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Disney ‘Magic’ Resonates with MCCC Study Tour Students

6/18/18


A magical kingdom and amazing learning experience for MCCC's Disney travelers.

In the Magic Kingdom with David, their guide on Day 2, who spoke about Disney culture.

West Windsor, N.J. – For the first time, the Center for Global Opportunities at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) arranged a study tour within the United States rather than across borders. The destination proved nothing short of magical.

Eleven students studying Principles of Management and Principles of Marketing, along with Business professors Laura Sosa and Eva Csige, traveled to Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, from May 21 to 24. They soaked up Disney culture in addition to the sunshine.

“We saw the Disney business model in action,” Sosa said.

Justin Ellis, an Honors Business Administration major who graduated in May, has been to Disney World several times, but had never thought of it from a business perspective. “I have a new respect for Disney,” he said. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t know.”

The first session took place in a Disney classroom, with students engaged in leadership and team-building activities. On the second day, they learned about Disney culture and then headed out into the Magic Kingdom to get feedback from those who matter most -- the visitors and the employees.

Students interviewed numerous Disney staff members -- from custodians to managers, including the desk manager at their hotel. Across the board, they discovered employees who were proud to be "cast members," a term that applies to all Disney employees. "Every employee was positive about his or her job," Safet Kastrat observed.

Sky Waters noted that people uproot their lives to work at Disney World. "That devotion is because of a company that cares so much," she said. "They have maintained a very people-centered and family-oriented culture. It’s amazing that such a big corporation has managed to keep its moral center even as it has continued to grow.”

Ryan Adams pointed out the important role of communication to Disney's business model and leadership structure. "You need to be able to communicate effectively at all levels. There was an impressive consistency among the 'cast members,'" he said.

Ellis agreed that Disney appears to have protocols in place to keep the lines of communication open. "The managers are open to listening to their employees and give them opportunities to voice concerns," he said.

Ann Lee-Bunner was impressed with Disney's commitment to efficiency. “They are seamless with transportation, eateries, and accommodations. I was mesmerized by the magnitude of the operation,” she said. "Elements work in harmony with each other. They have six decades of success behind them.”

Several students spoke of Disney's incorporation of innovation and change. The theme park continues to introduce technology that enhances guests' experiences, including the use of fingerprints for easy park entry and "Fast Pass" wrist bands that help visitors manage their wait time for rides and attractions.

For Rosie Yacone, who manages a team of 13 staffers in a busy dental office, the Disney culture is all about attitude. "It's about having passion for the vision. If you don’t share that, you don't work there," she said, adding that she hopes to bring some of that Disney enthusiasm back to her own work setting.

Numerous students returned from Florida with new resolve. Jennifer Eng said, "I am going to move forward fiercely, push past obstacles, and see where it takes me. The worst thing that happens is that you fail and you learn from it."

Kastrat agreed. "I'm going to attack everything with 100 percent passion and not be afraid of failure."

Ellis added, "Even if it's not broken, things can always be improved. I will try to be not just satisfied, but make things better. I will push myself toward the type of career I truly want."

Sosa pointed out the trip's long-term lessons. "There were many take-aways, especially from the interview with the front desk manager," she said. "Why do employees stay in the same job for so many years? Growth does not have to be vertical. Employees can be happy with horizontal opportunities if management does it right. Our students may not realize the importance of what they learned until they are managers themselves."

According to Global Opportunities Andrea Lynch, the mission of the center is to foster an enthusiasm to address local, global, international, and intercultural issues. "We strive to equip faculty and staff and prepare students to become leaders in an increasingly interconnected world," she said.

The GO! Center sponsors short-term study tours led by faculty members, activities during International Education Week in November, and independent semester abroad experiences in partnership with the College Consortium for International Studies. MCCC students have studied in Italy, Spain, Finland and Ireland.

Study Tours for 2019 will be announced in September.

Center for Global Opportunities at MCCC

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