One Little Spark! Marty Sklar and Mickey’s Ten Commandments

The following is a repost, dedicated to the memory of Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar, who passed away July 27, 2017, at the age of 83.


Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar, who retired in 2009 as the only Disney employee to have participated in the opening of all eleven twelve theme parks around the world, is noted for many things, but one of the most cherished has to be his creation of “Mickey’s Ten Commandments.”

During his 54-year career, Sklar was involved in all facets of the theme parks – from concepts to design to operations. Along the way, he developed, refined and practiced key principles of leadership based on what he learned from Walt Disney and other Disney Legends, especially designer John Hench. He crystalized these “learnings” into the first of what he called Mickey’s Ten Commandments:

  1. Know your audience – Identify the prime audience for your attraction or show before you begin design
  2. Wear your Guests’ shoes – Insist that your team members experience your creation just the way Guests do
  3. Organize the flow of people and ideas – Make sure there is a logic and sequence in our stories and the way Guests experience them
  4. Create a wienie (visual magnet) – Create visual “targets” that will lead Guests clearly and logically through your facility
  5. Communicate with visual literacy – Make good use of color, shape form, texture – all the nonverbal ways of communication
  6. Avoid overload – create turn-ons – Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information and too many objects
  7. Tell one story at a time – Stick to the story line; good stories are clear, logical, and consistent
  8. Avoid contradictions – maintain identity – Details in design or content that contradict one another confuse an audience about your story or the time period it takes place in
  9. For every once of treatment, provide a ton of treat – Walt Disney said you can educate people, but don’t tell them you’re doing it. Make it fun!
  10. Keep it up! (Maintain it) – In a Disney park or resort, everything must work. Poor maintenance is poor show!

Long used behind the scenes throughout the Disney organization, Mickey’s Ten Commandments were introduced to the public in Sklar’s first book released in 2013, Dream It, Do It!

In 2015, Sklar’s highly-anticipated second book was released – One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering.

One Little Spark

One Little Spark! provides Sklar’s own personal philosophy developed in working directly with Walt Disney and the pioneering Disney Legends. That philosophy is reflected in “The Ten Commandments” listed above, which Sklar talks about in detail in the book. Along with anecdotes, memories, and key advice from seventy-five Imagineers, One Little Spark! is everyone’s “insiders’s view” into the world where Disney park dreams are born – and built!

Application for ChurchWorld

Really? If you are involved in Guest Experiences at your church in any capacity, and can’t see the immediate and powerful application of Mickey’s Ten Commandments to your own Guest Experience process, may I kindly suggest you are serving in the wrong ministry area?

Be Our Guest” has been the invitation to Disney guests long before the song from Beauty and the Beast became a box office hit.

It underscores an important element in the Disney vocabulary, that customers are not referred to as such, but rather as Guests. In the Disney nomenclature, the word “Guest” is even capitalized and treated as a formal noun.

What’s the difference between treating someone like a visitor, and treating someone like a Guest?

The obvious analogy is that we do things differently when we bring Guests into our home. We clean up the house. We dress up. We prepare something special to eat. We host them. We take care of their real needs.

Disney expects Guests

At Disney theme parks around the world, they expect Guests – and plan to exceed their Guests’ expectations every time. What about you?

Are you expecting Guests?


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