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The 4 Things Disney Can Teach You About Customer Service

, | February 25, 2021 | By

One thing is for sure.

We all know you don’t have to visit Disney every day, weekend, or even every year to remember the impact it made on your life.

Experiencing the Disney ethos for the first time changes you, whether you’re a child or an adult.

Disney Cast Members are trained from day one to deliver an experience worth writing about today – and every day.

That’s why we’re writing about them.

With decades of life-changing experiences under their belt, it’s simple to understand that Disney is the guiding light for customer service.

Walt Disney said, “You reach a point where you don’t work for money.”

Simply put, the money exchange is not relevant to the memories that you want to create for your customers.

Provide a great experience, exceed customer expectations, and plenty of positive memories are created.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re doing this, the money will follow.

That's what we call Proactive Operations.


It’s quite simple, yet for some reason, we all have a little trouble with this sometimes.

Take a trip down Main Street, and you’ll immediately be enveloped within the magical experience.

For those of us working to create this on our properties, it can be a bittersweet moment.

Two things will happen.

  1. You’ll see how well Disney’s standards are executed by Cast Members.
  2. You might get frustrated with the fact that you and your team could be delivering a higher quality of service to your customers.

Understanding the moments and memories that take place on your property may light a little fire for you to strive to deliver a world-class service environment.

Your class is in session, and we found a few things Disney does to provide service so good, even adults are kicking and screaming when they leave. (We don’t know this from personal experience or anything.)


The Disney Institute transforms organizations through custom solutions based on the time-tested success and insights of The Walt Disney Company.

We figured the Disney Institute has some lessons you can learn.

Grab some ink and let’s transform your team’s customer service leading to “Wow!” moments.

Now, you probably deliver excellent service already.

But you can always do it better – so let’s do it!

Exceeding guest expectations is delivered in a package deal.

There’s more than meets the eye, and it’s not only about being kind that leads to a memorable experience.

It starts with safety.

1. Dreams are made of Safety.

  • Practice safe behaviors in everything you do
  • Always act to put safety first
  • Speak up to ensure the safety of others

Take anything out of the equation if it could potentially harm your customers and team.

Don’t even make it a possibility.

As a proactive leader, you must decide whether a project will require too much time and money to complete safely.

You must end that fairy tale before it even gets started.

2. Have common courtesy. Seriously.

  • Project a positive image and energy
  • Be courteous and respectful to Guests (yes, with a capital G – that’s the Disney way) of all ages
  • Go above and beyond to exceed Guest expectations

Your customers may pay a handsome fee while on your property.

Either way, we say, make it worth their time.

This part is where the Guest contact aspect of the customer experience enters the stage.

Don’t have service standards in place?

Never let it ruin your magical moment.

The Seven Dwarfs have you covered.

Disney’s Seven Service Guidelines

  1. Be Happy– make eye contact and smile!
  2. Be like Sneezy– greet and welcome every customer. Spread the spirit of Hospitality. It’s contagious!
  3. Don’t be Bashful– seek out Guest contact.
  4. Be like Doc– provide immediate service recovery.
  5. Don’t be Grumpy– display appropriate body language at all times.
  6. Be like Sleepy– create dreams and preserve the magical Guest experience.
  7. Don’t be Dopey– thank every Guest!

3. Show up and be show ready.

  • Stay in character and perform your role during
  • Ensure your area is always show-ready

The experience is only a part of the memory.

The environment you and your team maintain adds to the Show.

The moment you arrive at a Disney park, every single aspect of the environment is perfect.

It’s the stuff you see in conjunction with all the stuff that you don’t see that makes the experience something to remember.

Make it perfect, so your customers don’t have to think about wet floors, broken cup holders, candy wrappers, empty ketchup dispensers, or other distractions preventing them from enjoying their time.

4. We love efficiency. So does Disney.

  • Perform your role efficiently, so Guests get the most out of their visit
  • Use your time and resources wisely

Efficiency is the final product for delivering a customer experience good enough to be comparable to the Cast Members at Disney.

  • Know and follow all processes and procedures
  • Be aware of all your surroundings to know of any potential hazards
  • Communicate across all departments and personnel

Take it from us; your team’s ability to communicate has a lasting impact on all aspects of your operation, from customer service to incident response to maintenance.


“I’m doing this because I want to do it better.” - Walt Disney

Put these teachings into action. Then, check back to see how your team is doing. Does a customer on your property have the same experience as if they were at Disney World?

You can continuously analyze the customer experience side of your business too. That’s how you always create positive memories.

Take a page from Walt’s handbook and always strive to do it better. Your customers’ memories matter. Show them how much they matter to you.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.

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