Disneyland, mm, what does that name conjure for you? Whatever this may be, Jungle Book was my childhood pick no doubt, visiting Disneyland in LA last week made impressions on me personally on a number of levels relating to business. Here are a few picks.

Keep em waitin (if you must), but don’t let em think they’re waitin

I was tipped off re the queues, and there is much commentary out there regarding this facet, but the queuing experience is designed nay orchestrated as being part of the package. Demand exceeds supply in many instances so like in any good business, engagement must be maintained before the point of product or service consumption. And for Disneyland theme parks, suspense build is critical, particularly before the ‘first time experience’. Just ask first timers filling their nappies (sorry, diapers) in the queue for the Hollywood Hotel.

Current wait times for each ride are located at the ride through stand up boards. This provides clear data for Walt’s guests to choose whether to wait, or not. The queues typically snake at the frontage of the ride, are single or double person girth. Some of the queues are actually rides in themselves, scenic with enough time to make acquaintances with fellow parkers should you choose. The secret of the Disneyland queue species is that they are slim, motile and literally snaking. In linearity some of the longest must have been 300 metres plus, however the external perception is far from this as they are double backing and meandering. Clever. I mean who would queue up in a 300 metres plus single file queue in front of them? You’d have to be Donald Duck quackers.

Systemise systemise systemise

Keep your energy levels up

Like any good franchise the systems and operations are synced, well, most of the time. Disneyland is no different in this sense to Maccers or Starbucks. Food delivery is slick, with limited options and clear signage, payment upfront (obligatory) and clear lines of travel (yep, those queues). Typically one line of booths is for orders, then 3-5 mins later hay presto your order comes through and the cash is in their cheque account. Tuck in.

And now for your adrenalin injection

The purveying of hundreds nay thousands of would be riders to their adrenalin fix or viewing extravaganza is designed to maximize throughput with clarity of travel pathways and multiple operatives moving you along. This just makes sense but it is clearly honed. Some rides are less than 1 minute duration, short and high impact and for two good reasons; there are hundreds behind you baying for same, and surprise surprise they want you to come back for multiple fixes.

But you need to work the system, buddy

The seasoned Disneylanders know how to work the system, from when to go for the FastPass

[1] to even queue for a FastPass. I talked to one family from Arizona who’s mom and dad were second in the main queue at 06.30 before the gates opened at 07.00 (their grand mom sat their three young kids at the hotel off site at this time). When the gates opened at 07.00 prompt they ran to the Radiator Springs Cars ride, one to buy a FastPass the other to queue up with the masses. They rode twice in the morning of that day, by 08.30 the queues were two hours, by 12.00 they were three hours. Some would say this is a little extreme behaviour but they worked the system to achieve their goal, which is your choice in the land of the free (I suspect these guys are hard core sales-campers too, you know, out there in their dome tent at the store entrance, praying at the temple(s) of Gucci/Prada/Luis Vuitton etc).

You are our very special family guest Taylor Family this Friday 28 Dec 2013 for Magic Morning. Yes, special family guest no 14,785

Like any system or business merging tens of thousands of folk with technology and operations there are blips. On our Magic Morning, an hour of ‘select’ park access before the en masse arrives, we queued for the Matterhorn Bobsleigh only to be informed after 30 mins waiting that the ride had broken down. Righto. The PA bleated that the delay would be around 45 mins. After 30 mins this was 30 mins, ok, but then after 45 mins it was 25 mins. I flipped the quarter and made the call that they were still fault detecting after 45 mins so we left the queue. Bedknobs and Broomsticks the ride was running a short time later!

Queue culture, get to know some folk in your queue, today

Back to my hobby horse. They seem to have pulled this off as being a sort of an inverted consumer logic subculture where frustrations are removed somewhat from the psyche, particularly from the regular Disneylanders who just accept this for what it is. Some of them may even like the queuing – the ultimate coup. I heard of few complaints and compliance was the norm, they queue with the best of em. It is just accepted for the sake of little Jonny seeing Buzz or Jennifer seeing Arial. Remarkable.

Trade on emotion 

Create emotion for action. Create action for business. Disney works the mind, the sentiment in all of us. We all connect with this do we not, invariably from our own childhood, then through own children or grandchildren and beyond. Disney himself was a genius of course and they have changed with the times, as any great intergenerational business has. Are they living true to Walt’s values? Well, I don’t know exactly however trading on emotion is the Holy Grail and few few few companies pull it off. In your business if you can create that emotive experience, that memory hologram, you are on the right track. Why? You lose price point rationalization in your pecking order of demand determinants for a start (another blog another day).

OK OK last ride for today please folks

So summarising this wee spiel:

  • Create emotion for your business, when you do you lower price point rationalization (especially with 3 ankle biters at your feet),
  • Systemize your operations, it is all about design and execution then polish polish polish,
  • When demand exceeds supply, retain engagement at all costs. Remember its ALL about your Guests, eh Walt?
  • Minimise choice in a fast moving consumer environment when the market is captive
  • Take a good pair of walking shoes and perhaps a good book to Disneyland, keep your hat on and watch the cash go…whoosh

[1] FastPass is an innovation where you can obtain a ticket to jump the main queue on certain rides at certain (limited) times of the day. It is nifty.