6 Ways You Can Apply Disney’s Magic TODAY To Elevate Your Indoor Playground Business


You may have noticed that I’ve been covering some HEAVY topics on the Profitable Play Podcast lately.

We’ve talked about regulating our nervous systems to prevent a lot of the health issues brought about by chronic stress which is unfortunately not uncommon for indoor playground owners. 

We’ve talked about handling conflict with customers and within our own teams, and most recently we’ve talked about navigating divorce as a business owner. So, like I said, let’s lighten it up a bit today with today’s article and podcast topic, shall we?

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I recently got back from a Disney trip with my husband and kiddos- and this was our second trip there together as a family. And while our first trip was kind of a whirlwind and we spent the entire time just kind of getting our bearings, this most recent trip was a bit more relaxed and I was able to really take everything in.

And while I am nowhere near what I would consider a “Disney Adult” or a Disney superfan, I was blown away each visit by some of the things I observed both inside of the parks and at the various hotel and resort properties we stayed at and visited.

And because I am always thinking about the indoor play industry that is SO near and dear to my heart, of course I couldn’t help but look at everything through the lens of an indoor playground owner. 

And while Disney, of course, is a multi-billion dollar company with resources we as small business owners cannot even dream of (yet)-- there are absolutely ways we can take some cues from Mickey and company and bring a little of that Disney magic to our businesses.

And as you may have noticed from the title of this srticle, today I am going to focus on the really realistic things you can begin to do or perhaps enhance RIGHT NOW – I realize that if we are really dreaming big this list would be literally miles long– and to be honest, it’s quite daunting to think about. So let’s start practical here and then you can of course dream as far and wide as your heart desires. 

So without further ado, here are 6 cards you can borrow from Disney’s deck to elevate your indoor playground business and further differentiate yourself from your competitors.


1) Attention to Detail

If you’re a Disney fan, you know I had to start here. Disney parks are famed for their immersive environments, where every element is carefully crafted to fit a theme. And I was really impressed with how almost EVERYTHING inside of the parks was on-theme… from the snacks to the garbage cans to the waiting areas. Everywhere you looked, you couldn’t help but notice a little bit of magic. 

So let’s talk about how we can emulate that attention to detail in our own business. And I am going to break this one down into two parts.

First, let’s talk about an immersive theme. If you’ve chosen a theme  for your playground, even a loose one, ensure all elements—decor, play structures, language, signage—align with this theme. This creates a more engaging and immersive experience for children and parents alike.

So for example my location's name was Climbing Vines, and it was village and nature inspired which you could see throughout the play area. There were playhouses, a little play boat in a mock pond– you get the idea. And It was all enclosed with a white picket fence with a sign that said “Vines Village”. And we tried to incorporate this same theme throughout all of our offerings. 

We called our birthday party packages things like “The Morning Glory”, “The De-Vine”, the “Grow-Your-Own”-- all indicative of what the package was all about, but also all fitting that same theme. 

Our signs all had vines wrapped around them. The birthday invites we gave out had a cartoon rendering of our village with our brand colors.

You get the idea. And there are SO many great examples of this– so feel free to check out the playlist on my Play Cafe Academy YouTube channel called “tours”-- it’s full of theme inspo.

While village and nature seems to be quite popular, there are also themes you can run with like space, fairy tales, dinosaurs, zoo or safari animals, underwater life, etc.

And if you DON’T have a strong theme yet- you can start to create one. I’d start by asking yourself things like, “what stands out about my place?”, “what makes it different or unique from other play spaces?”, and finally, “what do my customers always remark on?”

For example, I have an interview coming out soon with Alyssa Fox who is the owner of Wiggle and Play in Wisconsin. And her main focus is the PARENTS of kiddos who visit. Her membership welcome box is filled with goodies for parents. Her coffee bar was made with parents in mind. She has classes focused on- you guessed it, parents. 

So whether you have an actual visual theme to your space or just a priority focus– ask yourself how you can really weave that into every single thing you do or put out there. Not only will this increase your businesses brand recognition, it will create a more elevated and memorable experience for every single person who walks through your door.

Now the second part of the “attention to detail” concept I want to focus on is cleanliness. Disney parks are known for their cleanliness, which significantly enhances the guest experience. Like for example, NEVER having an overflowing or stinky garbage can because of their innovative garbage chute system. Implementing a strict cleaning and maintenance schedule in your indoor playground ensures safety and comfort for your guests– to the point where you can become known for it.

So establish frequent cleaning routines, especially in high-touch areas like play structures and seating. And regularly inspect and maintain equipment to prevent accidents and ensure everything is in top working condition.

And SHARE all of the things you’re doing on social media. Disney didn’t become famous for their cleanliness by accident. They got people talking about it. And to get people talking about it, they need to know IT exists.

So allow people to see your staff maintaining a clean space for them, and whatever happens behind the scenes, share! If you have a deep clean done once per month, let people know! If you have a fogger come with an antimicrobial spray to ensure all germs are zapped- shout it from the rooftops! If you just invested money in a Pluie changing table because it’s self-cleaning and is safer for your guests- post all about it and video the install! If you use a carefully chosen cleaning agent that’s safe for babies and small children, you guessed it– don’t keep it to yourself.

Post videos, share blogs, add it to the FAQ page of your website– so it’s made abundantly clear for anyone looking but also so you and your team have something clear to reference if you’re ever asked about your procedures. Don’t make this part of your business a black box. I know you work hard on keeping a clean and safe space, but other people may not. So tell them!


2) Empowering Your Team

Disney’s “cast members” (cough cough, another theme moment) are so clearly trained to keep guests feeling magical, that you can’t help but notice. 

They undoubtedly have to deal with some of the worst behaved tourists and travelers known to man, but Disney has invested time and energy into ensuring they feel confident in handling these interactions.

From providing them with role-playing examples to scripts to conflict training- it’s clear that Disney goes above and beyond in this way.

And what I loved was that most cast members we observed were also clearly empowered to “create magic”. And this is actually a term that one of my friends who is a cast member had to fill me in on. Basically, magical moments are a spur of the moment act of kindness between cast members and the guests.

These can be done in response to a conflict or issue, or just because. For example we got stuck on the Tower of Terror. And for my autistic 7 year old who was REALLY unsure about this ride to begin with– it was quite actually a NIGHTMARE scenario. 

While we were stuck, cast members were observing us from their security system, and even when the ride was fixed, could clearly see that NO– we did not want to continue the ride. So someone came in and whisked us off very respectfully, and immediately offered us lightning lans passes for a different ride– even though we did not complain at all.

The cast member had a tablet and was able to add these to our magic bands within seconds, and my son therefore quickly recovered and we had an amazing day. At any other theme park- this could have meant an absolute disaster- but the cast members were so equipped to handle any situation WITHOUT having to go through a whole ordeal or speak to a manager etc etc– that they completely saved the day.

In episode 17 of my podcast I shared a list of 15 random things you should always have on hand as an indoor playground owner– so if you’re looking for a quick way to implement this- that’s a good place to start.

And make sure your team understands that these items are at their disposal to use at their discretion.

Not only will this give your guests an experience they will rave about– your team will feel MUCH more confident and empowered when interacting with customers day-to-day. So where they may have ignored a clearly sick or upset child in the past because they just didn’t know what to do or say– leaving all other customers to be negatively impacted- they can now step in and save someone’s day. And that’s a beautiful thing all around.


3) Celebrating Big Milestones

There are many ways Disney helps you celebrate big milestones like getting engaged or having a birthday– from big to small.

From room upgrades and ready-to-serve birthday cakes available at most restaurants to special themed gifts in the gift shops- it’s easy to make anything extra special while at Disney.

And it’s nice that they also have free, more accessible ways to celebrate. For example, if you’re celebrating something or if it’s your first trip to Disney, you can ask for a pin where a cast member will write in whatever you’re celebrating.

And ALL cast members are trained to notice these buttons. So every time you get on a ride, every time you do a meet and greet, every time you interact with any cast member- you can expect a “welcome to Disney” or “happy birthday”- or whatever.

It doesn’t cost a lot for Disney to do this, but it surely creates countless smiles and core memories per day.

One easy way we implemented this was placing a child’s name on our TV with a themed birthday message of their choice, not just if they had a party at our place, but even if they just came to play on their actual birthday.

In episode 41 of the Profitable Play Podcast I go into detail about this “special birthday child” experience, and it’s one you can also start impending right away.


4) Focusing On The Little Moments

I love that, along with celebrating big milestones, Disney puts an emphasis on the little moments too. Sprinkling pixie dust is a great example of this. 

When a Disney cast member gives a guest a small gift or treat, it's called "pixie dusting". And this can also be a literal term. For example, at Sir Mickey's merchandise location in Fantasyland, guests can ask a cast member for "pixie dust" and the cast member will sprinkle it in the guest's hair. The cast member may also say something like, "With faith, trust, and pixie dust, may all your dreams and wishes come true".

You can implement this in a small way, even without getting glitter all over your floors, by offering kiddos stickers or a small treat when they leave for the day, to end their experience on a positive note, even if they had a bit of a hard time leaving, which is very common.

In episode 247 I talk about how you can use your excess or leftover party supplies to create some of those fun and magical moments, so again, this is something you can begin to do, even with things you already have on hand.


5) Rotating Activities and Themes

Something I talk a lot about on this podcast is rotating toys and play areas and creating special holiday or themed events, to reinvigorate even your most regular customer.

Whether you have a play house that you change up from time to time, or you have a seasonal sensory table like Alera from Project Play does– Disney really shows us the importance of switching it up and drawing people in for their new events and attractions.

If you don’t have a flex play house or sensory table, start small by introducing seasonal decorations and activities to keep the environment fresh and engaging. 

For example, a winter wonderland theme during the holidays with a small craft set up using leftover supplies. Or a photo backdrop where people can take pictures.

You can also host special events such as character visits, themed parties, or interactive workshops to attract new visitors and retain regulars.

If your business is feeling a bit stale– ask yourself what big things are coming up on the calendar, and how you can lean into that season or holiday. 

For example, September was a CRAZY slow month for us, but we live in a BIG football town. So we would advertise open party slots as available for NFL watch parties. 

Now I have an entire youtube video on how we priced and promoted this, but it brought people in and gave them a great experience in a way they may not have even thought of or expected. And it gave us some MUCH needed revenue during our slow season. So, win-win.


6) Community Engagement

Disney engages with the community through outreach and social responsibility initiatives. Building a community around your playground can foster loyalty and positive word-of-mouth:

So collaborate with local businesses and organizations to host joint events or offer special promotions. Or partner with them to serve things you otherwise wouldn’t normally be able to– like pastries or treats. 

You can also engage in community service or charitable activities, showing that your playground is committed to giving back. And if you’re looking for inspiration in this area, I dedicated Profitable Play podcast episode 227 to it.


By drawing inspiration from Disney, indoor playground owners can infuse their businesses with the magic that has captivated millions worldwide. Implementing immersive themes, exceptional customer service, meticulous attention to detail, consistent branding, innovative offerings, and engaging storytelling can set your playground apart from competitors. These strategies, while rooted in Disney’s extensive resources and experience, are scalable and adaptable to fit any budget and business size.

Remember, the goal is not to replicate Disney but to capture the essence of what makes the Disney experience unforgettable. By focusing on these practical, actionable strategies, you can create a unique and enchanting environment that delights your young guests and their families, fostering loyalty and driving growth.

As you integrate these elements into your business, watch as your playground transforms into a magical destination where dreams come true and memories are made. So, take a page from Mickey’s book and start creating your own brand of magic today!



50% Complete

Can I Send You My NEW Free 2024 "What's Working In The Indoor Play Industry" Guide?

I asked 11 Play Cafe Academy and Play Maker Society members what is working RIGHT NOW in their businesses to attract customers and grow sales. I want to send you their answers in my FREE newly updated 2024 "What's Working" Guide!