Walt Disney World: Spectacular Customer Experience, Benevolent Orwellianism, or Both?

I recently took my family including a 10-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son to Walt Disney World.  We stayed “on property” at one of their resorts and went to two of their theme parks – Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  (We spent one day at Sea World Orlando for comparison purposes and to escape “The Mouse” if only for one day.)

Nevertheless, companies looking to obtain loyal customers should take a page (or more) out of Walt Disney World’s customer experience playbook. They are successful at making their customer’s experience effortless while also over delivering in their four key areas: safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. The people at Disney thrive in everything from having a staff dedicated to staying in character to an efficient lost and found.  Nevertheless, although Disney is known for their outstanding customer experience, many believe that Disney and their extensive collection of customer data is too omnipotent. Many think that the data can and is used for a highly controlled if not manipulative– albeit generally great – customer experience.

Disney recently invested one billion dollars on implementing the MagicBand, an ubiquitous wristband that is used for FastPass+ ride boarding, on property room entry, and food, beverage and merchandise purchases – not to mention linking to the MyDisneyExperience desktop and mobile app, which allows for in advance or in park ride bookings, restaurant reservations, and real time ride wait times.  Of course the mobile app can be leveraged while walking around the resort and theme parks.   https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/

It was a significant investment, but using the MagicBand is not significant and actually incredibly easy and seamless.  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/bands-cards/

The FastPass+ is a relatively new take on the well-established Fast Pass concept. This allows the user to reserve access to select park attractions, entertainment, and character greetings in advance. It allows the parent to be the hero by promising their child a ride or a meet-and-greet up front. The FastPass+ tiers attractions and only allows the user to choose one from each tier at a time for a specific time. It is controlling in that people have to be at that ride at that time and Disney knows what rides you like and what you ride and when, but people do not seem to mind because there is a science behind it. This is called the paradox of choice, a form of behavioral economics applied to consumerism.  Disney makes people happier not by giving them more options but by stripping them away to give them just as many as they need. By doing this, people are not wasting time making decisions, which causes the overall usage of the park to go up – people spend less time in line, and more time having fun and presumably more time making other purchases.   https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/fastpass-plus/

Through thousands of sensors, the MagicBand is a data analytic person’s dream. Disney is able to stream real-time data about where guests are, what they are doing, and what they want. By knowing how people are flowing through the park, Disney is able to anticipate the customer’s desires. The MagicBand also allows employees to move past transactions and personalize their interactions with visitors by creating a system that is paperless; therefore, employees are optimized and are not playing with paper receipts or tickets.

The advanced technology of the MagicBand is almost like magic and allows Disney to offer up an extraordinary customer experience. The MagicBand limits choices by dissolving them and no one even realizes that their choices are being controlled. And the most incredible thing is that the MagicBands are essentially invisible, they are as ubiquitous as smiling children and hidden Mickeys. Thus, Walt Disney World does have an element benevolent Orwellianism (benevolent from the vantage point of optimizing fun in a limited amount of time, albeit while maximizing cross/up-sell) all the while providing an excellent customer experience.

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Email: marketing@westmonroepartners.com
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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