Stylized portrait of Walt Disney, highlighting his creative spirit and iconic legacy

Creative Thinking: Disney’s Creative Strategy

In a world brimming with creativity, countless innovations and artistic masterpieces were once just figments of the imagination.

Light bulbs and music to computers and Disney films, human ingenuity has turned dreams into reality.

One person who consistently excelled at this magical transformation was Walt Disney.

Applying NLP modelling principles, Robert Dilts in 1994 uncovered the way Disney managed creative processes to bring dreams to life.

Disney Strategy, comprises three stages:

The Dreamer, The Realist, and The Critic.

Let’s delve into each stage and learn how to adopt these techniques to achieve our own goals.

Dreamer: Embracing the Wild and Whimsical

How-To be a Dreamer?

The first stage of the Disney Strategy is about unleashing your inner Dreamer, where no idea is crazy or strange.

Let’s look at how they applied this process to the effects used in the Disney film Inside Out.

The creators dreamt up a world where emotions come to life as colourful characters, each with their own unique personalities and roles.

By allowing dreams to unfold and grow without criticism, they found a unique and engaging way to depict the complexities of human emotions.

If you want to tap into your Dreamer, you need a relaxed and symmetrical posture and eyes up.

This body language encourages free-flowing thoughts and ideas.

Allowing possibilities and train your unconscious mind to generate a plethora of ideas.

You may need to go through many before finding the perfect one.

Dreamer Exercise: Set a timer for 10 minutes and jot down as many ideas as you can, without judging their feasibility.

There is no bad idea at this stage.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Walt Disney
portrait of Walt Disney

Realist: Turning Dreams into Actionable Plans Once your ideas have taken shape, it’s time to shift into the Realist phase.

How to be a realist?

The team behind Inside Out used this stage to transform their imaginative concept into a cohesive story with relatable characters and engaging visuals.

They planned out each scene and emotion, ensuring that the film would resonate with audiences of all ages.

In the Realist phase, assume a centred and symmetrical posture, with your head and eyes looking straight ahead.

This body language promotes action and focus on the present.

Focus on planning, preparing, and gathering resources, without getting distracted by new ideas unrelated to making your dreams a reality.

Realist Exercise: Choose one idea from your Dreamer brainstorm and create a step-by-step action plan to make it a reality.

Break down each step into smaller tasks, and assign deadlines for completion.

Critic: Constructive Criticism and Refinement The last phase of the Disney Strategy is the Critic.

Which you evaluate your plans and apply positive critical thinking to iron out any wrinkles.

In Inside Out, the creators reviewed their work and made adjustments, such as fine-tuning the story, character development, and animation, to ensure a captivating and emotionally rich final product.

To engage your inner Critic, assume an angular and asymmetrical posture, with your head tilted down and eyes focused downward.

This body language encourages logic and critical thinking.

Instead of dismissing an idea outright, frame your criticisms as questions to help develop new ideas and refine your plan.

Critic Exercise: Review your action plan and identify any potential roadblocks or weaknesses.

Ask yourself, “What could go wrong?” and “How can I address this issue?” Then, revise your plan accordingly.

My personal example of Disney NLP technique in action

Personal Success Story: My journey to become an NLP Trainer serves as a prime example of the Disney Strategy in action. During the Dreamer stage, I came up with the idea to use my music background to help fund my training.

In the Realist stage, I approached NLP Trainers and offer my services as a sound engineer, recording their classes for training. This practical plan allowed me to use my existing skills to achieve my goal.

When it was time for the Critic phase, I realised I needed a personal touch and couldn’t rely on emails or phone calls.

So, I revised my plan by attending NLP practice groups and offering help.

This approach eventually led me to become an NLP Trainer, demonstrating the power of the Disney Strategy in real-life applications.

Separating the Stages: To ensure the success of each stage, it’s important to separate them physically. You can do this by using three different chairs or rooms for each phase. By assigning a specific space for each stage, you can fully immerse yourself in the mindset and body language required for each role.

FAQs about the Disney Strategy:

Can I use the Disney Strategy for personal goals?

Yes, you can apply the Disney Strategy to any goal or project, from creating a business plan to organising a family holiday.

How do I know when to leave a stage?

There’s no strict timeline for transitioning between stages, but it’s essential to allow each phase to unfold naturally. Give yourself enough time to explore ideas, plan, and critique before moving on.

Can I revisit the previous stages?

Absolutely! The Disney Strategy is a cyclical process. Once you’ve critiqued your plan, you can cycle through the process again. Refining your ideas and making necessary adjustments until you have a final plan ready for implementation.

What if I struggle to generate ideas in the Dreamer phase?

Don’t worry if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas. Give yourself the freedom to be innovative and be patient. You can also try engaging in activities that stimulate creativity, like taking a walk, listening to music, or engaging in brainstorming sessions with others.

How can I practice the Disney Strategy effectively?

One effective way to practise the Disney Strategy is by setting aside dedicated time for each phase. This allows you to focus on each stage without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Make sure you’re in a comfortable environment that promotes creativity, planning, and critical thinking.

What are some common challenges and solutions when implementing the Disney Strategy?

Challenge: Staying focused on the current phase without getting distracted by thoughts or ideas from other stages.

Solution: Create a clear separation between stages by using different spaces or physical cues (e.g., different chairs or rooms) to help you stay in the mindset of the current phase.

Challenge: Struggling to come up with creative ideas during the Dreamer phase.

Solution: Be patient, consider unconventional ideas, and do activities that help you be creative, such as going for a walk or listening to music.


The Disney Strategy is a powerful tool for turning dreams into reality.

By understanding and embracing the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic phases, you can unlock your full creative potential and bring your wildest ideas to life.

Remember to incorporate the specific body language and mindset for each stage, and don’t be afraid to cycle through the process multiple times until you have a workable plan.

With practice and persistence, you too can experience the magic of transforming dreams into reality, just like Walt Disney himself and the creators of Inside Out.

Come, take a ride on the NLP Practitioner training journey with us! Unlock the mysteries of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and discover your own way to create innovative solutions. Just like Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it!” So let’s get started today!

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