Don’t start here. Back that mouse up.

For a long time now, I’ve been telling you that details matter.  It matters that your facility is clean.  It matters that there’s toilet paper on the roll.  It matters that what’s announced from the stage is communicated to volunteers.

But Disney takes that a step further and teaches us that unseen details matter, too.

Now when I say “unseen,” I don’t mean that nobody notices them.  I don’t mean that they’re invisible.  I mean that they are the smallish, insignificant, unnecessary things that – if you notice them – create some real “wow” moments.  They are the things that Disney’s Imagineers didn’t have to take the time to do, but because they did, you know that the overall experience is going to be a great one.

Here are just a few of my favorite “unseen” details…

  • Look down.  It’s rare to find a spot of ground that doesn’t have some meaning behind it.  That red-bordered pavement on Main Street U.S.A.? That’s there to signify the red carpet that’s been rolled out for you, the guest.  The brown gravel embedded in the pavement in Liberty Square? That’s supposed to look like the open sewers that would have been very present in colonial America.  The entry way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom? You can’t tell it from where you stand, but a quick Google Earth image will reveal that you’re standing on a massive tree-like mural leading to the park’s centerpiece, the Tree of Life.
  • Look up.  Nearly every shop window on Main Street U.S.A. is a tribute to a Disney Imagineer or Disney Legend.  Those folks were turned into “shopkeepers” and given roles to commemorate the influence they had on the park’s design and construction.
  • Listen.  You’re likely to hear a conversation from an upstairs room or a tap dance lesson in the next building or some grand soundtrack that signals the show that you’re a part of.  There’s hardly a spot in Walt Disney World’s parks that doesn’t have some sort of piped in sound effects.  You may not notice it over the noise of the crowd, but it’s there.
  • Look again.  Disney’s architecture is legendary, and you’re likely to find a surprise here and there.  In Sir Mickey’s shop in the Magic Kingdom, for example, you’ll see the giant ripping off the roof to catch Mickey as he heads down the beanstalk.  I don’t care who you are (unless you’re the random dude who thought I was taking a picture of him…settle down, random dude), that’s cool.

But perhaps one of my favorite unseen details has to do with something that I’ve never seen and probably never will.  The Walt Disney World Casting Center is the building where people go to apply and interview for positions with the Disney company.  The place is intentionally designed to be a meandering trip through Disney history.  The entry doorknobs are patterned after the knobs in Alice in Wonderland. The trip from the front door to the receptionists’ desk is intentionally long and winding (rabbit hole, anyone?), taking you past grand scenes from Disney films through the decades.  Project director Tim Johnson quoted architect Bob Stern as saying, “…you enter on the ground floor, and the first time you can ask for a job is at the other end of a hall on the second floor…Let them wander.  Let them get a taste of Disney before they get there.”

So what does all of this have to do with the church?  Unseen details really do matter.  The stuff we do from Monday through Friday has a direct impact on what happens here on the weekends.  The way we plan, the way we train, the way we clean and prepare and rehearse and study and pray…all of those things factor into the weekend experience.  Our weekday game plan affects our weekend game face. When we ignore the details that we think no one will ever see…they most certainly do.  They see our shoddy prep work, they see our inattention to detail, and their overall experience suffers.

What unseen details can you think of?


Other posts in this series: