Making Disney Magic Part Two: Plus Is A Verb

Okay maybe this should have been included under Making Disney Magic: The Terms but this one was so big that I wanted it to have its own section. The following is from the book How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life by Pat Williams:

“Normally, the word “plus” is a conjunction, but not in Walt’s vocabulary. To Walt, “plus” was a verb—an action word—signifying the delivery of more than what his customers paid for or expected to receive.


There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of Walt “plussing” his products. He constantly challenged his artists and Imagineers to see what was possible, and then take it a step further…and then a step beyond that. Why did he go to the trouble of making everything better when “good enough” would have sufficed? Because for Walt, nothing less than the best was acceptable when it bore his name and reputation, and he did whatever it took to give his guests more value than they expected to receive for their dollar.”

Perhaps one of the best examples of Walt’s obsession for “plussing” comes from Disney historian Les Perkins’ account of an incident that took place at Disneyland during the early years of the park. Walt had decided to hold a Christmas parade at the new park at a cost of $350,000. Walt’s accountants approached him and besieged him to not spend money on an extravagant Christmas parade because the people would already be there. Nobody would complain, they reasoned, if they dispensed with the parade because nobody would be expecting it.

Walt’s reply to his accountants is classic:

“That’s just the point,” he said. “We should do the parade precisely because no one’s expecting it. Our goal at Disneyland is to always give the people more than they expect. As long as we keep surprising them, they’ll keep coming back. But if they ever stop coming, it’ll cost us ten times that much to get them to come back.”

This attitude is kept alive today. One quick example of this is the new interactive queues they are installing at several of the rides at Disney World. The worst part of Disney World, or any other theme park in the world for that matter, is waiting in line. Disney has realized that our patience is shrinking. Instant coffee, microwave dinners, the internet, smart phones and every other convenience in the world has trained us to want it and to want it now. Disney can not make the lines go away all the time but they can entertain us while we are in it. They are trying to make the unbearable at least more bearable. They also dispatch characters to relieve the monotony. They even use parades to draw people from more crowded to less crowded areas. They monitor line size constantly and even launch more boats on Pirates of the Caribbean for example.

Another example can be found in the resorts. They could have just built a bunch of hotels but that isn’t very magical. So each hotel has a theme. Sure the themes at the value resorts are not best in the world but when you move up to the moderate resorts things improve dramatically. If you move to the Deluxe resorts or the the Deluxe Villas they improve exponentially. Even at the moderate resort Port Orleans I love to have one day just to wander around the resort. I could spend a lot of days wandering around the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Not only are the resorts themselves great once you get there you can put your car keys down. Disney will provide free transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney. In fact you can get almost anywhere you need to go without the hassle of driving or paying for a taxi. Sure some of this is self-motivated because they want you somewhere you will be spending money but it is also a great perk. In fact if you fly into Orlando Disney offers the Magical Express. If you make the appropriate arrangements, which are quite easy to make, they will send you luggage tags to your home. You put them on your luggage and when you hit the airport in Orlando you head straight to the Disney center in the airport. They will take you to your resort for free! But the best part is you don’t even have to worry about your bags. They will claim them for you and bring them to your room. When you are ready to leave they will take your bags back to the airport and make sure they are loaded onto your plane.

While your in the parks Disney wants you to shop. They also know you don’t want to carry your packages around all day. Their answer? They will ship them to the front of the park for you. If you are staying at a Disney resort, on property in Disney parlance, they will ship them to your room if you are staying long enough for it to reach you there.

All of these services are “free” and designed to make you happy while at Walt Disney World. Of course they assume, often correctly, that if they make you happier you will either come back more or spend more money. They hope you will do both! I intend to make their dreams come true because they make so many of mine come true.

For more information check out this article from the New York Times.

Read the conclusion at Making Disney Magic Part Three: The Tricks or if you missed part one check out Making Disney Magic Part One: The Terms

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