The Walt Disney Company’s penchant for immersive experiences is moving from their theme parks and into the world of children’s hospitals. Disney Chairman Bob Iger announced on Wednesday that, over the next five years, the company will invest upwards of $100 million into the enhancement of children’s hospitals all throughout the world. This will be done through their “Team of Heroes” program.
Hospitals can be grim places, but when they’re specifically for children, that just multiplies the sadness tenfold. The goal of Disney’s initiative is to make children’s hospitals more lighthearted and inviting. Iger believes in the power of Disney’s stories to “touch hearts” and “lift spirits.” It is therefore only natural that Disney would use its family-oriented brand to comfort hospital visitors, whether they’re a sick child or a worried parent.
“Using the powerful combination of our beloved characters and legendary creativity, we’re planning to transform the patient experience in children’s hospitals around the world — creating a personalized and engaging atmosphere that will inspire young patients and ease the stress of a hospital stay,” said Iger.
Using Radio-Frequency Identification – technology that enables Disney World’s magical wristbands) – patients will be able to customize their hospital visit by choosing which Disney stories and characters will surround them during their stay. Using RFID technology that makes identifying specific patients and their needs easier lends itself to Disney’s other big change to children’s hospitals: themed treatment and patient rooms that make use of interactive murals and themed linens. On top of an on-site theatre, Disney will also give doctors and nurses their famous “smile-or-you’re-fired” customer experience training. Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the largest children’s hospital in the country, will be the first to work with Disney on this venture, which should roll out later this year.
If this whole thing seems a bit weird to you, you’re not alone. The folks at Disney have some of the most cunning advertisers and marketing professionals that the world has to offer. An immersive Disney-themed redesign inside of a space filled with sick children and vulnerable parents can feel like a crass marketing ploy. However, there’s some truth behind making the experience more soothing for patients and parents alike.
Jackie Jordan, the director of color marketing for paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, spoke with Healthcare Design on the matter, noting that the colors used in a children’s hospital can have subtle effects on the mood of patients and visitors. According to Jordan, bright colors are good for children’s play spaces, or rooms where there is a lot of activity. On the other hand, cooler and more neutral colors put patients and visitors at ease. It’s a delicate balance.
It’s hard to say how well an immersive Disney experience around every hallway corner will strike that balance, but the intentions behind it – making vulnerable children smile – makes it worth trying.