Guest Compliance at Disney Amid COVID-19

Guest Compliance at Disney Amid COVID-19

How Disney Will Get Guests & Employees to Follow Safe Practices When They Re-Open


You’ve often heard: “Please stand clear of the doors…Por favor mantenganse alejandro del las puertas.”

Soon you may hear: “Please stand clear of others…por favor mantenganse alejandro de los otros.”

This podcast follows a series of key podcasts that have examined the realities of Coronavirus on the closure of Disney parks across the globe. In the previous podcast, we examined measures Disney may have to take to make their parks safe enough to open. Here, we will examine how Disney will get people–both guests and employees–to willingly comply in imaginative ways.

You can find our podcast here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotes.

Disney, with its unique focus on customer service still emphasizes compliance when dealing with guests who pay thousands of dollars to vacation at their parks. Consider the following requirements:

  • Cast Members only (stay out of designated areas)
  • Must meet the height requirement to board the attraction
  • Stay behind the yellow line until the doors to the attraction open
  • Remain seated at all times while riding.
  • Return with your FastPass between 1:10 and 2:10
  • Checkout from your resort room is at 11:00 am
  • Finally, Por Favor Mantenganse Alejado de las Puertas

In addition to those requirements, there are any number of possible mandates that will be put in place, not just for guests, but for employees. The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force (outlined at the 22 minute mark) shared some potential guidelines for what might be required for parks, hotels and restaurants. “I’m not sure how they are going to be governed, but these are my recommendations.” Considered would be:

  • Staff 65+ being encouraged to stay at home.
  • Employees being encouraged to stay at home if they have flu-like symptoms.
  • Bartenders to sanitize hands after making each drink order
  • Staff behind counters wearing gloves
  • All employees wearing face masks
  • Taped marking of 6 feet apart in ride/attraction queues
  • Spacing pool furniture

Of course, these would be more the minimum, and people would expect even more of Disney. But it isn’t sufficient to post a requirement. You still have to get customers and employees on board to keeping them. How do you do that?

We have an acronym used to create a winning compliance approach. It’s called R.U.L.E.S.

  • R. Relevant
  • U. Uniform
  • L. Lead with Honey
  • E. Educate
  • S. Support

Our podcast looks at each in detail. Here are some visuals to help support that conversation.


The image below is Disneyland on the day of opening. Take a look at the planters in front of the Plaza Inn, or what was known as The Red Wagon Inn. Guests were cutting through those spaces to get over to Tomorrowland.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here’s what that area looks like today? There are paths cutting through those former spaces? Why? Our podcast shares a story about Walt talking to the gardeners about the space.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The message of the story is that you should ask “why is it necessary that guests or customers comply?” If you don’t have a good reason, then get rid of the requirement.

Many of the policies in place such as cancellation or modifying at the last minute have been waived in the pandemic. Why not afterwards?


The queue for Star Tours is really a play on TSA. In particular is this droid, who is running checks on you as you pass into the boarding area.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In truth, one of the frustrating things about compliance is the inconsistency. People don’t want to be surprised by the rules.

One of the things Disney does to be consistent or uniform is a height requirement stand, such as here at Big Thunder Mountain.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

And what happens if the individual isn’t measuring up? That’s when Disney really makes the magic happen. For many years, especially prior to FastPass, they have implemented height certification cards like the one below:

Image by Disney
Image by Disney

The key concept here is to underscore compliance by making sweetening the deal. Which leads us to our next concept, Leading with Honey.

Lead With Honey

When you walk down Main Street, U.S.A. at the start of the day, you see a lot of Cast Members waving at you and welcoming you to the park. Why?

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

You get the same effect when you enter a store. It’s long been well known that if you a greet a guest when they first enter a retail establishment, you are far more likely to reduce their intent to shoplift.

Be Our Guest Boutique at Shanghai Disneyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

One of the best ways to get people to comply is to simply build relationships of trust with them. Of course, this isn’t always easy when you are dealing with massive crowds. It’s especially difficult for people in a security guard or police role. That’s why I love this citation that used to be handed out at one time by Walt Disney World Security:

Disney leaflet.

One of the challenges Disney has always had, but was really having to pay attention to was getting guests to wash their hands for 20 seconds.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Not that they haven’t found clever ways to educate their employees to do the same.

No restroom is complete without signage indicating the need for employees to wash up. But only here do you have to worry about workers eating the soap. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here’s a reminder to employees to wash their hands. All of it is in perfect theming.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here are guests getting Mickey Mouse shaped foam to wash their hands.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Educating your customers as to what they should or shouldn’t do is a big part of creating compliance. For example, guests have intuitively come to know that there is an onstage and off stage portion to the parks. This is usually been played out with signs that say “Cast Members only please”. In recent years, these signs have been themed out with other creative messages tied to the attraction or land they belong to.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

One of the big efforts made over the years has been to education young people as to what they should or shouldn’t do. This has been carried out in a Timon and Pumba series of trading cards. Have you ever received one?

Materials by Disney.


The final letter in our approach to getting customers and guests to comply is through support. Where do you park your stroller? This has been a question for many years. Sometimes a Cast Member would do a two finger point in the right direction. Sometimes signage would be created like this clever one for the Jedi Training Academy.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Did you know drinking fountains were the result of creating compliance. Follow the link here and we’ll show you how an example of how drinking fountains came to be, first and foremost in public parks. The example is from a water fountain in front of the Tower of Terror. Check out the link here.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Probably the best example of supporting guests has been providing trash receptacles to facilitate them throwing away their litter or trash. “Cleanliness breeds cleanliness” when you support guests in doing so.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The sign at the entrance to Oga’s Cantina reminds us that simply stating the rules, does not guarantee compliance. As we share in the podcast, it’s really about teaching the “why” and not the “what”.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Souvenirs for Your Organization

When it comes to being relevant, ask yourself: 

  • Is this truly going to make a difference?
  • Will the customer recognize the benefits of complying?
  • Are there real consequences if they fail to comply?
  • Does the requirement lose relevance because the systems for ensuring compliance are so burdensome?
  • How can you get compliers on board to making it relevant?

When it comes to being uniform, consider the following:

  • Who is being asked to comply and who is not?
  • Are there varied degrees of compliance?
  • How can we look more consistent in our expectations?

When it comes to leading with honey, consider the following:

  • How can we better sell this?
  • How can we make this pill easier to swallow?
  • How can we better meet the needs of those we are serving?
  • How can we get everyone on board with us?

Ask yourself as it relates to educating others about being compliant:

  • How can we better communicate and inform compliers?
  • How can we interact and engage compliers in this process?

Ask yourself as it relates to supporting people in being compliant:

  • How can we create a customer-centric approach to complying?
  • How can we develop processes that make it easier to comply?
  • How can we move obstacles out of the way to support them?

More Customer Service Magic

These ideas, plus so many more can be found in this book, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. It’s available through Amazon. Please check it out!

2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.
2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.

J. Jeff Kober