Happiest place on earth
“You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” ~Walt Disney
As a child, watching Disney was what my family did. The Mickey Mouse Club, Sunday evenings, the Disney Movie on TV, and reading bedtime stories about happy endings.
As a leader, wanting to create a climate and culture to support these positive thoughts is something I wanted to make. Who doesn’t want to be in the “happiest place on earth”? Climate and culture are often written about. The secret to creating an environment like Disney is not a secret at all.
We need people, all of them! Walt Disney clarified that “it takes people to make the dream a reality.” We cannot define one type of individual, but all kinds of individuals. If we were all the same, thought the same things, and did the same things, then the world would not be what it was intended to be.
“Imagineers,” illustrators, architects, engineers, lighting designers, show writers, and graphic designers, are the people behind the scenes making the magic happen. There are 15 principles based on creating and constructing theme parks and attractions. Khan Academy teamed with the Walt Disney Company to create a series of lessons to teach children about this production process. I hope children and teachers have/will take advantage of these offerings. There are so many more we can find and share as we create.
In 1991, Marty Sklar (then-president of Imagineering) presented ten commandments attributed to Mickey Steinberg (the vice president of Imagineering). They are Mickey’s Ten Commandments
- Know your audience
- Wear your guest’s shoes (don’t forget the human factors; try to experience the parks from the guests’ point of view)
- Organize the flow of people and ideas (ensure experiences tell a story that is organized and logically laid out)
- Create a “Wienie” (Walt Disney’s term for a “visual magnet”)
- Communicate with visual literacy (use a dominant color or shape or building to reinforce a theme)
- Avoid overload—create turn-ons (do not offer too much detailed information)
- Tell one story at a time (put one ‘big idea’ in each show, so guests leave with a clear understanding of the theme)
- Avoid contradictions—maintain identity (avoid irrelevant or contradicting elements; make sure the audience has a clear idea of what is being said)
- For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of treat (take advantage of the distinction of the theme park, which is that it encourages active participation, compared to passive entertainment)
- Keep it up (do not become complacent or allow things to run down)
It is more than the creativity and innovation that sparks the magic created by Disney. Disney held a high standard of his dream of what he wanted to give to others. Mickey’s Ten Commandments can be applied to all of our professional careers. I am from education, and I have applied these in the places I have served.
Many have accused him of being several things I choose not to state, as those who knew him well have stated differently. It seems many live in the lens of Judger of others and not in the lens of hope, love, and joy. The innocence of a place where all your troubles can be solved with a bit of pixie dust, song, and dance, putting on a happy face as you splash into the waters below.
Changes have been made even to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” but with every change, another is sure to come, and “All it takes is faith and trust”– Peter Pan
Be the solution daily in a world that needs someone like you!