Don’t Break the Magic

Disney's cruise ship original, The Disney Magic, docked at Castaway Cay. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Disney’s cruise ship original, the Disney Magic, docked at Castaway Cay. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I was on the Disney Magic last week capturing new stories to share–and believe me–I have wonderful stories to share. The cruise did not disappoint–the Disney Magic is Magical. I have one particular experience I want to share with you:

One of the most magical experiences was the new Tangled show–perhaps one of the best shows Disney has created based on a particular story–at least outside of their Broadway offerings (that doesn’t mean I don’t miss terribly The Hunchback of Notre Dame–A Musical Adventure from the old Disney MGM Studios days). They’ve added some additional songs, and through puppetry and visual effects, have done a great job in portraying the adventures of Rapunzel.

Tangled: The Musical. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Tangled: The Musical. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

After the show, we stayed in our seat chatting about what we loved most. By the time we moved toward the lobby, we were among the last 5% of the guests to leave the theater. At the exit to the theater, crew members had assembled with a big yellow trash can and several brooms, ready to clean up for the later showing. As I passed by, Clayton Lyndsey, Cruise Director for the Disney Magic , came running up to these crew members and gently urged them to return the trash receptacle and brooms back into the closet until every guest had left the theater.

He got it!

He understood that the company had spent millions upon millions to build the most beautiful ship, had then created a fantastic show, and the guests were parting with the last part of that experience being the scene of yellow trash cans and brooms. He understood that you can’t spend so much time creating magic, only to let it go at the end.

It reminds me of a story Imagineer John Hench shares about Walt Disney in his Designing Disney book:

“Walt was also keen to make dining a good experience for guests, not just a necessity. He would walk the park in disguise, wearing an old hat and dark glasses, observing how people were treated. On one of these walks, I saw him stop at the newly opened restaurant, Plaza Pavilion, with table seating outside.

The Plaza Pavilion is now the Jolly Holiday Bakery, but it's yellow hues and ping pong lights still fill the night air with golden light. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
The Plaza Pavilion is now the Jolly Holiday Bakery, but its yellow hues and ping pong lights still fill the night air with golden light. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

“A young boy was bussing dishes, scraping them into a cardboard box at the table in front of the diners–not a very appetizing thing to watch. Walt walked over to the boy, patiently and quietly explained to him that cleaning plates should not be exposed to the guests, and asked the boy to take the used dishes back to the kitchen to clean them. Walt waved his hand a bit; the boy nodded, and removed the dishes. I watched the whole thing from a distance. I keep seeing this picture in my mind; I was really shocked by the whole thing. It did look bad from the guests’ point of view, but Walt didn’t raise hell with the busboy’s boss; he spoke only to the boy. I am sure that neither the boy nor the diners knew that it was Walt. It was typical of Walt to go the source of the problem in this way.”

I felt Clayton did the same in this experience. He stepped forward as a leader, re-directing the well-intentioned efforts of the crew until all of the guests had departed. He didn’t make a big thing about it. He didn’t involve their boss. He just explained to the crew members that you don’t want to break the magic!

What are ways we can easily break the magic? How can we create a great experience, only to allow a little thing to make a dent in the enormous efforts to create magic? How do you handle it in a way that puts things back on track, and doesn’t make a mountain out of a molehill? Let’s not invest so much time and energy only to have the little things mar the magic!

More ideas like this come from my book, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney, available at Amazon! Grab a copy today and check it out!

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