Beyond the Main Attraction: Immersing Your Customers in the Magic

Apr 22, 2021



For people like us, who have Disney Vacation Club and go back multiple times a year, we know that there’s so much more to do and see. We’re going to talk about what to do in the park, outside the rides and the experiences that Disney created, so you can see how you can replicate that for your business to keep your audience engaged. 

The cool thing about having all of these magical experiences that fall outside of the traditional rides and attractions at Disney is that, ultimately for them, it really helps with the flow of the audience. It mitigates some of the bottlenecks. You know, those lines, they can get pretty long and that’s arguably the worst part about going to Disney. But they have a few ways of making it exciting. By keeping people in other areas of the park, doing things that don’t necessarily require a lot of waiting, they can keep their customers really engaged and have something for everyone.

Let the games begin!

One attraction that we really wanted to dive into as we get started is Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. It’s basically a card game where you use your cards to other cards. There are sort of like mythical creature types and all these rules and the cards have different values in terms of strength and toughness. And you have to be strategic with which cards you play in order to win the game. And sorcerers are the magic kingdom, which you can play in Magic Kingdom is kind of a simplified, more kid-friendly and more interactive version of that. 

So you get a deck of cards that have different qualities like charm. They have a different character that reflect each of the cards and you go around to these really cool portals where an interactive villain actually pops up and tries to cast a spell on you. You have to hold up the right card based on the qualities of the hero that you have in your hand and try to defeat the villain. And so if a dragon is shooting fire at you, you might want your Elsa card to counteract the dragon.

The fun part is these cards are interactive, but it’s also helping you walk around the Magic Kingdom to different parts of the park. You have different areas that you go to. And it’s something that’s fun for everyone. Yasmine actually got her husband Dylan into it because he’s a huge Magic the Gathering fan. That’s why they play it now. And that was a really fun way for him to sort of open his eyes up to the full Disney experience. 

At Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party and the Very Merry Christmas party, you can actually get special edition cards that you only can get during the events and play those as well. So they’re always looking at ways of enhancing the experience and really giving you a lot of fun things to do outside of just waiting in line and getting on all those fun rides. A few of the brilliant things about the sources of the magic kingdom are that the interactive exhibits. Like a mirror inside a display at a shop. And so you have to hold your card in a specific spot to activate the mirror. And all of a sudden this display becomes interactive to the environment. Other people stopped to see what you’re doing, what’s going on. And Disney’s also getting you to go inside a lot of shops while you’re playing this game. And another thing we mentioned about the lines; there’s usually no line for the sourcers game because they can start you in different places in Magic Kingdom. So you can start right on Main Street. You can be in Adventure Land so they can disrupt the flow of people.

The target market is probably the 10 year old pre-teen teen crowd that maybe feels like they’re a little too old for some of the rides at Magic Kingdom and who isn’t quite ready for all the thrill rides. So the card game is really fun. 

I put a {pin} on you

Pin trading is something Nicole and her husband do a lot when they go to Disney world and this really started because it was something her husband got into. So every time they go, they make sure to buy a couple of pins that are special to them at the end of our trip. If you don’t know about pin trading, it is an entire world at Disney World in and of itself, you can get special event pins for the Christmas parties and things like that.

You can get pins that have the year on it. There are grab bags in case you like the mystery element where you can get like last season’s pins, but you don’t know what it is until you open the bag. Cast members are involved in the process, so they each have pins. They might have a lanyard and you can walk up to them and trade pins. And with a little kid, this can be difficult because they don’t always want to give up a pin in order to get a pin. But it ends up being a really fun way to interact with cast members that maybe even you would never talk to before, but you’d be like, “Hey, can I just check out the pins that you have?” And it’s a barrier that doesn’t exist because you’re talking to a cast member and an employee versus you can also pin trade with other guests at the park. 

So there are usually stations. There’s a nice one at Epcot where people just kind of go and they bring their collection and they trade with each other. But for us, we just like buying pins that are special to us and trading a couple of the ones that are in our favorites with other people around. So pin trading is really fun and something that we make sure to do every trip. The cool thing about pin training. When you think about it from a revenue standpoint is you are getting people to spend lots of money on these pins. They’re not cheap. 

They range from probably like $6 to $20, depending on how intricate it is. And some of these are crazy. They’re getting people to buy these every year, every trip, multiple packs. And then if they go out of style, they just put them in a black bag that no one can see through and sell those. So it really is a revenue generator for them and another way to get people out of the lines because they’re exploring and running around for pins. And some of them are quite exclusive. We tried to get one at a Christmas party and could not find it in. Nicole’s husband went into at least six stores looking for it. And a magical cast member, days later, while we were still looking for this pin, found one down underground in storage for him and brought it up. So we hunted that down for a while. 

Mickey? Where are you?

So speaking of hunting things down, another fun thing you could do at Disney is look for hidden Mickeys. So hidden Mickeys are basically little Mickey shaped figures that Disney sort of sneaks into and hides all around the park. You can find them at the resorts, you can find them in the parks and basically anywhere on Disney property. Like one of our favorite discoveries of a hidden Mickey was realizing that the solar panels that Disney has that really generates a ton of power for the park is in a Mickey shape. You can walk around and you’ll see, you know, a little Mickey on the ground. You can look up during certain rides and see one hidden in the ceiling. It’s really cool. And they’ve extended that with other characters. So when we were at Disney World in January 2020, someone mentioned to us that we can go on a Pascal scavenger hunt in the Tangled area of Magic Kingdom and find the little Pascals!

 We were running around trying to find that cute little lizard wherever we could. Nicole went back a few months later and was with her son and husband, who was going to ride the Mine Train. Nicole and her son went over to the Tangled area and told her son about finding Pascal and his friends. And they had a blast for half an hour, hunting them all down and some of them are really hard to spot. We had to look up on a blog to help find some of the last ones, but we had a blast! It’s just one of those little things that makes waiting for someone who’s riding a ride that you can’t go on.

Fun for the little ones

In 2019, Nicole and her family went to Disney for the holidays and they took the extended family. Her son, who was four at the time, and just did not want to do some of the rides and other activities. So they found something that he would want to do. And they had this scavenger hunt called the Chippendale Christmas tree spree. And it’s basically Chip and Dale being naughty as they are. And they were going into the wreaths and stealing ornaments from all the different countries in Epcot. And so it was a scavenger hunt that you paid like $9 to participate in. 

You get this little guide that shows all of the countries of Epcot and each has a sticker. And once you find Chip and Dale in that country, you put that sticker on that country. And then once you finish, you hand it in. And so they had a blast for probably two hours running around the world trying to find Chip and Dale. Nicole’s son thought it was hilarious that they were stealing ornaments everywhere. And then once it got finished, he handed it into the shop at the end. And they gave them the option of choosing a pack of greeting cards. And there was one with Mickey on it and one with Minnie on it. And they were Christmas themed and he just had such a blast doing it. That was fun and of itself, but getting a reward at the end was also amazing to him.

So there’s plenty of stuff for you to do if you don’t want to wait in line, you’re tired of waiting in line or you just want a different type of experience. We go to Disney because we love the environment and we love the fun and we’re there to spend time with family. So it’s really fun if we’re doing a scavenger hunt or we’re waiting in line, we’re having fun together. 

There’s an app for that

Another thing that Disney has now is the Play Disney Parks app. So if you are waiting in line and not doing anything, you can still have an experience. The play Disney parks app came out in 2018 and it’s essentially an app that is location-based. So if you were waiting in line for Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios, there are games that are themed to Toy Story that you can only play while close enough to the ride. There’s trivia, there’s music. You can play from your phone. There’s also badges and achievements, so there’s a little bit of gamification in it. 

Then the other cool thing about it is that Disney’s not really reinventing anything here. One of the games that you can play is like Heads Up, essentially, it’s just got a word for you to guess and act out, and it’s just Disney themed. They didn’t invent Heads Up. They just put Disney licensing on it. And now people are playing that in line. So even when they’re waiting in line, maybe traditionally they’d be upset about being in the heat or just being there for four hours, if you’re waiting for Avatar and you know, it just gives them something to do that is still Disney themed. They’re still having fun and they’re still seeing your branding everywhere.

The wait is always worth it

Disney spends as much time designing the waiting in line experience as they do the rides sometimes. If you ever get the chance to walk through the actual standby line, the experiences for a lot of the more recent rides are just incredibly in depth, like Seven Dwarves Mine Train. There are little games that you can play like those barrels of gems that if you spin all of them around and you kind of have to get like people who are waiting in line with you around that area to participate, it’ll project Snow White dancing with the dwarves. Through the standby line for Frozen Ever After, there was this one little cabin room you walk into, and it’s the guy who has a wandering Oaken shop. And then if there’s a sauna window…all of a sudden his face pops up and it’s so funny. Even when you’re in a regular line, you can have fun.

So…what does this mean for you?

So we’ve talked a lot about Disney and some of our favorite out of ride experiences. How does this apply to your business? What can you learn from this? Well, we actually thought hard about the lesson here, and we have a few examples and this time we want to include not only service-based examples, but product based examples. We know a couple of Instagram accounts that sell Disney merch that we love and adore, and one of them is Pop Line Bling

If you have lived on this planet for the past, like four or five years, you probably know what a pop socket is. Pop Line Bling creates these really adorable Mickey and Disney themed pop sockets. And one of the things that’s really unique about her designs is that she uses Swarovski crystals or glitter enamel to really jazz them up and make them super unique. So you can get a Cinderella mini PopSocket or like Elsa mini Pop socket. And she has different ways of using the crystals to customize them. And the other crazy thing about her business is that she likes to sell out like that. Like literally she’ll announce pre-orders for a product and they’ll be gone and you just kind of have to wait till the next pre-order. And she only releases a certain number of styles at a time. 

Keeping your customers happy while they wait 

So, you bought this thing off of Etsy and you’re waiting for it because it’s pre-ordered. You’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks until it comes to you. How do you enhance the customer experience at that point? Well, one thing that I love that she does is on Instagram, she actually shows a lot of the behind the scenes photos of her actually putting the gems on the pop sockets and the new styles that she’s coming up with. If you have a studio sharing the behind the scenes, you’re not necessarily showcasing to the customer that you’re working on their product, but you’re showing progress and you’re showing new things and you’re giving them insight into why it takes so long to create such a gorgeous custom product, which helps manage their expectations first and foremost, but also really enhances the anticipation.

Just getting insight into the process that goes into artists and goods, because it’s easy to see something in a store and see it ready made and to get that instant gratification. But when you’re supporting an independent designer, it takes time. As a customer, if you can understand what goes into it, you can be a little bit more patient understanding of that 20 days turnaround time. You know where your money is going and exactly the level of quality that you’re getting and the care that you’re getting versus, you know, buying something that’s mass designed perfectly off the shelf. 

For the service based providers

For all the service-based business people reading this, let’s talk about when you book a trip with Disney. You’re probably booking that 10 months before you go, if not before that. So there aren’t even any rooms available, but they email you throughout. They’re reminding you about FastPasses, they’re reminding you about new attractions. You get something in the mail that says your name, your dates, where you’re staying, and experiences they think that will work for you. They make suggestions of rides that reflect the people that are coming. 

That’s kind of building anticipation, even though there’s nothing really going on at that point. So if you think about this in terms of like, if you’re a graphic designer or a web designer, and you’re booking custom clients who you might not start working with them for another two months, because of the way your schedule works, what could you be giving to them in the meantime, to be an experience outside of the work? What can you be giving them that kind of show them a before and after of other websites you’ve done? 

You can give them your intake surveys that will help you start the project better. You can get them started on making like inspiration boards and giving them resources to get them on that path. So that way, when your project officially launches, you’ve already got like a good, solid footing. They already know what the process is. They know that month one is going to be the design discovery phase. And that month two is going to be the development phase. And so doing some of that pre-work ahead of time when you’re not even directly working with them, can help make the experience even better when they do work with you. 

If you’re selling a program or a course and you have a wait list, you want to build excitement. Sharing behind the scenes images, stories of what’s going on in the program, your interactions with your students and really building again that anticipation. So by the time the next round does open up, we’ll be buying it right away and then getting access to it. But if they already have made their mind about being on a waitlist and joining your program, you want to remain top of mind and build that excitement and create an experience for them. So by the time they are in the program, they are ready to hit the ground running.

Follow us if you want more of this magic!

We hope that this deep dive has been helpful for you to learn about all the fun things Disney has outside of the rides. We also hope it helps you think about how you can kind of bridge that gap between purchase and receipt of product. The magic is in the waiting!

Follow us on Instagram @pixiedustandprofits if you want to see what happens behind-the-scenes here, and to see what we do to prepare for each new episode! 



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