The Magic of Real Illusion

Written by Terry Elston

disneyland photo night

Peter Trenholme relates the Disney experience to the NLP knowledge he has.

I have been to Disney’s Magic Kingdom more times than I would like to admit.

The place fascinates me; the design, the detail, the attractions, the business model, the whole experience; which has been painstakingly created and maintained.

I pay particular attention to the other visitors, young, in families, older, teenagers, and couples without children. Especially how many are transformed as they enter and experience ‘The Magic Kingdom’. Given that the ‘cynic’ would say that the Park is a well-constructed shop – how come so many of its visitors become completely immersed in the experience as if they were entering an alternate world?

One, by the way, where dreams can come true!!

Here’s a few thoughts based on the ideas drawn from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).

mad hatter pictureI think the first thing to note is how, as you enter the Park, Disney manages to suspend your current reality and replace it with a ‘Disney reality’. You leave your car, bus, taxi about a mile and a half away from the Park and travel by monorail or ferry boat across the ‘Seven Seas Lagoon’ to the Park entrance.

A ‘tranceformation’ indeed!

Throughout your journey you are prised from current reality and immersed in a world full of costume, colour, fantasy, magic and Disney – a preparation for things to come.

As you enter the Park you are engaged through all five of your sensory predicates. In NLP the sensory predicates are the way we interpret external events, how we perceive our world.

Visual – Colour, shape, castles, balloons, parades, characters, fireworks
Auditory – Bands, piped music (all through the park), voice snippets of Disney characters
Olfactory – Smells, sweet making shops, toffee apples, cinnamon, scented flowers, food
Kinaesthetic – From the general movement through the areas to the feelings as you encounter one strong memory set after another
Gustatory – taste, the food and sweets and cakes

In short, the experience is an assault on your sensory preferences which you cannot hope to win. If the Visuals don’t get you the sounds will, if the smells don’t work for you the feelings will. And the taste, oh the taste!!

NLP talks about how we use our values, beliefs and memories to make decisions.

Now… when I see the Peter Pan ride at Disney I also see (and feel) my sister reading the book to me when I was 4 or 5 years old… the external event fires off a memory that is linked to a value and a belief.

Times that by maybe 1,000 …. The small child waiting for a Winnie the Pooh autograph is not thinking “stranger in a cuddly suit”.

The 50 year old high fiving ‘Mickey’ (another stranger in suit!!) is immersed in a memory, belief and value that they remember from their childhood.

disneyland fireworksThe crowds who cheer in hope and excitement as ‘Tinkerbell’ rides the zip wire (sorry, flies) to open the nightly fireworks. The magic of Disney is that the experience is designed to draw on all these sensory systems, beliefs, values and memories. The cynic would say to encourage you to spend all your money in the cleverly placed shops and vendors…

Me, I believe in the magic – and I can fly!!

Peter Trenholme Peter@prtsolutions.co.uk – 5/1/15

The Magic of Real Illusion