Why Is Disneyland So Successful?

This post originally appeared on Quora HERE

I’ll answer why I “Think” Disneyland is so successful. This is in no way a comprehensive list…

I grew up in Southern California. At least once a year from 1975–1997, I went to Disneyland. In 1997, I went to work at Disneyland and practically lived there for 13 months. I was always a fan of the Disney Park. I was captivated by the magic. How was it made, contained and continued? I was on a mission to see it all.

The only job I could afford was graveyard custodial. I went to work at 12AM and got off work at 8:30AM (Then I played all day – or at least until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer). In the custodial office, where I would pick up my working assignments for the night, there was a plaque over the door that read, “His wife once asked, ‘Why do you want to build an amusement park? They’re so dirty.’ To which Walt replied, ‘That’s the point. Mine won’t be.’”

If you visit other theme parks, zoos, casinos and the like, they’re always dirty. This may be one small ingredient in the whole pie, but I think its overall impact is a big one. Even today, theme parks are so dirty and people continue to comment on the cleanliness of Disneyland.

There’s also the element of design. Disney spends a lot of time on design. Most people never even notice. The attention to detail is often mentioned by folks who have visited, and yet, even they miss 90% of the details. A good designer knows this and even relishes the thought that most people miss the intricacies all around them.

One factor of design is hiding the backstage from the view of park guests. Great care is taken to make sure that when an attraction is built, seldom (although sometimes) is it seen from other lands. And seldom (very rarely) can you see behind the scenes from any vantage point at all.

The employees play a big roll as well. We are trained to be “on stage” when visible to guests. That’s why we are called Cast Members. My job as a custodian was to clean things (mostly boats in my time there), but that was superseded anytime a guest approached with a question.

The magic factor is that so much work is put into taking you out of the real world and placing you in this imagined reality that is always entertaining. Other theme parks focus on making a buck. On adding to the bottom line. Disneyland is no different, except they have carried on a tradition, laid down by Walt himself, that entertaining the guest, removing the barriers to imagination, is just as important as making a buck. It’s nice to see that still exists. The end result? The most successful theme park in the world (IMHO)

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