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Friday, March 28, 2014

Every Guest a Hero

Every Guest is a Hero: Disney's Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic StorytellingEvery Guest is a Hero: Disney's Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling by Adam M. Berger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I haven't been to Disney Parks in many years. When I was there, I really didn't think about epic journeys or Innermost Caves or anything like that. I just wanted to get on the ride as quick as possible and not spend all day in line. (This was before Fastpass, which allows guests to bypass the line.) I noticed that Disney spent a lot of time on its waiting area, but I thought it was just to keep everyone occupied while they were waiting in line, especially going by the sign that says "Your expected wait time is 60 minutes." I also knew that Disney was good at storytelling. Now, as Adam Berger informs us, this was all part of the mythic design, to make the guest feel like a hero. He goes through an introduction of the myth-making story of Disney, and then describes 10 rides in detail through the lens of Joseph Campbell's theories about myths and epic adventures. I don't know if all rides are like this--I don't remember any kind of epic journey on It's a Small World--but he does a reasonably good job of explaining everything. I think at times the epic part can go overboard trying to fit epic journeys into the rides. Quite frankly, for most people getting to the end of the ride by itself is epic enough. It does say something about Disney's attitude, though. If they put this much effort into the waiting area of the ride, they really care about the guest experience. It may be a lesson for other businesses as well. The customer needs to feel like they're valued, and not just for their money. They need to feel like they're part of something special. In my experience, this can be rare. The epic journey in a lot of cases is getting through to talk to someone in customer service. Push 1 for this department, push 2 for that department, isn't what customers want. All in all, a good book, and recommended reading for any business pro, or anyone who wants to know more about what's behind all that stuff in the waiting line at Disney.

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