Walt Disney and his team created a unique system for training and developing workers to create the happiest place on earth to work and play.
“‘Disneyland is the star; everything else is in the supporting role.” (Walt Disney)
“The Disney University is much more than classrooms, programs and trainers…It is a reflection of the health and welfare of the entire corporation.”
Van France was Disney’s first human resources executive who founded Disney University to teach workers how to “create happiness.”
“The Disney University’s success is due to its uncanny ability to capture the hearts and minds of the thousands of employees it serves.”
In the world of Disney, employees are “cast members” and customers are “guests.”
“Creating The Happiest Place on Earth is a fine balance of values and…a lot of hard work.”
Cast members strive to achieve a “good show” by always being helpful and cheerful.
Disneyland “raised the bar, setting new standards of excellence for creativity, family entertainment and customer service.”
To avoid a “bad show,” “cast members” avoid showing “backstage behavior” to visitors.
“Money might be tight; creativity is free.” (Bill Ross, senior VP of public affairs)
“Blaming the economy is a convenient excuse for not providing training.”
Van developed “the four circumstances” to guide his team.
“Innovate” – Disney University must be at the cutting edge and “comfortable with risk.”
“Support” – All HR policies and training methods need upper management backing.
“Educate” – Disney regards education as an “indispensable commodity.”
“Entertain” – Employees will learn more if they’re having fun, and they will be better equipped to make sure guests have fun, too.
“The best is never the best, and pay attention to the smallest details.” (Walt Disney)
Walt was constantly on a quest to improve the visitor experience and often strolled through the park, observed, and talked to employees. He called this “plussing the show.”
“Think teamwork” – All staffers are in this together. Everyone makes a difference.
“Think audience and guest” – Visitors aren’t just figures on a ledger; they’re people.
“Think happiness for others” – Everyone has a role in creating fun.
“Practice being friendly” – Warmth sets a park’s tone even in areas visitors never see.
“Think quality and pride” – Both are crucial ingredients of good show.
“Plussing the show is as much about attitude as it is about budget.”
Disney offers employees stress-busting activities and special events and perks to engender camaraderie.
“Develop your sense of humor and eventually it will develop you.” (Walt Disney)
“Laughter is no enemy to learning.” (Walt Disney)
Disney had cultural challenges when it opened parks outside the United States, yet Disney persevered.
“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” (Walt Disney)
Business & Economics
McGraw Hill Professional
March 26, 2013
Training, Development, & Management Consultant. Helped launch Tokyo Disneyland in the 1980s.
Doug Lipp is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author and consultant on customer service, leadership, change management and global competitiveness. His thought-provoking, learn-by-doing presentation style has motivated hundreds of thousands of people around the world to maximize personal and professional success.
By age 29, Doug was the head of the training team at the world-famous Disney University at Disney’s corporate headquarters. Fluent in Japanese, he was later on the start-up team for Tokyo Disneyland, Disney’s first international theme park. After leaving Disney, Doug co-developed an international consulting firm with a Stanford University professor, teaching diverse teams of professionals how to better themselves in the marketplace.
Doug is the author of numerous articles and eight books on leadership, customer service, and international business. His latest book, Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees is full of never-before-told stories offering timeless lessons from Disney’s legendary leaders.
In writing Disney U, Doug interviewed with Disney legends, Disney University Founders, and countless Disney Executives and visionaries who welcomed him into their historic days with the iconic leader Walt Disney. Not many know about Van France, the Disney University Founder charged with the task of creating this famous training empire.