Bob Iger's MyMagic+ response would flunk at Disney University
Published: January 28, 2013 at 5:40 PM
"It is truly unfortunate and extremely disappointing that you chose to publicly attack us before taking the time to review our policies and/or read your park guidemap, which would have obviated the need for your complaint. Had you or your family made the slightest effort, you would have found most of the answers to your questions already existed and were publicly available in our Magic Kingdom guidemap, which you're holding in your hand.
"In the guidemap, we tell you exactly the boarding requirements for Big Thunder Mountain. However, to ensure that you fully understand our practices as they pertain to children, and our commitment to our guests' safety, let me be clear and reiterate the basic facts.
"Big Thunder Mountain is a completely optional attraction that was designed with safety controls from the outset. Additionally, parents have full control over their child's participation in Big Thunder Mountain and other attractions. We have transparent safety practices; guests can control and limit the amount of attractions they ride."
As emotionally satisfying as it might feel for a cast member to lash out at a guest who asks a much-answered question, Disney teaches its new-hire cast members, on their first day at Disney University training, that's simply not the way the company works. An hourly cast member who spoke to a member of the public that way would be terminated on the spot. There are no stupid questions at a Disney theme park.
Yet that didn't keep Disney CEO Bob Iger from throwing a public hissy fit over questions asked the Walt Disney Company this week. Disney's released Iger's response to questions from U.S. Rep. Ed Markey about Disney's new MyMagic+ program, and its effect on children's federal privacy rights.
If you're wondering how I came up with the wording for my little hypothetical above, I just copied and pasted Iger's words to Markey, substituting Thunder, guidemaps and safety for MyMagic+, letters and privacy.
If Iger wants to use his position to chew out a member of Congress, hey, it's his company. Markey's party is in the minority in the House, so I doubt Iger's response will result in a subpoena and a forced appearance in front of hostile Congressional committee. But as a parent who has a few questions of my own about how MyMagic+ will be implemented in the parks (and every detail of how this system will work is not yet set in stone, by the way), Iger's response leaves me even more worried.
Disney won its reputation for great customer service by acknowledging people's concerns, no matter how unfounded they might be. Disney listened, and worked to find an answer, no matter how many times it'd given that answer to others before. If people trash-talked Disney, Disney didn't trash-talk back (at least, not publicly). That "we'll take the high road" attitude encouraged people to trust Disney.
It's going to be harder for Disney to continue to earn that trust if the company's going to lash out when people start asking questions about this new and, let's face it, complex and somewhat technologically intimidating system. Disney's customers deserve sober answers about MyMagic+, no matter how many times Disney cast members must provide them.
And especially so from Disney's Chariman and CEO.
Update: Just to make clear, the link behind "released Iger's response" above goes to the Deadline.com story with the full text of Iger's letter. (I use hyperlinks, uh, a bit more aggressively than the average writer, so I forget that sometimes I should spell things out.) Disney's also now sent me a copy of the letter, which I've uploaded to our Pinterest page. It includes an addendum not in the Deadline.com story.
Also, in the Iger letter is a URL to Disney's "FAQ" about MyMagic+, which Disney's reps say answers Markey's questions (follow that link to read it). And finally, here again is the link to our previous story about Markey's letter and my take on it.
Update 2: More thoughts: It's not really about Disney.