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What User Experience Designers Can Learn from Walt Disney World

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› What User Experience Designers Can Learn from Walt Disney World
  • Published on March 17, 2015

It might seem that the responsibilities of UX Designers and vacationers at Walt Disney World might be worlds apart. After all, what could designing an application or website have in common with visiting an amusement park? As it turns out, there’s a great deal.

Walt Disney World recently undertook a major initiative to remove friction points from users’ visits to their parks. Things like waiting in long lines for rides, needing to find a place to eat, and waiting for a spot in a restaurant were too often creating stress for users.

Disney sought to better understanding how users travel through their parks, where they go, what they avoid, and where their experience becomes unpleasant. Much the way a UX Designer looks at a user flow, and seeks to understand how an app or website might cause a bottleneck, Disney looked to understand the items in a visit that didn’t contribute to the user experience the customer was seeking.

This all comes down to Disney understanding what they are attempting to be best at delivering, and remaining true to this. User experience designers creating websites and apps should be seeking to understand what the website or app is supposed to be best at delivering, and continually refine their focus on this. In Disney’s case, they didn’t stop with the amusement part that was built more than two decades ago, they looked at the experience from the time a guest enters the park, through every experience they have during their time within the Walt Disney World properties, including rides, restaurants, shopping.

In an effort to improve the entire experience, Disney has developed a system that allows visitors, among other things, to reserve rides before entering the park and pre-order food at sit-down restaurants. Disney has invested $1 Billion in a system known as the Disney MagicBand that allows for these things to occur, and improves the user experience of their guests. Sent in advance and worn by visitors on their wrists, the system allows visitors to have specified times to enjoy rides, without needing to wait in especially long lines, or rush to the ride to receive a ticket to return at a specific time. The visit is pre-planned. Upon arrival at a specific restaurant, the host knows the visitors name, the food order is automatically placed, and using triangulation technology, the food is delivered to the guests at whatever table they select.

User experience designers should always be looking to remove friction points, just as Walt Disney World worked to improve the experience of their visitors. It’s these type of exercises that are covered in the user experience courses at American Graphics Institute.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.