We can spend many hours trawling the internet looking at the amazing experiences Disney give to people each and everyday. There are so many moments in the parks that people write about when it comes to particular characters and cast members and the wonderful work they do. Only recently I read something online from a character cast member whose tip was something along the lines of “never be the first to let go of the hug. You never know how much they need it”. It is these little details that make Disney what it is.
This week, Disney brought a little bit of magic for me but before I explain how and why, I need to skip back a few days. On 1st January, we took a family trip to London to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. I have been luck over the past few years to have seen it a number of times. Today would be my 6th! Harry (now 6) had never been to the West End before and Zoe hadn’t seen it either. So, as you can imagine, there was no other choice than the Lion King Harry’s first London show. Upon arrival at the theatre, we were met with a large queue and the doorman explained that due to a technical issue in the theatre the doors had not opened yet. It’s understandable that these things happen and with 15 minutes to go, the doors were opened and the audience began to take their seats.
2.30 came and their was no sign of the show starting. An announcement was made via the theatre’s tannoy that they were still experiencing technical difficulties and the show will start as soon as it could. We waited a little more and the Company Manager appeared on stage and explained that they were still experiencing technical difficulties and we would begin shortly. Eventually after 30 minutes, the announcement came that the show was ready to begin. The audience let out a huge cheer and the show began. It soon became apparent that the show wasn’t what I had seen before. There were elements that seemed to be missing. I could go in to detail but I’d spoil some of the surprises for those that hadn’t seen it.
By the end of the show, I left the theatre a little deflated. The show I had come to know and love wasn’t the same as the one I’d seen. Yes, I was disappointed but equally glad that whatever problems the show was having, they didn’t cancel and have 2000 angry audience members on their backs. Instead, they persevered with what they could.
We left the theatre and headed home and on the journey back, all I could think of was the elements of the show that was missing. Not, how great it was to take Harry for his first trip. So, as soon as I arrived home, I picked up the phone and rang the theatre. The evening performance was going on but a duty manager from the theatre spoke to me on the phone and explained that the show we had seen was not the usual show and she was sorry that the decision had to be made with running the show minus several elements because of the technical issues. She passed on an email address for me to write to and as soon as I finished speaking to her I got down to composing the email about our experience.
You are probably wondering why I bothered to write the email in the first place. It wasn’t to cause trouble, I wasn’t to get anyone sacked, It wasn’t event to try and get free stuff. I was purely the fact that I had been to see a Disney show and for probably the first time in my life I left disappointed. It was more the worry and concern that Disney weren’t keeping their standards up and I wanted to let them know. It probably sounds weird, I know, but we all know that Disney fans aren’t all wired correctly! It was New Year’s Day so I didn’t expect any sort of reply for the next few days, but how wrong I was!
The following day, around 5.30pm my phone rang. I was in the car with the whole family on the way back from another fun packed day out. His name was Richard and he was dining from Disney Theatrical Productions. Richard apologised for the experience we had the previous day and wanted us to know that decisions like the one the show took the day before are not taken lightly. He was brilliant. We all listen intently and he explained that he didn’t want our experience of the Lion King to be a disappointing one and here, is where The Disney Company come in to their own! Richard explained how he wanted to invite us back to see the show again as their guests. Most companies wouldn’t even consider that as an option but Richard still hadn’t finished. He continued to explain that after the performance, we would be allowed to go backstage for a tour and meet some of the cast. You can imagine, to me as a massive Disney fan this is something that people can only dream about but to the little boy sat in the back of the car, listening to the fact he’s going to be able to meet the characters from the play he saw the other day, his face lit up.
Once again, The Disney Company prove just why they are so good at what they do. Many would read an email and shrug it off or come back with the generic health and safety email fobbing you off as another paying customer, but not Disney. Here, someone has taken the time to read the email and respond in a very detailed and personal manner and has gone above and beyond to met the expectations of their guests and fans. For years I have heard of other people’s stories about fantastic things Disney have done for them but I can now say it has truly happened to me. I’m pleased to say the magic of Disney is still alive and kicking in the UK and, Richard, if you happen to be reading this, you are a huge part of it. I cannot wait to visit the Lyceum again in the near future and watch the spectacle that is The Lion King again and this time get to see just how the magic is created afterwards.