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4.1 out of 5 stars
Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney's Success
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on July 6, 2015
Great read and connection points to/ for any successful business!!
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on December 24, 2001
I'm always pleased when a former student lends me a book . . . that is how I came to read INSIDE THE MAGIC KINGDOM: SEVEN KEYS TO DISNEY'S SUCCESS by Tom Connellan . . . it is
a fictionalized version of the experiences of a group of individuals who attend a Disney University seminar to learn that corporation's approach to customer service.
Though the approach is somewhat hokey, I nevertheless got a lot out of reading this short book that took me little over an hour to read--but left me thinking about it for a lot longe.
There were several passages that caught my attention:
* [Michael Eisner spoke to the class for a few minutes, then offered to answer questions. As he concluded his comments, he said, "No one ever wants to ask the first question, so who would like to ask the second question?" It got a small laugh, then the room filled with questions.
What a clever way to start questions flowing, thought Alan. Back
home, when he gathered people together for a meeting, it was
sometimes difficult to get them to open up. Eisner's approach,
on the other hand, immediately put people at ease.
* [to average at least three positive comments to one negative]
"Here's what you do. At the beginning of the day, put ten dimes
in your pocket or somewhere easily accessible.
"Every time you see someone doing well--paying attention to
detail, listening to customers, anything that helps wow your
customers--I want you to recognize that person for her
"After you're done so, move a dime to another pocket. The next
time you recognize someone, move another dime.
"Your goal is to get all ten dimes moved by the end of the day. Do
if for thirty days and see how things have changed. I think you'll be
pleasantly surprised."
"Why thirty days?" asked Bill.
"It takes most people twenty-one days to establish a new habit,"
said Mort. "I'm just adding a little insurance to make sure it
really takes."
* [the French Pavilion] "reminded me of something my college
history professor said: 'Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I
remember. Involve me, and I understand.' That's what I felt about
the French Pavilion: it involved me. I stopped thinking of it
as just a place to have lunch and began to enjoy the
moment--something I need to do more of."
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HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon December 7, 2001
Connellan creates a fictional situation in which five executives (previously strangers) meet for several days of discussion at Disney World under the supervision of "Mort Vandeleur" (whom none of them had previously known) to learn why 70% of Magic Kingdom guests are return visitors. Vandeleur is a former cast member of both Disneyland and Disney World who now earns his living as a consultant to other companies to improve their customer relationships. Do not ignore the importance of the phrase "cast member" and the word "guest" because both are essential to understanding two of the primary reasons for the success of all of Disney's Magic Kingdoms: the role of each Disney employee, and, how each visitor is treated by all employees. Indeed, both are essential to creating and then sustaining the "magic" of those communities. By design, the five executives are significantly different in terms of their previous business experiences, expectations upon arrival, personalities, initial reactions to Vandeleur, and (most importantly) the process of learning throughout interaction with him, each other, and various guests as well as cast members.
It would be a disservice both to Connellan and to the reader to reveal the seven "Lessons" which each of the five learns. However, I do want to note that Connellan (unlike Vandeleur) has never worked for Disney in any capacity. Also, that he assumes full responsibility for the book he has written, presumably written with the knowledge but not with the necessary approval of Disney. Also, that each of the "Gang of Five" is fictitious, as are all cast members identified by name except Michael Eisner, Dick Nunis, and Judson Green. Finally, that Connellan includes several of his own ideas about creating magic, such as Lesson 7: "Xvxryonx makxs a diffxrxncx."
As indicated in his previous books and articles, Connellan has a great deal of value to say about how to provide consistently superior customer service. What I found especially beneficial in this book is Connellan's emphasis on the importance of collaboration throughout any organization to provide such service. I am reminded of a scene near the end of the film Spartacus when the victorious Roman general (played by Olivier) and his slavemaster (played by Ustinov) make their way among the defeated gladiators looking for their leader or someone who will identify his body. Finally, one by one, the gladiators stand and each asserts "I am Spartacus!" Each cast member, in a sense, IS the Magic Kingdom. (How many of those in your own organization feel the same pride and passion?) My point is that, yes, Connellan examines superior customer service at Disney World and does so quite well but he also provides excellent insights into the total dependence of such service (there and elsewhere) on those who feel privileged (key word) to provide it. Most will find this an "easy read" so I conclude with a word of caution: The situation may be fictitious and, on occasion, developments may seem contrived but stay with the narrative to its conclusion. The lessons learned can help to guide and inform the transformation any organization into a Magic Kingdom.
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on February 22, 2001
If you've ever visited Disneyworld, you probably didn't know that as you stood gazing at the quaint replica Italian square, Morrocan kasbah or the castle of the Magic Kingdom, you were actually standing on the roof of an enormous building. Underneath your feet (which, by the way are being scanned by video cameras; a Disney security guard can find a lost child by the description of his shoes) is a hive of activity with "cast members" performing their roles with exceptional training and dedication.
Hidden doors, passageways and stairs are everywhere in Disneyworld--if you know where to look past the eye-teasing designs of the buildings. Behind the scenes a lot is going on, and that's what this book is about.
The book takes the somewhat hokey form of fictional tour given to a stuffy old guy who finally is won over to the Disney way. Despite the whimsical and not-exactly-business-textbook tone, the book does contain the principles which have made Disney a billion-dollar powerhouse. The Disney principles outlined in this book for customer service have allowed the company to achieve a consistent level of performance and quality that is unsurpassed. When have you ever heard a person return from the seemingly manditory pilgrimage to Disneyworld that they were "disappointed?" Here's a telling anecdote from a friend of mine that points to Disney's dedication to customer satisfaction; as they were leaving the park, their little daughter was crying. She didn't get to see Minnie Mouse amongst the roving costumed cartoon characters that day. Her cries were heard by watchful cast members and a Minnie Mouse was dispatched by radio to meet with her young fan before she left. It was unthinkable that anyone should leave Disneyworld disappointed.
If you read this book, and then get a chance to go to Disneyworld, you can watch the principles in action. If you are really lucky and get a VIP behind the scenes tour, you will never look at Disney the same way again. From crowd control to security, to marketing, to customer satisfaction, they have produced a product worth studying for success in your business endeavors. Some people find the fictional story a bit childish, but other find it makes the dry business reading enjoyable. Either way, the principles of customer satisfaction and how to achieve it are clearly outlined here and worth your while to know.
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on January 12, 2002
What a great little book! Right from the cover, it grabbed my interest. I mean, what better way to teach about customer service than through a fictional tour of the happiest place on earth! The book uses memorable characters (which by the way, are very well developed for a business book), and takes them through a behind-the-scenes tour of the Magic Kingdom. Along the way, they discover seven 'keys' which are supposedly responsible for much of the magic which they see around them. Although these lessons are merely the observations of the author and are not officially endorsed by Disney, they are somehow very appropriate in the context of this book. As a reader, I had no problem believing that these principles must somehow be tied, even if loosely, to the official Disney methodology.
What is particularly interesting about this book is that it teaches through example and application, not through lecturing or lists. In other words, it is the story and the interaction of the characters which actually illustrate the seven keys. The keys, then, are discovered, not taught. This is made all the more realistic through the use of real-life personalities. That is to say, these are characters that you would find in just about every office. You have the fast-paced overacheiver, the bubbly optimist, the grumbly resistor, and so on.
Of course, the book had no trouble carrying my interest because the setting was so darn enjoyable. There were times that I felt like I was actually taking the tour. In fact, I couldn't wait to see what they would find next!
One last endearing aspect of this book is that it does not come off as just another analysis of the Walt Disney Company. Instead, it presents real life lessons which every company could use, and applies them to the Disney style. In other words, you almost get the impression that the seven keys could have been written with or without using Disney as the example. It just so happens that using Disney makes it that much more fun and easy to relate to.
All of the observations are ones that most any visitor to the Magic Kingdom could have made. But the parallel that is drawn to real-life business is what sets this book apart. My only suggestion is that you actually visit one of the Disney parks before reading this book. I fear that without being able to experience the tour first-hand, you will lose much of the effect.
Have Fun!
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on February 17, 2004
INSIDE THE MAGIC KINGDOM is a terrific read just to have a look at how Disney does what it does with its company and theme parks from the standpoint of customer service. Incredible stuff. You won't believe what pains Disney takes to make us more comfortable and, of course, amenable to making a return trip or purchase.
The real "magic" of this book are the applications that anyone can make of its principles to a customer service or to attention to detail that one intends to make in ones own life. Disney does not own the principles here and they can be learned and used by anyone who wants to improve his organization's (or personal) customer service strategy.
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on August 28, 2003
Inside the Magic Kingdom is a great book when read just to get information about why Disney does what it does with its company and theme parks from the standpoint of customer service.
The real power, as I see it, of this book come from seeing that, like McDonalds, Disney has discovered how to apply a customer service attitude across all areas of their business operations. Moreover, these principles are not proprietary and can be learned and applied by anyone seeking to improve his or her company's (or personal) customer service strategy.
Read the book and apply the lessons and don't get too hung up on the dialogue of things.
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on November 28, 1997
This is a nice book i found on the way to the WDW and what a combination!... ENJOY THIS ONE and read cover to cover in a SINGLE READING. Basically it is a management praising of how the MAGIC KINGDOM (Disneyland in Orlando) work. Should be aplicable to most business practices and beneficial to the reader. I do not really enjoy the way of -one minute manager- style of story telling, which make me rate as 9 rather than the perfect 10... ALL IN ALL this is a great book and enjoyable reading.... TANADI SANTOSO, NOV 97
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on August 7, 2000
This book explains the customer service and overall business philosophies of The Walt Disney Company. The lessons and anecdotes it includes are very good, however the way they are presented is ridiculous. A tour guide who is not at all affliated with Disney takes a group of business people through the Magic Kingdom pointing out various interesting things and showing them just how great Disney is. Of course it all ends up with the stubborn, uptight last man coming around to see what a great company Disney is. How touching. This book was an incredibly easy read. Almost along the lines of; See Spot. See Spot run. Spot likes Disney. Anyone who would find this book useful should be insulted by the level at which it is written. It is worth borrowing for an afternoon quick read but definatly not worth buying.
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on December 28, 1997
No other book could confirm what I had suspected: Disney is THE company to look to for guidance and leadership. This book makes learning new management ideas very easy. Should be required for all business classes and executives! "Walk the Talk" with author Tom Connellan, as he and his "Gang of Five"--a mythical group learning from actual Disney practices--find the very obvious, yet mostly unknown, lessons of success. This book will WOW! you and tempt you to purchase tickets to Orlando right away!
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