What I learned working for Walt Disney World

Learn more about Jon Seaman.

Back in the summer of 2000, I embarked on a once in a lifetime adventure, working for Walt Disney World down in Orlando, Florida. I was finishing up my junior year in college and was fortunate enough to be chosen to spend my summer break working at the Happiest Place on Earth!! I had never been to Walt Disney World prior to that summer and was looking forward to learning as much as I could about their wonderful theme parks, hotels, stores, etc. I was also looking forward to learning how their business operates and why people come back and visit year-after-year. Upon looking back on my time there, there were a few special things they did that stuck out and those are:

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Jon sporting a smile with Chip!
  1. Training
  2. Operations
  3. Customer Service

Training and Rules:

The first thing I noticed which sets Disney apart is their fantastic training program. I was chosen to work in a retail shop on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. The first day I arrived for work, there was an orientation for the new hires, where a team leader walked us around the park and gave us the history of the park and taught us about where we going to be spending the next three months. They then had us go through a week of training. Here, we attended multiple classes learning everything from how to take payments, how to treat the guests (I will get to this later) and even how to point directions correctly (Disney way: two finger point). I was then given a training mentor, who showed me the ropes on everything from how to get to work, getting my costume for the day and how to find my way around their internal tunnel.

Once I began my journey in the store, I was given another mentor for the rest of the summer. This lady was fantastic and throughout the summer, we would meet regularly and she would make sure I was getting the most out of my experience and answer any questions I had. She is a great person, and she recently celebrated 15 years with the company.

Operations

Disney World has thousands of workers, and I was interested in learning about their system and how they handle this large number of employees on a daily basis. What I took away is they have a well-oiled machine, and there is no detail that goes unseen.  It starts with their transportation system to get to work, where they have buses that take their workers over to the main area. Upon arrival, you then go up to a checkout area and get your costume. Once changed, you then walk in Disney’s underground tunnel. This was one of the most fascinating things there.It is essentially a city underneath the main theme park where workers can walk to their work destination and avoid walking through the park with guests (which is a big “no no”). Once you have arrived at your work destination, they had a check-in area where someone is there to punch you in for your shift. From there you head to your work destination to begin your shift providing top notch service to the guests in the park.

Customer Service

Customer Service is the #1 most important thing to Disney, and I learned that this is why they are so successful year-in and year-out. While it is crucial to every businesses’ success, Disney World is the king of Customer Service. Every guest is treated like gold and are met with a smile and accommodated to the fullest. Disney teaches this to all of their workers on day one and stresses that each guest is to be treated like they are the only person in the park. I made sure to treat every guest like this and my biggest priority was to make sure I was brightening up their day. Guest’s expectations are so high upon traveling down to Disney World, and who doesn’t want to be treated like a million bucks.

Fast forward to 15 years later

When I look back on my time working at Disney, I am thankful for the skills I gained which I use in the business environment today. No matter who you are or what you do for a job, you too can act like a Disney World employee each and every day. Put a smile on your face, have a positive attitude and treat your customers and guests like they are the only people that matter. Apply the concepts that Disney teaches and I guarantee customers/guests will keep coming back to you, as millions of people travel back to the “Happiest Place on Earth” each and every year.

How can your business provide winning customer service?

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Jon Seaman

As Account Executive for Esker/TermSync, Jon has responsibilities for developing business and assisting companies looking at core product lines including Fax/Postal Mail, Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payable and Sales Order Processing. A couple unique things about Jon is he is a big U. of Nebraska football fan and once worked down in Disney World.

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