Realityland by David Koenig

An expose of the long history of Walt Disney World in Florida. It was both fascinating and hilarious at times. AND there were many nuggets about planning, organizations and a guest-centered focus. Here are the passages I highlighted in relation to libraries:

“Not long before opening, Operation also considered not allowing the hotels to have their own parking lots….[the managers of the project got together] to compile a list of reasons why off-site parking would fail–guest services reasons, arguments that Operations could understand.”

Sometimes, looking at the negative impact on guests (users) of a new policy might sway admin decision making.

I’ve long advocated for managers and library administration to dive in to the trenches as needed. I think directors and managers should be able to staff desks anywhere in their buildings. I was happy to read this:

“In busy periods the salaried folks would fill shifts stocking store shelves or flipping hamburgers next to hourlies. In addition to providing much-needed manpower such cross-utilization reminded everyone that they were all part of the same team. And that every role was equally valuable in creating magic for guests. Cast members would also be regularly transferred to different departments or attractions to keep things fresh.”

And finally this gem:

“Disney didn’t like messages or signs that made guests uncomfortable, such as “don’t touch” or “You break it, you buy it.” 

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3 thoughts on “Realityland by David Koenig”

  1. Realityland is a fantastic read. It is one of the few unofficial Disney publications to give an effective look at the early years of Walt Disney World.

    Koenig has written two other books (Mouse Tales and More Mouse Tales) that focus on Disneyland. They are more about castmember anecdotes, but he does look at some of the darker moments in Disneyland’s history.

    I am glad to see someone pulling lessonsfrom Disney to fuel change and policy making at libraries. Now, only if we had Disney’s coffers!

  2. Many years ago I worked at Westerville Public Library in Ohio. At least once a month (maybe more–it’s been too many years) the library’s director, Don Barlow, would work the Info Desk for a night. Yes, a night! He said it was important to him to stay in touch with the patrons and what was going on in the library. I always thought that was so great. And what a positive message to send to staff! It was a great library to work at. Barlow is still the director there.

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