Disney Parks Kids Focused Commercial Leads to Questions About Theme Park Marketing

A new commercial highlighting Disney Parks as “The Place Where Dreams Come True” is a well produced minute-long video that attempts to capture the spirit of why kids love to visit Disney’s theme parks so much. Of course, there’s no way to really capture all that in a minute, but the video does have some cute moments.

Unfortunately, the video also has some contradictions. First, a company the size of Disney should be able to afford to shoot new footage instead of using shots from attractions that don’t even exist any more (aka the old location for Dumbo in the Magic Kingdom). Second, the tagline and the brand don’t align grammatically. You can’t have a plural word ‘parks’ and then call that ‘The Place’, it’s either more than one park or it’s not. Disney Parks are not some mythical fairy tale land connected from Anaheim to Orlando. Families make real decisions to attend one of Disney’s resorts based on real world factors, including budget, age of children, and time available.

Another factor, the ability to generate memories of time spent together as a family has become a key part of the decision making for many families. In the new economy, families are giving up the luxury item for the home and trading it for family memories. Disney wants to make sure it’s position as ‘The Place’ where those memories can be made. I’m afraid this video gets Disney away from that a bit too much by focusing only on the kids.

However, the one place where this video could work is talking directly at kids. A study released by Disney in 2011 showed that children have more influence on vacation decisions than previously thought. This video not-so- subtly reminds parents of their children’s wishes to do those things that they themselves enjoyed growing up at Disneyland or Disney World. It’s part of an attempt to position Disney’s theme parks as something nostalgic.

Disney should be careful about becoming too closely aligned with nostalgia for its own past. It’s a trap that will lead to poor guest experience when things aren’t the same as they were 30 years ago. Disney already receives lots of feedback like, “Prices were higher than I remember,” “I don’t remember it being so crowded,” “What happened to my favorite [Ride, Show, or Restaurant],” and “There isn’t as much stuff to do together as there used to be.” It is more expensive for Disney to stay at the forefront of the theme park industry, but the rewards are greater.

All this says to me is the Disney Parks brand still isn’t working quite right in Disney’s attempt to market their theme parks. What would you do to fix it?

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3 Responses to Disney Parks Kids Focused Commercial Leads to Questions About Theme Park Marketing

  1. Heather says:

    I hadn’t seen this commercial before this post brought it to my attention. I’m a super huge fan of all things Disney, and frequently tear up from “let the memories begin”-type of commercials, but this new one misses the mark. It seems low budget and fails to elicit an emotional response. Having been to a seminar conducted by a creative director at Disney’s Yellow Shoes (their in-house advertising group), I know they can do much better.

  2. Maegan says:

    I’ll start by saying I am a HUGE fan of this blog and I keep up with it every chance I get. However, I’m disappointed by this post. I am all for trying to be unbiased when it comes to reporting on Disney Parks and events; however, I feel that your critique of the new commercial goes out of its way to “nit- pick.” First of all, your grammatical criticism is incorrect as “The Place” refers to Disney as a whole (which is singular). Secondly, to state that there is contradictions is odd, as you have stated in one paragraph, “I’m afraid this video gets Disney away from that a bit too much by focusing only on the kids.” then in the next paragraph you state that, “A study released by Disney in 2011 showed that children have more influence on vacation decisions than previously thought.” Isn’t that in itself a contradiction? Finally, in claiming that Disney isn’t focusing on the family by focusing its advertising on the child is something I couldn’t disagree with more. No parent would ever say that family memories come before providing childhood memories for their son or daughter. The focus in a family vacation IS the children; anything else seems frivolous and selfish. Wouldn’t you say the best memories from Disney as a parent are when you see the park through your child’s eyes? While this commercial certainly isn’t my favorite, insinuating that it sends the wrong message is overly critical for the sake of being critical.

  3. Dan says:

    I disagree with Maegan. This was a well written post with valid points. I found it confusing to see one Disney commercial promoting two separate Resorts on opposite sides of the country. They show Cars Land, followed by a shot of Cinderella Castle just seconds later. It would be very easy to think the new land is available on both coasts based on this commercial.

    Disney has a responsibility to use proper grammar in their marketing because of how many children will see it. Whenever a typo was found at Disneyland, there would be a flood of complaint letters and fast action to correct the issue. For example, the Tomorrowland Terrace used to have a sign saying “Club Buzz – Lightyear’s Above the Rest.” Although it fit with the character’s name, it was a grammar issue that caused concern with many parents who were teaching their children the basics of reading and writing. So with that long winded reply, I just wanted to say that the calling out of a grammatical issue wasn’t out of line.

    Maegan also makes the point that a Disneyland trip should be about reliving experiences through your child’s eyes. Disney has moved away from the nostalgia angle with marketing because it makes it harder to justify removing and updating attractions. Instead, Disney’s marketing focuses on making new family memories. They reinforce the “ticking clock” that your children will only be young for a short period of time. If you take a second look, you’ll see that the “hurry up and make family memories now” message is a theme throughout all advertising.

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