Disney World—Spring Break or General Honors 301? How about Both!

This is what 8 WIU students found out—a trip to Disney World can be fun, very informative and complete your credits for General Honors 301!

disney group

Sitting inside a 'car' table in front of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant, Walt Disney World. Front L-R: Layne Beuseling, Eric Haimann Middle L-R: Allison Bianchini, Courtney Cluney, Sierra Horras Back L-R: Jeff Liles, Ryan Ashby, Jordan Liles

The official course description:
This course is an in-depth examination of communication in and about the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Specifically, the course will examine nonverbal communication in the theme parks, organizational communication utilized by the company, and computer-mediated-communication revolving around Walt Disney World. Each unit will provide a basic introduction of a communication concept/area which will then be applied using examples from Walt Disney World. The class will meet for the first eight weeks of the semester and over spring break will visit Walt Disney World where they will immerse themselves in the culture of the theme parks and resorts.

According to instructor, David Zanolla, in the Centennial Honors College March/April newsletter.

As long as I’ve been associated with the Honors College, I’ve received a pamphlet encouraging me to submit a proposal for my “dream course.” For a number of years and for a number of reasons I passed on that opportunity. However, I was always looking for an ideal opportunity where I could help students apply the communication concepts and theories I taught in class.

While on vacation in Walt Disney World in the fall of 2006, my wife and I participated in a backstage tour that opened my eyes to how well Walt Disney World understands communication. When I returned to Illinois, I read every book on Disney theme park studies that I could get my hands on. I had finally found a subject for my “dream” course - Communication Around the “World” was born.

The first eight weeks were spent in the classroom and then we traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida over spring break. While in Orlando, we participated in numerous master classes and backstage tours with the goal of understanding how Walt Disney World serves as an ideal “case study” of communication. All of us, from a student who had been to Walt Disney World 25 times to a student who was experiencing it for the first time, had our eyes opened to how well communication is understood around the theme parks and resorts.

disney group epcot

Outside of EPCOT's premier attraction Soarin' prior to a masterclass on Walt Disney World organizational culture with consultant Jeff Kober. Sitting L-R: Courtney Cluney, Allison Bianchini, Sierra Horras, Ryan Ashby, Jordan Liles, Jeff Liles, Jeff Kober (Orlando, FL) Standing L-R: Layne Beuseling, David Zanolla, Leah Zanolla, Eric Haimann

disney group

In front of Cinderella Castle on urban design tour of the Magic Kingdom with urban planner Sam Gennawey. L-R: Eric Haimann, Layne Beuseling, Jordan Liles, David Zanolla, Sierra Horras, Jeff Liles, Sam Gennawey, Leah Zanolla, Ryan Ashby, Allison Bianchini, Courtney Cluney

The course focused on three areas of communication: nonverbal communication in the theme parks, organizational communication utilized by the company, and computer-mediated communication revolving around Walt Disney World.

Read more about the Disney experience in the students’ own words in the Centennial Honors College March/April newsletter.

Attend the Walt Disney World Student Presentations!
Sunday, May 2nd @ 2:30pm, Sandburg Theatre.

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