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Mouse Tales
A “behind–the–ears” look at Disneyland
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David Koenig
Survey Says…
The Happiest Inquisition on Earth

Anywhere else but Disneyland, they're called parasites. Think telemarketers who call you during dinner. Little kids forced to sell candy bars outside the grocery store. Teenagers who trick or treat costumed as "themselves."

The author ponders an answer…
The author ponders an answer…

No, at Disneyland, they hover just inside the Main Gate, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourists and inflict upon them … a survey. The difference between these marketers and their telephone counterparts is that guests at Disneyland are more receptive to the inquisition. After all, the cardigan-clad cast member has a Mickey Mouse nametag and an electronic clipboard, for goodness sake!

Now, the ever-present Disney pollsters say they want to get guests' opinions to improve the Guest Experience. In truth, they predominantly want to know (a) what the advertising department did right to lure you into the park. Exit surveys also want to know (b) if you had a great time despite the high prices, so they can justify further increasing prices. The more value you admit receiving for the price you paid alerts Disney that you might be willing to pay more.

A tip-off to their true motives is that before asking any questions, survey-takers first ask to see your admission ticket. They typically avoid questioning Annual Passholders (called AP's, which is pronounced by cast members as "apes"). These regular customers should have the most insight into what works and what doesn't—but they also are pre- sold customers. And they usually are more sophisticated, more sure of what they want and less likely to be tricked by the Magic Kingdom's mind games.

Throughout the entire theme park division, guest surveys have become a way for middle managers to support decisions they've already made and provide ad copy for brochures. The stock survey from a Walt Disney World hotel doesn't ask you what you liked or hated about the resort. It doesn't ask for suggestions. It's a pencil-in-the-dots computer form that asks you to agree that the resort provided a "magical experience," helped you "escape from reality," and created "cherished memories that will last a lifetime."

May we ask you a few questions?
May we ask you a few questions?

I suspect it's only a matter of time before they start surveying guests about guest surveys …

"Excuse me, sir and/or ma'am, may I ask you a few questions?

"Is this the first survey you've taken today?

"How do you feel about paying nearly $150 to get your family of four through those gates only to have me, a glorified telemarketer, ask you for your time to take a survey?

"Would you still take this survey, if we made you stand in line for it?

"Are True-and-False questions your preference or: (a) multiple choice, or (b) Fill in the _______?

"Do you prefer taking surveys as you enter the park, as you leave the park, or while you're riding the attractions?

"What do you think of if, instead of gift shops, all attractions exited into survey booths?

"What if we turned this into an actual attraction? Say, Survey Mountain? Great Moments with Mr. Gallup? Poll Land?

"How would you rate this survey on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being overly time-consuming, 10 being intrusively probing? Now, how would you rate our scale of 1 to 10?

"How would you compare this survey with other attractions at the park?

"But, most of all, would you pay more for it?"

You can write to David atthis link..

Survey says…


David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.

After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999); all titles published by Bonaventure Press.

He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.

You can contact David here.


Click here to go to David's main page for a list of archived articles.

Visit MouseShoppe to purchase copies of David's books. (Clicking on the link opens a new window.)


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