We recently got back from a family trip to Disney World in Orlando; my first time there in nearly 25 years. The trip offered many opportunities to see my little girl light up as she met princesses and experienced rides for the first time. To be honest, I thought the trip would be all about making my wife and daughter happy. I had no idea how much fun I would have enjoying the different parks.

Disney World truly is a magical place. Beyond creating great family experiences, Disney creates a great opportunity to learn. I have trouble fully removing the leadership lens when on trips such as this one. While fully enjoying each experience, I had moments where I was reminded of some important lessons by watching Disney works.

Here are a few lessons from our Disney experience:

  1. “WOW” People with Personal Care – In a large environment it would be easy to lean on great attractions as the means to impress guests. However the remarkable thing about Disney is all the ways they seek to WOW guests with personal care. No matter your position at Disney, part of your job is to create a great experience for guests. The ability to give people a “WOW” experience is not limited to Disney – every organization and any church can offer this level of care. You “WOW” people by providing excellent experiences while taking time personally engage with them. (click to tweet)
  2. Own the Experience, Not the Person – The difference here is nuanced, but is so important. Car lots and restaurants own a person – if you are claimed by a sales person or server than the others turn their attention elsewhere. At Disney they teach their cast members to own the experience, which means in any moment do what you can to help make a guest’s experience magical. When you own the guest or the customer your concern is usually “sealing the deal.” Owning the experience means there’s always something more you could do to win the experience for the guest. (click to tweet)
  3. The Solution Starts with You – Disney is far from perfect. Between the magic moments it is still a large theme park with many people involved and a lot of equipment to maintain. During the trip when I observed issues arise I noticed that the Disney team members never sought to hand off a situation. If they are present when an issue arose, they stayed with it to ensure it was resolved. They lived out a simple thought – no matter your skillset or position on the team, when issues arise you can be part of the solution. (click to tweet) That is a lesson we could all remember from time to time.
  4. People Make the Dream a Reality – The quality of the staff at Disney is impressive. I cannot tell you whether they go out and find the best people, or if they just do a fantastic job with training. I can tell you that Walt Disney himself banked on the thought that people are essential in making magical moments. One of my favorite Disney quotes goes, You can design, create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.(click to tweet) No matter how impressive your product, your church or your environment, remember that ultimately people make or break the vision.