Disneyland’s 60th Birthday: Boomers, Millennials And Gen Xers United By Smiles

Celebrating Disneyland’s opening, July 17, 1955

Disneyland turned 60 on July 17th, 2015. On this date back in 1955 the opening, recorded by ABC Television, was so successful that a million visitors arrived in the next seven weeks (Disneyland Public Affairs).

Since then over 650 million guests have smiled their way through the original “Magic Kingdom” and Disney-mania went viral.

Disney charactersIn 2014, nine of the top ten amusement/theme parks worldwide were Disney properties – welcoming a total of 134 million visitors (Themed Entertainment Association).

It’s been an E-Ride.

Eventually, those little 1955 Boomers grew to adulthood, as did Gen Xers, and as Millennials are doing now, with each generation reliving childhood memories as they watch the next crop of excited little tykes scurry from rides to ice cream and back to rides again.

Walt Disney famously said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” He was right, some of the most popular attractions opened decades after the launch.

  • Disneyland E Ticket1957   Autopia … oh, how we stretched on tippy-toes to make the height restriction
  • 1959   Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Monorail
  • 1965   It’s a Small World
  • 1966   Carousel of Progress
  • 1967   Pirates of the Caribbean
  • 1969   The Haunted Mansion
  • 1977   Space Mountain
  • 1979   Big Thunder Railroad
  • 1989   Splash Mountain
  • 1995   Indiana Jones Adventure
  • 2000s California Adventure Park, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and more – there is always more.

Disneyland and Boomers: always a big bright beautiful tomorrow

It’s a mistake to think Boomers who caught Disney fever decades are still stuck in old-time Americana; there was also a self-confident focus on the future that set the tone for the entire generation.

Just imagine the incredible changes those little awestruck kids who wandered around the park that first summer have embraced since 1955 …

1955 Chevrolet

America’s population doubled; sprawling suburbs and mega-cities replaced sleepy little towns – think Orlando and Anaheim.

The number of vehicles on America’s highways has more than quadrupled; meanwhile, the Detroit brand share of new car sales plummeted from 95% to 45% in 2014.

In 1955 black-and-white television sets were uber-cool – wow, almost two-thirds of households had one! Color TV, at 2% penetration, was hardly a blip on the radar.

When it came to travel, domestic  jet service was still three years away and 90% of passengers were business fliers. Since 1955, flight times are halved, Americans who ever flew in a commercial airplane soared from ≅ 10% to 90+% and U.S.-based passengers rocketed from 49 million to 848 million (U.S. Department of Transportation).

Pluto is also in the news – the planet, not the Disney pup

Pluto on twitterRemote planet Pluto is also in the news after NASA released stunning pictures from the New Horizons space probe.

Discovered in 1930, contrary to legend, Pluto was not named for Disney’s friendly pup, but vice versa. Still, the jokes abound.

As the ancient Greek god of the underworld, Pluto’s job was to prevent the souls of those who had passed on from escaping the eternal darkness. And because Earth’s precious minerals are also hidden down below, he was incredibly wealthy too.

Ironically, Madison Avenue decreed a similar – and enduring – mythology around the time Disneyland opened. Consumers over fifty are cast into eternal darkness because, theoretically, they are no longer open to switching brands. Also, their ghostly presence frightens younger buyers.

The 93 million members of the Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965 see this as weird. Owners of over 70% of U.S. household net assets, their domain – like Pluto’s – is fabulously wealthy and after a lifetime of change it’s way too late for them to stop adapting now.

It’s time for disruptive Disney-style imagination: brands that engage a bigger, richer market than any European country will not only win Boomer appreciation but market share. How cool is that?

Opportunity Pluto

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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