I'm Going to Disney World!

Do what it takes to get people excited about visiting your Town. Then watch the magic that occurs as you discover that enthusiasm is ALWAYS contagious.

David Thornell

1/8/20243 min read

As the Super Bowl approaches, get ready for the Winning MVP to proclaim his plans to go to Disneyland or Disney World. This has been the case since the late 1980's, as the ad campaign seeks to motivate any and every one to show up to either park, pay admission, then spend more money once there (in the gates).

The Walt Disney Company is in the entertainment business. Whatever they create, make or sell is for entertainment purposes. They compete with countless numbers of businesses who want you to spend your entertainment dollars with them. Disney is also in direct competition with many other theme parks with rides, shows and features that are similar, yet none really compare with the Disney Theme Parks.

The secret begins with how Disney pays attention to details. Everything from the smallest to the largest are deliberately created and managed to stimulate a positive impression, create interest, and encourage spending. I believe that this focused "attention to detail" is a key reason for their phenomenal success.

Disneyland and Disney World work hard to create an atmosphere that is special or "magic" according to the theme of each "neighborhood" or zone within the park. Every square foot is extremely clean and richly landscaped. Signs and structures display bright colors, freshly painted. These areas are also well-lit at night to accentuate their appearance. After all, why pay so much on vivid paint schemes, beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers if you only see them during daylight hours? Each restaurant, ride or theater also has the furnishings, murals, architecture to match the theme", i.e., what you are seeing or doing.

For example, the Country Bear Jamboree lobby has bear claw markings on the heart-pine floors. This nice touch should not serve as a surprise, since this is where the bears are, and of course they would have scratched the floors. In the Animal Kingdom Park, the Safari Boats were dented with a rusty finish on the day the park opened. The bridges had exposed bricks under worn stucco. Creative experts planned the slightest details and made each a part of a greater environment.

Costumes of cast members (not employees) match the style of dress worn by those in the time periods and events portrayed. Disney Parks feed the senses. The sights, sounds, smells, touch, and taste all merge to create a experience that other entertainment complexes miss by leaving out many of the details that Disney wouldn't dare exclude. Roasted Turkey legs are "Dino Legs" in the Jurassic Park section of Animal Kingdom and "Alien Legs" beside Tomorrowland’s Alien Adventure ride. How many local places try to be creative in naming the items on their menu? I suggest that they could and should.

Disney also ends every show or ride with an exit through a gift shop featuring merchandise from what you've just seen, heard, and experienced. This elicits inspired purchases while the warm feelings for a character or movie is at its peak. Every business should study this process of inspiring customers to buy what they are selling when the need is secondary to the want. Wanting to buy something always wins over the need to buy something. Purchasing for needs is essential-boring. Purchasing something you want is exciting-satisfying.

Communities should pay attention to Disney's use of a focal point that help people realize that they've arrived in a special place. In the Magic Kingdom it is Cinderella's Castle. In the Animal Kingdom in Orlando, it is "The Tree of Life" a 200-foot artificial tree (although appearing real) that has carvings of over 300 animals on every branch, root and every inch in between. People see, appreciate and remember these focal points as the distinguishing feature of each Disney park they visit. If you've been to either Disney World or Disneyland you can probably close your eyes and vividly picture Cinderella's Castle in your mind.

Now close your eyes and picture the memorable landmark or feature in your town or business. What is it? How good of an impression does it make? The lesson here is to pay attention to every detail in terms of what you are trying to promote and sell. Blend everything people see, hear, and feel when they enter your business or town into a total inspiring experience that makes people want to have what you are offering. This process of expert packaging works well for Disney and will work well for you.

Be fanatical about the image you want to present. In my visits, I have seen countless extra touches at Disney World that didn't really seem necessary. However, since Disney World demands to be both different and better than the competition they were absolutely necessary.

What can set your business or community head and shoulders above the rest? Develop it on a grand scale to create your own "Magic Kingdom". Disney spends a lot of money but their investment pays off every time they open their doors. It is then that they collect lots of money.

Determine this year how you can give people something worth shouting about, in terms of visiting your town or business. They don't have to shout it out on national television, but anyone who tells others how excited they are about what you offer will create a stir and a following affect, as those within earshot will also want to come and see what the excitements about.