Podcast #14: Disney Around the World

Our latest episode chronicles some of the terrific experiences I have had visiting Shanghai Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, and Walt Disney World. David also spoke of visiting Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. Let’s visit Disney around the world and see some photos and links we spoke of in our podcast, which can be found on  iTunesSoundCloud, or TuneIn:

Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa

David spoke about storytelling at Aulani. This is an amazing place!

Disney Around the World
Poolside at Aulani.

You would think storytelling is about some written outline or shared verbal tale. But storytelling is much more subtle than that–especially when Disney does it. Here is one article I wrote earlier regarding Aulani and lunar time. It is storytelling in the setting.

Disney Around the World
Sculptured stones represent the lunar cycle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here is another example of storytelling found in a 360 mural at the entrance. Click on this link that focuses on the artist who not only designed the mural, but dealt with some important lessons in making key deadlines.

Disney Around the World
Just a small segment of an amazing mural at Aulani. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Now on to my own adventures far and near. If you haven’t visited all of the Disney theme parks around the world, know that there is one that is above them all in terms of the service experience. It’s Tokyo Disneyland. I headed there recently after a big week of customer service programs I delivered in Singapore.

Disney Around the World
The view from my Sheraton room of the Tokyo Disneyland resort along with Tokyo in the distance. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here’s a video of the temple sequence in Jungle Cruise Wildlife Expeditions at Tokyo Disneyland. It’s not the best video, but it gives you an idea of how they have used video imaging. Imagine if this were at the Jungle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

By the way, we mistakingly spoke of Jingle Cruise at Magic Kingdom. It is returning for the 2017 holiday season. Still, the token exercise of throwing a holiday wreath on a palm tree is a stark comparison to the quality found in Tokyo Disney. It makes you want to re-think how your business/financial plan keeps you from really providing great guest experiences.

Shanghai Disneyland

After Tokyo I headed back to Shanghai Disneyland. It has been a year since I visited, which was right after opening. Understand that Disney has spent north of 5 billion dollars creating one of the most beautiful parks in the world. And once you’re inside, it looks it.

Once inside, Mickey greets you with a smile. Not so much before you arrive. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But arriving there is a different matter. After a year of operations, this is what they’ve come up with to greet you when you enter the park:

Disney Around the World
The security queue at Shanghai Disneyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In all fairness, they had improved the queue between security and ticketing with serious outdoor fans shown below. Still, you would think after a year, you would have something better in place, given the importance of the arrival experience.

Disney Around the World
The arrival experience is so important. I hope they eventually get it right at Shanghai Disneyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

By the way, if you’re wondering why the umbrellas, it’s not raining–it’s so hot that people use anything they can for shade.

We also spoke of my experiences with Guest Relations at Shanghai Disneyland. I didn’t capture the bad experience. I didn’t think that was proper. Nor did I get a chance to capture the individual who provided me great service. Bummer. She deserves credit! But here is a picture of the team at Guest Relations.

Disney Around the World
Guest Relations Inside Shanghai Disney Park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It’s an empty moment in that office, but the permanent-style queue suggests that it’s usually otherwise. They have a tough job. My experience there made me wonder if they have enough training to know how to handle difficult guests.

The Disney Cruise Line: Fantasy

Again, like Tokyo Disneyland, this operation is amazing! We recently had a chance to do a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy, to include a stay on Disney’s own island, Castaway Cay. Amazing!

Disney Around the World
The Fantasy captured at dock on Castaway Cay. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

We spoke of the Disney Cruise Line and how they replaced the tongs and other serving instruments. Here’s a photo of that:

Disney Around the World
This is paying attention to the details! Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It’s a great testament to how you have to have processes in place if you are going to pay attention to the details. The Disney Cruise Line is fantastic at that. Stay tuned as we’re going to discuss customer wayfinding on the ships. What a great experience!

The Disneyland Resort

Speaking of wayfinding, we just did a blog post that spoke about wayfinding through pumpkins. Yes, pumpkins! It’s about using your setting to direct your guests, rather than always falling back on typical signage.

Pumpkin wayfinding! Who would have thought! Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

While I was at the Disneyland Resort, I did a Facebook Live video showcasing the Halloween decor at Disney California Adventure. I broadcasted from Plaza de la Familia:

Plaza de la Familia, featuring Disney Pixar’s Coco. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I mention this experience because there was an activity where families could write down their recuerdos, or memories of their family members, and then hang those memories on a group panel. It was very touching to read what guests had written. Such a simple exercise, yet it allowed guests to connect those they love with their experience at Disney. Here’s the link to that Facebook Live video if you’d like to check it out.

Back Home at Walt Disney World

Finishing up at Epcot, we mentioned the International Food & Wine Festival. Head over to our Destination Magic Facebook Page and you can see the video I did there. It’s not my favorite Epcot event, but the food was amazing! Met some folks from the Ontario region while I was doing the video. Greetings! Sorry I didn’t have my business card. Hope this makes up for it. We spoke of best-in-business practices at Disney. There’s so much to see and do at Disney around the world when it comes to improving your organization. Here are some takeaways from this podcast:

Souvenirs for Your Organization:

  • How can you use storytelling to create a greater guest experience?
  • Do deadlines impact your ability to deliver that guest experience?
  • Is your business plan preventing you from upgrading the guest experience?
  • Are you thinking through the arrival experience for your guests?
  • How trained are your employees for confrontational customer experiences?
  • What systems are in place to support paying attention to the smallest details?
  • How do you use wayfinding to support the guest experience?
  • How do you connect family and friends to your guest experience?
  • Always bring your business card!

Thanks for joining us! We’ll be sharing more from these places and elsewhere in the months to come. If you enjoy what you’ve heard on the Disney at Work Podcast, please remember to subscribe so you can be alerted to future episodes! While there, we would welcome a friendly rating and a kind word.

For more of this type of content, check us out at DisneyatWork.com or follow us on Twitter here.

You may also want to check out The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. It’s full of ideas about making the customer experience the best possible. And just like our podcast, it uses ideas from around the world of Disney. Check it out!

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