Unless you think "Phantom Menace" breaks from that, I don't know what your argument is. The original Star Wars was full of references that I think he obviously hopes the adults in the audience would understand. So the prequel trilogy does that again, and is also full of stuff that seems like it's supposed to be fan service for people who knew the movies already, like Anakin building CP30 or all the Storm Troopers being clones brothers of Boba Fett.
Also, the Star Wars media in the pre-prequel 90s, with the toys, comics, and video games, and the relationships of those properties to each other, was apparently handled really carefully, with Lucas' involvement.
Even if he was indifferent to the idea of "adults with action figure collections, waiting for new Star Wars since 1983," there were all the teenagers that grew up with that second-generation Star Wars media empire that he'd been presiding over since the early 90s. That audience, made up of people my age, mostly had the same reaction that you're attributing to people in their 30s who saw the original theatrical releases.