Do You Know What Happens at Disney World After the Park Closes?

Do you know what happens after Disney World closes at night?  Here are a few things.

Security sweep.  Did you know that sometimes people will try to hide and stay in the park overnight?  Park security has learned most of the hiding places over the years and finds them.

Refueling.  Some of the rides like the Jungle Cruise boats run on gasoline and have to be refueled for the next day.

Safety inspections.  Engineers inspect rides for defects.  Firefighters inspect fire extinguishers, alarm systems and sprinkler systems.

Repairs.  The parks have thousands of chairs and tables.  It is a constant job to keep them repaired.

Filming for commercials.  So Disney can control exactly who appears in their commercials, they do most of their filming after the park has closed.  This also prevents having to set up "roadblocks" while filming and hindering guests from moving freely in the park.

Underwater maintenance.  Dozens of scuba divers are responsible for maintaining and repairing attractions and other equipment that are underwater. 

Cleaning.  Streets and sidewalks are pressure washed.  Trash is emptied.  Windows and mirrors are cleaned.  Bathrooms are mopped and scrubbed.

Tending the plants.  There are dozens of species of plants, 3 million bedding plants and annuals, 4 million shrubs, 13,000 roses and 200 topiary that must be cared for.  Most of this happens after the parks close.      

Maintenance of animatronic characters.  Animatronics are checked by engineers to make sure they are functioning properly.  This takes a lot of work.  An example is the Enchanted Tiki Room, which features 225 moving birds, plants and tikis.

Rehearsals.  Parades and shows are practiced after hours to ensure they are ready and done with excellence before the public sees them.

Painting.  There is a scheduled painting plan for the entire park.  Some of the high traffic areas like handrails are touched up with paint every night.

These are great reminders that what is done after hours, behind the scenes, is what makes Disney so successful.

Excellence on the front stage is made possible by hard work in the backstage.
The same is true in children's ministry.  A great children's ministry is made possible by what happens behind the scenes.  Great weekend services are created by great weekday preparation.  Great events are made by paying fantastic attention to the dozens of details involved.  Great programs flow out of a great commitment to excellence.

Doing backstage so well is what sets Disney apart from other theme parks and makes it the number one family vacation destination in the world.  And if you want to see your ministry stand out, then spend more time in preparation.  Families notice when the details are done well and when they are not.

Think about these comparison areas to what Disney does...
  • Security?  Are you paying attention to the details that make up a safe and secure ministry?  Doors locked after service starts?  Security tags checked?  Not allowing open access to the children's ministry area?
  • Refueling?  You're not refueling gas, but you are responsible for 'refueling" things like pencils, pens, toilet paper, crayons, baby wipes, paper towels, guest brochures, etc. 
  • Safety inspections?  Do you regularly inspect toys, playground equipment, furniture, etc. to make sure it is safe?  You don't want to find out it is unsafe the hard way when a child or parent is injured.
  • Repairs?  Are you intentional about looking for things that need to be repaired?  It's easy to develop a blind spot to things that are broken.  Are there lights out?  Is there furniture, tables or chairs that need repaired?  One way to do this is to regularly walk through your facilities with a team of people and look for things that need to be repaired or updated.  Make a list while you are doing the walk through and then knock the list out,  
  • Cleaning?  Disney is known for its cleanliness because they spend so much time cleaning the park after hours when no one is around.  Power washing, cleaning windows, emptying trash, etc.  The cleanliness or lack of it speaks volumes about your ministry.  Families notice it.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how clean is your ministry?  
  • Rehearsals.  The excellent parades and shows are made possible by hundreds, if not thousand, of hours of behind-the scenes practice.  How much time do you and your team spent in preparation?  Do you look at the lesson you are going to teach for the first time at the stop lights on the way to church?  Does your praise team get together and practice during the week or just show up on Sunday morning?  Does your puppet team prepare or just "wing it?"  Do you practice the VBS skit enough times that it is done with excellence?  Do you rehearse and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until you've got it down?
  • Painting?  Are there walls with dings and scratches that need touched up?  Are there colors that need updating?
Remember, great ministries are built after hours.  You can get more great tips from Disney in the book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry."