Stop Optimizing for Trash Cans

Disney is generally held as an exemplar of experience design. For an example of how experiences build on services which build on systems, dig into the Wired archives and read Hack the Magic, the exclusive underground tour of Disney World.

From a system point of view, it makes sense for most cities to place trash cans at intersections between paths, so the trash cans serve traffic in two directions. That cuts down on the number of trash cans. But at Walt Disney World, a decorative trash can is never more than 25 paces away from any spot in the park. They’re always within view. It’s more about optimizing for tidyness than optimizing for trash cans. An artificially clean park is part of the experience. Ubiquitous trash cans and the network of cast members who clean up after guests are examples of systems and services that support that experience.

For more on the inner workings of Disney, check out the book Inside the Mouse: The Project on Disney.

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