In November of last year, I took my first trip to the United States with three friends. And, like so many groups of twenty-something-year-old college students, our first stop was the pinnacle of desire, gluttony and the American Dream. That’s right, Disneyworld. And in my five days there I learned two things: 1. It truly is The Happiest Place on Earth and 2. I will never forgive my parents for denying me such a wondrous experience as a child. But why is Disneyworld so often hailed as such? The truth comes down to a few simple facts that can help get any business on the right track, least of all multinational theme park conglomerates.
Waiting without the wait
Forgive me stating the obvious, but, er, Disneyworld’s a big place packed with lots of (big) people. As such, one can expect a fair amount of waiting around. It’s one of the unavoidable downsides of any tourist venue, but at Disneyworld, nothing ever feels like a wait. Every attraction has its own themed entertainment, some of which is so exciting it’s almost disappointing to learn you’re now at the front of the line.
Waiting patiently for the Star Wars ride? Treat yourself to a live Jedi-in-training session organised by Obi-Wan, and concluding with the young masters laying the smack down on a real-life Darth Vader. Want to take the ride again, but you’ve already seen the show six times before? Snatch up a fast pass and simply return at a specified time to jump the queue. Still want to poke holes in the system? Well then, maybe The Happiest Place on Earth just isn’t for you.
The customer is king
There are some instances in business where it makes sense to adopt the ‘some you win, some you lose’ attitude with regards to customers. Apparently not so in Disneyworld. Your wish is the park’s command, and if you’re budget-savvy enough to organise accommodation inside the park, then every inch of the playground is yours for the playing. The granddaddy of all attractions, the Magic Kingdom (yep, the one with the giant sparkly castle) is open until one in the morning for Disney patrons. That is, unless you want to ride the Thunder Mountain Railroad with the rest of the staff until half past three.
Brand protection like you’ve never seen
The park’s very name conjures up certain irrevocable images, even to those who have never even set foot inside. Laughing children, endless sunshine, delectable Disney princesses…these pictures are no accident. The park doesn’t have a single loose end or squeaky wheel in its entire corporate hierarchy. All staff (or ‘cast members’, as they prefer to be called) are only too happy to assist you in even the most tedious endeavour – no mean feat considering thousands of them are merely semester-long interns with no guarantee of future employment on the horizon.
Meanwhile, park cleanliness and hygiene is perhaps the most overlooked achievement of the brand, again fuelling this perfect image of family fun. My personal icing on the cake? Watching Aladdin break out into sporadic song and dance during the midday parade, only to stop so he could pick up a paper bag and swiftly stuff it into his pocket, before faultlessly returning to his act.