16 Secret Rules Disney Employees Follow

When it comes to customer service, Disney sets the standard.  There is much we can learn from them in this area.

Keep in mind that new families usually decide if they're going to return to your church based on how you treat them on their first visit.  So it's critical to get this area right.

Giving families a great first experience doesn't happen by accident.  It's the result of great training and intentionality.

There are 16 key rules that Disney employees are taught as part of their training process.  Many of these can also be used to train children's ministry volunteers and help create a experience for families at your church.

#1 - Cast members.  All Disney employees are called a Cast Member.  This goes for all Disney employees from the ride operators to the janitors.

Children's Ministry takeaway -  What you call your team members matters.  Pick a name that conveys a sense of ownership and family.

#2 - Never say "I don't know."  Cast members can't say "I don't know," no matter what the question is.  Instead, they have to pick up the phone and call an operator to get the answer.

Children's Ministry takeaway - We've all had it happen.  We've asked a question at a place of business or a church and been told, "I don't know."  Just left hanging.  Feeling like you're not important enough for the person to muster enough effort to find out.

Train your volunteers to never say, "I don't know."  Instead, train them to say, "That's a great question...let me find out for you."  Then train them to do whatever it takes to find out the answer.  A great starting point is to make sure your volunteers have the information they need to answer questions.  Equip them with a list of activities, events, classes, etc that are going on.  Also make a list of FAQ's that new families might ask and equip your volunteers with the answers.

#3 - Beards can not be shaped and mustache can not extend over their lips or further than the corner of their mouth. 

Children's Ministry takeaway - This one doesn't totally translate into children's ministry, but is a good reminder that a professional appearance is important.

#4 - Hair code.  Disney cast members can not shave their eyebrows.  Hair must be neatly brushed.  Men's hair can not extend over the ears or hang over a shirt collar.  Beads are not allowed in the hair, however braids are acceptable but must be neat.

Children's Ministry takeaway - Another good reminder that a professional appearance is important.

#5 - Autographs.  Disney cast members go through signature training, if they are going to become one of the characters.  For each character, they have to follow very specific guidelines when writing signatures because they all need to be consistent regardless of who might be playing that character that day.

Children's Ministry takeaway -  Excellence is found in the details.  Another is the importance of consistency in values, procedures and culture.

#6 - Character Height - You can only be a certain height to play a character at Disney.  For example, to be a princess, you can only be between 5'4" and 5'8". 

Children's Ministry takeaway - It's important to put volunteers in the right role.  More on how to do this in this post.

#7 - Finger nails - Did you notice that Disney cast members don't usually have nail polish on?  If they have any at all, the polish needs to be a neutral color and no one in food or beverage is allowed to have any at all.  Furthermore, women's finger nails can only be a 1/4 inch past the finger and all males can not be past their finger tips.

Children's Ministry takeaway - Another good reminder that a professional appearance is important.

#8 - Body art - Disney cast members can not have any visible tattoos, tongue piercings or ear gauges. 

Children's Ministry takeaway - Another good reminder that a professional appearance is important.

#9 - Glasses - Those that need to wear glasses cannot wear glasses that have any type of branding (logos, etc) on them.  Also, the colors and frames must be conservative in nature.

Children's Ministry takeaway - Another good reminder that a professional appearance is important.

#10 - Cleaning - Every cast member is responsible for keeping the park clean.  If a cast member spots a piece of trash, they must pick it up and dispose of it.

Children's Ministry takeaway - Cleanliness is vital in Children's Ministry and is everyone's job.  A messy and cluttered environment is a turn-off for families.

#11 - How you clean - When a cast member spots a piece of trash, they must not bend over.  That is simply not proper.  You will see them instead pick it up in a scoop like manner. 

Children's Ministry takeaway - It's not just what you do, but how you do it, that creates a culture of excellence.

#12 - No finger pointing allowed - If you ever ask a cast member for directions, he will not point with one finger.  This is viewed as offensive in some cultures.  Instead, he will use his entire hand or use at least 2 fingers to point.

Children's Ministry takeaway - While it is recommended to always walk a family to a location, in a situation where volunteers need to point someone in the right direction, teach them to point with at least 2 fingers.

#13 - Social media guidelines - Cast Members are not allowed at any time to talk about what they do at Disney on social media platforms. 

Children's Ministry takeaway - It's important that volunteers agree to not post anything questionable or offensive on social media.  Kids and parents are on social media and we must maintain a good testimony online.  Here's more about social media guidelines for volunteers in children's ministry.

#14 - First name only - Walt Disney always liked to be called by his first name "Walt," so this is why you only see cast member's first name on their name tag.  Friends and family operate on a first name basis. 

Children's Ministry takeaway - Create a family atmosphere.  Team spirit must trump titles.

#15 - Code words - There are plenty of code words that cast members use through out the park to cover up the real meaning of what is happening.  One in particular is rather telling.  When a guest throws up, you might hear the code word "Protein Spill" or as of late it has been called "Code V."

Children's Ministry takeaway - Create code words for incidents such as a child missing, accident, lock down, etc.  This will help alleviate panic if you need to communicate about an incident where people can hear.  Know ahead of time what you will do in an emergency situation. 

#16 - Cast Members must always stay in character no matter what.  Don't expect a Disney character to know anything outside of the Disney Universe.  So don't ask Tinkerbell what she thinks about Superman.  She will have no idea what you are talking about. 

Children's Ministry takeaway - Another example of commitment to the details that creates a culture of excellence.