Leadership / Management

Disney 101: The little things aren’t little at all

Castle My family and I spent some time at Disney World last week. My daughter is 7 and it was her first visit -- heck, it was my first visit, too -- so we had a blast. Three days, three parks (Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios), too many rides, too much food, too much sun. It was awesome in (what I imagine was) a typically Disney way.

Near the end of our third and final day there, my wife and I looked around the park and noticed something -- or rather, didn't notice something. There was no garbage. Anywhere. A mass of humanity was rushing by us, shoulder to shoulder, eating, drinking, buying, consuming, and there was no trash to be seen. The park was as clean as the moment it opened.

Nor did I notice any Disney employees picking up the trash. Sure, they were there. Once I stopped to really look for them, I saw lots of them. But to tourists in a hurry to hit the next ride, they were next to invisible.

"So Disney keeps its parks clean and nobody notices," you say. "So what?"

Here's what: Suppose Disney didn't keep the parks clean. Suppose the rides were sticky and the restrooms stunk and Main Street USA was lined with litter. How do you think guests would react?

I'm guessing they'd do three things: (a) Complain, (b) leave, and (c) tell everyone they know what a dump Disney World is.

Disney gets it, and "it" boils down to this: Nothing else you do will matter if you don't take care of the basics. The little things really are big things.


Bill Sheridan