Creating a Disney Experience


After a family vacation to Disney World, I quickly realized we can learn from the Disney Experience and apply to real estate.

Did you know 70% of guests who visit Disney parks return for another visit? As a comparison, 17% of sellers who sell their home use the same agent they used last time.

70% is an unbelievable number for any kind of return rate. Coupled with the number of vacation options, the cost, the trouble to get in and out of the park, and the “been there, done that” way of thinking, and it really becomes quite remarkable.

What makes the Disney Guest Experience so special?

Every single detail plays a part.

Walt Disney was obsessed with the process. He knew that the deliverance of a magical experience each and every time is dependent on developing processes that allow you to do so. Much of the magic of Disneyland is the drive and ability to optimize the mundane.

There is nothing that is status-quo about any part of Disney.

When walking down the streets, there is upbeat, positive music playing. The streets are perfectly clean. There are no employees (or “Cast Members” as they’re called there) dressed in uniforms or normal clothes. They all wear costumes.

Walt viewed his theme parks almost as “factories” that produced delight and entertainment. His belief was that the backbone of Quality Service was built on designing perfect processes and then repeating them at scale.

It almost seems cold to think of a wondrous place like Disneyland in such a way, but Walt knew that the magic was powered by these processes. Disney has always held true to these beliefs with their close attention to detail in constantly improving their processes.

It’s safe to say they sweat the small stuff.

Too often we think of systems or processes as impersonal. The fact is, doing things the same way, and making the mundane exceptional is the key to providing a remarkable experience. Disneyland wants every guest to feel that they are at the happiest place in the world.

How happy could you be in chaos and confusion? There is a reason that top organizations and companies all have business plans that are grounded in systems and that goals are clearly defined.

How do you ensure that your client experience is the exact same for each of your buyers and sellers?

What are you doing to make the mundane feel extraordinary?

How do you make your client feel completely at ease in all of the chaos?

Feel like you’re too busy to implement systems or that it will add to your already long list of things to do? Odds are if you feel like that, then you should adjust your processes and systems.

Keep in mind that 14.5 million people will visit Disneyland this year. Not only do they make time to ensure processes are followed, it’s the only way they could accommodate that number of people.

Walt was a stickler for the experiences at his park. His obsession with the park stemmed from the fact that he saw it as a forever incomplete product which could always be improved.

He would wear old clothes and a straw farmer’s hat and tour the park incognito. He’d time rides, and if the rides were rushed, he would make sure the operators knew about it and fixed it. If a ride was 7 minutes for one guests, it should be 7 minutes for EVERY guest.

Disney’s shared purpose has evolved into the following mantra: “We create happiness by providing the finest in family entertainment.”

At ReeceNichols our mantra is our brand promise. Create a personalized experience that is rewarding.

Our mantra, brand look and feel, voice and personas and your expertise should be reflected in everything that you do.

People tend to buy who you are, not what you do—so give them as many chances as possible to get to know who you are.

That 70% return rate? That doesn’t happen just because Disney has some good rides.

Rather, fans keep coming back because there’s always more to see. Disney’s motto isn’t “Lots of Rides”—it’s “The Happiest Place on Earth”. And Disney maintains constant interest by making sure there’s always something else to notice.

If you want people coming back, and you definitely do, then you need to provide more than just a bare-bones service.

Disneyland is more than a place to be strapped into a chair and flung around; and your business should be more than the mechanics of what you do.

How do you go above and beyond to ensure your clients want to come back for more? Go beyond their expectations and provide extra service. Create a niche and specialize in something.

Treat everyone like a prince or princess.

Treating everyone as the most important guest sounds easy, but it is probably the most challenging of any of these things.

Customer service of any positive kind is surprisingly a rare phenomenon in today’s world. But as pleasing and unexpected as good customer service is, great customer service will truly cement customer loyalty.

Disney never lets anyone forget its past successes. Its parades are a constant triumph of its classics—in fact, it has reached the point where it can simply manufacture classics, labeling them as such before they’ve even come out on DVD. When Tiana and Rapunzel were inaugurated into Disney’s official princess lineup, the marketing team made it a quasi-historical occasion—and thousands upon thousands of loyal customers showed up.

It works so well that a few years back people were shelling out $150 to have their names immortalized on a brick paver laid in the “Walk of Magical Memories” between Disneyland and DCA (for a minimum of one year, liable to be torn up at any time, brick remaining the property of Disney!) Why would anyone feel the need to buy pavers for a multimillion-dollar company…unless to felt they were part of something grand, historical and exciting?

Now, I realize that none of us have a stake in peoples’ childhoods the way Disney does. But let’s look at this from a higher perspective.

Are you building something that people want to be a part of? Part of Disney’s appeal is the way they constantly build on characters.

Are you building on your own experiences and successes to expand your brand? Create and expand something that others want to be a part of and identify with.

Much of Disneyland’s success is a direct result of Walt Disney making sure everyone understood his motives, thoughts, ideas and plans behind it.

Even just having and telling the story of why you do what you do can be a powerful way of developing customer loyalty.

You don’t have to be Walt Disney. Start today by making sure others understand your motivations and build your entire plan around delivering the most remarkable customer experience around. People will pay for that experience, and return at an exceptionally high rate.

Written by Chad Dumas
Managing Broker
ReeceNichols Real Estate, Lee’s Summit