What Venues Can Learn from Disney’s Parks Revamp

November 04, 2015 - By: Sarah Pease

Disney is often described as the ‘happiest place on earth.’ However, by the mid-2000s, executives noticed not everyone was feeling the ‘magic’ at Disney World. With endless lines… everywhere, and a convoluted ticket system, most guests were only feeling exhausted and frustrated. And with increased social media and smartphone usage, Disney needed to find a relevant way to connect with the tech-oriented generation. Enter Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Robert Iger’s MyMagic+ — a $1 billion venture that included the MagicBand, a virtual key to unlock the Magic Kingdom. Here are 5 lessons entertainment venues can learn from Disney’s parks revamp:

  1. Personalize the Experience. For years Disney essentially adhered to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ concept. Data-wise, they knew very little about their guests (even the loyal ones). The MagicBand allowed them to connect with their guests on a personal level to ultimately serve their needs better.
  2. Set Reasonable Expectations. It’s easy to start with one idea, get excited, and begin thinking of all the other possible applications. Iger told the project team to focus only on MyMagic+ at Disney World, rather than how it could be incorporated at other park sites or on cruise ships.
  3. Establish ‘Ownership.’ Get the key players onboard early in the planning process. There will still be creative differences, but you can address them quickly before they become huge problems. Because the MagicBand project was top-secret (code name: Next Generation Experience) when other groups within Disney learned about it, there was a lot of pushback.
  4. Practice Patience. Change won’t happen overnight. In order for the MagicBand to work on the 28,000 hotel doors, two dozen workers spent eight months upgrading 120 door locks per day. Disney didn’t complete its rollout of MyMagic+ until the first half of 2014; nearly three years after Iger introduced the idea to the board of directors.
  5. Keeping Moving Forward. While the MyMagic+/MagicBand project has helped propel Disney World forward, there will always be room for improvement or a new technology to try. Walt Disney Co. Chief Operation Officer Thomas Staggs was quoted in a FAST COMPANY article as saying, "We’ll use it everywhere it makes sense. But we don’t want to let something we think is cool and cutting edge become a legacy item that we’re trying to drag along."

Photo Credit: benostrander, Flickr


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