It’s no secret I love Disneyland and that Walt Disney has been a man I’ve looked up to my whole life. I remember growing up in southern California and always driving past the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and telling myself, “I’m going to work there one day”.

I grew up with Disneyland being a big part of my family life and carried that on to my children and family. It’s the place we all get to disconnect and recharge ourselves. Even though it takes its toll on our bodies more these days, it’s still a place that allows us to forget about the stresses of life and focus on something creative, energetic, inspiring, and full of imagination.

With how amazing of a full experience Disneyland is, it didn’t start that way. Its been documented over and over again the problems and issues Disneyland had on opening day. With everything from crowds being a lot larger than expected, to rides breaking down constantly and not being finished, to the blacktop concrete not being set and the heat of the day making it squishy to wear women’s high heels were sinking into the pavement. The initial launch of the most anticipated product in Walt Disney’s career was a complete failure. The day was later dubbed, “Black Sunday”.

Walt knew and saw the issues that were happening all around him. He decided they had to be addressed and taken care of right away. With what he invested and put his whole life into, he was either going to be known as creating one of the biggest failing products in history or creating the experience for families he envisioned.

The following day Walt performed one of the best user tests in the history of design. He wanted to know what the guests were saying and complaining about. So he asked cast members to enter the ride queues and listen to what guests were saying about the park. Walt took this feedback and started adjusting. He added more trash cans to correct the issues of garbage all over, added more bathrooms and drinking fountains, created better line systems for guests to load and unload, and continued to correct what was being said about issues he couldn’t always see.

In doing this, it quickly turned the perception of the guests entering the park and quickly became the place for families that Walt had in mind from the beginning. In just a short 7 weeks Disneyland had their 1 millionth visitor and continued to see an increase through the year.

Walt was never afraid to receive feedback and listen to what was being said by the users. It’s a great lesson to be learned that in anything we create, we need to forget about our wants and listen to what the users of our product are saying. And continue to listen to those things and continue to change and adjust. When we stop listening and stop evolving, our products and designs will stop being relevant.

Walt said shortly after Disneyland opened that “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” It’s something that is true and continues to evolve. And it’s something I hope to enjoy my whole life and be able to have generations of mine enjoy. Thank you, Walt.

Published On: February 2nd, 2023 / Categories: D3 Design and Marketing / Tags: , /