Measuring The Magic

Would you like to see Splash Mountain improved at The Magic Kingdom? Would you like to have Aladdin’s Magic Flying Carpets go away? Would you like to have a new parade? Just tell Disney.

Sit back right now and see how Disney goes about “fishing” for your opinion.

Yes, you could post it on their blog. They certainly have had some feedback from through that vehicle. And when you’re there at the parks, you could just stop at City Hall. But what we’re talking about is visiting the Chamber of Commerce. If you’re not familiar, that’s the last building on the right as you exit the Magic Kingdom. You may know it because it handles package pick up. But it’s also where they like to ask guests for their opinion–even on whether an attraction needs fixing up.

behind these scrolling desks are computers set for handling Guest surveys.

The other night I was stopped as I exited the park and was randomly asked to participate in a survey. I agreed and was escorted into the Chamber of Commerce to take a survey. I was asked some basic demographic questions–race, income, age, attendance frequency–but the bulk of the time was rating every attraction, character experience, and entertainment feature in the park. First they wanted to know what I had seen and done.

For instance, on the screen below, they asked me which of these attractions, entertainment, or character meet and greets listed did you experience today at the Magic Kingdom? And then they listed everything in Adventureland. Obiously Pirates of the Caribbean and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. But they also wanted to know if I had visited with Pirate Goofy, Angelica, Disney Fairies, or seen Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial. There was also an option if I had seen none of them.

We went through each and every land of the Magic Kingdom. Then they went back through and asked which attractions, entertainment, and character meet and greet offerings were in need of updating (with no condition on whether I had seen that experience that day). So for instance, in Fantasyland, I was asked about the Mad Tea Party, Mary Poppins, the Fantasy Woodwind Society, even Dumbo and Snow White’s Scary Attractions, though both were slated for being redone or being removed.

Now this particular survey was more quantitative in nature. What I mean by that, is that in all of the measurement approaches, it never asked me why I attended one attraction, or why I thought an attraction needed improvement. It simply asked me what I thought of the attraction. It did ask me to rate those descriptors that best described my opinion about rides, atmosphere entertainment, and characters at the park. For instance it asked me to click on the following that best described me relative to atmosphere entertainment:

  • This type of entertainment is what I come to the parks to see
  • I like to personally interact with the entertainers and be part of the performance when I come to the parks
  • I always stop to watch an entire performance
  • I’ll stop to watch a little of the performance, if it looks interesting
  • I only see this type of entertainment as I walk past
  • This type of entertainment keeps the fantasy alive and the real world out while I go from ride to ride
  • None of the above

So what’s the purpose? They really do want to know if Splash Mountain is seen by the guests as being in need of being updated. They really want to know if you’d stop and see a new parade if it was created. And they want to know if that opinion is coming from someone who seldom comes to Disney or is a pass holder.

By no means is this the only way Disney gathers information. Make a complaint next door at City Hall and put it in writing and that data is gathered as well. Other measures involve asking you to participate in an online survey when you get home. That survey asks you to put in writing much more your thoughts and feelings about your entire stay at Walt Disney World or at a particular talk. For instance, here’s a sample of what they wanted to know about visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom when I once visited.

Clearly, they want to know about crowding, about how memorable it was, about weather, about any factors that would influence my opinion about returning to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the future. They asked about shopping, dining, use of FASTPASS, and especially my opinion about rides, attractions and entertainment. I am sure that such data supported in part the decision to make a major investment in the form of a new attraction experience such as AVATAR. It didn’t ask my opinion about the movie, but such data does reveal the kind of expenditure needed to keep guests returning to the park.

All of this is good, and all of this is important to making the right decisions about making Walt Disney World better. Yes, it helps to also post our thoughts on web sites like this one. But in truth, Disney uses a wide array of quantitative and qualitative data-gathering approaches before making major decisions about how to make these parks succeed.

And of all these approaches, which one is the most important? I think they are all important, but I cannot emphasize enough the need to observe first hand what is happening in the parks. I think that was Walt Disney’s favorite approach–walking in the shoes of the Guest. You not only see things you might not get quantitatively through data. You’ll understand things you would never see on paper.

Moreover, it really doesn’t take a formal survey to know when things might need to be fixed. You’ll see it when you walk it.

But this isn’t so much about Disney as it is about you. What do you do quantitatively and qualitatively to better understand your customer? Are you taking a wide variety of approaches? Are you listening to the voice of your customer? It’s all part of measuring the magic–no matter where you are at.