In my previous article, I discussed why many Disney vacationers are frustrated at the direction Disney parks and resorts are headed: Specifically, in regards to their overall business strategy and branding. Far be it from me to expect such a large international company to take the advice of a customer. Nonetheless, as a long time customer and fan who loves to share classic Disney culture with his friends and family, it saddens me to see the potential end of a longstanding era which saw this unique company came out of nowhere to establish themselves as experts in never-before-seen quality and attention to detail. However, time will tell which direction Disney parks and resorts is headed.
1-In all honesty, does Disney still care about the quality of their vacation products and services?
Or is profit the sole motivator now? Does ”Disney magic” still exist? Or has it now been reduced to a catchphrase to invoke nostalgic memories in an effort to make a large, quick sale? Reminiscent of the Walt’s boyhood state Missouri’s motto, actions speak much louder than words. After all, it is the actions of Disney executives, not necessarily so much their words, which have angered so many lifelong, die-hard, repeat Disney customers. Get back to basics, please. Show us that quality and attention to detail still mean something. Not simply: “Take it or leave it.” (While the latter might work for a while, it is the former that enabled you to be in the position to charge us so much in the first place.) We see it from many Cast Members. But is this same philosophy shared throughout the company any more?
Even if you do not believe it, fans need to see and experience what has always defined the Disney vacation experience. Otherwise, the core of what set Disney apart from their competition is forever lost, and with it the fanatic following and goodwill that has garnered Disney its lofty position in world culture and record-breaking profits. Repeat customers want to know that there is at least as much care and effort put into their vacation this year as there was last year. Will Disney make the effort to ensure their products and services are the best they can be? Or are they satisfied to coast on their traditional creativity and simply make a “good” / “above average” product, becoming more similar to other companies (Universal Studios, for example)?
(This reminds me of another quote from Walt:
“When we opened Disneyland, a lot of people got the impressions that it was a get rich quick thing. But they didn’t realize that behind Disneyland was this great organization that I built here at the Studio, and they all got into it and we were doing it because we loved to do it.”
When later discussing why he was creating WDW, Walt was quoted as saying:
”I’m doing this because I want to do it better.”
And I believe the story of the making of Disneyland and Disney World will attest to the fact that it was philosophy, not simply profit, that drove Walt to build his parks.)
2- Is Disney willing to groom well-trained, committed Cast Members (who can make being a Disney Cast Member a viable career)?
Sure, there will always be the random bad day or ”one that got through the screening process”. But that aside, Disney customers book those openly expensive vacation experiences at the parks and on-property hotels because they expect an extremely high level of service that used to be standard among Disney parks and resorts. And, no, by “service” I don’t mean giving the customer a random freebie after incessant whining over things that ultimately do not affect the guest’s actual experience (‘Tired bed spread guy’ requesting a free junior suite upgrade, I’m looking at you). I’m talking “service” that seeks to get the basics right, with perhaps a personal touch: Be it an impromptu conversation about your hometown of Des Moines, Iowa….a couple glittery Tinker Bell stickers handed out to your kids as you walk towards the Magic Kingdom shuttle….or even a helpful problem solver from the front desk named Vanessa who genuinely cares to not only ensure your guest room shower is fixed on a random Thursday afternoon, but also calls while maintenance is still there to make sure that you are getting help so your kids can take a shower after swimming and go out for an early supper before their bedtime… It’s all of these little things that Disney has traditionally done exceptionally well 95% of the time. It’s because of these seemingly small details that has garnered Disney the loyalty and lifelong customer base. And it’s because of these growing changes that fly in the face of the historical Disney brand that leaves many wondering if their Disney vacations will be shortened…or even replaced with other alternatives.
Is Disney still willing to maintain industry leading customer service standards? Or will they choose to become an “average” entertainment company as long as they meet their quarterly profit expectations?
It was Walt Disney himself who once said:
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
He has also been quoted as saying:
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
All in all, people know that Disney parks and resorts are a part of a business. And, yes, when it comes down to it: The goal of a business is to make its owners/shareholders money. But that’s the thing: Are they now phasing out employees who want to make a career out of being a Cast Member? I don’t know about you, but I will be watching and waiting for Disney’s actions to show us the answers to these important questions.
Bibliography note: Quotes from justdisney.com and the last from Disneyanimation.com)
Jonathan is a Disney and Star Wars aficionado who currently resides in Europe with his beautiful (and out of his league) wife and awesome kids. When not planning his next WDW vacation, he has been known to write here and there about various topics in his spare time....