How amazing! Despite shelling over a significant amount of money in travel, lodging, park tickets, food, and souvenirs, there were no complaints about the Disney experience. There was something in the air this year as many of my friends with young families headed to Disney World independently of each other.
I had to reflect on this for awhile and decided it was the little things that made this experience spectacular.
I often hear how great Disney’s customer service is, and my high expectations were exceeded. I had been to Disney World several times as a kid, but this was my first trip as an adult. I didn’t appreciate the Disney system and culture until now. The Disney corporate mantra must be “smile, set expectations and over deliver”.
There are so many standouts on my trip as to how Disney creates this experience, but it was the little things that made it magical:
- Posted times for the monorail, the buses, and the ferry boats were all blown away by actual times. The bus “which comes every 10-15 minutes” was in actuality no more than 3 or 4 minutes at any time during our trip.
- Every employee that you pass on the Disney hotel grounds will greet or wave to you. While this may seem ridiculous and perhaps contrived, the staff does a good job of demonstrating that they are genuine.
- Line queues for rides have a posted time, but the time in line is consistently shorter than what’s posted. But by now, you already knew that.
- While in line to greet the Woody and Jessie characters from the Toy Story franchise, a helper walked down the line and let everyone know that “Woody and Jessie will be walking away momentarily, but not to worry. They need a quick break and will be back out in 5 minutes.”
The sense of ease that this gives to customers before the characters disappear minimizes on tantrums from children and adults alike. Of course they returned in less than 5 minutes.
- In another line to greet a character, a (brute of a) customer jumped the queue and put his daughter beside the character for a picture. The helper , in this case, politely explained to the customer there was a line and everyone was waiting patiently for their turn. The customer insisted he was in line although everyone in the area knew he was not.
After a few moments, the helper realized this conversation was going nowhere and asked the customer to kindly wait in line the next time. He allowed the picture and then focused his attention on the next kids that were actually in line. He distracted them by asking questions about the kids and turned a potentially big scene, into a non-issue.
- As we approached yet another character for a picture and an autograph, we realized that Goofy had stolen our pen! After the last greeting our pen went missing. I made a comment to my wife that Goofy had, in fact, not returned our pen. Without hesitation, one of the two helpers with this latest character handed me a new pen.
- As we walked around the castle, a Disney manager was walking by and noticed some garbage on the ground. Sure enough he picked it up and dropped in the garbage can without missing a beat. It was obvious that this was not something new to him.
- One of the biggest experience improvements for an amusement park is the FastPass. On the most popular rides (where wait times can exceed an hour) you can retrieve a ticket to by-pass the line queue. You are provided a reservation time to come back and essentially walk right on the ride.The reservation window of time is usually about an hour (although even if you are late, they still let you in).
A small amount of planning will allow you to get a FastPass for a popular ride, go on 2 or 3 less popular rides and then walk on to the popular ride. We were able to do this process several times throughout our stay and essentially experience 4 rides in less than an hour!
All-in-all the Disney experience was exceptional and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my family back at the next opportunity. Keep up the corporate culture and the innovation in improving customer service!