What Disney Can Teach Us About Customer Experience

May 6, 2016 Nicole Klemp

Leave it to the folks at Disney Parks to make magic with their Customer Experience decade after decade. Anyone who has ever visited a Disney park (even if it’s been years) can probably associate certain feelings with that experience. Some of those feelings probably include excitement, fun, wonder, and of course, magic. But for some (particularly parents of small children), past experiences may have left them feeling exhausted and broke. Standing in hours-long lines and paying hefty ticket costs can leave some with second thoughts about a return trip. But Disney has found a way to use technology to improve and personalize the guest experience, and ensure that families return to their parks year after year.

A magic wearable

The Customer Experience is such a huge part of the Disney brand that they decided to invest about a billion dollars to reinvent the way guests play, stay, and pay at their parks and resorts. This new experience includes technologies like MagicBands, radio frequency-enabled wristbands that enable guests to make payments, open hotel room doors, and associate Disney PhotoPass images with their account. These wearables come in a variety of colors and are waterproof, so kids can wear them in pools and on water rides. Parents can also load the bands with a budgeted amount of money that kids can spend on items throughout the park.

Disney is also using technology to address another Customer Experience concern — the issue of long lines for attractions. For visitors who want to avoid standing in long lines, Disney created the FastPass+ event reservation system, where guests can select the attraction of their choice and arrive during a one-hour window to bypass the line. This service is included in the park ticket price, and integrates with the MagicBand. Reservations can be made well in advance, or during the park visit on the mobile app or at an in-park kiosk.

Planning ahead

Instead of arriving at the park and spending an hour debating about where to go first and what attractions to fit into the day, visitors can plan their entire trip weeks ahead of time on the My Disney Experience website and mobile app. The site allows guests to access hotel information, make dining reservations, take a virtual park tour, preview attractions, make FastPass+ reservations, and create a daily itinerary. The ability to plan ahead allows visitors to maximize their Disney experience and get excited in anticipation of their trip.


The magic potion of old and new

Between their parks, movies, TV shows, merchandise, and more, Disney has created a $48B global brand. And the way they weave all of those areas of their business together is what’s truly magical. Kids fall in love with Disney’s on-screen characters, buy their action figures and dolls, and long for the day when they can meet them in real life at a Disney park. And nothing makes a parent’s heart swell more than seeing the joy on their child’s face when they get a hug from Mickey Mouse or Cinderella. And Disney has plans to eventually take their MagicBand technology one step further, by giving their park characters the capability to identify children by name when they’re nearby.

Top companies in other industries like retail, sports, and hospitality are also using digital technology to reinvent the in-person experience. But what sets Disney apart is their ability to keep the nostalgia alive, while weaving in the capabilities that today’s technology provides. Rather than completely reinventing themselves, Disney manages to improve the Customer Experience while maintaining the familiarity and magic that we all know and love. Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney’s Parks and Resorts division said, “I think that tech for its own sake in our park should not happen… it’s not about the technology. It’s about the magic that it creates. The place, the mood, and the time.”

Learn how to create magical moments in your own organization from our ebook, Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience.

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