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Built for Service Excellence

Hello, my name is James I can’t wait to share with you some of my thoughts and education throughout my years of industry experience. I worked for the Disney Co. in some capacity for 12 years. In that time, I was “built” with the knowledge that you, as customers who attend Disney Parks and Resorts, find so amazingly awesome. Through these series of articles, I will go over examples of service excellence and how as an employee of the Disney Co. I was given tools to understand just how simple it really can be to service our customers with excellence.

First and most importantly we must go over the Lingo! Terminology! The body of terms used with a particular, technical application in a subject of study, theory, profession, etc., as defined by These are the words that we used as employees to make the “magic” real. Let’s start there: Magic! As an employee we could define magic in so many ways because, for our customers, magic could be represented in so many different experiences. Magic could be, “I dropped my Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar and out of nowhere there was a Magic Kingdom employee presenting me with a new one even before I had the chance to lose my quackers like Donald Duck. (See what I did there?) Magic can also be, “I was selected out of the crowd to direct the Dapper Dans on Main Street and everyone cheered for ME after the song was over!”

Magic can also be as simple as: I just got to the hotel after switching planes twice with my family of five after being delayed in Atlanta for four hours and then the rental car company screwed up my reservation. I walked down to the Victoria Falls Lounge to get a drink and the bartender could obviously tell it’s been a rough day and I’m telling myself this vacation is going to be miserable if this is how it is going to start. The bartender tells me his name and asks for my name and what I like to drink but, from what I can see on draft, they don’t have it because it’s all beers from another country. The bartender suggests something based on what I told him I drink at home. He smiles and says, “If you don’t like it, no problem, I have another option you may like.” As he cleans the bar, the bartender asks if we just arrived today and listens to me carry on about our terrible experience just getting here. The bartender sympathizes with me but also says, “But I promise you it is all worth it.” The bartender drops what he is doing and decides to stir the conversation towards what we have planned for the vacation and now is making me feel better as he is giving me pointers on how to beat lines, where to dine and what shows I need to see. A real pro to say the least. But then it hits me. How does this bartender know so much about all these areas? We end our conversation with him calling me by my first name and saying, “Hope I see you tomorrow and have a magical time.”

Magic can be as simple as calming a parent down after a rough day of travel and just being there to listen. Or providing an ice cream for a customer because no amazing vacation should be at the cost of a dropped treat. Or it can be as big as a child being selected out of the thousands in attendance to conduct a band that has performed at Disney for years. What is the secret to magic? It’s simple: Awareness. Being aware of your interactions, being aware of the people standing in front of you, being aware of events happening around you. To add that little bit of pixie dust as we would say at Disney: Care about what you do. It makes it just that much better. But being aware, in my mind, is truly the key to delivering service excellence. Or, at Disney, we called it Magic.

Throughout my years of entertaining, serving and leading, Disney has provided the teachings and learnings I fall back on. My journey recently has brought me to Craft Culinary Concepts. One of the first things that was brought up to me in my interview process was Craft’s use of the Disney Institute. The training that the Institute has provided the Craft locations is apparent.

University of Phoenix Stadium continues to be a competitor in the Voice of the Fan survey that ranks the game day experience of all 32 NFL teams. Customers have raved on TripAdvisor how they have dined for years at the Ocotillo Café within the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. With the enhancements to the location itself and focusing on local & sustainable ingredients for the menu, the only thing that can make it better is the service. Nikki, a server, was recognized for being educational on the indigenous ingredients and then more than welcoming by having the manager, Stacey, recognize the diners and thanking them once again for coming by. I will continue to highlight how our locations continue to utilize the Institute’s trainings in comparison to my learning from the mouse himself. Join me as we continue to understand that Service Excellence can be easily taught and easily accomplished.


Authors Bio:

James McQuade has 15 years of hospitality & entertainment experience in a wide array of styles.

He started his career as a part of Darden working within the restaurant operations. From there, he started with the Walt Disney Co. working his way up to Guest Service Manager. While working with Disney, James took part in the Disney Institute training classes focusing on Hospitality Management, Operational Leadership, and Marketing. James also earned sommelier certification with working with the Disney Co. James had the opportunity to move home to Arizona and purchase an insurance agency and work along side with his father. After a couple years out of the hospitality industry, James sold the insurance agency to his father and got back into the hospitality and entertainment business once again. He accepted a General Manager position for Fun Brands LLC. Within 8 months, he was promoted to Area Manager for the southwest region as the company continued to grow. James joined Craft Culinary Concepts in October 2017 as our newest general manager. James attended the School of Hotel & Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University.


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