The following vintage Walt Disney Productions article remains a relevant reminder for today's Re-Imagineers.
Disney entertainment speaks an international language that spans oceans, boundaries and cultural barriers. To people of all ages, everywhere around the world, the Disney name immediately communicates three things: Quality, Uniqueness and Value. And the Disney organization communicates a vivid understanding and relationship with its family audience, friendliness, and a dynamic inter-related diversity. Walt Disney's legacy for the future is far greater than the physical assets of our company. It involves a sacred public trust...an intangible that can't be bought at any price...an integrity that must be protected at any cost.
"When we consider a new project, we really study it - not just the surface idea, but everything about it. And when we go into the new project, we believe in it all the way. We have confidence in our ability to do it right. And we work hard to do the best possible job."
Today, the subject of Quality concerns itself with everything we do in the Disney organization. Disney is the only studio left in the world where a team of animators shun the gimmicks of cut-rate animation so prevalent elsewhere and adhere to the meticulous, painstaking, costly Disney approach to cartoons.
At Disneyland and Walt Disney World, extraordinary efforts are made on a daily basis to be the best by maintaining the quality of our show...guest service, food, merchandise and the thousand other factors which together make up a Disney theme experience.
Throughout the entire world-wide Disney organization, we try to do the best possible job with good taste in everything we do. To maintain these high standards, we monitor ourselves according to the toughest possible internal and external standards.
"You hate to repeat yourself. I don't like to make sequels to my pictures. I like to take a new thing and develop something. There's really no secret about our approach. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We're always exploring and experimenting."
Exploring, experimenting and pioneering. They were all a part of the Disney tradition of Uniqueness that began on "day one" in 1923. Walt took the medium of animation and gave it a voice, introduced color, added depth to the visual dimension with the multi-plane camera, and finally proved that if done with Disney quality it could even be expanded into full-length features. Never to be content with the status quo, however, he then expanded the audio dimension with the first stereophonic sound.
Dissatisfied with "run-down" amusement parks, he bet his entire organization on a new idea...a unique concept called Disneyland and revolutionized American outdoor entertainment. He brought his animated characters "to life" through an electronic pixie-dust called Audio-Animatronics®. He proved to a nation that color television programming was a viable means of entertainment. And he started to prove to the world that the problems of man could be solved by the technology of man...someone just needed to pull it together. And the project would be the most unique of all...Walt Disney World.
These are just the highlights of the remarkable list of unique accomplishments and projects generated throughout the Disney organization during its relatively young history.
And we have always protected that Uniqueness...protected every character we created from outside misuse and duplications. And we keep our product unique...we don't franchise Disneylands across the face of the earth although we've had ample opportunity. Uniqueness will always be Disney.
"We're not out to make a fast dollar with gimmicks. We're interested in doing things that are fun - in bringing pleasure and especially laughter to people...it's proven it's a good business policy. Give the public everything you can give them..."
Throughout the organization, we always try to provide the best possible value to our public while maintaining reasonable profitability within good business sense. Like many other entertainment organizations often do, we could command far higher prices from our "captive audience" at our theme parks, or through our films which today practically have a monopoly in the "G" rated sector. However, there is an absolute Disney policy against "price-gouging." Our paying guests must feel that they have gotten their money's worth...they must feel that they have received good value. We want them to keep coming back...it's not a one-time shot. We want our guests telling their friends, "It was worth every cent." The greatest Disney advertisement strength is "word-of-mouth."
4. UNDERSTANDING THE DISNEY AUDIENCE
Disney entertainment is not aimed toward the intelligentsia. You can take all the PhD's and CPA's, all the philosophers, psychiatrists and psychologists and all the intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals in the U.S. and together they wouldn't keep Walt Disney Productions in business for one week. The American families do. Everybody always said that Walt had some magical sixth sense for how something would be accepted by the public. Actually, he kept sight of who our public was. He said:
"Movie makers are often too introverted about their production. They tend to build up myths about audiences and to prattle glibly about shifting public taste and its unpredictables. In considering one thing: Americans are a sociable folk, we like to enjoy ourselves in crowds, at sports arenas, at picnics, fairs and carnivals, at concerts and at the theater."
"Above all, we like to laugh together - even at our own shortcomings. I don't like to kid myself about the intelligence and taste of audiences. They are made up of my neighbors, people I know and meet every day. Folks I trade with, go to church with, vote with, compete in business with, help build and preserve a nation with."
"Most of my life I have done what I wanted to do. I have had fun on the job. I have never been able to confine that fun to office hours."
Walt Disney Productions has been something of an anachronism in major industry by adhering to a first-name, open-door, informal code of behavior for its employees. And yet, these are the proven factors that lead directly to having fun on the job, maintaining a sense of humor and strong sense of internal friendliness. Ultimately, as Walt and Roy knew, it would lead to a strong external friendliness...a friendly efficiency with the public that would pay off in large dividends. No one can create the kind of friendly entertainment product we demand in a formal, unfriendly atmosphere. This important aspect of the Disney philosophy is universally recognized today by the public and press alike. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that "You can see more respectful, courteous people in Disney World in an afternoon than in New York in a year."
6. THE DISNEY DYNAMIC: SYNERGETICS
"My greatest reward is that I've been able to build this wonderful organization."
Walt Disney developed the most diversified and synergetic organization the entertainment world has ever seen. Walt Disney Productions is actually what the conglomerates attempt to be...that is, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This is because the Disney diversification is completely inter-related within our Disney product.
One sophisticated author writing for the Nation magazine as far back as 1967 put this diversification in excellent perspective, calling Disney a "ship of fantasy that is now a flotilla, all vessels controlled from a single port but each a separate identity and cargo. Until Disney, horizontal diversification was unknown in show business. In fact, it has a tighter logic than the fingers on one's hand. Disneyland advertises Disney movies and animal personalities. Disney TV plugs the park, where commercial exhibits by TV advertisers reduce overhead and raise profits. And the same golden symbiosis applies to publications, comic strips, toys and 2,000 other products."
Further, elaboration on the Disney synergetics and breaking it down even further, a long-time WED Imagineer said, "The individual things we do in Walt Disney World or Disneyland don't have to stand as separate profit entities like in other companies. We tell outsiders this and they think we're crazy, but that's the real secret to how it all works. We're looking for the total effect on the guest. That's the payoff. There's not a thing in either place that could be placed on the outside and stay in business. Not the Jungle Cruise...not the Liberty Tree Tavern...and not even our popcorn machines. But when you put it all together, and mix in the employees, the whole effect becomes something that creates the "Disney Experience."
"And frankly, you can apply that to our entire organization. Every Disney company and division draws strength from the other parts. It's a curious, in fact, a downright incredible phenomena." —Walt Disney
Uniqueness... Quality... Value... three vitally important aspects found throughout Disney entertainment. Understanding the Disney Audience...Friendliness...The Disney Dynamic of Synergetics...three vitally important aspects found throughout the Disney organization. All of these make up the basic foundation of our Disney business; producing "The Finest in Family Entertainment."