Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Walking in Walt's Footsteps
John Hench often talked about Walt's desires for his staff of Imagineers at W.E.D. to visit the Park often.
"You guys get down there at least twice a month. For God's sake, don't eat off the lot. Stay there... lunch with the guests... talk to them."
Why would Walt Disney suggest such a thing? The answer is of course very simple. Walt understood that the only way to discover what works and what does not work is to experience it for yourself. You must have a personal emotional response in order to progress with any sincerity. Think of the potential strength of your creative work force when they have been educated by their own product. Walt thought about that very thing.
How often have you experienced great joy at a Disney theme park? Was it your Jungle Cruise Skipper with his impeccable comedic timing? Was it seeing the family of ducks that crossed the parade path over to the StorybookLand canal for a swim? Was it the smell of fresh buttered popcorn? Now, do you personally feel qualified to tell your family, friends and/or peers about all of these things?
Of course you do.
How often have you experienced disappointment at a Disney theme park? Was it a crowd control Cast Member who was rude because you did not know which way to traverse Main Street in the evening? Was the restaurant you were anticipating the most closed early or not open at all? Was the restroom you went in to unclean, with a mysterious wet floor? Again, do you feel personally qualified to tell your family, friends and/or peers about those same things?
Yes. In fact, you become the most qualified, just for having been there.
But, what if the extent of your theme park visit was a piece of paper handed to you some 40 miles away? The contents therein being such information as- 37% of the clicks through the turnstiles may not have experienced Space Mountain today due to periodic attraction closures? This same paper also tells you that churro sales are up 5% from the same peak Saturday a year ago. What is your emotional reaction to that information? How interested are you in making sincere attempts to resolve any negatives in such reports? How damaging is it for a person who is in a position of decision or influence to only see the theme park guests as numbers or percentages on a spreadsheet?
Walt knew what he was saying when he would stress the importance of going to the Park. He knew, because he was there as a guest.