Disney Drives Profits with Simplicity — Can You?

Disney Drives Profits with Simplicity

This last week, The Walt Disney Company reported a 53 percent surge in operating income at Parks and Resorts. What is the “magic” of Disney Parks and Resorts? How can they thrive while others founder? Although there are many answers, here is one secret that has proved invaluable for almost 60 years: Disney simplifies the very complex.

A theme park is like a giant factory. With literally millions of moving pieces and heavy equipment, it is a complex and potentially dangerous environment. In addition to the machinery is the cast; thousands of employees, both on-stage and backstage, taking care of the show. Into this environment of machinery and employees—the “factory”—enters the guest.

Providing The Happiest Place on Earth involves boiling down park operations into the following four priorities, representing values driving every business decision. There is no need for a multi-page handbook as a reminder: every cast member knows these marching orders:

1) Safety – This is the most important priority for guests and cast members. Often, cast members must protect guests from themselves. Guests in vacation-mode can become distracted by the colors, sounds, and activity. They aren’t necessarily taking care of their own safety. Guests, distracted by the beautiful architecture, might walk straight into lampposts and walls. Every operations and design decision must first address Safety.

2) Courtesy – The second most important priority after safety is Courtesy. Cast members know the value of smiles on their faces and in their voices, and the importance of engaging guests. Directing a guest, with an open hand and a smile, is far more effective than pointing with one finger and scowling. A lack of cast member Courtesy will poison the safest and most interesting environment.

3) Show – Once Safety and Courtesy are assured, attention turns to Show. Well-maintained attractions and facilities, populated by well-groomed cast members, ensure good show, a condition Walt Disney passionately promoted. The antithesis is the Disney taboo, bad show.

4) Capacity/Efficiency – Finally, this last priority refers to the number of guests enjoying the attractions, restaurants and retail shops. This is the “hard numbers” portion of a business. By placing numbers last, the SCSE model makes a clear, somewhat paradoxical statement; accomplishing the first three priorities ensures this fourth is sustainable in the form of happy and loyal cast members and guests.

Each priority in this SCSE model is indispensable and its position non-negotiable. Although Efficiency occupies the lowest rung on the priority ladder, it is by no means ignored. In fact, Disney Parks and Resorts invest heavily to ensure the maximum number of guests can enjoy facilities. The clarity of the SCSE model ensures Safety, Courtesy and Show aren’t sacrificed to attain more Efficiency (more guests and higher profit).

What is happening at your company? Does everyone know their “marching orders”… without having to look them up in a multi-page operations manual?

Excerpt from

Disney U:

How Disney University Develops the World’s Most

Engaged, Loyal and Customer-Centric Employees

Published by McGraw-Hill Professional