Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Dreaming Disney - 50 Years of Magical Learnings


Professionally, I have spent over 20 years in education. This has always put the Disney Institute courses on my radar. But they were dreams. I could not afford this training which primarily was site-based courses where one might also get to visit a theme park. I mean I am down with combining education and theme parks.

The pandemic changed everything.

Education went online, including the Disney Institute.


In 2022, I had to change a lot about my life due to the pandemic’s impacts. As I reviewed my next steps, I also ran across an online Disney Institute course celebrating the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. My wife and I decided to sign me up partially to entertain me, and partially to keep me thinking about the business world. I think we both decided that the course was going to be highly fact and trivia based. Instead, I got a business-focused management course that one could place on LinkedIn…if others understood exactly what the course entailed.

“50 Years of Magical Learnings” is a 30-plus module course that combines Walt Disney World Resort history and business principles. Each lesson uses a variety of text, video, interactive activities, and journaling to convey business lessons seen in the history of Walt Disney World. The segments can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete. Topics explored include employee recognition, continuous improvement, telling a story, customer service, safety and so much more. Seven of the lessons include insights for Disney executive George A. Kalogridis who served as the 50th Anniversary Ambassador, which allow him to reflect on his professional journey as he moved through the resort leadership.

The content varied in content, but the majority of it was helpful and relevant to a professional journey. Instead of completing a course in one sitting, I spaced it out for nearly a year trying to complete one module a week. My payment did give me access for a year. And during the year new modules were released as they further developed the course. It provided me with a good professional development opportunity that I controlled and could drop in and out of as needed. I will admit I did struggle at times with some of the journaling as my career path went up and down a few different roads. I enjoyed it, professionally, as it framed issues within a familiar to me setting. And the content and videos were professionally developed.

Financially did it make sense? Pre-pandemic these courses were well outside of my price range and I did pay out of pocket. The course at the time I enrolled was $399. We found a deep discount that made it even more financially viable. And since I spent a year engaging the content it felt like an investment in me. The courses on leadership, employee engagement, and customer service are listed as taking 45 to 60 minutes for a cost of $199. Therefore, I found myself feeling like I got a steal for the year. I do intend to add the completed course to my LinkedIn. My only worry with this choice is that someone might think it is a trivia course and not a business course. But hey, that wouldn’t be the first Disney-related business entry on my resume. I also am considering paying out of pocket for an additional shorter course.

“50 Years of Magical Learnings” may attract Disney fans with the promise of stories and facts about the Walt Disney World Resort. But it is packed with leadership and business content wrapped into a well-produced professional development course. I do prefer the way I managed my course completion allowing myself to marinate and reflect on the lessons instead of rushing quickly through the lessons while they jumped past my eyes without thought.

Let’s be real. Unlike required corporate learning, I paid for this. And hey…Mickey Mouse!

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