Posted by: Stephan Wilhelm
I just came back from Walt Disney World, either you love the place or hate it, but one thing is for sure – they understand and execute extremely well on creating a remarkable experience for their guests. A lot has been written regarding the brand power and extremely efficient business practices employed by the Disney Corporation in order to create this magic. Countless books and articles are available including most notably Disney’s own – Disney Institute. There are no secrets here, anyone is able to attend workshops to learn directly from the source.
My recent trip to Walt Disney World piqued my curiosity about the man behind it all. I’ve been a long time fan of Disney and have been numerous times over the years with the family, but I have never spent much time learning about the person who made it all possible. The one thing that stood out above all else for me as I read about all the struggles and setbacks and near financial collapses in the early days was Walt’s crystal clear vision of how he envisioned the future. In Bob Thomas’s book – An American Original Walt Disney , I was struck by the passage describing the idea of Disneyland at a time when it was only a drawing on a piece of paper -
“The idea of Disneyland is a simple one. It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge. It will be a place for parents and children to share pleasant times in one another’s company. Here the older generation can recapture the nostalgia of days gone by, and the younger generation can savor the challenge of the future. Disneyland will be something of a fair, an exhibition, a playground, a community center, a museum of living facts, and a showplace of beauty and magic. It will be filled with the accomplishments, the joys and hopes of the world we live in. And it will remind us and show us how to make those wonders part of our own lives.”
Combined with this vision was his unwavering belief. To board members who complained the Disney was not in the amusement-park business, he replied that the company was in the entertainment business – “ and that’s what amusement parks are.” He admitted that it was hard for them to envision Disneyland the way he could, but he assured them, “There’s nothing like it in the entire world. I know, because I’ve looked. That’s why it can be great: because it will be unique. A new concept in entertainment, and I think - I Know – it can be a success.” When he finished, there were tears in his eyes.
The members of the board were persuaded.