Lesson On Waiting from Disney

Last month, I took my kids to Disney World. When you go to Disney, there’s a certain amount of waiting that you expect to do. Some rides and attractions are longer than others, but I find all to be worth the wait.

One of the new attractions this year at Epcot is Frozen Ever After, a ride based on the movie. Since it is one of the most popular Disney movies of all time, the ride typically has lines exceeding an hour. In fact, the wait time the first week was over five hours!  

All Disney attractions have an expected wait time, accessible both at the start of the line and on their app. They manage expectations well. My youngest daughter is a huge Frozen fan, so this ride was our first stop upon arrival at the park. Our wait was expected to be 60 minutes and since she’s five-years old and sometimes the boss of the family, we jumped on the line.

The line snaked within a building that was filled with interesting things to look at, all Frozen related. While there was a wait for the ride, the attraction started while we waited on line. At one point, you entered a house with a very cool video featuring Olaf, and the line moved almost continuously. No one minded the wait and it turned out to be less than an hour.

Leasing office space involves a lot of waiting for both sides. We get an inquiry for space and wait for the showing; after the showing, we wait for feedback and/or an RFP; the tenant side then waits for a proposal, a test fit, and other information; the landlord side then waits for a counterproposal, hoping they are still in the mix. Once the business terms are agreed upon, we wait for the attorneys to draft the lease and then provide comments back and forth. Once the lease is signed, we wait for plans to be completed and then the dreaded permit process. Finally, when the permit is in hand, we wait for the contractors to build the space, the furniture and IT vendors to do their job and then once that is all done, the tenant can move in.

Tom Petty said it so simply, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

But imagine if during this process, we all used the Disney approach, and I don’t mean entertainment while waiting. What if both sides set clear expectations at the beginning of the process, provided feedback during the process, and moved quickly when possible? What if you felt like you were making progress every day? It would be a much better experience for both sides, right?

Of course, things can go wrong, even at Disney. When we returned the last day of our trip for one last ride on Frozen Ever After, we waited in line for 40 minutes before they announced that they were closing the ride temporarily to fix something. Without prompting, they offered solutions: we could wait, although they weren’t sure how long, or they could give us Fast Pass coupons which would allow us to bypass most of the line if we wanted to return later.

We opted for the Fast Pass, went to other rides, returned later when it was fixed, and ultimately waited less than 10 minutes.

If the waiting is the hardest part, do updates and clear expectations make it better? Of course. When things go wrong, does being proactive and offering solutions help? Yes! I am typing this on a Wednesday morning. I was promised by a broker on the other side of an important deal I am working on that I would have an update by Monday afternoon. Do you think I am anxious?

Tom Petty was right, but we can all do things to make the waiting a little less painful.