When Disneyland first opened, we embarked on an ongoing learning process about our guests and how they respond to a story environment. For example, just after the park opened for business, we discovered that some guests had made a pathway through a flower bed. We were walking through the park one morning before opening when the gardeners came up to Walt and said, “We need a fence to keep the guests out of the flower bed.” Walt told them, “No, we must pave this pathway. When guests make their own path, they probably have a damn good reason for doing it.” From experiences such as these, we learned that our guests make the park’s story environment their own.
-John Hench in Designing Disney, by John Hench with Peggy Van Pelt, page 30
It always seems that quotes from those who knew and worked with Walt treated the parks as Walt treated them. It is as if they were infected by his passion and enthusiasm. Walt has been gone over four decades and many of those who worked directly with him have moved on from their faithful stewardship or passed on to other worlds. I only hope that the magic traces Walt left on everything he touched resonate loudly enough for current stewards to become infected, as Hench clearly was in the quote.
Don’t forget to stop by our site and leave some Disney Geek love!
3 thoughts on “Daily Figment 67 – The Guest is Always Right!”
Interesting story about the pathways. At my alma mater, Indiana University, when they converted the original bicycle stadium to a park, I remember they waited to pour the cement for the pathways until the students had established where they should be. It was muddy for quite some time, but sure enough, that’s where the paths ended up..right where the students’s footprints were! Brilliant!
when was that? it would be interesting to see if the idea of creating paths post construction was well established before Walt came along or if it was something he might have inspired.
thanks for commenting!
let me say this doesn’t work for animals…we have a path my dog wears out…but if I put stepping stones or pavers there…she creates a new path somewhere else.
DisneyPetWorld will have to come up with another concept entirely.