Disney recently announced the successor to the "Year of a Million Dreams" (YMD) campaign with "Disney Celebrations" for 2009. I have been a frequent critic of the YMD campaign for various reasons, but with the new "Celebration's" campaign I have to give credit where credit is due.
The new campaign gets you into Disney World or the Disneyland Resort for free on your birthday. There are also other vacation packages/incentives for anniversaries, honeymoons, and graduations etc. Now this is a great campaign idea! It is quantifiable and will not only draw people through the turnstiles as a direct result, but will also lead to a rise in hotel bookings and food & merchandise sales as well.
I am also happy to hear that Disney has not left the annual pass-holders (AP's) high and dry on their birthdays. If you are an AP there are several celebration options:
-A birthday fun card in an amount equal to the price of a 1-Day/1-Park ticket for you to use on your birthday for merchandise, recreation or fun activities at select participating locations.
-A special birthday FASTPASS® ticket+ for certain attractions at the Theme Park you visit on your birthday.
-Or a 1-Day/1-Park ticket for you to use any time until your next birthday.
The only thing I would add is that there should be some sort of incentive for AP's to visit parks on the opposite coast of their annual passes. If you have a Walt Disney World AP and you want to visit the Disneyland Resort for your birthday, you not only get a free one day ticket on your birthday, but also some sort of break on a hotel or dining package. AP's are the biggest Disney fans and if Disney were smart they'd cater aspects of this promotion for AP's to take an even longer vacation (i.e. spend even more money) at an opposite resort .
While I fear we have passed the point of no return with these annual themed campaigns for the parks and that over time there is a huge potential for them to go down-hill fast, the new "Celebrations" campaign is a great idea and one that will be very successful. It should be a good year for the parks in 2009! I guarantee you it was intentionally not called the "Year of Celebrations" for the sole reason that it will be extended after it proves successful... I can already here it... "the celebration continues!"
And maybe after the Year of Million Dreams is over we will all get one last Dream granted... the return of the Disney Gallery!