Kids vs. Disney Adults, Who Is the Problem at Disneyland?

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Disney100 banner with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background at Disneyland Resort

Credit: Disney

While thousands of fans constantly criticize “Disney adults” and influencers for being an annoyance at the Parks, could the problem lie elsewhere, and could Disneyland be better without kids?

Since 1955, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, has been a staple of family fun in America, welcoming millions of families every year eager to experience Disney magic through breathtaking storytelling, immersive lands, timeless attractions, innovative new experiences, world-class entertainment offerings, mouth-watering dining offerings, and so much more. And with the Disney100 Celebrations — commemorating The Walt Disney Company’s 100 Years of Wonder at Disney Parks worldwide — in full bloom at Disneyland to add to the magic, it’s no wonder why the Happiest Place on Earth is one of the favorite destinations for American families and hundreds of thousands of international Guests.

100th Celebration Disneyland Tour Coming Soon
Credit: Disneyland Resort

However, while Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are family theme parks, many fans have polarizing opinions on who should attend the Parks, criticizing the behavior of certain groups like influencers, content creators, and “Disney adults” — who constantly receive hate across social media platforms. While it is true that these groups have been at the center of multiple incidents at the Califorina-based Disney Parks, several Guests think that the actual problem of Disneyland lies elsewhere and consider that the Parks would be better without kids. Join Inside the Magic as we dive into this divisive topic.

family on the matterhorn at disneyland
Credit: Disney

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Why Disneyland is aimed at adults

As mentioned above, Disneyland was initially planned as a family theme park, and as the Resort continues to grow, that focus has remained. However, if we analyzed some of the offerings at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, we would notice that few are genuinely aimed at children and that adults have many more possibilities to enjoy everything the Parks offer.

Rides and attractions

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are home to fun attractions for the whole family. Still, if we stop to think, most of the rides at both parks are aimed at older audiences for several reasons, starting with the most obvious indicator, thrill level.

Rides like Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Grizzly River Run, Incredicoaster, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! are aimed at older audiences due to their “aggressive” nature, being some of the Resort’s most thrilling rides and having the tallest height requirements to ensure the safety of all Guests — even when parents have gone to extreme lengths to get their children on some of these rides, endangering them and breaking Disneyland’s rules.

height requirement for seven dwarfs mine train
Credit: Best of Orlando

Related: Child Upsets Guests, Has to Be Escorted Off Disney Thrill Ride

Inevitably, theming also plays a significant role in enjoying the Parks. Most rides and attractions are inspired by classic Disney movies or cult movie franchises that now belong to The Walt Disney Company, such as Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While younger audiences might enjoy Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Peter Pan’s Flight, or Indiana Jones Adventure, most of the rides and the stories that inspired them are much more significant for adults, who would enjoy the rides more consciously than younger Guests.

Pirates of the Caribbean, iconic Disney ride, failing during the well scene at Disneyland Park
Credit: Inside the Magic

Other fan-favorite rides like Pirates of the Caribbean might also not be as appealing for younger audiences as they are for adults who possibly have a nostalgic or emotional connection with the ride, especially since the last installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise — starring Johhny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush — was released six years ago. The same could be said about Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square, but with a new movie inspired by the beloved attraction premiering later this year, that could change quickly.

Interest in themed lands

Continuing with theming, themed lands are also aimed at — and therefore more enjoyable for — adults. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland Park might be the perfect example of this. While younger Guests might enjoy walking around Batuu, interacting with Chewbacca, Rey, Kylo Ren, and the First Order Stormtroopers, adults have all the fun in the immersive land with Oga’s Cantina — a dining location serving snacks and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages — as well as Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers and the Droid Depot, which are some of the most expensive experiences at the Southern California Resort.

galaxy's edge disneyland millennium falcon
Credit: Inside the Magic

However, at Disney California Adventure, Avengers Campus has a more diverse audience. While the immersive land inspired by the MCU films serves alcoholic beverages at Pym Test Kitchen, Guests of all ages can be seen enjoying the campus, interacting with their favorite Marvel superhero, and enjoying the land’s two attractions — Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. This is most likely because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is relatively new, and younger audiences are just as eager as adults to enjoy the latest installments from Marvel Studios.

Avengers Campus and Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disneyland Resort
Credit: Disney

Other themed lands like Cars Land, Pixar Pier, Fantasyland, and Mickey’s Toontown are also more balanced regarding audiences. Guests visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will surely see entire families enjoying these areas.

Walt Disney weighs in

In 1955, when Disneyland first opened its gates, Walt Disney said, “To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relieves fond memories of the past. And here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.” And while Disneyland has remained true to those ideals for nearly 70 years, being welcoming to all has indeed proven to be problematic for Disneyland, with fans and media criticizing the company’s efforts toward inclusion, diversity, and respect, accusing The Walt Disney Company of promoting “woke garbage.”

Walt Disney at Disneyland with characters in the 1960s
Credit: Disney

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However, Walt Disney once stated that Disneyland had a four-to-one ratio of adults to children visiting the Park, adding that there were days when you wouldn’t see any children, just adults enjoying the Park. In an interview with the BBC in 1959, Walt Disney was asked if Disney movies were principally designed for children, to which Walt answered, “You have to appeal to the adult. The adults have the money. The children don’t have any money.” And that same outlook applies to Disneyland Resort. Children enjoy the Parks, but you genuinely have to appeal to the adults, as they have the money to spend at the Parks, whether on a solo trip, a visit as a couple, or an entire family vacation. You can watch Walt Disney’s interview below:

Kids vs. influencers at Disneyland

If we changed our focus from theming to Guest behavior, we would, unfortunately, realize that adults are often at the center of several incidents at the Parks, including fights and disgusting scenes at the Parks. However, we could say that children’s behavior has been equally disruptive in the past years, making us wonder why adults are attacked when children are tolerated without complaints.

Equally entitled Guests

Just as Disney adults, influencers, and content creators are constantly criticized for being entitled when it comes to parade viewing, riding attractions, and service at dining locations, children have recently shown the same behavior, disrespecting other Guests and squeezing into restricted areas to enjoy Disney’s live entertainment.

Sleeping Beauty Castle with Encanto projections during Wondrous Journeys, Disneyland's latest fireworks show
Credit: Disneyland Resort

Related: Viral Video Stirs Polemic Against Entitled Influencers and Parents at Disney Parks

During a recent visit to Disney California Adventure while waiting for a presentation of Operation: Playtime! – featuring the Green Army Patrol at Pixar Pier, I had an interaction with a young girl, probably eight or nine years old, whose parents were nowhere to be seen, who demanded I move for her to watch the show. The request would’ve been understandable if I had been in front of the crowd, but I tried to find a spot away from the performers to enjoy it without interfering with others’ views. And what was most shocking to me — in addition to the fact that an adult did not accompany the girl — is that there was plenty of room beside me and even in front of me for the girl to watch, yet she wanted me to get out of her way. Her attitude was as entitled and unjustified as any Disney adult or influencer’s, who often receive a lot of hate online.

Mickey mouse leading the "Magic Happens" parade at Disneyland Park
Credit: Disney

Related: Are Kids Making Disney Parks Worse?

And during a performance of the “Magic Happens” parade at Disneyland Park, I noticed several young children squeezing between and pushing people to get a better view — even after arriving last-minute — and even smugly getting into restricted areas after repeatedly being told not to do so by multiple Cast Members.

Disruptions during rides, parades, and fireworks shows

Inside the Magic has reported on multiple influencers and content creators affecting other Guests’ experiences on Disney rides by being obnoxiously loud, using their camera flash, and being overall disruptive. However, few people talk about how children do basically the same during queues, rides, parades, live performances, and even nighttime spectaculars.

Guardians of the Galaxy mission breakout
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

During a recent visit to Disneyland Resort, I quickly noticed children screaming, crying, and throwing tantrums on every other ride, from the queue to the exit. I also noticed several Guests as surprised and upset as me. While controlling a child’s screams and cries is not easy, parents should be aware of how disruptive they can be and try to find a way to calm their children or exit the ride before affecting other Guests’ experiences.

Strollers and ECVs at Disneyland

Walking all day at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure is a nearly impossible task, especially for Guests with special mobility needs and parents with young children. But while ECVs and strollers might be necessary at the Parks, the attitudes of their users require immediate attention.

strollers lined up at disney
Credit: Disney Fanatic

ECV users are known for being entitled and rude to other Guests, with some even hitting others without reason and refusing to admit their responsibility when an incident arises. However, parents pushing strollers are just as entitled. A few weeks ago, I noticed too many parents carelessly pushing their strollers while checking their phones or eating, walking slowly, utterly unaware of the large crowds forming behind them as they blocked the walkways. And let’s not mention how many times Guests are hit by strollers across the Park without hearing an apology.

Parents allowing unacceptable behavior

The examples above show how parents allow their children to behave unacceptably at Disneyland without any repercussions. In addition, Inside the Magic has reported on children hitting Cast Members, shamelessly relieving themselves in the bushes, and even sneaking onto the Parks to avoid paying for a ticket — which obviously goes against Park rules and could cause a lifetime ban for the family.

Why after-hours events are Disney’s best bet to attract adult audiences

While Disneyland will never ban children from entering the Park — as it will not likely ban adults either —there is a simple solution for all Guests to enjoy the magic of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure without disrupting each other’s experience.

That simple solution is access to the Park after regular operating hours, or, in Disney’s terms, After Dark events. Disneyland After Dark events have proven to be a smashing success, with tickets selling out in no time and Guests having the most amazing experiences at the Parks. Due to the nature of these After Dark events and, most importantly, their hours, it would be hard to think of bringing children into the events, allowing adult Guests to enjoy the Parks freely.

Princess Merida running after a mother and her daughter during Princess Nite at Disneyland Resort
Credit: Disney

While there are several Disneyland After Dark events throughout the year — including Sweetheart’s Nite and Princess Nite, which just took place at Disneyland, and the upcoming Disneyland After Dark: Throwback Nite and Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite events — adding After Dark events throughout the year could be a successful strategy to attract more mature audiences and allow adults to “relieve fond memories of the past” as they enjoy the magic of Disneyland.

Inside the Magic will update you on the latest Disneyland After Dark events news.

What do you think about this divisive topic? Is Disneyland a place for everyone, or would the Park be better without children or adults? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments below!

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