A few little known facts- Employees at Disney are not allowed to utter the words, “I don’t know.” Every employee at Disney is required to pick up trash whenever they see it. Each cast member is required to attend an intensive signature training so that all the characters’ signatures are completely identical. Although I may have never explicitly noticed these traits, the small details and the precise processes are the secret behind the park’s magic.
As a Christmas get-away, my wife and three-year-old daughter traveled to Newport Beach for our first family Disney-themed vacation. Leading up to the week, I was just as excited as my daughter. I had fond memories of the park through the years. In spite of the ups and downs of the world around it, Disneyland is a constant. It gives parents the opportunity to be young and kids an occasion to be enchanted. Though the park may add or slightly update its attractions, for me, the park has always been a dependable getaway fueled by tradition, imagination, and joy.
As I wandered around the park, in awe of the poised princes and princesses, the flawlessly-dressed Mickey and Goofy, I began to evaluate Disney from a business perspective. What is their secret behind the magic?
1. It has perfected its processes
As I mentioned above, Disney establishes stringent rules for all employees. The entire park is a production, reliant on the diligence of the staff to execute. Cast members are not allowed to share of their identity outside of the park. Once they walk through the gates, they are expected to be their character. This means not only acting, but looking the part. Facial hair must be trimmed, men’s hair cannot extend over their ears or shirt collars, there is no nail polish permitted, and princesses must be between 5’4’ and 5’8’. While these restrictions may seem extreme, the company relies on the perfection of the little details to make the overall production believable.
2. Employees Have the Freedom to Be Themselves
Despite all of the rules, cast members at Disneyland are given freedom to add their magical touch to the whole experience.For example, since my daughter shares the same obsession as millions of other kids in the world for the Disney movie Frozen, I had the opportunity to sit through the same play twice on separate days during our visit.Although the play followed an exact, word-for-word script, there were times when the actors were allowed to insert their own humor through different tricks or an improv act to rile up the audience. Disney sets strict rules for the characters that cast members must abide by, but also gives them the opportunity to express themselves.
3. Genuine Employee Satisfaction
Because the park is so well taken care of, according to a Disney employee survey, 87% of employees say they are proud to work for Disney. Having to clean up trash or go the extra mile with a disgruntled customer seems less like a chore when employees are invested in the operations. The park fosters an interdependent leadership style where everyone takes ownership to create a culture of constant improvement and an obsession for delivering the best possible experience to guests. After all, it would not be possible for the customers to witness Disney’s charm if the employees didn’t also believe in its magic.