I wrote this on Sunday, July 17, 2010, 55 years after Disneyland opened its doors to the general public.
If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. The Disney Experience goes beyond almost every other business out there, not just in the amusement park business.
It’s a learning opportunity every business owner should experience.
Earlier this year I heard marketing legend Dan Kennedy speak. At that event he said Disneyland makes more money per visitor per day than the entire city of Las Vegas. I haven’t been able to verify that statement but, comparing our last trip to Disneyland vs our last trip to Las Vegas, that’s true from my personal experience.
My family had the fortune of visiting Disneyland twice in the past year. Last month, instead of getting too caught up in the wonder and amazement again, I decided to watch how employees moved and what was going on from a business and marketing perspective.
What makes their business so special? And, what allows them to bring in more money per person than Las Vegas?
I’m sure I didn’t catch half of what goes on behind the scenes however here are couple points I noted.
Take Your Customer For A Ride
Only Disney makes every ride a full sensory experience.
In Star Tours, as your “space ship” goes into an icy meteor the room gets cold.
On Indiana Jones, as you’re truck is traveling you hear the noise of the darts being shot out of the wall. You feel the puffs of air from the guns on the back of your neck, simulating they just missed you.
It’s similar with Captain EO. When the little elephant type creature blows his nose, air blows in your face (this is a movie type theater you’re sitting in).
At the end of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, when he ends up in hell, the temperature of the room gets very hot.
While these may not seem like a big deal, and they’re almost never consciously noticed, it injects another sensory experience and brings the rides to life. When a visitor gets off they feel different.
Yes, you know you’re on a short ride in a tiny part of a small amusement park. But your physical body has experienced some very physical changes that are, well, out of this world.
If you’re selling a product or service, take your customer on a ride.
You may not be able to alter the physical surroundings but you can use stories and emotionally charged language that engage your buyer’s senses. Use sensory based words (see, hear, feel, taste, smell) interchangeably to add flavor and unconsciously make your presentation and sales copy dance.
You’re Selling A Disney Experience
Disneyland itself is an experience.
When all is said and done, all we have are some photos and fuzzy memories of the trip. Our home is cluttered with a few more toys. My daughter has some sparkly shoes from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. My son has a new Buzz Lightyear laser gun. But, the money we paid bought smiles, laughter, and joy.
Every movement in the park makes you forget the world outside. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Tomorrow Land, Adventure Land, Fantasy Land or walking down Main Street. The only place you are aware of is your immediate surroundings.
Every detail is in proper place.
Of course, I can’t leave out the rides. The rides are like mini product launches.
As I said above, Disney creates an incredible sensory experience on each of their rides.
Many of the popular rides exit into a small theme store. So, when you exit Star Tours or Pirates of the Caribbean, you have this charged feeling from the ride still bouncing around inside you. Then it’s a natural and logical step to build your own Light Saber, or buy a pirate hat as you’re leaving the ride.
There’s no pressure to buy. It’s just the next logical step on your way through the park. The sales process is friction free.
Now, think about what you’re selling and how you’re selling it.
Are you building a Disney experience so your customer takes that next natural step? Have you thought about what experience the buyer wants? Are you selling a product, or the experience you can provide your buyer?
At Disney, the employees are “cast members.” They have a “role” and “script” to adhere to. They don’t have lines to read but they have a specific understanding of their role and authority to act within that role. They’re job is to make sure the “guests” (customers) have the best experience possible while there.
As Mickey’s Street party comes through, cast members quickly rope off the area for you to safely watch. As it rolls away there’s Mickey shaped litter is everywhere and, out of nowhere, men and women in white uniforms with blowers and vacuums come out and in a few minutes the place is spotless again. It’s as if nothing happened.
Disneyland is simply beautiful.
The flags hanging in main street have crisp colors, as if they were just taken out of the box that morning.
Sleeping Beauty’s castle looks like it was built yesterday.
Every light and doll on It’s a Small World blinks and moves in sequence.
None of this is by accident. They don’t wake up and think about which product they’re going to sell today. Or, maybe they’ll try something different in Toon Town to see if it will increase traffic to that area. Everything is well documented and thought out long before executed. Even the placement of the shops at the end of the rides.
But, That’s Disney…
It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say, “Yeah, but that’s Disney. I’m just a (fill in your business) selling (fill in your product of choice).”
You don’t have to aspire for a Disney size empire. However, if you want to run a business and experience the things you want in life, then I would pay attention to the Disney experience.
They’ve figured out the trick to make you a happy, loyal customer. Someone grateful to be parting with your money.