Disney: The Magical Experience

Posted: March 04, 2013

I had the chance to go to Disney over Halloween last October.  My 10 year old son, my wife and I had 6 days to explore this world famous destination.  Can you believe not one of us had been before?  It seems like a ‘must do’ for families.  Just wasn’t in our family plan – until last fall!

2 days were travel days and the other 4 we opted to go to a park per day.  Everyone I talked to said you will love Disney and it is such an ‘experience’.  What does that mean?  Experience?  I have an experience every day – so I was anxious and anticipated learning what they were talking about.  Well, I can say Disney delivered the ‘experience’, for sure.  Our ‘experience’ included noticeable planning and execution of literally everything Disney does and everything Disney is part of, which was everything!  Things like detailed transition of music from area to area, to never seeing a trash collector, to the hidden Mickey’s, to the parades and fireworks. They were all part of this magical vacation.  They had thought of everything.  What Disney does is very intentional and well executed.  Disney delivered my family the experience.

Those of you that have been to Disney maybe understand what I am talking about.  You can also possibly relate to the idea that offering an experience is something we try to do at our camps.  Think about it, from the time you make contact with a patron you are trying to give them the best experience you possibly can.  I thought about how our intent is very parallel to Disney’s, the significant difference is in our presentation.  Ok, and the money, resources, property, cartoon characters…I get it!

But what we want for our ‘customers’ is not so different.  I have also had the opportunity, through ACA conferences, to listen to Disney Executives talk about how they provide this experience to their patrons.  As you can imagine there are many layers to this process.  So what can we learn from the Magic Kingdom?   Maybe nothing – but my take away was that our responsibility to our campers, to the industry and to our organizations is to do everything in our power to provide our campers with a positive experience.  That might look different where I work then where you work, but the intention is the same. 

The other thing I already knew, but confirmed after being at Disney for a week is that they do what they do extremely well.  And so do we – be proud of the experiences and opportunities we offer to campers, and share the magic!  When campers talk about their camp experience well after it happened, we can be happy with a job well done.  My son still talks about Disney, quite often – but not as often as his camp experience.  That is pretty powerful.

Editorial note:  We won’t go back to Disney anytime soon.  We have friends that go every year – that is their vacation.  I guess we prefer magical experiences elsewhere.  To each their own!  It was fun, however, to be there during Halloween.

Yours in Camping,

Sonny Adkins

LCOL Chair, ACA Indiana