“Be Our Guest”
Walt Disney World is renowned for its ability to make their guests feel special through a consistent Disney Experience. Their use of tools like Magic Bands for resort guests, clean bathrooms, allowing Cast Members to create Magical Moments, and more bring people into the stories and experiences that we grew up to and love from our childhoods.
While marriage is not fairy tale, there are four simple elements from the Walt Disney World experience that we can apply to our marriages to make sure our spouses feel special.
The bottom line: Make it about your spouse’s needs.
Walt Disney World allows those with a Fastpass to experience the parks at a higher level than those who don’t have one. With a Fastpass, you get to enjoy Space Mountain sooner than everyone else because it grants you access to an express line. You get onto the ride for a great case of whiplash while others have been waiting for over an hour during a hot summer day.
A Fastpass will get you into your favorite show like Indiana Jones while everyone else has to take their chances on getting a seat.
What would it look like if you granted your spouse Fastpass access to your life?
She would get to the front of the line ahead of all others to talk with you. You’d actually make other people wait, including your boss at work, as you respond to your spouse. That’s right, I have done this. There was a time I was talking with my manager where in mid-conversation Liv called and I said, “Excuse me, I need to get this call. It’s my wife.” I stepped away, talked with her to see what she needed, and then returned to the conversation with my manager. That particular boss was not put off that I interrupted our conversation to talk with Liv. She was impressed by it and supported it.
If I’m not able to talk long, I let Liv know that it’s not a good time and promise to call back as soon as I am out of a meeting or whatever has me tied up at the moment.
Unlike Walt Disney World, I have not been consistent with this practice. My cell phone is on silent most of the time because of my work as a corporate education consultant and training specialist. Let’s say my wife calls while I’m in a meeting or in the middle of delivering a training session. If you have already guessed that she’s the first person I call at the first break that comes up, you’re correct!
Just as Fastpass lets you plan ahead for which attractions you’ll enjoy. Allowing your spouse a Fastpass to your calendar will prioritize things like family events, date night, and other more important family-related events in your schedule. You can schedule work around what’s most important to you. There is also the added benefit of making your spouse feel important because she is getting first dibs on your calendar. You may even be able to balance work trip planning with family functions in a way that meets both your company’s needs so you can keep getting that paycheck and your marriage’s needs so you can stayed happily married longer.
2. Dining Plan
Resort guests can purchase a dining plan to make sure meals are taken care of. That way you never have to worry about having the right amount of meal money during your trip. You already paid for it. The Disney Experience allows you to make arrangements and plans so your focus is on the dining experience itself.
The point I’m making here though is not about pre-paying your meals with your spouse. The point is about planning dining experiences with your spouse.
Assuming you are now giving her a Fastpass to your calendar, schedule meals together. Dinner dates, lunch dates, breakfast, brunch, tea time, coffee, and more! Be like a Hobbit if you have to and schedule a second breakfast.
Eat meals together and spend time talking with each other. You can mix up the dining experiences. On our first trip to Walt Disney World, it seemed like we only ate at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe for lunch and dinner. I was dismayed after that trip to learn there were so many other dining experiences available. On the second trip, we made it a point to not eat at the same place twice. The result was a more enriching experience, and sharper memories of our family time.
Do the same when you go out to eat with your spouse. Going to a different restaurant can be a tangible way to remind yourselves that you are exploring each other on an intimate level just as much as you are exploring a new menu and dining experience.
3. Know and Beat Your Biggest Competition, You
Walt Disney World does have competition, but it’s biggest rival has always been who they were yesterday. They are known for constantly making improvements so they are a better theme park tomorrow than they were today. That is the essence of what makes the Disney Experience what it is having guests come back for more.
Your competition is not the younger woman or another man. Your competition in your marriage is yourself. Are you striving to be a better you today than you were yesterday? Are you striving to connect better with your spouse now than you did the last time you interacted with your partner?
There are many benefits to striving to be better, and they boil down to these two things. First, being a better you makes you happier and enriches your own life. Second, as you enrich yourself you bring more to the marriage to share with your spouse. You have new things to discover, and in some situations you will be growing together especially if it’s a shared goal.
So, learn to play guitar if you want. Take up painting, hiking, jogging, reading, a new language, etc. Whatever you want to enjoy that is healthy for you and your marriage, do it and share that experience with your spouse. On top of that, learn about your spouse’s interests because that leads into the final tip.
As you strive to be a better you, always remember to be the best genuine you.
4. Make Magical Moments
On the last day of my last trip to Walt Disney World, our family caught a final ride of Soarin’ which is one of our favorite rides in EPCOT. I must have looked like a sad little 36-year old boy, because the Cast Member operating the ride asked me if I’d like to ride again before we left. My wife, Liv, told me I lit up like it was Christmas morning as we were buckled back into our seats without having to go to the back of a line. I thanked the Cast Member for the extra Soarin’ experience, and she said, “You looked like you needed a Magical Moment.”
Disney Cast Members are empowered to deliver Magical Moments to park guests. If a child is seen having dropped a brand new ice cream bar, a custodian may run to get that child another one at no cost. My son, Jacob, once scolded his little sister while we were getting our picture taken by a Photopass photographer. The photographer gave Liv, Emma, and I the Magical Moment of seeing her cheerfully berate Jacob about how she grew up as an only child and wished she had a sibling to share her childhood with. We even had another photographer take a picture of Jacob and this lady together. We added that photo to our family memories.
In the Disney Experience, Magical Moments are spontaneous. They’re about meeting a need in the moment. It doesn’t take much to pull off a Magical Moment either. It can be a little note left on the nightstand as you go off to work to say, “I love you.” It could be cooking a meal together, washing the dishes, or taking care of whatever chore was bothering your spouse. Just because flowers can be a Magical Moment. Apology flowers are stupid.
Lighten the other person’s load and watch a smile come to their face. You are empowered to bring Magical Moments to your own spouse or partner.
There you have it, four ways to be the Disney experience for your spouse. Now, it’s time to write a note to Liv. It’ll probably say something like, “Let’s plan a trip to Walt Disney World!”