Car Care–Cast Care: A Story of Morale

This weekend, Disneyland Resort Cast Members will be asked to park at Angel Stadium because of large expected crowds in the park. Micechat last week commented on this and detailed a flier that stated:

“As a reminder, driving to work and parking in a Cast lot is not expected or required and is just one commuting option available to Cast. Other commute alternatives available to Cast Members include carpooling, riding the bus or train, van pooling, bicycling or walking.” 

Disneyland Cast Members taking a shuttle back to their cars late at night. Curiously, the spot they are loading in is where they used to park years ago. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Disneyland Cast Members taking a shuttle back to their cars late at night. Curiously, the spot they are loading in is where they used to park years ago. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I initially found the statement to be extremely insensitive. Such a statement at Walt Disney World would be laughable given how Casting in making hiring decisions pretty much expects you to have access to some vehicle as one of your options for getting to work. Having thought it further, I wondered if Tokyo Disney Cast Members have any opportunity to park, and whether they must rely entirely on the modes of transportation listed above.

This takes me back to the time when Disney’s Animal Kingdom was getting ready for opening in 1998. The parking lot was one of the first projects completed as it allowed a space for construction crews to park. As the first operations Cast Members began working, they too started parking at the front of the park. Then as everyone else came aboard, they made it convenient for everyone to park there until opening.

Then the park’s opening came.

The plan once the park opened was to have Cast Members park about half a mile away in a lot where the wardrobe building was created. Then they were going to bus them around the perimeter of the park to their various designations. This is not unlike the bussing situation at the Magic Kingdom. The only difference was that the bus was driving around the perimeter like they do for Epcot–and that takes quite a few minutes given the size of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Having experienced how easy it was to park in the front of the lot, the Cast rebelled against the idea of parking so far away. Many threatened that they would try transferring somewhere else when they were eligible. Eventually, management gave in, and that is why Cast Members now park toward the front of the park–in a proximity not unlike the way Disneyland Cast Members parked toward one side of the front of the lot so many years ago.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Wardrobe Building. It still exists, but only for picking up and dropping off costumes. Cast Members now park elsewhere. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wardrobe Building. It still exists, but only for picking up and dropping off costumes. Cast Members now park elsewhere. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Returning to present-day Disneyland, I don’t know if the issue is simply about the hassle of parking and shuttling in from so far away. I think the issue is whether management really cares–and whether they demonstrate that care. Brad Bird, director of Incredibles, Ratatouille, and the new Tomorrowland movie once said: “If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value.”

Best to ask, is parking enhancing or degrading the morale? And if the latter, what is being done to off set that problem? In the end, for Disney or for any organization, it’s not about the parking. It is about whether you genuinely show that you care. And that effort to care should begin the moment the employee arrives.

Your thoughts?

1 thought on “Car Care–Cast Care: A Story of Morale

  1. The comment was:

    Returning to present-day Disneyland, I don’t know if the issue is simply about the hassle of parking and shuttling in from so far away. I think the issue is whether management really cares–and whether they demonstrate that care. Brad Bird, director of Incredibles, Ratatouille, and the new Tomorrowland movie once said: “If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value.”

    My comment is:

    Seriously, I think it is more than a question of morale. The question is, “Does Disney have the Castmembers hearts or just their obedience”? If Disney has the former then the Castmembers will go a million miles for Disney and will not have just good morale. Disney is an Army. It is a team. And as a team they should (and do) do what it takes to accomplish the mission. They are members one of another as well as members of Disney. Familial love is powerful. As Tom Peters aptly put it over 30 years ago, “Total customer satisfaction and repeat business”. Vince Lombardi understood it, but Peters admittedly did not. Love.

    I can declare the above as an axiom. I was a manager in the largest Intelligence organization in our country. I effectively trained my people and they out-performed and selflessly sacrificed when the chips were down. They knew that the mission was more important than any one person. One of my people came up to me during a crisis and said, “Do you know why we are working for you like this? (12-hour shifts for three days straight – sequestered from the outside – sleeping on Army cots and having only the clothes on their backs. No showers. No hot food.). I said, “No”, but I knew why. He said to me, “Because you trained us this way”. (Those who know how are always working for those who know why).

    This was the greatest compliment that could ever be given to me from a man who was easily more than twice as gifted as I am. When people buy into the mission (the Dream), then all the dominoes naturally fall into formation. Fait Accompli.

    Read the books *Building Trust at the Speed of Change* (I have an autographed copy) and *Patton on Leadership*.

    Bob Avel, Interpersonal Relationship Coach and Trainer (30 years), Windows Sr. Systems Administrator, and wannabe Castmember

    I hope some day to get a job at Disneyworld!

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