Leadership Lessons From Disneyland's Jungle Cruise

Leadership Lessons From Disneyland's Jungle Cruise


Last week on Disney at Work we celebrated Disney California Adventure with a podcast that focused on four lessons learned from the hub at Buena Vista Street. We also had a chance to explore what we love most about Disney California Adventure in our Disney at Play podcast.

This week we head to “The Happiest Place on Earth” to experience Disneyland. Today we’re at the world famous Jungle Cruise. You can find our podcast here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotes.

Giving the Jungle Cruise a Thumbs Up

I share the following YouTube story of Walt Disney and Dick Nunis. Check it out below.

This story really is a turning point for Disneyland becoming the world class attraction that it is today. So many lessons were learned from this story, and those lessons have been shared for generations of Disney Cast Members since.

Relishing the Backside of Water

Our next story in our podcast celebrates the backside of water. Here it is from the front when our boat is trying to avoid the falls.

And here it is from the back side when we go underneath the falls. The podcast notes how you can make the most of even the most simple features.

The office of Dr. Albert Falls, owner of the Skipper Canteen at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. His name also appears on the steak served at the restaurant. It’s all part of giving things an extra “little flair”.

Plussing Up Pachyderms

Our third example comes from Marc Davis’s work improving the Jungle Cruise over the years. The podcast shares his perspective on this, and that plussing things up requires making mistakes along the road.

This scene below, shown in all of the Jungle Cruise experiences, was originally planned as a way of advertising the attraction to those on the Disneyland Railroad. Walt thought the gag was so good that it ought to be in the attraction.

Rhino scene as shown in the Jungle Cruise at Hong Kong Disneyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Souvenirs for Your Organization

You don’t have to be a monkey god to see some really important lessons from these stories. Consider applying the following ideas to your organization:

  • Do you as a leader model expectations?
  • Do you walk in the shoes of your customers?
  • Do you hold your employees accountable for creating a great product or service?
  • What is the “backside of water” in my own business?
  • How can I take even the weeds of my business and plus them?
  • What is the extra touch I can bring to what is otherwise unexpected?
  • How can I give a flair to those products and services that still aren’t perfect?
  • How can I plus up what is already something really good?

More Disneyland Magic–For Your Business!

If you like stories like these, make sure you check out our books to include The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. Not only is this story shared, but so are scores of other stories from the “Happiest Places on Earth” that you can adapt in your organization and take it to the next level. Check it out at Amazon today, along with our other volumes.

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