Marketing magic: Disney speaker talks Walt’s vision

By Tiffany Huffman

[email protected]

Jim Alessandro, the senior vice president of marketing and sales strategy at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, outlined the cold, hard facts behind the happiest place on Earth in the “Walt Disney: A Visionary Marketer” lecture on Thursday.

Alessandro, who has worked with Disney for 22 years, described marketing as understanding the needs of consumers and providing the product or service that meets their needs. The Disney experience, he said, is defined by the way guests are treated and how they feel.

Alessandro used promotional videos to explain “the Disney experience” to a crowd of marketing, integrated strategic communication and journalism students, among others.

“They’re coming because of an integrity that we’ve established over years,” Walter Elias “Walt” Disney said in one of the films.

Walt Disney created the character Mickey Mouse in 1928 and then followed with the first animated film, Snow White. But Walt Disney became bored with only being able to read, hear or watch stories, Alessandro said, and wanted to create a new way of storytelling.

The theme parks evolved from this idea.

Disneyland, his first effort, grew rapidly. According to the presentation, Walt Disney began to feel constrained, then found a large amount of land in Florida where he could fit all his ideas. Walt named this area Walt Disney World.

Only one-third of the 44-acre complex has been developed, Alessandro said.

“Disneyland can fit into a parking lot at Disney World,” he said.

Disney has since grown and developed new businesses apart from theme parks. The Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney are new ventures that came after the theme parks, Alessandro said.

Walt Disney also created the imagineers, a group of engineers, artists, writers and storytellers who bring his dream of a new way of storytelling to life at the Disney theme parks.

Journalism freshman and Kentucky Kernel photographer Hunter Mitchell and integrated strategic communication freshman Morgan P’Pool agreed that their favorite part of the lecture was the use of the videos.

“When I see things I don’t like, I start thinking, ‘Why do they have to be like this, and how can I improve them?’” Walt Disney said in a video.