Andrew Hall


DDD EA – Session 3 – Disney driven development

This was live blogged during DDD ea session 3 at melinda seckingtons talk

Melinda visited Disneyland and were lucky enough to go on the “keys to the kingdom” talk.

They saw behind the scenes of parts of Disney that most people don’t see.

In 1955 Disneyland opened on a different location to today. Walt Disney has an idea about building a theme park and it should be very different to the normal carnival theme Parks of the time.

When the park opened, 28000 people turned up and half didn’t have tickets and Disney weren’t expecting them. They ran out of water and had to choose whether to provide water to drink or to keep the toilets flushing. They were also lots of problems where cement hadnt dried and the bins were overflowing.
Beyond this, there were other problems Disney hadn’t considered. The Disney corporation bought up lots of land when having the idea to build a theme park and other people noticed this too and other companies bought up land too.

In 1965 Disney bought land via dummy corporations near Orlando, this meant competitors didn’t notice, they could buy land cheaply and could buy lots of it. The dummy corporations in 1966 created a community. This meant Disney could bypass a lot of red tape and could just apply for permits effectively from themselves.

Later that year, Walt Disney died of lung cancer and his brother came out of retirement to finish the vision in the next 6 years.

In the tour, the guide explained disneys four keys:

1) safety
safety can be the safety of the rides for Disney. But Disney also apply this in subtle ways too. Every flag is Disney are lightning rods as well as statues around the park because Orlando is known for thunderstorms and hurricanes.

The change of the pavement height also is indicated by a change in the floor colour.

Doors in Disney are always open. There is never a closed door to where visitors should go.

The pavement is slanted upwards on the way into the park. This is because kids want to run towards their favourite ride and the slant causes them to slow down.

Walt Disney said there should be a bin within 30 steps as this was the distance where people get bored of holding their rubbish.

2) courtesy

The slant mentioned earlier also makes it easier for people to get home at the end of the day.

Disney also react to badges. For example, melinda had a “just engaged” badge on when visiting the park. Disney employees reacted to this and were friendly in asking about this. It didn’t seem “fake friendly” but felt genuine.

Walt Disney said “it take people to make dreams a reality”

3) efficiency

Some of the flags in Disney are not real American flags, they will add or remove details of the flags, so they can get around the US flag code which sets rules on having to hoist and lower flags at certain times

All the shops on Main Street in Disney are connected to each other. So you can walk from one shop to another without exiting and causing bottleneck at the door.

You never see people empty the bins at Disney. They are all connected underneath the park. An entire floor was built under the part of Disney that you see to help with this. This “ground floor” allows employees to get around the park so that the correct character only appears at the right place in the park.

4) show

The pavement is themed to the area. In discovery land, binary code is embedded into the pavement

The slant on the pavement also creates a forces viewpoint. Staging the castle at the end of the street and creating a more majestic impression.

In Disney you don’t see the buildings that the rides are included in. Where they cannot be hidden, the buildings are painted in a particular green that Disney discovered that your brain skips over so you are given the illusion that you are just in one place and the outside world is external.

Disney also puts popcorn machines at the edge of the park to give users the smell which creates expectation and creates and experience for the customers. In the haunted mansion they also generate an old musty smell to add to the experience. This is subtle and you wouldn’t normally notice

Each park also has it’s own soundtrack without overlap. This gives a different and separate experience to each part of the park.

A lot of disneys rides use magicians tricks to create illusions of dancing ghosts. Other rides also use different magic techniques. They invited magicians when the park opened and even they couldn’t work out how the tricks were done.

All people at Disney are called cast members and all employees go through stage auditions. This isn’t only true for in costume characters but also for people just working in the shops.

“Disney land is the star. Everyone else is a supporting role” – Walt Disney

How does this apply to software development:

Make things simple and clear
Don’t give users cryptic error messages
Hide away the bits that the user don’t need to see
Add delight to experience

“Do what you do so well that people will want to see it again and bring their friends” – Walt Disney.

Leave a comment or tweet me