Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees


pmwj16-nov2013-johnson-disney-IMAGE 1 BOOK COVERBook Title:  Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees
Author:  Doug Lipp
Publisher:  McGraw-Hill
List Price:   US$ 27.00         Format:  hard cover; 222 pages
Publication Date:   2013     ISBN: 978-0-07-180807-1
Reviewer:      Tasha Johnson, PMP
Review Date:              October 2013

Introduction to the Book

Disney U written by author Doug Lipp explores the Disney brand in a how to business book. Disney U can be used as a reference guide for companies to go back to “school” to learn the fundamentals of employee development, guest service training, attention to detail, and the pursuit of quality. Everyone takes ownership and responsibility. Disney U is a leadership blueprint, applicable to any organization.

Disney University was founded in 1955 by Van Arsdale France. Doug Lipp was one of many interns that would walk side by side with France and go through a six month leadership training camp under France to be later known as the Disney Management Intern Program. Walt Disney’s dream of creating a place offering a most unique family entertainment experience, Disneyland, was mirrored by Van’s dream of creating a place offering a most unique employee education experience, the Disney University.

Overview of Book’s Structure

Disney U’s structure is simple. The author provides several employee, or as Disney calls them, “cast member” experiences. It takes you on their personal journeys to success at the Disney U. There are two worlds of Disney. Backstage a world the guest never sees and on-stage the area many experience as guests. The cast members not only learn the art of what “good show” and “bad show” means, but they also get to feel the excellent customer service as they start their own day. One cast member Sophie recalled how the whole training staff had delivered good show to the trainees. “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King was playing the hallway as she started her first day at Disney U. She was 30 minutes early and the staff was ready to go’ no last minute rushing around. Everyone had smiles on their faces and said “Good morning; welcome to Disney University!”

Highlights: What I liked!

I liked how the author compared Van Arsdale France to some of the Disney Characters such as Jiminy Cricket, Mary Poppins, and Donald Duck. As I was reading I could see the Disney character and Mr. France’s personality come together. Jiminy Cricket was known for offering positive encouragement to Pinocchio, directing him onto a more honest path. Mary Poppins the nanny to two children coaxed them into doing the right things by singing “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”.  Van was most like the character Donald Duck, who was well known for his outburst and temper. He was quick to give an earful of criticism to anyone who was not following the Walt Disney philosophy. 


To read entire Book Review (click here)

About the Reviewer

flag-usapmwj16-nov2013-johnson-disney-IMAGE 2 AUTHOR PHOTOTasha Johnson, PMP

Texas, USA

Tasha Johnson, PMP is a Project Manager for the Army Air Force Exchange Service. She is a graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington. Tasha has a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. Tasha has been a member of PMI and the Dallas PMI chapter since 2011. Tasha can be contacted at [email protected]. 

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of cooperation between the publisher, PM World Inc and the Dallas Chapter of the Project Management Institute (www.pmidallas.org). Publishers provide books to PM World, books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter where they are given to chapter members who commit to providing a book review in a standard format; the reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  Since PMI Dallas Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, they represent the intended audience for most PM books.  If you are an author or publisher of a book related to program or project management and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected].