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Top 10 Programming Lessons Learned at Disneyland (part 1)

Top 10 Programming Lessons Learned at Disneyland (part 1)

In an effort to continue to increase the quality of our programming at our youth camps, the Mount Hermon Youth Team took a trip to Disneyland to learn more about excellent programming.  Many critics poked fun at our “field trip” but it ended up being an amazing experience.  After our day at Disneyland, we spent some time debriefing and we came up with the top 10 lessons we learned from our visit to Disneyland.  This is the first installment of those lessons.  Even though I put all of this together, this research was a group effort!

1. Employees are part of the Disney experience
Employees are  not called employees; they are called “cast members.”  It doesn’t matter what your job is, you are a “cast member.”  Depending on what land/region you work in, your uniform is themed to fit the feel of that land.  On the Tower of Terror at California Adventure, cast members were not only dressed in character, but they acted in character.

2. Everything is themed
You would think this would be an exaggeration but it’s not.  Everything from the “cast members” uniforms to exit signs to trash cans are themed at Disneyland; and the theming is different for each land/region.

3. Shooting things is fun
This sounds seriously stupid but it’s true!  One of our favorite rides was Toy Story Mania at California Adventure.  On this ride, you aim and shoot at video targets with your shooter as you ride about in a double seated cart from video screen to video screen.  They even keep score.  Interactivity and competition are huge!  Their website says, “everyone’s a winner” but it’s not true.  Shane beat me…by over 50,000 points.

4. Great scripting can redeem a low budget/outdated ride
This is something our program consultant Murphy taught us.  The Jungle Cruise is a low-budget and outdated ride.  The tour guides make the experience!  Our tour guide spent the entire “cruise” making us laugh with cheesy puns and jokes that redeemed what would normally be a painfully boring ride.

5. Branding is everywhere
Regardless what you and I may think of this, Disney’s branding is everywhere.  And for the most part, it is tasteful.  After many of the rides, there are merch stores just waiting to capitalize on your experience.  After some rides, there are Disney-branded pictures you can by of yourself on that ride.  There is advertising all over the park (and outside of the park) for Disney-related movies, events and merchandise.  Even construction areas are marked off by walls that are tastefully branded so you can’t see the construction.

Stay tuned for the final 5 program lessons we learned at Disneyland

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  • I was the Craft Director @ RWC’00 and found #4 to be very true. Crafts is one of the more subdued (some would say boring) activities we offered. But I prepared a goofy, exciting presentation for the campers at the beginning of each week and grabbed their attention. It made them give crafts another look and I had a packed house everyday.

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