Lessons From Disney

We all know that The Walt Disney Company has a lot of money to do things right. Yet many of their competitors are well capitalized and can’t even deal with trash properly (are you listening Mr. Shapiro).

My 11-year old daughter and I walked out of Disneyland / California Adventure after spending $290.89 ($12 for Parking + $188 for 2 “Park Hopper Tickets” + $63.89 for dinner @ Restaurant in Pirates Ride + $27 for water, pretzels, soda, etc) with big smiles on our faces. Why can Disney charge so much and still leave consumers feeling they got value for their money (ok, we went a little crazy eating at that restaurant, but you only live once and we actually were able to get in)? Here are some major points from the notes Gwen and I took this weekend. We will stick to stuff that everyone can afford to do in some way.

· WEBSITE – From Disney’s website we were able to buy tickets, plan our day, find out what rides were closed, what shows were new and when they were playing, and of course directions to the park.

· WELL MARKETED ROUTE – We all don’t have the political clout to get the kind of exits and signage that Disneyland has, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a well market route. Bonnaroo and ACL Festivals both do a good job with this.

· TRAINED PARKING STAFF – These people know how to park cars, campers, buses, limos, and even pumpkin coaches. If you can’t afford to hire pros to run your parking, study what Disney does and then create a manual.

· TRANSPORTATION FROM YOUR CAR OR HOTEL – At many arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, etc, there is one hell of a hike from your car to the entrance to the facility. Disney not only provides transportation, they give you valuable information while you are traveling on their trams and monorails.

· EXTREMELY WELL TRAINED STAFF – If you need a map, “go to a custodial worker in an all white uniform”. Want to find a ride or attraction and don’t want to look at the map?  ANY employee can tell you the fastest way to get there. And with a smile on their face. Training and manuals are the keys to success…along with hiring the right people (but not as important as training and manuals no mater what anyone tells you).

· BRANDED LIVE ENTERTAINMENT – Disneyland and California Adventure sponsor/partners are built right into the show rather than looking like an afterthought. Everyone who drives a car on the “Autopia” ride gets an official drivers license from Chevron. Kodak has “Photo Shot” areas that are even marked out on the theme park’s maps.

· SIGNAGE & MAPS – Maybe repeating myself a little with well marked route, but this relates to ounce the consumer is at your event. If you have trouble finding something at a Disney park, you either can’t read or speak English or Spanish, or you don’t know to take advantage of their translation programs… or you don’t like asking for directions period.

· PLACES FOR PEOPLE TO SIT & EAT – You will sell more food and beverage if you give your guests a place to enjoy it…out of the sun, rain, wind… on a clean table. Disney knows this.

· FOOD & BEVERAGE VARIETY –Disney even goes the extra step of using the theme of the area (Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, etc) to design both the menus and architecture of their restaurants, stands, carts, etc.

· LINES ARE BAD – When lines start to form at the ticketing windows out front, they open more windows right away. If one line seems to be moving faster than another, there is a supervisor out in the slower line trying to find out why (clipboard in hand). When there are lines at popular rides, Disney warns you of the wait time, gives you an option to come back later with a “Fast Pass”, and tries to keep your mind occupied by designing an experience around the line should you decide to wait.

· PEOPLE TRAFFIC CONTROL – Boy do these guys know how to keep guests moving, change directions for parades and shows, etc. Training, training, training.

· CLEAN RESTROOMS / CLEAN EVERYTHING – Nothing else to say.

· KEEPING STUFF UP – It is amazing, but it is said that some things at Disney parks get a fresh coat of paint every night. Ever see how much “ABC gum” you find at a Six Flags Park? Yuk!!!

· LIGHTING MAKES THE SHOW – Whether day or night, Disney parks use lighting to help create an atmosphere. You should do the same.

· CROSS PROMOTION – Disney builds their movies, books, and TV shows into their theme park rides, shows, and attractions. Branding at its best.

I could go on forever, but the list above was most of our note highlights. Disney is certainly not perfect, but we can learn a lot from them.

As always, would love your opinions and comments.

Talk to you soon…

Jim

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