How do the exhibits relate to or express organizational culture at WDC?

This case was prepared by Gerry Yemen, Senior Researcher, and Lynn A. Isabella, Associate Professor of Business Administration. Data were gathered from public sources and, unless cited, were based on one of the author’s notes and experiences as a training participant at the Disney Institute in February 2012, and as a family visitor to a resort. The case was written as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Copyright © 2013 by the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation, Charlottesville, VA. All rights reserved. To order copies, send an e-mail to No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of the Darden School Foundation.

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF HUMAN RESOURCES AT DISNEY You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.

—Walt Disney1

Five-year-old Oliver wanted to see the animals during his overnight stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was early evening, too late to get in the park, so his grandmother took him to a scenic overlook at the back of the lobby. As Oliver walked around, there were no animals to be seen, only clusters of trees, some grasses, and dirt trails below the overlook. Oliver’s grandmother could sense his disappointment. This was Oliver’s first visit to a place that was supposed to enchant children, so parents or grandparents would bring them back. Expectations were sky-high. Once Upon a Time: Disney’s Heritage and Traditions

I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing: that it was all started by a mouse. —Walt Disney2

The mouse that started it all was a character idea born out of desperation. Walt’s original character, Oswald the Rabbit, for which he had just signed a contract for an animated series, was

1 “Walt Disney Quotes,”, (accessed May 28, 2013).

2 “Top 10 Walt Disney Quotes,”, quotes/ (accessed May 28, 2013).

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