Disney Institute – Digested

by The Red Recruiter on November 17, 2009

Check out these ears!

Time really does fly! It seems like just yesterday I was driving through the Walt Disney World campus on my way to Disney Institute. I must admit, it was an experience that I had really looked forward to. As it ended up, I had every reason to be excited about the week ahead.

Expectations Meet Reality

The truth is… anything Disney comes with high expectations. Let’s face it, when you are brought up on the enchantment and wonder that is “Disney,” most everything related to the organization will fuel a sense of over-the-top potential. My state of mind at the time was surely on this track… and, in all fairness, perhaps altered my ability to objectively evaluate the course in the moment. While I could understand the material and was absolutely taken by the experience as a whole, something in me kept waiting for a magic carpet ride or some crazy other-wordly experience…

Disney Institute is an amazing place to learn. Between the environment, the instructors, the behind-the-scenes experiences and more… there is no doubt in my mind that DI serves as a very unique opportunity for those interested in expanding their professional filters. With that said, it is a course designed for training, not frolicking around the parks like a 10 year old (or a childlike 30 year old) ;-). There is curriculum, you will be expected to focus and you will experience a magnitude of exercises related to the course. As you might imagine, by the end of the week, participants are beat!

Why The “Digestion” Period?

I was invited to attend the “Business Excellence” series at DI. The course, in a nutshell, was designed to give the participant a taste test of all the various intensive courses that DI has to offer. While each segment of the course can serve as a standalone mini-training, the purpose is not to exhaust any particular topic. With that said, if in going through course you find yourself highly intrigued by… let’s say Brand Loyalty, you may find it frustrating to move past that topic after just one day. What I found was that my frustration tied directly to my desire for more… which, from my now “digested” perspective, is probably a great thing!

After the week-long adventure concluded, I put some thought around doing a wrap up post… but, ended up holding off. Finally, after debating what to do next, I decided to sit on the information for a while before giving any final assessment. The reasons for this have been threefold.

  1. I had learned so much that I didn’t know where to start.
  2. There were (and continue to be) a thousand things going on at once.
  3. I wanted to see what central topics stuck with me months after the training ended.

So, there you have it… my reasons (excuses) for holding off. Now for the meat and potatoes.

Disney Institute – Lasting Lessons from Business Excellence

As I expected, the concepts shared on branding, user experience and employment culture stuck with me the most. For starters, these areas are of personal interest. However, and even with my personal interests taken into account, I do believe that these three areas created some “Wow!” moments for the class.

So, I’m going to go all “Blogger” and list my lessons out here. I will refrain from referring back to notes so that I can only relay that which stuck!


  1. Branding happens at every stop along the way… if the customer can see/experience it, you have an opportunity to negatively/positively impact the perception on your organization.
  2. Every company should embrace the concept of “On Stage” – Since the training and my newly embedded filters, I have become much more in tune with this!
  3. People experience your brand… you should strive to understand what emotional impact you have on them when they encounter you and/or your company.
  4. A brand takes work… and a lot of it! Walt Disney didn’t just decide to make “Disney” one of the most well-recognized household names… it required a huge amount of dedication and commitment!

User Experience

  1. There are primary and secondary users of your products… we must keep both in mind. Each influences the other.
  2. Thinking through the bottlenecks your clients may experience with your company can make a huge difference (think about how boring it can be to wait in a huge line for a ride… Disney works at making it
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  3. Consider the time that your company occupies in a person’s day… how does that impact their other relationships? What can you do to improve that impact or, at least, make it enjoyable for all impacted parties?
  4. Feedback, feedback, feedback! Hope is not a strategy… we must ask our customers what they think and continuously implement and improve upon their suggestions… KEY!

Employment Culture

  1. Disney makes it very easy for a potential employee to change their mind! No use in hiring someone that either
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    a) doesn’t truly want to be there OR b) has reservations about their future with your company.

  2. The spirit and accountability of a workforce can be instilled in alternative ways. Disney has a “way” of doing things… not just “rules and regulations” – Inspire the behaviors you seek from your team!
  3. Make it easy for employees to do things the right “way” and they are much more likely to do them!
  4. Give your employees something to be excited about by getting to the heart of what your company does. People don’t just work for a paycheck… give them something more and they will respond!

What Would Walt Do?

I think back on my experience at Disney Institute with very positive feelings.

By the time the week was over I was exhausted and perhaps mentally overwhelmed. However, now, almost 3 months later, I still find myself thinking about the training on a very regular basis. Day-to-day business situations take on a whole different feel when analyzed from a Disney perspective. It’s been both fun and enlightening to engage challenges with this new filter… and I look forward to more of it in the future!

To the kind people at Disney Institute, I sincerely appreciate the time, energy and resources you willingly gave during our stay with you. You made it a magical experience and I’m very grateful for having been invited!

To the business people of the world who are looking to expand your training horizons… go check out what Disney Institute has to offer. Whether for yourself, your team or your company as a whole, Disney Institute offers a wide array of courses to meet your individual needs. I have a high level of confidence that they will not only meet, but exceed your expectations!

If you missed the fun while we were all going through the course, hop over to the Disney Institute page on my site to see photos, tweets and related blog posts! Click Here!

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  • Katy Ray

    I am so glad you were here and enjoyed your time with us! Hurry back!

  • Katy Ray

    I am so glad you were here and enjoyed your time with us! Hurry back!

  • Shennee

    Great post! It was wonderful to follow your Disney adventures. There are great business lessons to “take away” from the Disney Experience. Loved the company Culture part.

  • Shennee

    Great post! It was wonderful to follow your Disney adventures. There are great business lessons to “take away” from the Disney Experience. Loved the company Culture part.

  • Debi

    Great post! I just saw a show on Lifetime that included a lady named Kristen who was a DI instructor on Gardening…and I want to hire her to provide a session at the upcoming American Butler School near Orlando. Any idea how I might contact her? Reach me via email: debi@butlersoncall.com

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