3 Business Lessons I Learned From Disneyland

A few years ago we ran the social media for a political campaign that ended up on the November ballot. Needless to say, those were some really long hours. I worked hard but missed my family so I decided to take a couple extra days off before Thanksgiving and surprise them with a few days in Disneyland.

I’ve taken my wife and daughter there many times over the years but this time the trip was different. I inadvertently scheduled our trip for one of their busiest times of the year … great. There is never really an “empty” day at Disneyland but this time was particularly packed. Even though it felt like there were 38 bazillion people there and the wait times for the rides were almost always more than an hour I still had a really good time.

This was really weird to me because I normally get pretty agitated when I have to wait. I walk fast, drive fast and talk fast so waiting in line isn’t really my thing.

On our last night there we were beat – we had spent nearly 30 hours in the park over the span of 2 days, my feet were killing me and then as I sat there eating ice cream with my daughter in the middle of a snow flurry (yes they make it snow in LA) it came to me … Disneyland isn’t just a great place to visit, it is a great business. We concluded that night with one of the best Fireworks shows I’d seen in years and hobbled back to the hotel room to collapse in bed – another successful Disneyland trip in the books.

As I was driving home the next day, I thought about my Disneyland experience and a few things really stuck out to me that I thought were perfect examples of how their business just dominates the industry.

1 The Devil’s in the Details

An average day at Disneyland can see some 40,000+ visitors enjoying the park. All of those people are eating lunch, dinner, snacks, candies, sodas all day long but you never see a mess… I mean NEVER. The reason is because most trash cans in the park are no more than 30 steps apart from each other. Based on research that Disney did over 50 years ago about how far a person would walk with trash in their hand before dropping it. They also take the extra step to make the trash cans beautiful so they blend in with the environment.

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2 Customer Service is #1

The first time I took my daughter to Disneyland it was right when Finding Nemo came out. In the story one of the main characters is this laid back “surfer-dude” sea turtle named Crush and my daughter loved him. Disneyland had an attraction featuring Crush so we had to see it. The technology behind the attraction was pretty cool – all the kids come in and sit down in front of a large screen and like a movie, crush comes on, swims around and answers the kids questions. Unfortunately, my daughter had her hand up but didn’t get called on so as the session was over and everybody started filing out Victoria started crying (She was 4 at the time). Instead of ushering us out and making room for the next group of park-goers Crush came back on screen and said “Whoa .. Hey little dudette”.. Everybody stopped, turned around, and Crush took the time to calm her down and answer her question. As a parent, I was floored. To think that somebody would take the time to make sure my little girl has a positive experience like that .. It still brings a tear to my eye when I think about it even 10 year later. From that day forward – I was a fan. Anybody care to guess how much money I’ve spent on Disney over the last decade? A Bunch!

Turtle Talk with Crush

3 Always Exit Through the Giftshop

One of my favorite sayings in business is “No Money, No Mission”. Even though many of us feel like we are here to serve others, we still need to make a profitable business out of it or else the business dies .. and so does your mission. Like all things, however, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.

When you are waiting an hour in line to ride Indiana Jones Adventure you aren’t being bombarded with sales messages or vendors. They play ride specific themed music, they wind you in and out of the elaborately decorated ride and they keep your interest high by keeping your senses activated and stimulated. When it is your turn to ride you are greeted and seated by a character in costume and then you’re off.

After the ride, when you are in a “Peak State” (h/t to Tony Robbins) – they let you out either inside of or right next to a gift shop where you can buy momentos of the ride you just went on.

Not sometime … All the time.

So my question to you fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners is …

Where can you put a little Disney in your business? Comment below and let me know where your service is exceptional.

3 thoughts on “3 Business Lessons I Learned From Disneyland

  1. We are a pet sitting business and how we go above and beyond is when we are making our daily visits to the clients homes is that if it is trash day and the trucks have emptied the trash bins we put them back into the customer’s garage for them so that is one less thing they have to do when they get home or if the mail has come we take it in and put it on the counter for them. If we are doing overnights in the client’s home we make sure that the sheets on the bed that we have slept in are washed and replaced on the bed and any towels we have used are washed as well. The trash bins are all emptied. We don’t want our client’s to come home from a vacation and have to clean up after us. Sometimes we also take a client to the airport or pick them up when they return at no cost. If they want to tip us we do accept that.

    • Very nice … all things that can and will separate you from the competition but more importantly – deepen the relationship with your clients. Well done.

  2. When I created our company name it was with “Finicky” in mind. This time of year is a good example of what ‘finicky’ means for us. As the snow piles up outside there is also salt, car slush, and mud that gets tracked in. Walking dogs at this time of year just means messes happen. We provide a small container of Musher’s Secret at each walk location to help the dogs protect their paws too. We make sure to clean up the dogs from their walks and remove boots if we need to walk in further than the mudroom or entrance “landing zone.” If for some reason ‘Fido’ goes galloping across the floor before we get them cleaned up…we do a damp mop(swifter) across the floor too. Packages are not left out on the porch in the snow/rain/ice, but are brought inside.

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