Welcome to our first Disney-themed” podcast!  In Episode 9 of the Wandering But Not Lost Podcast, co-hosts Matt Emerson and Jan O’Brien discuss how to handle negative reviews. In the Reach Your Peak segment, Matt shares how his experiences in management at the Walt Disney Company turned out to be the best business training one could ask for.  In the Wandering Zen portion of the podcast, we share 10 touring tidbits to enhance your adventure at the Happiest Place on Earth.



This is an amusement park - AMUSE ME! - Matt Emerson & Laura Judy (Emerson) Click To Tweet


Key Points/Takeaways


WBNL 52 Tip – Handling Negative Reviews


We find that many real estate agents avoid setting up some of the online sites (Yelp for example) because they are worried about getting a bad or negative review.  Reality Check…. reviews and ratings are not going away for the real estate professional!

In fact, it’s become so mainstream that you may be hurting your business if you are not fully embracing an effective strategy for getting client reviews and ratings.

  • Respond to ALL online reviews (positive and negative)
  • Check out Faith Harmer, Faith and Team, for an excellent example of this principle.
    Zillow (205 reviews)
    Yelp reviews
  • Respond to negativity with grace!
    • Don’t over-react, get defensive or react
    • Be professional and helpful
    • Your response should display a willingness to try to fix the problem, make good on someone’s bad experience or at least express a little sympathy to the person’s point of view.
    • Don’t ignore it!
  • Disney H.E.A.R.D. technique https://disneyinstitute.com/blog/2013/08/how-disney-leaders-recover-from-a-service-failure/187/ 
    • Hear
    • Empathize
    • Apologize
    • Resolve Diagnose

Reach Your Peak

The Business Side of Disney

5 Business Tips from the House of the Mouse

I had the privilege of being a part of the leadership team in Theme Park Operations at Disneyland for over 5 years.  The practical experiences I encountered have proven to be more valuable than any class, book, or video that I have ever been exposed to.  The sheer volume of everything; people, processes, policies, paperwork, food, and merchandise is mind-blowing.  Keeping the cast and the guests happy while watching out for potential safety and health incidents and ensuring an efficient operation at the same time could be a daunting task.  The Management Training Program that was in place at the time was rough by the standards of the day, however, we were exposed to all sides of the business, and although we certainly didn’t appreciate it at the time, it has proven to have been a powerful skill building experience.

Business basics are always the key to a successful path.  Here are 5 things that were ingrained in me while at the Magic Kingdom which you can easily assimilate into your own career.

1 – Communication is Key

Professional, clear, and concise, communication will allow you to proceed efficiently and effectively.  Always think about how your message will be interpreted by others.

On an average day at Disneyland, I interacted with several dozen members of the leadership team, hundreds of cast members and had access to thousands of guests.  We were taught that the first and most important step of communication was to listen.  Once you have a clear idea of what is being asked, and only then, can you provide a solution.  In any business it always goes back to the golden rule – ‘Do unto others…”

2 – Present when Possible

Although you may not like to speak in front of a group – never turn down the opportunity.  You will grow because of it and your confidence just might go through the roof.

During the Management Intern Program, we were assigned a group presentation to pitch new ideas for possible implementation into the resort.  We were presenting to upper management along with invited guests from the Studio.  The pressure to perform was on and that one anxiety-filled exercise allowed me to be able to face just about any crowd

3 – Plan Ahead

In order to thrive, you need to know your goals and have a plan.  At WBNL Coaching, we talk about this all the time.  The business planning process doesn’t need to be a chore, after all, it’s your roadmap to financial freedom.

Every company handles budgeting differently.  Budgeting at Disneyland was challenging because the business relies so highly on factors that can change daily; tourism, the local economy, the weather (the list goes on), however, you can glean a good idea of where to start from the prior year and then factor in the current realities.  I always looked at budgets as sort of a game and that if you budget it, you can build it!  While in one department, I was able to increase year-over-year income150% by implementing new programs and processes.  You would have a hard time doing that without a plan!

4 – Watch your Dailies

Once you have a plan in place you need to monitor it or it will be useless.

There was a time when the belt was being tightened by Burbank and we had to provide a daily breakdown of our actuals vs. plan.  Yes daily!  This went on for about a month and we all hated it at the time, however, it was probably the best training I ever received on watching a plan to ensure efficiency.  Little things are easy to overlook but in the big picture they add up.

5 – Amuse Me

Enjoying what you do is paramount in the game of life.  You are more productive and pleasant when you are having fun while getting the job done.  Hitting goals, meeting deadlines, and being serious about your business is important, however, one can take it too far sometimes.

This one wasn’t taught to us in class, you need to learn this one on your own, I suppose.  My future wife, who I met during my Disney tenure, and I had a saying when things got rough and people started taking themselves a little too seriously, “This is an amusement park, Amuse me!”.  At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about!


Disneyland Management Training Program Photo Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost

Mangement Training Program – Theme Park Operations Interns (for a little historical perspective, Splash Mountain opened that year! HA)

Disneyland is one of this Travologist’s favorite places to wander and being a SoCal local equipped with an annual pass, I can do it as often as my schedule allows.  In a time far, far away, I spent 7 years doing more than wandering there.  I explored the jungles of the world, awoke tropical birds, mined Big Thunder, told some Duck Tales, and entertained at a private club, so I consider myself more than the average Disney fan.  It’s the detail and history of the place that keeps me returning – often to just walk around and never step foot on an attraction – Disneyland IS the attraction.  Although there are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of details to showcase, here are my top 10 tidbits that will hopefully enhance your adventure the next time you head to the Magic Kingdom.

1 –  The Light in Walt’s Apartment

2 – The Windows of Main Street

3 – Red & White Light at Coke Corner

4 – “The Little Man of Disneyland”

5 – Tarzan’s Treehouse

6 – Max, Buff, & Melvin

7 – Frontierland Fish

8 –  Snow White’s Grotto

9 –  it’s a Small World

10 –  Al Fresco Dining in Tomorrowland

Click HERE to go to WanderingButNotLost.com for the details and show notes.

Want more Disney in your life?  I have been a huge fan of the gang over at Mousetalgia who deliver a fantastic weekly podcast on all things, Disney.  Dave, Becky, Jeff, & Kristen are a great team and will most definitely keep you entertained and up-to-date.  I recommend giving them a try.  Go to their website for more info and how to subscribe.  

Disneyland Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost

Main Street Firehouse

The Windows of Main Street

The Coke Corner Lights

The Little Man of Disneyland & Tarzan's Treehouse

Max, Buff, & Melvin

Frontierland Fish

Snow White's Grotto

it's a Small World

Edible Tomorrowland

 Mentioned in the Episode (Resources & Links)


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