar experience at WDW?

Image credit to janeyhenning, Lauren A.M., Brian and Kathy Mickle, and {salt of the earth}.


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  1. Rachel

    What a great post, Jaimie! I love love love Disney World, and you’ve picked out many of the reasons why: no matter what age you are, you’ll find something fun to do. What resort did you stay at while you were there? I’ve not been to the All Star resorts, but, as you described, they seem like pretty cool places, especially for families. I’ve stayed at the Beach Club, which is the sister resort to the Yacht Club, and you’re right — it’s very elegant. My favorite is probably the Grand Floridian — I’ve only stayed there one night, but it was beautiful. You can see Cinderella’s Castle and the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the resort, even right from your window if you get the right room. Just a lovely place. Too bad it’s so expensive! 🙂

    Looking forward to part 2!

  2. Jen

    Cool post Jaimie! I don’t think Downtown Disney necessary caters to just adults. I was 19 when I visited for the first time and I loved it. I couldn’t go into the bars and drink, but I could hang out at Disney Quest (a really awesome arcade) and all the cool shops/restaurants. Any kid or teen would love it!

    I’m not sure if it’s still there, but the adult themed area was Pleasure Island. If I remember correctly it was a pier with bars, and you couldn’t enter the area unless you were 21. Since I’m of age now, I’m totally hanging out there the next time I visit Disney World, it looked really fun.

    • Eric

      Pleasure Island is kind of like an Old West ghost town…no idea what they’ve got planned for it, however, they have brought in some neat restaurants, shopping…even Cirque du Soleil into that area.

      On that note, the Ghirardelli ice cream stand is the most delicious thing ever. I highly recommend anything and everything there containing chocolate.

      Disney partnering with brands like that was a smart idea, and I’m more than sure there will be more to come in the future.

  3. Cybernetic SAM

    I was always afraid that I would not like Disney Land/World, when I was there when I was a kid (like 22 years ago) I hated it! I have never been a big theme park fan, I always feel really overwhelmed and everything is always really expensive. However, I have heard really good things about these parks. I have heard that they are ridiculously detailed and unlike anything you would have expected. So perhaps some day I will try it out again.

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    No surprise to anyone, I have loved each and every time that I’ve gone to Disney. I loved it as a 4-year-old, I loved it as an 18-year-old, and whenever I go back, I’ll love it as a 20-something-year-old. There truly is a park/ride/hotel for everyone, and heck, even going on some of the rides geared toward younger kids is still just as fun. 🙂

  5. Jeff Porretto

    Being as cheap as I am and disliking crowds as much as I do, I don’t so much enjoy this place. I see how others do, it’s just not mah thang. Great points made however!

  6. Jill Tooley

    I stayed in the All Star Movies resort when I visited WDW in 2006 (way into adulthood), and it didn’t disappoint. The decor was much too busy for my tastes — lots of crazy, conflicting patterns on the floors, bedsheets, and curtains — but it was decent for the price. Plus, it was a good location, so it was worth it!

    Also, I have a couple lanyards full of Disney villain pins that I collected while I was there — it’s SO easy to get sucked into the collecting… 🙂

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