The DISNEY PARADOX of customer experience… Want the gold standard for guest experience? Enter the house that Walter Elias built.

Walter Elias Disney was obsessed with improving the overall experience. He would drive the cast members and Imagineers crazy with his suggestions for improvement.

Walt understood that little things matter and there was power in moments.

But wait, not every moment is special at Disney. Judge these parts of the experience on a scale of 1 to 10:

– an overpriced, mediocre lunch
– a 70-minute wait in line for a ride
– endlessly walking in the heat and humidity

Author Chip Heath calls it the Disney Paradox:

“If you were to measure your minute-by-minute happiness at a Disney theme park on a hot, crowded summer day, chances are you would have been happier for most of the day if you were sitting on your couch at home. But, in memory, the Disney visit might be a highlight of your year. Because at the park, you experienced some peak moments—the kind of moments that never come from sitting on your couch: The adrenaline rush from riding Space Mountain. Your child’s beaming face when Mickey comes up and gives him a hug.”

The TAKEAWAY – not all parts of the customer experience are created equal.

Moments matter. Little things that create delight are important. In the book “The Power of Moments” Chip and Dan Heath share research that companies focus 80% of their time on fixing problems as opposed to only 20% on creating peak moments. And the revenue opportunity of peak moments can be up to nine times greater.

Back to Disney…

Walt was always trying to figure out how to do a little bit more. So much so that he had his own word for these continuous improvements. He called it “plussing.” Here is a superb summary of plussing by John Torre: “Normally, the word “plus” is a conjunction, but not in Walt’s vocabulary. To Walt, “plus” was a verb—an action word—signifying the delivery of more than what his customers paid for or expected to receive. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of Walt “plussing” his products. He constantly challenged his artists and Imagineers to see what was possible, and then take it a step further … and then a step beyond that.”

The little extra or more is the spirit of “lagniappe” that we define as a Purple Goldfish. A simple marketing concept that could move the needle toward achieving differentiation, driving retention, and stimulating word of mouth.

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Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

Find Stan’s in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops, and Goldfish tank programs at