The Magic of Details at Disney


Did you know Walt Disney figured out the average distance people would travel before throwing their trash on the ground was 30 feet?

When you go to Disney World, you’ll see a trash can every 30 feet in order to combat trash being thrown on the ground. And sure enough, the ground is pretty clean at the parks, which is great for a place like Magic Kingdom that sees on average 53,000 people daily.

I spent this past week at Disney World. I know a family with 10 kids – yes, you read that right – and was invited to tag along to help out. And being a Disney fanatic, I wasn’t going to refuse that offer.

While the fairytales of Disney are what hooked me, the company and overall presentation of Disney is what has kept me a dedicated fan. Disney looks to go above and beyond, to wow in every sense of the word. I saw that continuously throughout the week. Whether it was a cast member – what all employees of Disney World are called – giving a free pin to one of the kids, or the fact we got FASTPASSES because we waited an extra 20 minutes for a table one evening, I saw a culture of detailed people who wanted to make your experience, well, magical.

It wasn’t just at one place or park either. It was across all of Disney World I found the details paid attention to. And often, they were details that simply went above and beyond. Like Walt Disney figuring out the trash can thing to help keep the parks clean, and thus, provide a better experience, details matter.

I feel like any company, team or organization can learn from them – and I’m not just saying that because I love the company. From what I’ve seen, and the books I’ve read, they have a lot to offer.

So, the first question is where are your trash cans placed? The second is what details do you need to focus on? And the third – how do you instill a culture in your staff of going above and beyond? The cast members were empowered to give away FASTPASSES and pins; they didn’t have to call management. Sure, not every single experience was absolutely magical, but what can you do to make most of the moments incredible?

Look at your rec center today. Peer into the details. Ask your students what would make their experience “magical.” And then figure out how to deliver.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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