Creating “the Disney Experience”



Introduction and Rationale:

Often referred to as “the Disney Experience,” Disney Corporation has proved to be one of the top organizations for consistently creating an outstanding customer experience that keeps customers returning time and time again. For example, Disney has developed the “fast pass” system where a visitor can get a ticket for a popular ride that provides them with an approximate time to return for their ride. As Diana Davis (2011) explains, “Customers are happy because they don’t spend the whole day standing in a line up, and Disney is happy because customers have more time to browse in the shops and make purchases.” (paragraph 22) Another example is Disney’s shopping service. When making purchases in a park store, the company will offer to take a customer’s purchases and send them to their hotel room (if they are staying on Disney property) or to a general pick up point in the park. My fiancé and I utilized this service numerous times on our trip. It allowed us the capability to shop between fast pass tickets, but not have to be overburdened by all of our purchases.

What techniques has Disney used to create and cultivate this magical experience? The answer is simple: employee training and the company culture. Disney has taken the time to carefully craft on-boarding materials and trainings for all of its employees that emphasize how the company culture focuses on providing outstanding customer service. And it has no qualms about mentoring other organizations to utilize its business practices to follow in Disney’s footsteps.

In today’s changing world of organizational structure and management, it is difficult for some companies to pinpoint just what management structure works best for them in providing a profitable bottom-line while also managing to retain their employees. In the late 19th and early 20th century, production companies and factories adapted Frederick the Great’s military principle of mechanics, creating organizations that thrived off of machine-like efficiency (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010, p. 62). This organizational form focuses on a hierarchical communications systems, strict regulations for meeting goals, and no attention to human needs or safety .To this day, some companies still utilize the classical management approach, although some have merged it with scientific management, which utilizes the clock as a means to create and control employee production.

As the world progressed and working conditions became more deplorable and unsafe, new management styles developed out of the needs of the workers. Human Relation and Human Resource management are two such examples that are still implemented in various companies at present time. Companies have found that human resources management styles, where employees appear to be more valued and recognized for their work, are a better fit than the classic management style that was its predecessor. All of the aforementioned management styles are not without fault; the classic management style tends to create a stressful working environment where employees are considered “cogs in a machine,” and their worth is never truly recognized outside of if they are able to attain their work goals. And while the human resources approach does focus on recognizing employee contributions and input, it becomes virtually ineffective when an employee is faced with office or organizational politics that inhibit the professed “open communication,” and “participative decision making,” the human resources approach prides itself on (Eisenberg, et al., 2010).These approaches, which may have been beneficial to organizations of the past, are crippling companies in today’s chaotic business environments.

In order to create a company that will be sturdy, yet flexible, enough to withstand the changing times is a challenge many organizations face on a daily basis. Perhaps they should take a page out of Disney’s plan book and try to develop a company culture that is not only a benefit to its customers, but also a stable career choice for its employees. After all, open communication within an organization and the ability to foster productivity and a sense of fulfillment within workers is the best way to keep a company operating for years to come. My topic presents an important field of study for organizations who are struggling with maintaining their presence in their environments and who are suffering from the downward spiral of the economy.



Literature Review:

Various scholars have turned away from the studies of systems approach such as, classic management theory and human relations theory, when looking at organizational structures. Instead, many have instead begun to delve deeper into organizational culture and the effects it has on a company’s business practices, leadership styles and, ultimately, bottom-line success. As Michael Pacanowsky and Nick O’Donnell (1983) state, “Each organization has its own way of doing what it does and its own way of talking about what it is doing” (p. 128). In order to study these effects, we must first look at the basic foundations of organizational culture research; how communication plays an important role in creating an organization’s culture, how organizational culture is created by shared concepts, and how leaders and managers affect an organization’s culture.

An organization is more than just the products and services it provides to customers; it is a living, breathing, and ever-changing life form that relies on internal and external communications to continue to thrive successfully. Like various tribes and societal groups throughout the world, an organization must develop its own cultural norms and standards that guide the success of the group as a whole(Klepic, 2013; Sinacole, 2013; Pacanowsky & O’Donnell, 1983). This can only be done through communication. Pacanowsky and O’Donnell (1983) tell us that “cultural structures come into being through processes of communication” (p. 129) that apprise “what particular activities should be done, how such activities should be done, and, on occasion, why such activities should be done.” (p. 144) Organization communications can impact an organization’s core message by expanding upon the shared values of the employee’s and the business, and highlighting “the importance of commitment and emotion to building an effective organizational culture.” (Klepic, 2013, para 7)

What an organization says and how they say it sets the tone for the organization’s overall mindset and cultural framework. The use of language, symbols, logos, etc., when viewed in a rhetorical scope, propagate common themes, beliefs, and visions; all of which are important to developing an organizational culture (Klepic, 2013; Sinacole, 2013).  A culture is comprised of “values, visions, norms, jargon, systems, beliefs and work habits” (Klepic, 2013, para 2), that are “both visible and invisible, which guide organizational behavior” (Sinacole, 2013, para 1). Communication aids in the dissemination of these modes and standards so that everyone within the organization understands their place in the culture, as well as the culture itself. Pacanowsky and O’Donnell(1983) remind us that “Each organizational culture has particular vocabularies used by its members” (p. 139). These communal concepts, or “shared mental assumptions,” help to “guide actions” and “affect the way members of the organization interact with each other, customers, prospects, and stakeholders.” (Klepic, 2013, para1)

It is more than just the principle of having shared concepts in order to perpetuate and maintain a company culture; it is also important for the leaders of a company to influence and affect that organizational culture. Sinacole (2013) believes that “a company’s culture is created and shaped by its leaders.” (paragraph 2) Pacanowsky and O’Donnell (1983) suggest that organizations “as a stage and organizational members as actors with various parts, roles… and scenes to play.” (p. 130) They also suggest that “performances are those very actions by which members constitute and reveal their culture to themselves and to others,” (Pacanowsky & O’Donnell, 1983, 131) which posits that if those in charge do not “perform,” their “roles,” as prescribed within the culture, how can they expect any other employees to ascribe to their particular roles within the culture as well? Klepic (2013) tells us that “corporate managers influence employees in ways that affect behaviors and motivate change,” but that “managers cannot influence others without the proper organizational culture” (paragraph 1) already in place.

The literature goes on to suggest how understanding an organization’s culture plays an important role when hiring and assimilating new employees (Klepic, 2013; Pacanowsky & O’Donnell, 1983). “Enculturation performances for teaching” organizational roles “are ones specifically designed to prepare the newcomers.” (Pacanowsky & O’Donnell, 1983, p.144) However, the literature does not describe how organizational culture can impact other organizations, specifically those who are struggling to develop or reestablish an organizational culture within their own companies. Klepic (2013) does tell us that “In a business with unhealthy organizational culture, there is no overreaching standards of excellence so employees often act as individuals trying to achieve their own goals instead of those of the organization,” and that “When individuals feel they are valued members of a team, the company can adapt to change… and survive the harshest of economic swings” (paragraph 3). But how can the communications of a company with a thriving organizational culture aid and influence other companies? The research in this aspect is distinctly lacking. Further investigation into business consulting materials could prove useful to help floundering organizations re-create themselves to become thriving and successful companies, with thriving and successful employees who work to better themselves, their company, and the customers they serve.

Preview /Thesis:

In the following paper, I intend to use rhetorical analysis to explore the language used in business consult materials of the Disney Corporation, most specifically in regards to “the Disney Experience,” in order to illustrate how specific terms can create and enhance the Disney culture, as viewed in a learning organizations approach. I will conduct the analysis and discuss the implications in a digital project that will follow within the next few weeks.

Here is my paper: Creating “The Disney Experience”

And here is my digital presentation: “Dream. Believe. Dare. Do.”: Creating “The DIsney Experience”


Davis, D. (2011, February 8). What time is the 3 o’clock parade? Disney’s Approach to Quality Customer Service. Process Excellence Network. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from

Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey. (2010) Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Gallo, C. (2011, April 14). Customer Service the Disney Way. Forbes. Retrieved November 23, 2013, from

Garvin, D., Edmonson, A., & Gino, F. (n.d.). March 2008. Is Yours a Learning Organization?. Retrieved November 22, 2013, from

Graff, N. (2010). Teaching Rhetorical Analysis To Promote Transfer Of Learning. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(5), 376-385.

Kaplan, S. (2013, June 12). 6 Ways To Create A Culture Of Innovation | Co.Design | business + design. Co.Design. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from

Klepic, J. (2013, May 6). Organizing Your Organizational Culture. The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from

Pacanowsky, M. E., & O’Donnell- Trujillo, N. (1983). Organizational Communication As Cultural Performance. Communication Monographs, 50(2), 126-147.

Sinacole, P. (2013, November 18). Building a Culture. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from

Theme (narrative)- Leitworstistil. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from

University Writing Center. (n.d.). University Writing Center. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from


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