"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the most difficult manager of them all?" Photo by J Jeff Kober.

Queen or Snow White? Pitching In To Help

Some of my favorite attractions at Disney parks are the dark rides. And perhaps one of the most memorable has been Snow White’s Scary Adventures. I remember riding this attraction at Disneyland as a child, and being very intimidated by the experience aboard the mine car. I was disappointed that the attraction was removed at Magic Kingdom, but was at least glad that the witch made a come back on the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

The attraction can still be seen at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris. The Tokyo Disneyland still has the look and feel of the Magic Kingdom experience, only their attraction is clean as clean can be. They take impeccable care of their attractions. You could have a picnic lunch in their pre-show area.

The loading area to Snow White's Scary Adventures at Disneyland Paris. It has a sort of Sleeping Beauty Eyvind Earle look to it. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The loading area to Snow White’s Scary Adventures at Disneyland Paris. It has a sort of Sleeping Beauty Eyvind Earle look to it. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disneyland Paris and Disneyland has a very similar look, created when Disneyland made a major overhaul of its Fantasyland back in 1983. Here you want to look up at the tower, and study it until the curtains part.

"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the most difficult manager of them all?" Photo by J Jeff Kober.
“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who’s the most difficult manager of them all?” Photo by J Jeff Kober.

 No wonder these are scary adventures for the princess Snow White. It’s difficult to “whistle while you work” when someone is looking over your shoulder all the time.

Nothing is worse than leaders looking down on others. Once Walt complained that he couldn’t find a supervisor when he wanted one. He even resisted providing management nice offices backstage in fear that they would not spend their entire time there and not out in the park supporting Cast Members and Guests.

One of the park heads came up with the idea for all supervisors to wear orange ties so as to be easily recognized. This was not well received by most of the other employees. The thought was you can have a hundred good supervisors but all you need is one miserable manager and then all the others are labeled with the symbol of an orange tie. Soon orange ties had come to represent a frustrating “peeping Tom” type of supervision.

Is management looking in on what you do? Does it feel something like what this image portrays? From Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Is management looking in on what you do? Does it feel something like what this image portrays? From Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Fortunately the ties eventually went away. The symbol had separated the management from the rest of the Cast. Yet with a tie or not, the notion persists in any organization, even Disney’s.

Since then, one way that Disney management supports the cast is by taking on front line roles during peak times of the day and especially during peak season periods. Even the company’s Christmas parties in the past were known to have senior executives like Michael Eisner serving hot dogs at Coke Corner at Disneyland. The idea is to get management out of the office and into the guest experience where they can appreciate the work that goes on there, while improving the  delivery to the guests during peak times.

These animals follow the cues of their leader, Snow White, and get to work. From Disneyland Paris. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
These animals follow the cues of their leader, Snow White, and get to work. From Disneyland Paris. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Ask yourself:

  • What does a “peeping Tom” approach of management look like in our organization?
  • Do we as managers set ourselves apart from others in an entitled way?
  • How are we getting in the trench and working with those around us?
  • What systems are in place to call on support from others during peak times?

Leave a Comment