10 Things I Learned At Disneyland

As I wrapped up what I feel was a very successful vacation (especially taking into count that I have 3 kids) to Disneyland I can’t help but think back to how everything went down. I have learned a few valuable lessons that I want to share with everyone, and there is a lot we can learn from the Disney marketing masters.

1. How Much I Love Valet Service – After a 7 hour trip with the kids in the car, I will pay what ever it costs for valet service, and then tip them even more for taking care of my bags, and then tip even more when they bring them up to my room. At this point, I don’t care, I am tired and just glad to be there and feeling the magic! Did I forget to mention that self parking (included in my fees) would mean a hike up a hill across half the park. hmmm, planned?

2. How Room Key Credit Cards Are Evil – What an evil-genius idea it was by Disney to make your room keys like a credit card that you can just swipe away, and they will charge right to your hotel room bill no matter where you are in the park. Yes, very convenient but oh so regrettable by the end of the trip!

3. What an 18 Dollar Waffle Looks Like – Yes, here is a picture of what an 18 dollar waffle looks like.

What an $18 Dollar Waffle Looks Like
What an $18 Dollar Waffle Looks Like

The lesson to be learned here is when you build a powerful brand (Mickey Mouse in this case), you can stick whatever price tag you want on it and people will buy … and buy … and buy again.

4. The Matterhorn Is Not A Good Idea Right After Nemo – Want an easy way to make your small kids cry at Disneyland? Put them on the Matterhorn not telling them what it is, or what it does right after the calming Finding Nemo ride; Yea, that was a mistake that I made a note to self wouldn’t happen again next year!

5. How Cool It Is To Be At The Right Place At The Right Time – We just so happened to be one of the lucky guests that were randomly given fast passes to all the rides (that had fast-pass available) and how nice was it to get on a ride in 10 minutes when other people were waiting an hour or more!

6. How Sucky It Is When The Free Pass Bites You In the Butt – My 5 year old who is obsessed with Indiana Jones was so excited to see the Indiana Jones ride on the fast pass and had to go ride it RIGHT THEN, only to be told he was 5 inces to short and couldn’t ride. About 20 bucks later (from the Indiana Jones shop across from the ride) and an hour later he was ok and excited to go check out the Jedi Training Academy.

7. How The Force Is Not Really Alive With The Jedi Training Masters

Jedi Master Training at Disneyland
Jedi Master Training at Disneyland

If the force were really with the Jedi Masters at the Jedi Training Academy, they would have felt that a little boy was just crushed by not being able to ride the ride of his dreams (read #6) and would have picked him to be one of the 20 other little kids (out of 25) that were chosen to go up and train like a Jedi, and get to fight Darth Vader etc. Yea, the force is not strong with Disneyland Jedi Masters.

8. What Another 18 Dollar Waffle Looks Like –

Another $18 Waffle
Another $18 Waffle

Yes, it always tastes better when it has a Disney brand on it, and a huge price tag. Worth every penny.

9. How Disneyland IS its own land – You have Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney. You almost forget that you are even in California and that there are other things to do besides something Disney. We decided to do that one day, and ended up going and seeing a movie – BOLT – Do you see the IRONY? This was after changing a diaper that had Mickey and Minnie on it, just before buying a Mickey shirt.

10.  How much I love Disneyland – Before it was only about me, but this time the magic was watching my kids have the time of their life, and experience the magic of Disneyland. It is the only place I have ever gone, and when it was all said and done, not regret a penny spent (even on an 18 dollar waffle, over $100 bucks in Vallet service and almost $100 bucks in pins, and that is another story another day).

Other things that should be on this list

–Coupons that you get with your Disneyland package are only good if you remember to use them. Don’t remember to bring them out on the final day of your trip – FAIL
Visiting the Lego Store and buying Legos in Disneyland is funner then buying them at Target, or anywhere else you can buy them where they are cheaper.

Darth Vader Lego Statue In Downtown Disney
Darth Vader Lego Statue In Downtown Disney

–You can get the SAME Disneyland shirt for 30 bucks cheaper at the Walgreens down the steet from Disneyland – and 4 others! (but does it have the same magic? I don’t think so and neither did my kids)

–It is much funner to spend $100 bucks on breakfast with Disney characters (that scare your kids, or at least mine) then 20 bucks at the Dennys across the street.

–Why is it so easy to tip the people at Disneyland? For example; room service – First, I buy overpriced food already, second pay a 19% service fee, and third pay a $2 fee for something I still don’t have a clue – then FINALLY I still fell compelled to tip the man. It must be the magic of Disney!

All in all it was an amazing trip and it taught me a lot more about the power of branding, and branding your company right. I am not saying that I will ever be in the category of Disney, I think few are, but it really got me thinking of the things I could be doing better.

With all the talk of the recession and people not wanting to spend money, I saw no signs of that all last week at Disneyland – I saw so many people blowing through money (including myself). If you are in the right industry there is no need to worry, and that is why I have always tried to pick a product to sell that people will need (or in this case want) no matter what. That is just smart business!