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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Disney Family Vacation


My wife & I and are two kids just returned from a week in the Disney theme parks followed by a three-day Disney cruise. I had extremely high expectations for this trip, given how much I love the whole Disney experience, and how psyched the kids were about it. I'm happy to report that the trip met every single expectation and exceeded many of them.

The secret to the whole trip wasn't just the 67 rides we went on across four theme parks in six days. Nor was it the thirty plus Disney characters we met, took pictures with and received autographs from. It was Disney's ability to take their considerable array of well-known characters, stories and music, and create a well-insulated world for the entire family to live in. When you're in these parks (or in the hotels, or the restaurants, or the cruise ship, or even on the public transportation between sites), you're in an environment where everyone is in a good mood all the time, and they all believe to their core that the most famous celebrity in all the world is Mickey Mouse. Despite their almost constant presence, sightings of Mickey & his many, many friends are treasured. The kids go nuts for them. They get autographs. They hug & kiss them and tell them about their trip. The parents take pictures and video. The kids hug the parents & thank them for bringing them to DisneyWorld. It's an incredibly well designed positive reinforcement loop, and it works even when you know exactly what's happening & why. Bravo, Disney. Bravo.

At any rate, our entire trip is documented here: I'd humbly suggest that anyone planning a Disney trip take a look through it - it's a pretty complete chronicle of what we did and how everything looks.

posted by Brian at 1:36 AM


  • When I lived in Hill House (freshman dorm at UPenn where I met Brian), it seemed like half my floor were Disney alums. And trust me, the staff are not having a good time.... But the ones who can fake it are the ones who succeed there.

    Anyway, I'm glad you had a great trip, but if I ever wondered about how much you were drinking the Kool-Aid... you got autographs. From fictional characters. Hey, which is worth more, your Belle or my Clark Kent?

    And yeah, I do want to go. I understand if I take a day trip to Universal, I can get Spider-Man's....

    By Anonymous jeff Porten, at 2:22 PM, January 26, 2006  

  • I don't know anyone who works for Disney, but I know three people who know people who do. All of them call it the best place to work in the whole world. Every employee (a.k.a. "cast-member") in the company rotates into a "customer-facing" role at some point (even the office worker-types), and they all look forward to it each year. Maybe the experience is different for "summer before college" kids...

    As for the autographs, let me be clear: I did not get autographs. My kids got autographs. Lots of 'em. Like ~40 in six days.

    You need to understand - if there are 10,000 kids in the park on any given day, 9,500 of them have autograph books. The characters are placed in strategic areas in the park, where kids line up for the autograph, the hug, and the picture. It's a very, very common practice.

    Think of it as kiddie-Hollywood, where the celebrities are constantly performing shows, and then wander around the street signing autographs. To the kids, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are Julia Roberts and Uma Thurman. How many autographs would you get?

    By Blogger Brian, at 10:58 AM, January 27, 2006  

  • Interesting. I'm not an autograph guy; the closest thing I have are a few inscribed books.

    What I find interesting is that you claim that your kids are the ones getting the autographs -- but of course your kids are young enough that they *wouldn't* have picked up that as a habit unless they learned it from peers and parents. It's not what I did when I was a kid. So is this meme coming to them from their families, or is this a crossover from things like signed baseballs?

    By Anonymous jeff Porten, at 11:49 AM, January 28, 2006  

  • It's not a habit. My kids wouldn't dream of asking a baseball player or movie star for an autograph (it would never occur to them). In Disney, though, if Donald Duck is standing on the side of the road, there's a velvet rope next to him, a sign that says "Donald will be signing autographs between 1:00 and 1:45" and a Disney photographer on hand to take your picture with Donald after he signs the book. The line can be dozens of kids long, all of them super-excited to meet The Donald (sorry, Mr. Trump).

    Try walking a kid past that without him asking for an autograph too...

    By Blogger Brian, at 2:06 AM, January 29, 2006  

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