The trip was a big financial stretch for us. We went to lunch in a cafeteria on Main Street. After we paid, my sister dropped our tray of food. Before my mom could panic, one cast member was cleaning up the mess and another was refilling a new tray for us. That probably made the difference for us not having to leave the park for a cheaper meal. It certainly helped build a set of life-long Disney fans.
Disney's approach was both excellent customer service and made good long-term business sense. Although it may not have passed the scrutiny of an accountant, it fit with the vision that Walt had for the Disney experience.
Today at Re-Imagineering®, there is a post about Managing the Creative Factory at Disney. It gives a good view of the impact of changing leadership approaches over time there. We can find good leadership lessons in all of our areas of interest.