6 Lessons from Disney to Make Your Purim Carnival a Success

Purim CarnivalBy Michelle Shapiro Abraham

Are your teens getting ready to lead the Purim Carnival at your synagogue? We know that it takes more than just fun and games to make the program a success. Here is some wisdom from the Disney Institute to share with your teens and elevate your carnival with a bit of audacious hospitality!

Disney is known throughout the world for creating a warm, welcoming and fun environment. Their easy ideas for customer service are a great way to show audacious hospitality and create magical Purim memories for all! (No pixie dust required.)

Look in the mirror before going on stage

At Disney: There is a mirror for cast members (employees) to look in before they head out on stage (into the park) reminding them to smile and remember that the show depends on them.

At your Purim Carnival: Take the moment before the families come to smile and get excited about the day. Remember that YOU have the power to make this the best day ever for your community!

Turn around misfortune

At Disney: Cast members have “free popcorn” coupons to give to children who drop their popcorn. The cast members take misfortune and turn it around to create magical moments!

At Your Purim Carnival: Is a little girl in tears because she dropped her popcorn? A little boy having a tantrum because he lost the game? Think about how you can save the day with a fresh popcorn or a second try! Focus on what’s most important – that everyone has a good time.

When does the three o’clock parade begin? 

At Disney: The most common asked questions by guests is “When does the three o’clock parade begin?” These guests aren’t really asking what time the parade starts. They’re concerned about not being able to see it, or missing it because they have to use the bathroom, etc. The best cast members know to offer helpful and proactive advice: “You’re in luck! It should be passing by here in 5 minutes. Would you like me to help you find a great spot to watch?

At Your Purim Carnival: Even if the question is absurd or annoying, answer with a happy, helpful response. People may be new to your building and really not know where the bathroom is or perhaps missed the announcement that you need to buy your game tickets in advance. Breathe, smile, and try your best to answer the question in a helpful way!

Fulfilling unique needs

At Disney: Cast members found that guests with disabilities were often embarrassed because they had to constantly remind staff of their needs. Disney created Special Assistance passes and provided their cast with a wide variety of training so that they were able to identify and fulfill the needs of guests with disabilities without invasive questions.

At Your Purim Carnival: Remember that there may be kids with special needs that you don’t know about. Some special needs you can see, but others impact behavior or attitude. Be understanding, supportive, and friendly to everyone. You never know how much a smile can help someone feel at ease!

The four keys

At Disney: The Four Keys are at the heart of everything Disney Cast Members do: safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. You need all of the keys. They work together to help cast members know how to handle difficult situations and remind them how to provide the best possible customer service.

At Your Purim Carnival: The four keys are the same! Create an amazing experience for everyone by remembering to always keep kids safe, be courteous, and be efficient. Remember, you are helping create the magic of the “show.”

End the experience strong

At Disney: They call the evening fireworks the “goodnight kiss.” It is a chance to end the day with a “bang.” They also have created strategies to help people to find their cars at the end of the day so that even heading home is smooth and magical.

At your Purim Carnival: Think about not only saying “hello and welcome!” but also “goodbye and have a great day.” Hand each child a hamantashen as they leave, or just stand at the door and thank them for coming. A little sweetness at the end of the day can help people view the entire experience as positive and fun.

Michelle Shapiro Abraham is the director of program development for the URJ Campaign for Youth Engagement.

Cross-posted on URJ’s Inside Leadership Blog