Four Marketing Lessons from Disney World

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World a few weeks back, somewhere between riding Space Mountain and reverting back to my six-year old self, I looked at Disney World differently than I had in the past. I’ve visited numerous times, but this time, rather than thinking of it as just a theme park, I started seeing Disney World not as a “Small World,” but as the mega-business it truly has become. A “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” mega-business, if I might say.  No matter what type of business or industry you may be in, I discovered four marketing lessons from Disney World that can be valuable in ensuring your company can succeed, especially when it comes to creating loyal customers.

Customer Service is Key

If you’ve been to any of the Disney Parks or resorts and encountered any employees, excuse me, “Cast Members”, you’ve probably noticed they are passionate about working there.  I mean come on, it IS the, “happiest place on Earth,” right?  Who wouldn’t be.  

From the person at the front desk checking you into your resort, to the cast members welcoming you into the park, it is clear that they are happy to help and to be there. It is very rare to come across a Disney employee who is “Grumpy” or unwilling to help.

On my trip, I watched an employee ask a family who looked quite lost if they needed any help, but the family quickly let her know they didn’t speak any English. Rather than walking away, she told the family to follow her so she could find another employee that spoke Spanish. I was impressed by her willingness to help without even being asked. It is clear that Disney’s “Bear Necessities” when it comes to their customers is to always go out of their way to make their experience magical, memorable and, well, happy.  No matter what it takes, they have cultivated a culture and a team that makes this possible. On average, over 50,000 guests enter the Magic Kingdom each day, but when you’re there, you’re not treated like just another number.  You’re treated like a “Lion King.”  

Learning and applying Disney’s impressive customer service model to your own business will hardly leave your customers “Frozen.” Creating a culture with the right people who are always looking for ways to enhance the experience of their clients is key for any business.

Attention to Detail

Throughout all of my trips to Disney, I am always noticing new things throughout the parks and resorts and find myself constantly saying, “They think of everything!” From the ride lines that are almost as interesting as the rides themselves, to the sweet aromas being pumped in as you walk down Main Street, USA, there really have thought of every detail that goes into a visitor’s experience.

Like their cartoons, the attention to detail Disney practices can be seen in the theme behind each ride, land, restaurant, restroom, rest area, even down to the waste receptacles. These small details make a big difference in creating the “magic” that keeps people, like me, coming back time after time.

It can be easy to forget about the “dwarf-sized” details when it comes to business, but attention to detail is extremely important in making a normal experience with your company, an unforgettable one. Customers notice the magic carpet treatment you deliver.  Doing the small things will add credibility, which in turn creates loyal customers.


In a rapidly changing world, Disney, as it has always been, spares no expense to search “galaxies far, far away” for the latest and greatest use of advanced technology. You don’t have to look any further than your wrist when you are at the any Disney location and see the most admired discovery, the MagicBands. These wristbands make a trip to Disney easier, more convenient and safer than ever before. Gone are the days of carrying paper tickets, keys, credit cards, FastPasses, etc. Now, guests have the ability to enter the park, unlock hotel rooms, cut to front of lines and, most importantly, pay for anything and everything, all from their wrist.

Besides MagicBands, they have developed a smartphone app which lists all reservations, attractions, wait times, schedules and an interactive map Captain Hook would’ve given his other hand to have. Want to know how long the wait is on a ride at Hollywood Studios? Check the app. What time do you have to be at Hollywood and Vine for dinner?  Check the app. Where is the nearest restroom?  I don’t know..oh wait…check the app!

While these technological advances make things easier for guests, they also give Disney a glimpse into the journey of a customer. They are able to analyze the data from the magic band on every guest’s wrist, and use it like their own personal “genie” to see what customers are wishing for to improve their experience.

Disney embraces  innovation and knows that adapting technology is vital to their success. While a MagicBand collecting customer data isn’t ideal for every business, keeping up with the latest technology of the industry is crucial. Finding the right ways to embrace technology within your business can be the “glass slipper” that creates a relationship with you and your customers where they will live happily ever after.

Tap Into Emotion

From the moment you step onto Disney’s Magical Express at the airport, Disney begins tapping into your emotions. Everywhere you turn, you are reminded that Disney World is where “dreams come true” for people of all ages.

The look on children’s faces when they see their favorite movie characters come to life or after they ride their favorite ride is priceless, and is what creates such great memories. These memories and emotional connections are what keep people coming back and, once the kids eventually become the parents, they want to share those experiences with their own children. While Disney is obviously great for children, they have found a way to have something for everyone.

Whether you are looking for an ethnic flair at Epcot as you travel through the various countries sampling their cuisine and culture, to a night out on the town at Disney Springs, there is something everyone will enjoy at one of the Disney Parks.  Inclusion of everyone plays a huge role in their success.

Connecting with your customers and tapping into their emotions is a vital way to build relationships and keep your customers loyal. Having an emotional connection or experience with a brand or company develops a deeper relationship that more than just a product or a service you are providing.  Do something and showing them something different will make your customers remember your business.  You might not be able to make an elephant fly, but you can go above and beyond their expectations to connect with them on deeper and more meaningful level.

I’m Going to Disney World

While I definitely have just as much fun as my nephew and cousins when we visit, “the wonderful world of Disney,” I have a new appreciation for what they actually create and how it can impact your business.  Behind the “happiest place on earth” is a business run by people just like any other company or brand. While Disney may have more resources and opportunities to do more than most businesses, they can still be a wonderful resource and model for any company to look to for inspiration.  These four marketing lessons from Disney World are simple things any business can implement to improve customer service and relationships with your most valuable resource – your clients.  Now just tell your boss or employees, you don’t have to “wish upon a star” to figure out ways for you company to enhance the experience with your customers….you just need to to take a “business trip” to Disney World.  It’s for research.

About the Author

Cailyn_Chrystal_ProfileCailyn Chrystal is a Project Manager at 898 Marketing.  Cailyn develops strategies and manages implementation of content through social media channels for 898 Marketing and it’s clients, as well as optimization strategies for websites and content. Cailyn is a native of Youngstown, Ohio, and a graduate of Duquesne University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Communications.