May 23, 2010

Every show has its reviews

One of the first things I learned as a new Cast Member was that Disneyland is a Show, not just a job. Producing the Happiest Place on Earth's unique entertainment experience took much more than just the highest levels of skills found in other hospitality industry positions.

In spelling out performance expectations, the annual performance appraisal (this is mine from August 1983) gives a terrific insight into exactly what was required to deliver the finest in family entertainment. The organization that Walt built invested heavily in its employees back then. Training, development, increasing levels of responsibility—casual/seasonal, permanent part time, hostess, relief, trainer, lead—and Cast activities were all focused on building a team of performers expert at Disney showmanship. The annual review was a chance to compare the reality with the dream and praise, adjust, or correct accordingly.

The appraisal appears kind of strict, and it was. It largely determined whether a casual become a permanent Cast Member. Behind the ratings, though, was a genuine consideration of employees as valuable partners. Until the union troubles and management changes in the mid-to-late Eighties, working at the Park was still as it was explained in Showmanship: Disneyland Style, which I've often quoted:

It is because we work together at being a "show" and not just a business that the special Disneyland magic is not lost. When we say, "Look to the name Walt Disney for the finest in Family Entertainment," we feel that this is a fact...not a boast. We feel we have the greatest pool of creative talent anyplace in the world. We are proud of that.

We realize we are not the "biggest," or "richest," or "oldest" in the field of show business or American industry. We do feel however, that we are the "friendliest" group you'll find anywhere. Creating fun is our work; and our work creates fun—for us and our guests. One needs happy people to produce a happy show. We take our work seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously.

It's difficult—if not impossible—to create fun for our guests if you can't find some fun in playing your own role.

I found both an enormous amount of fun and an immense feeling of satisfaction in working at Disneyland. Judging by my review, I'd say that I put on a pretty good performance. Sometimes I sure wish that the curtains hadn't closed.


Okie said...

Very cool/insightful. Thanks for sharing. :)

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