How Walt Disney’s Vision for Guest Experience Lives On Today

Cinderella’s Castle is beautiful from every angle…

Cinderella Castle2013

…but the most interesting view is underneath.

Deep underneath Cinderella’s castle in the middle of the Magic Kingdom is a utility corridor running from Main Street Square to Fantasyland. There is also a circular corridor running around the circumference of the Magic Kingdom. Though it gives the appearance of a tunnel, and many Cast Members call it a tunnel, these long passageways are really corridors, built on ground level and then covered over with 5 million square yards of dirt and sand dredged to create all the beautiful water features you see around the park. The visible park you see is really the second story of the park – but that’s really another story.

I recently spent 2 days in Walt Disney World, with the sole purpose of observing and talking with Cast Members and Guest Experience Managers of all four theme parks. There will be lots of stories from my time there in the days ahead, but there is no better way to begin than this:

Imagine, if you will, that long central corridor described above where almost all Magic Kingdom Cast Members pass through in their work at the park. To one side of that corridor, beginning a long wall of photos, sayings, and displays of the history of Walt Disney World, is a very large, but simple poster with a picture of Walt Disney and these words:

Walt Disney’s vision for a great guest experience:

Safety, Courtesy, Show, Efficiency

In a line past that poster, you will see 4 more large posters, with a smiling Cast Member’s picture on each, with these words below:

  • I practice safe behaviors in everything I do
  • I am courteous and respectful to Guests of all ages
  • I stay in character and perform my role in every story
  • I use my time and resources wisely

Known by various terms but most often called the 4 Keys, they were literally Walt Disney’s vision for Guest Experiences – first at Disneyland when it opened in 1955, then at the Magic Kingdom in 1971, and at every other theme park, cruise ship, and Disney organization since then.

In literally every conversation I had, the 4 Keys were mentioned – as a group, as individual stories, and how they are used as training tools.

That’s powerful.

These 4 keys are simple service standards, and they can be powerful tools in any organization – but especially ChurchWorld.

There is power in establishing a framework of values from which everyone in your organization operates. Within that framework, you can empower team members in a way that gives them a sense of ownership and purpose. You create a consistent image across the entire organization.

Disney’s standards have stood the test of time for over 60 years – shouldn’t you consider creating standards for your organization that will stand the test of time as well?

 

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