Post date: Feb 23, 2018 4:52:44 PM

Mickey's 4th Commandment: Use a Wienie!

In just over a month I'll be presenting my show, Design like Disney, at the California Council for the Social Studies Conference in San Diego, CA. This has further driven my focus on, and love of, Disney Imagineering and the techniques they use to engage their guests.

One of my favorite of their 10 Commandments is "use a wienie!" The story goes that Walt came up with this term while explaining how to lead people through an experience. Apparently, he used hot dog wienies on stage to guide animals around. We can do it with people!

The most famous is Sleeping Beauty's castle in the center of Disneyland. You can barely see it before you enter the park then it magically appears at the end of Main Street beckoning you to go forward. You have to see it up close!

On my last trip to Disneyland I went out of my way to look for wienies and the way the Imagineers drew attention to specific information in the park. The one that stood out most to me was while waiting in line for Soarin' Over the World at California Adventure.

I was the last person in my "plane" which gave me a great view of the crowd. We stood there waiting for a couple minutes. People chatted, kids played on phones - it was definitely noisy. I wish I had taken a picture before the video started at all as this one doesn't quite do it justice but trust me, they weren't paying any attention to the screen.From the pic below you can see people are looking every which way doing their own thing. A few heads have turned toward the screen which just switched from a looped title slide to an actor saying "Hullo!"


There's the wienie! The video drew the attention of everyone in line immediately. The chatting stopped, the phones went dark. Everyone watched the screen. (Well, except me of course, I was watching the magic of the Imagineers!)


This is the picture just seconds after the video started. Full attention. The video proceeded to give the ride safety instructions - something Disney wanted to be sure everyone heard. Without the wienie most people would not have heard it. The video drew their attention.

How do we draw attention in our classrooms?

Well, for one, we can use video too!

Video intros do a great job of making students excited to learn. This is my intro for my modified DBQ Where Am I? We just did this earlier this week and, as usual, the students couldn't wait to start it. One of my kids who rarely does his work commented "this is going to be awesome!" right after the video ended.

Wienies in the classroom can take many forms. In Teach like a Pirate Dave Burgess calls these hooks. Even Madeline Hunter knew about Wienies calling them the Anticipatory Set. They can be as simple as a thought-provoking bellwork question on the board or a clever use of clipart on a worksheet. They can be more elaborate like coming to class in costume or placing a mystery box in front of the room.

You may not be able to build a full scale castle in your classroom or even a 1/3rd scale mountain like the Matterhorn but you can create wienies. Our kids can be led to greater and greater experiences if we can follow this great commandment.

If you want to learn more, register for CCSS18 here and then add Design Like Disney to you schedule!