Suspending the Show to Enhance the Guest Experience

Two weeks ago while taking the Keys to the Kingdom tour I witnessed a Disney cast member take charge of a very stressful situation for one particular family. Prior to checking into the tour I noticed this same cast member driving the antique car in Town Square. His face stuck in my mind because I was impressed with how he was able to safely drive down a crowed Main Street USA.  I even made the comment, “wow that guy’s got some serious driving skills to be able to do this all morning. That jobs has got to be stressful,” to my travel companion.  That cast member continued with his task, and I joined my tour.

On the Keys to the Kingdom tour you learn that Disney runs its parks with safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency in mind. They are what are known as “the keys to the kingdom.”

Most apparent to all who enter a Disney park is the show element. While there are important elements of courtesy, safety, and efficiency all around, Disney’s shining moment is all about the show. Sometimes however the show needs to stop to take care of the task at hand.

This was the case on the morning I was on the tour. While standing in front of the Crystal Arts store halfway up Main Street on the right as you are facing the castle (on the corner of Center Street) I noticed the cast member with the impressive driving skills walking hand in hand with a little boy who one could see had been crying. This child was obviously lost.

Cast members are trained to identify a child separated from their party; it is their responsibility to initiate procedures to reunite such children with their guardian.

Here safety, courtesy, and efficiency shined over show. The cast member suspended his job as a Main Street vehicle driver to help this child. He took the boy by the hand to make the child feel safe. They then walked into the doorway of the crystal shop where the cast member squatted down to the young man’s level (and example of courtesy) showing him a map of the park. I heard him asking the child where his group was walking to. The child answered a few questions and the two of them walked off in the direction of the castle.

I made a comment to my tour guide about how amazing that exchange was. The guide then explained that the cast member was going to walk the boy in the direction of his original destination in hopes of finding his traveling party along the way. If they were not found, the child would then be taken to the park’s baby care center. Here guest relations would be alerted to his presence along with all security guards and other cast members who use radios with connected ear pieces. This is where efficiency comes in. Now that child’s guardian could easily be directed to the baby care center to be united with the child when they ask a cast member for assistance.

It was amazing to see all the keys to the kingdom being turned at the same time to unlock the magic that is Disney World. While I do not know how the story ended, I am confident that there was a happy reunion. I apologize for a lack of pictures in this article. Given the sensitivity of the situation, it was not appropriate for me to take photos of this exchange.

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