“It isn't all over; everything has not been invented; the human adventure is just beginning.” – Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek
As frequent hotel stayers, the highlight of my kids’ hotel experience involves using the room card to swipe the door open, quite an annoying ceremony that starts with bickering over whose turn it is to the inevitable lack of success in opening it. But a recent visit to Disney World yielded some new experiences with the introduction of the MagicBand: an all-in-one wristband that effortlessly connects you to all your Disney options including entering the parks, buying food and merchandise, and even unlocking your Disney Resort hotel room. (Dear Disney: I want you to know…you had me at “it unlocks your hotel room”. Thank you…I love you).
This wasn’t the only new experience. Following the traditional Magic Kingdom parade, Cinderella’s castle transformed into a huge theatrical display over which a brilliant array of Disney movie moments was projected, accompanied by an extravaganza of Disney songs and character voices peppered with well-timed fireworks. As Disney proclaims: a spectacular so big only the sky can hold it! Indeed!
As I live in the world of experiences, I’m more inclined to notice these nuances, but these are far from nuances. Disney has done a great job in transforming the magic into a real-world experience, leaving me with one simple question: how?
The answer is: a bold vision!
Recall the immortal words of John F. Kennedy:
"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? We choose to go to the moon … not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
Just seven years after he spoke those words, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. That's what can happen when you have vision.
In the case of the rollout of The Magic Band, shrinking loyalty, outdated infrastructure, young fans' preference for digital experiences and parents’ changing expectations all necessitated a total revitalization of the Park experience. The job fell to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
In his Fast Company article, The Messy Business Of Reinventing Happiness, Austin Carr illustrates: “Now, with his directors reassembled and sitting in the first few rows of the theater, Iger set his sights on his next gamble, his boldest yet: to reinvent the brand’s most beloved asset, Disney’s iconic parks … Iger planned to pump nearly $1 billion into this venture, called MyMagic+, a sweeping plan to overhaul the digital infrastructure of Disney’s theme parks, which would upend how they operated and connected with consumers … At the core of the project was the MagicBand, an electronic wristband that Iger envisioned … would push the boundaries of experience design and wearable computing, and impact everything from Disney’s retail operations and data-mining capabilities to its hospitality and transportation services”.
I have written before about the power of vision, the main point being: “Without a vision you lack clarity and risk drifting aimlessly in the world.” Bold visions are a powerful way to reach the extremities of potential redefining what’s possible. If you want to be a game changer, however, expect some MESS in the middle.
The magic band rollout project made it to the finish line, but not before scores of outside contractors and agencies were brought in, pushing through internal resistance to change from the rigidly corporate parks division, missing deadlines by years and blowing the budget out of water. Iger was determined to break the corporate rules and push beyond naysayers to make it happen … and deliver, as yours truly experienced firsthand, a WOW! experience.
Bringing vision to life is like a roller coaster, sometimes you are caught in the thrill and sometimes you are building momentum. Most of the time though, vision is stuck in line, waiting. That’s when character is truly tested. Taking charge and tapping into your creativity is much harder than passively waiting for something to happen.
At Tahzoo, like with Bob Iger, we are too eager to wait. We must move. That’s how you win. That's how you reinvent the wheel.
Photo by Julie Friend