What Happens… When our Imagination is Caught on Fire?

Mickey does magic

Is this a test Pam? Are you requiring proof of how badly I wanna make you happy so that we can create this beautiful thing together?

    The line comes after a challenge by Mary Poppins' P.L. Travers to Walt Disney in 1964. That was the time, Disney had invited Travers to engage with his team in the making of Mary Poppins the movie. Travers had just told Walt, as he liked everyone to call him, “I understand your predicament Mr Disney, I do. I just —hm— I don't know what it is, I'm just suddenly very anti-red. I shan't be wearing it ever again.

    Saving Mr. Banks writers Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith get across Disney's sheer enthusiasm and love for setting the imagination on fire and keep it alive throughout the story. A visit to the Disney Park is an opportunity to witness the main voices in their conversation —as Travers reminisces about her past, Walt engages with the present enjoyment of park guests.

    In Be Our Guest, The Disney Institute captures Walt Disney's obsession with providing an environment that delivered the highest quality experience. His philosophy was to think about customers' needs in all circumstances and interactions, getting the fundamentals right:

“From our earliest days, education has been a hallmark of our company. It was Walt himself who said, “We have always tried to be guided by the basic idea that, in the discovery of knowledge, there is great entertainment—as, conversely, in all good entertainment, there is always some grain of wisdom, humanity, or enlightenment to be gained.”

When creating a setting design for one of the parks, Disney Imagineers go by “Mickey's Ten Commandments,” which are in line with challenging limiting frames:

1. Know your audience ―Before creating a setting, obtain a firm understanding of who will be using it.

2. Wear your guest's shoes ―Never forget the human factor. Evaluate your setting from the customer's perspective by experiencing it as a customer.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas ―Think of a setting as a story and tell the story in a sequenced, organized way. Build the same order and logic into the design of customer movement.

4. Create a "WIENIE" ― Borrowed from the slang of silent-film business, a wienie was what Walt Disney called a visual magnet or landmark used to orient customers.

5. Communicate with visual literacy ―Language is not always comprised of words. Use color, shape, and form to communicate through setting.

6. Avoid overloads, Create run-ons ―Do not bombard customers with data.

7. Tell one story at the time ―Mixing multiple stories in a setting is confusing. Create one setting for each big idea.

8. Avoid contradictions, maintain identity ― Every detail and every setting should support and further your organization identity and mission.

9. For every ounce of treatment provide a ton of treat ―Give your customers the highest value.

10. Keep it up ―Never get complacent and always maintain your setting.

Which is where the magic comes in:

"Think for a moment about a magic show. To the audience, the show elicits feelings of wonder and surprise. Most of those watching have no idea how the magician is creating the effects they are witnessing on the stage. Not knowing how an illusion is created and simply enjoying the show are a big part of the fun. The magician's perspective is completely different. To the magician, a magic show is a highly practical task, a series of repeatable steps designed to create a fixed result and delight the audience.

The same thing happens at Walt Disney World and in all other companies that create magical customer experiences. The happy surprise that a well-served customer feels is a result of hard work on the part of the company and its employees. For the customer, the magic is a source of wonder and enjoyment. For the company and its employees, magic is a much more practical matter."

Create the magic, invite the guests, connect the two.


[Mickey dances with the brooms in Fantasia]