Bob Iger's MyMagic+ response would flunk at Disney University
Imagine what would happen if a Disney cast member reacted this way the next time some parent complained about his or her child being too short to ride Big Thunder Mountain
"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.
Rather silly from Mr. Iger. This is something which would have received little media attention and by firing back an abrupt response he will have just drawn more attention to the concerns over MyMagic+.
W.W.E.D. = What Would Eisner Do?
Previously, I thought nothing of it. Now, I'm interested in knowing the details. Way to go, Iger.
i dont think he was wrong at all. this is how the business side of Disney HAS to work. He is defending the entire company in his letter and to even think that he made a bad decision is false information. if you understand politics at all then this was the correct response.
Way to go Bob! First this guy busting Disney's chops. Then the President dissing the NFL. Why don't these politician's stick to matters that mean something? Like unemployment, taxes, etc. Christ, you would think they have bigger things on their small minds!
I'd like to see the original quote, but based upon what you posted, my mouth literally fell open. As both a former cast member, manager, and current themed attractions professional, that reply is, without ANY question, absolutely and completely inappropriate, unnecessary and worthy of immediate dismissal. The Disney Board of Directors and stock holders should seriously examine if this is the type of person they want representing their company.
I completely agree with 108's comment above. Disney works extremely hard to please paying customers and attract new ones. If you think for one second that the type of response Iger gave to Markey would also be given to a guest, then I don't know what to tell you. This is business and politics, not tea cups and churros. I get the impression that you'd like Disney to be walked all over and never defend themselves. The amount of hate being spewed at Disney from supposed fan sites over MyMagic+ is mind boggling. For one thing, look at Disney's track record. Second, look at what Disney has to lose if there is a serious security breach or massive customer revolt. A lot of people seem to think that the Disney company exists in a bubble and don't know how the world works. I assure you, they know what happens when a security breach leads to customer data leaks.
The full letter from Iger is available by clicking the "released Iger's response" link above.
Robert: I haven't personally decided where I stand on the Disney Next Gen privacy issues yet, though I'm apprehensive whether the Fast Pass+ in the form being run through tests will work well. But I salute your determination in bringing these privacy discussions to the forefront on this site. This is quite brave since you do have numerous Disney advertisements. I've read many of the blogs on other sites and it seems like there is a large outcry denouncing this Disney policy. This indicates that even if there are no illegal ramnifications, it will probably be a marketing nightmare.....I also question why the vehemount responses so far on this particular post are mostly anonymous postings. Curious as to who is posting.
Alright I read the two letters and I agree with some that Iger sounds a 4th grade bully in some ivy league prep school that fails repeatedly but gets to go on to each grade cause his parents are in the trust fund of said school. It would have been much better if he just wouldn't have said anything at all and just let his PR guys take ahold of this. It sounds to me like Iger's a sissy (that's what bullies really are) and should be made to apologize or maybe even step down. Are we living in Grade School? The fact that he uses that we're better than you tactic just goes to prove that they are hiding something and they dont want us to know. Reasons why I don't like this plan and want to know more information that this letter does not answer.
But didn't Bob tell them that they spent over a billion dollars on there next gen initiative and if you shake your wrist in front of a crate, an animatronic skeletons teeth chatter?
Iger just failed Public Relations 101. Instead of being testy, defensive and combative, he should have composed a reasoned, rational and calm response to all concerns that have been raised. His job is to calm a brewing storm, not let his temper get the better of him and "succeed" in only drawing more negative attention to MyMagic+.
I feel that there might be something going on behind the scenes that Iger (or Congress) has not made clear. Iger has had a pretty stellar record when it comes to promoting the brand. I find the outburst a little out of character.
Being able to unlock a hotel room door via RFID is my only issue with this. The tech can be easily cloned / defeated with one of a hundred devices I can purchase online for $50.
I've read the responses and I can't see anything inappropriate in them at all. Disney have been accused of threatening the safety of children - about as serious a claim as someone can make against Disney - and they have responded robustly to reiterate their commitments to privacy and responsible use of data, emphasised the optional nature of any future programmes and pointed the congressman to the information he should have checked prior to making a very damaging public attack.
I agree with Robert. If a CM had responded to a paying guest in this manner it would be inappropriate.
Well, here's the thing. I read the letter from Congressman Markey. He did not accuse Disney of anything. He merely asked questions. Period. As his job requires. For everyone here asking why he doesn't try to ferret out wrongdoings in Congress or look for some bigger fish to fry, there are at least an equal number applauding him for this "inquisition". And I bet I could pick out who does and doesn't have kids of those that have commented.
Sorry Robert, think this is one of the times you are over-reacting.
What happened to that early blitz of anonymous posters? Seems something may have been amiss (or coordinated).....I've done hundreds of labor/management arbitrations in the past. Generally when one side gets belligerant & surly, it seems to hurt their position. Better to remain professional and above the fray. Can't believe that Iger came across so harshly & unprofessional since the congressman's approach was very civil. Iger's type of response usually only inflames the other side, accelerates the argument and hardens the opposition stance. While the congressman's letter may ultimately be much ado about nothing, we don't have the legal acumen to judge the merits of the law in relation to what Disney may or may not do. The law often is more gray than black & white. That's why there are lengthy appeal processes. Its hard to believe that Disney legal & public relation departments advised this letter. But Iger is the boss, so I guess he did what he wanted to do. This new breed of corporate CEO's are like rock stars. They are paid much much more than previous CEO's, often seek out public attention instead of operating behind the scenes, and believe themselves to be invinceable.But ultimately everyone has a boss somewhere. In this case, boards of dirctors and the money & hedge funds that hold most of the stock. They can't be happy with this kind of negative publicity.
"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."
Anon: Good points. And if there was, by chance, something illegal in the implementation of the policy, the Justice Department could step in..... I think that the end result of this is that the final Disney My Magic+ implementation may be somewhat different than some in the corporate offices envisioned. Caution may ultimately override. The policy as stated throughout the Disney responses is a bit sketchy and will probably be refined in a manner that fully conforms with the law and guest expectations.
Anyone who uses a mobile phone or credit/debit card, who thinks that this wristband is any less secure than those devices and conveniences they already use daily, is kidding themselves.
I just read that Markey is thinking of running for Senator Kerry's old position in 2015. Kerry was just confirmed for Secretary of State. Imagine the problems Disney can encounter when Markey goes to the Senate.
Robert, I don't know the first thing about Iger, and I don't care to learn, but, could you have chosen a better photo to make him appear like a sniveling little weasel? I think not.
NB: Good point on the sniffling little weasel. I'm still laughing.
I think that everyone is missing the point of what is happening
Tom: Definately one of the most humorous articles recently posted on TPI.
Thanks Rob I think we sometimes loose track of the notion that themeparks are about having fun
Yes, we often get a little too serious.
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