It may seem strange to post another blog about Walt Disney considering that he is credited with having once said: “I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.” However, the popularity of the last blog post in the Shape the Future series as well as the imminent 60th anniversary of @Disneyland, warrants revisiting some of the learnings from one of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs –Walt Disney.
Through a biographical lens, the last blog unpacked the Intellectual Imagination pillar exemplified by Disney’s Creating mindset and his attitude of Innovating. This piece considers how the Courageous Commitment pillar, Risking mindset and Being undaunted attitude led to his global theme-park phenomenon.
Courageous Commitment is the courage and determination to continue, realising that applying consistent commitment has a way of overcoming. A Risking mindset is evidenced by being brave enough to try; particularly when the results of outcomes are not certain and could either land up in your favour or going against you.
Located in Anaheim, California, Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world – with over 650 million guests since it opened in 1955. In 2013 the park hosted approximately 16.2 million guests, making it the third-most visited park in the world that year.
Disney’s woes in bringing The Happiest Place on Earth to life are well-documented. Prior to the park’s opening he said: “It’s no secret that we were sticking just about every nickel we had on the chance that people would really be interested in something totally new and unique in the field of entertainment.”
However, the financial difficulties were fertile ground for courageous commitment. Disney was undaunted when he capitalised on the success of his pioneering work in television animation by convincing a leading broadcaster to air a show called Disneyland – whose advertising revenue helped to fund its park namesake. He also leased various properties and saved the rental income. “I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral.”
Disney’s Risking mindset lives on in the people who co-create Disneyland to this day – affectionately known as Imagineers. Imagineers are individuals who have diverse skills and talents. There are approximately 140 different job titles within the Imagineering ambit, including illustrators, architects, engineers, lighting designers, show writers and graphic designers. Imagineers have three guiding principles which stand any entrepreneur in good stead:
- Creating new concepts and/or improving concepts to fulfil specific needs
- Returning to ideas for attractions and shows that, for whatever reason, never came to fruition so that they are re-worked and presented in more suitable ways
- Generating ideas with no limitations – a process called blue sky speculation
It is no surprise that all Disneyland Imagineers are held to a strict code of conduct and the highest levels of service. The world waits with bated breath at the creative genius and cutting-edge family entertainment that will be unveiled at Disneyland’s Diamond Celebrations next month. The words of its Founder echo with inspiration: “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”