The ultimate recreational event? A study of the motivations of adults who choose to travel to Disney theme parks
The Disney phenomenon is recognised around the globe for its contribution to the media and entertainment industry. However, there are disputes within the blogosphere on Disney’s audience, specifically within the adult market. Adults are a considerable portion of Disney theme park consumers, and this research aims to find out what motivates this age demographic to attend an attraction which is generally associated with children. This study also includes looking into their decision-making process leading up to a trip to a Disney theme park, as well as their behavioural intentions post-event. Additionally, this study compares the responses of adults attending with children and those attending without children to identify whether the influence of children’s consumption needs affects adults decision-making. This specific topic has not been discussed in academic literature. However, alternative research studies, such as Bowdin et al.’s (2011) analysis of the event consumer decision-making process and Decrop’s (2006) investigation of the vacation decision-making process established a foundation for this research to be based on. This study was conducted using a qualitative approach. To research a topic concerning participants experiences, emotions, and opinions, in-depth information is required to gain a comprehensive understanding of their perceptions. That is why qualitative research was the most effective method for this study. Semistructured interviews were used to collect data from a sample of six participants, all of which were over the age of eighteen and had attended a Disney theme park in their adult life. Through the use of thematic analysis, a number of reemergent themes were identified concerning the participant’s motivations, decision-making process, and behavioural intentions. The results displayed three primary motives for adults attendees of Disney theme parks: reliving youth, escapism, and family togetherness. Additionally, a number of similarities emerged from the decisionmaking process of the participants and the event consumer and vacation decisionmaking processes. The results displayed two primary personal variables which impacted the consumers information search criteria: price, and time of year. Moreover, the process of post-event evaluation was consistent with that in the event consumer decision-making process and displayed clear linkage between the attendees satisfaction and their desire to repeat business in the future. Data concerning this final stage of the decision-making process presented the researcher with an understanding of the attendees behavioural intentions and displayed one hundred percent satisfaction among the participants. However, two critical stages were not relevant suggesting the process of Disney attendance decision-making is a unique procedure. The results showed that the majority of participants did not evaluate alternatives to Disney before booking their trip because there were certain of their vacation destination from the beginning of the decision-making process. Unlike decision-making for alternative vacations and events, which, as suggested by the literature, follows a strict set of stages, the results suggest that the initial stage of the decision-making process of the participants in this study is the event choice. Further suggesting that the process of Disney attendee decision-making is a unique procedure. The results also suggested that, although there were slight differences between some of the responses of adults attending with children to those attending without, it did not appear that the addition of children to a trip to Disney dramatically influenced and altered the motivations, decision-making process, or the behavioural intentions. The results of this study displaying the reasons why adults are drawn to Disney theme parks and what contributes to their satisfaction can be used within the expansion of disneyization, as well as providing a rationale for further research in this field to expand knowledge on theme park attendee motives and decisionmaking.