How TikTok Helps Disney (and Others) Engage Fans

Theme parks and restaurants are going viral

Key Takeaways

  • More and more in-person entertainment experiences are leveraging TikTok to connect with their fans remotely.
  • Disney Parks and chain restaurants, like Chipotle, have found great success on the platform.
  • It takes more than simply having a channel and making videos to succeed, though, as more thoughtful, fan-focused content seems to be a big part of the secret sauce.
Someone watching Disney's TikTok channel on their smart phone.
do you mockup / Mockup Photos

Officially launched last November, the Disney Parks TikTok channel has taken off to the tune of nearly 2 million followers and 26 million-plus "likes."

While it's no secret the parks enjoy a massive, passionate fan-base—and companies engaging with consumers through social media is nothing new—the skyrocketing success of a channel entirely dedicated to what's primarily in-person entertainment is somewhat surprising.

But it seems Disney has cracked the code, immersing fans in the "Most Magical Place on Earth" remotely.

"Fans of The Walt Disney Company's theme parks are extremely passionate, but there's often a disconnect between the company's social media accounts and the way fans actually convene online,” said theme park journalist Carlye Wisel in an email interview with Lifewire.

"The casual, personable tone and lighthearted videos on Disney Parks' TikTok have closed that gap more than anything I've witnessed before."

Carefully Crafted

To be sure, the channel's videos play less as promotional ads focused on selling tickets and more like clever, behind-the-scenes peeks of what’s happening in the parks at any given moment.

Wisel credits this delicate balance, and the work that’s gone into carefully crafting it, with Disney’s success in the space. "I can't imagine how much work it's taken, during a pandemic no less, to coordinate efforts between parks worldwide to make TikToks that are informative and promote the parks but do so in a nuanced and personable way," she said.

A screenshot of Disney Parks on TikTok.

"It's deeply authentic, and the dedication, effort, and platform knowledge of whoever makes these videos always shines through."

Of course, theme parks aren’t the only in-person experience that’s allowing fans to get their fix digitally. Restaurants, especially large fast-food chains, also have found great success keeping customers entertained even when they can’t make it to the drive-thru. 

Mike Haracz, a content creator and former McDonald’s corporate chef, sees the growing trend as a big win for foodies of all stripes.

"I think it’s a fantastic idea," said Haracz in an email interview with Lifewire. "The benefit is consumers can see new and exciting menu items, learn about sweet deals, and maybe even win some awesome swag. You can also learn more about the business, what they stand for, and if their social media managers are 'one of of us.'"

Tasty Content

Haracz, who cites both Chipotle and Wendy's as chains that are currently "crushing it" on TikTok, also shares Wisel’s sentiment that simply having a TikTok channel isn’t enough. 

"I do see many of the big major players starting to 'sound' like each other, meaning lots of brands are going to follow Chipotle's playbook specifically," he said.

Screenshot of Chiptle on TikTok.

Still, Haracz doesn’t see the current trend as a fad leveraged to keep customers engaged during the pandemic, but rather a fan-pleasing platform that’s still discovering its secret sauce. "It is now a necessity for businesses to use these platforms to engage their audience," he said.

"You need to be visible for people to find you and learn about you. No one is coming to your restaurant if they don't know it exists. I'm excited to see how brands will use other platforms like Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse in the future, as well."

So, if life is keeping you from taking a spin on Space Mountain or indulging in the latest spicy chicken sandwich craze, you can at least turn to TikTok to somewhat satiate your appetite for roller coasters, queso, and french fries.

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