What's the one thing you would change to improve your favorite theme park?
Published: September 6, 2011 at 2:19 PM
Me? I would restore (or adopt!) the rule that costumes could not be taken off property. When I worked at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the only costumed cast members who could wear a costume off property were guest relations tour guides and the Ambassadors, who would wear their costumes when they were making public appearances on behalf of the resort or ferrying VIP guests to and from the Orlando International Airport.
Everyone else got 20 paid minutes at the end of their shifts, when they could change from their costumes and exchange them for a fresh, clean costume to wear the next day (which they'd keep in an assigned locker). That meant no Disney cast members ever would be seen in their costumes off property, and that the costumes would be professional laundered and cared for by Disney staff, on site.
This policy does three things: First, I think costumes remain in better shape when they're cared for by a professional costuming department, and not laundered at home. That allows the company to improve the show while saving money on costume repair and replacement. Second, keeping costumes at the work site improves show quality for visitors and potential visitors by ensuring that the "fourth wall" isn't broken by seeing park employees in costume "off stage" and in public.
Third, and most important in my opinion, the policy improves show quality because it creates a clear division between work and home for the employees themselves. Take your costume home, and you're just another low-wage hourly employee working a retail job in funny clothes. Keep the costume in the park's costuming department, and when you put it on, you're a cast member in a major show. That attitude adjustment is crucial in promoting high quality guest service in the park, and a huge reason why Disney insisted upon this policy for decades.
What's the one change you'd make at your favorite theme park? And please don't list some capital improvement, such as building a $100 million new dark ride. Let's restrict this to realistic operational improvements. So... what's your one thing?