Making your holidays a great experience

Social Distancing before it was cool

Taken pre-pandemic in February, 2020. Photographer: Eric de Fino

This is a year unlike any other. It really hit home for me when our daughter came home from her first semester at college and she had to quarantine for two weeks before we gave her hugs. It was great to see her—and hard to not give in. 

Let me tell you a story. I was a young teenager when DisneyWorld opened in Orlando, Florida. I remember how we’d save our E-tickets (the ones that let you onto the thrill rides) for the end of the day so that our last rides would be the ones we remembered longest.

As an adult, I studied Disney, its business model, experience designs, and culture. I thought I understood Walt Disney’s thinking. I was wrong. About ten years ago, I took a Disney Institute class and learned Disney’s four keys to a great guest experience. They are:

  • Safety
  • Courtesy
  • Show
  • Capacity (later retitled Efficiency)

I had never considered safety as part of the theme park experience. That’s because I never saw unsafe things in the park (except for stupid guest behaviors ;-) The cast members (Disney’s on-brand name for its employees) and the operations that support them are great at keeping everyone safe. Our seminar leader put it this way: You can’t have fun if you’re worried about your own or your kids’ safety. It clicked. He was right.

Here’s the point. You may feel like putting safety to the side just for a minute. After all, it just takes a minute to give someone a friendly kiss or a warm hug. Remember, the first principle of a great experience is safety. The greatest experience you can give your family and friends and the most love you can show is when you put safety first.

Celebrating 2020 holidays