Disney Dreams Giveaway Starts October 1st.

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Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams promotion for its US theme parks starts in just a few weeks. When it was announced I thought I wouldn’t get that excited about it. To me the giveaways of years past (a car a day, every guest a winner, etc) were better ideas than this one. They certainly were more oriented at the frequent guest. But I tell you what, I’m starting to feel my pulse race at the thought of being there on October 1st and seeing if I can’t be one of the lucky ones, or failing that, capture some of the magic.

Plus, if you live near a Disney park in the US, then you can join in another game, figuring out the system. The rules ( http://www.disneyparks.com/rules ) are fairly clear, but they aren’t specific as to when or where you have to be to win (what fun would that be). The prizes are many (over 1.25 million and around 200-400 a day handed out in any park.

There are a couple sites out there that are already getting into the nitty gritty of contest and how to play to your best advantage. On LaughingPlace.com there are threads for the general rules and breakdown and information on how to enter via mail.

In the end it breaks down to the average vacationer having about a 1 in 60 chance of winning any prize for any given day they visit. The local who games the system might be able to lower that to as good as a 7 in 1 chance of winning. Of course you have to spend money: admission, gas, food, postage, time and effort to win. You also have to be able to be in the park early; Park Opening-5PM is the scheduled time range for prizes to be handed out. And 99% of the prizes awarded have a cash value of less than $24 ARV.

But some of the prizes are wicked cool in my book.

  • Membership in the Disney Vacation Club (220 points at Saratoga Springs Resort, including annual dues)
  • Grand Marshal World Tour (15-day/14-night trip for 4 people, visiting Disneyland® Park, Disney’s California Adventure® Park, Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney-MGM Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, Disneyland® Resort Paris, Walt Disney Studios® Paris, Tokyo Disneyland® Resort, Tokyo Disney Sea® Park, and Hong Kong Disneyland® Resort).
  • Disney Cruise Line adventures
  • The one-night stay at the Mickey Mouse Penthouse in the Disneyland® Hotel or the Cinderella Castle Suite in the Magic Kingdom® Park

Even the modest gifts are neat. I like the idea of a pin lanyard or a special pair of mouse ears being the largest giveaways in terms of numbers. Give the guest something to take home.

That’s not to say there aren’t critiques of the contest….


The biggest critique is that whenever humans are involved it’s very
difficult to be veritably random. Prejudices will inevitably come into

This happened to me just recently. Disney has been running
a low-level version of the Disney Dreams Giveaway for the last few
years. Cast members get a slip of paper and a chance to hand out a
‘magical memory’ to a guest. The slip of paper says ‘give a prize to
the family sitting at table A7’. But if it’s a slow time of the day and
there are no guests at table A7, the cast member can’t wait for a party
to come in and hope they choose that table. They’ve got work to do,
other prizes to give out. So they look around and find another family.
There are two families in the room; one with a father and his son,
possibly locals, and one with a family of four, obviously tourists. In
this case they chose the family of four after considering my son and I
for a few moments. Exactly what was behind that decision, I don’t know.
But I suspect it had to do with making a larger family, most likely
tourists, happy. Someone they suspect or know is a local will get
passed over. Even the most specific instructions will sometimes fail to
find a guest waiting at that location. So the CM will be free to
improvise and it will not be truly random.

Another critique is
that people (mostly frequent visitors to the park (meaning locals))
will start to notice the "Dream Team" moving in the park and swamp
them. It’s likely there will be someone from management in attendance
for the larger prizes, possibly someone from press and publicity too
(with a camera). For example, it’s a couple minutes to 11 am and the
Dream Team is leaves backstage and heads toward the hub at Disneyland.
A few guests who have staked out previous prize award areas notice them
and go up and ask, "Are you the Dream Team?" What do they do? At 11 am
the Dream Team has to award a major prize to one person. Who do they
pick? 20 people are standing right there. What about the 19 people not
picked aren’t they going to be upset?

It’s not likely the Dream
Team will be an obvious group of CM’s. It could be 1 or 2 CM’s, not a
big group. They will probably just dress as regular CM’s as to not
raise suspicion. The whole idea would be ruined if the dream team was
recognizable. However, since the locations the prizes will be given out
at is finite and the frequency is relatively high, it’s pretty likely
someone will recognize a face on the Dream Team from a prize they saw
being awarded earlier and then follow that CM.

If guests start
to see others winning, but not them, it could be a PR nightmare if it
is not handled properly. Hopefully CMs will be empowered with
additional prizes (A free fastpass, merchandise or food discount, etc)
to quash these feelings where they start.

Disney’s probably
going wrong by not handing out ‘game cards’ to every guest at the
turnstiles. That way every guests leaves with a souvenir of the
experience, even if not every guest is a winner. In this system the
vast majority of guests will leave with just an empty feeling they
could have been a winner. Hopefully the contest winners will get a
certificate of some sort too, like they do now for the Magical Memories

Good Stuff

That’s not to say there
isn’t some good stuff too. Top prizes all come with cash to help defray
cost of taxes. So if you’re lucky enough to win one you won’t be forced
to refuse it or risk the poor house.

The volume of prizes is
impressive. Plus the fact that you can win while at Downtown Disney
means you don’t even have to pay admission to have a chance. The mail
in aspect is nice, although, you have to wonder what percentage of the
prizes will be awarded to mail in participants. The chances of winning
something while on the average 5 or 6 day vacation are pretty good (1
in 10-12).

It’s going to be very difficult to live up to the
oomph of the 50th Celebration. But they don’t have to hit a homerun
with this one. Just a solid on base. If they could alleviate some of
the above mentioned critiques this might even be a double or triple. I
guess it depends largely on if you win or not.

Me I hope to win.

More reading:

Mousesavers.com complete list of prizes
Official Rules
Orlando Sentinel Article

16 thoughts on “Disney Dreams Giveaway Starts October 1st.”

  1. Disney Dreams Giveaway….thanks for the explanation. Now I am excited too!!

    I hope someone ” up there” reads your additional concerns and suggestions, because you have highlighted some likely problems or downsides.

  2. I think there are Dream Squad CMs out there. I was in MK yesterday and saw people wearing blue shirts/trousers, with YOMD messenger bags and the only YOMD nametags in the park. They were just helping people with maps and things, though. I watched them for a while in hopes of seeing something fun. Anyone know if I’m correct on these new costumes?

  3. “… good as a 7 in 1 chance of winning.”

    so if a person enters once they may win 7 times? Or do you mean that one of every 7 people will win, which would normally read as “a 1 in 7 chance.”

  4. Let me make a comment, since it was my info that was linked from LaughingPlace…

    Today, Disney updated the official rules…


    They now want a 3.5″ x 5″ postcard (paragraph 2b)

    Based on the rule change, and the USPS official size of Postcards (Minimum size is 3.5″ by 5″)…


    I am now recommending that you take the official USPS standard postcard and cut off a 1/2 inch on the left side (based on the postage being in the upper right of the card). I think that Disney will still accept the 3.5 by 5.5 cards, but better safe than sorry.

    If you trim, make sure that you do NOT trim more than a half inch in LENGTH, as the postcard must be at least 3.5 by 5 to be accepted by the post office.

    Good luck if you try and win….

    And yes, if you mail in one postcard every Postal day (6 a week unless there is a holiday) you should win around 7 prizes, all low level, Dream Ears or Pin Lanyards.(the odds are approximate as they are based on the actual park attendance plus how many mail in postcards they receive), but most folks are saying the odds are around 1 in 60 to 65 based on prior attendance numbers for the US parks.

    But if you mail in the postcards, you have chance of winning a mid or high level prize….

  5. Hi I am a disabled mother of two, I have a 12 year old grandson who has not seen disney since he was little. I also have a new granddaughter who lives in Las Vegas, I have seen her only once, the day she was born, she is over a year old now. When I saw her it was the first I had seen my daughter in over five years. I would love to have them go to disney for the overnight stay. Thank You Judy Berens

  6. i want to take my children i dont think all have the way to take them so im just trying every giveaway to try and see if i get anything

  7. While Disney is trying to make sure the prizes are handed out randomly….

    We have had a few days of the issuing of the prizes, and so far this is what I have found out…

    1. GET THERE AT OPENING, some of the prizes need to be handed out early, such as the Hotel Room and the Dream FASTPASSes, to be valid for the guests. Most of the prizes are handed out by early afternoon, so get there EARLY!. The official rules say that all prizes will be handed out by 5 PM daily.

    2. Ride the attractions. Many of the locations where prizes will be handed out are at the exits. This helps with logistics, as folks can’t “follow” the Dream Patrol, they can show up at the exit, and nobody can “cut” in line, as only those folks already on the attraction will win.

    3. Walk around, some folks have reported winning things just by walking thru the Castle at the right time. Something like walking by the certain post at a specific time is what makes you win.

    Alas, this does favor visiting guests, as many locals and AP holders do show up later than the folks visiting and staying in local hotels….

    But the best bet, enter by mail (as posted above)… You have a chance to win both Disneyland and WDW prizes, and that some low level prizes (such as Dream FASTPASSes and the After Hour passes) will be substituted for a higher value prize (such as the Dream Ears or the Pin Lanyard)…

  8. i have been wanting to go to disney world since i was 8. I am now 22 and have a 2 year old boy who loves disney. I would love to take him if I only had one thing. A dream come true, and that dream is that i get to have tickets to take him and my husband with me.

  9. The Mailman just came to the door, with TWO packages from Walt Disney World (Lake Buena Vista, Florida), both 10″x8″x6″, certified mail costing $6.80 each in postage.

    Each box had a Pair of WDW Dream Ears and a card, which had this message written in English, Spanish and French. (Disney Font)

    >>Congratulations, as part of the Year of a Million Dreams celebration, you are a winner in the Disney Dreams Giveaway.

    Keep Dreamin!

    Carrie Schiden
    Area Manager Dream Squad<< So it does pay to send in those postcards daily (I do two a day, one of me, and one for my Girlfriend).

  10. Been collecting disney movies since my kids where very small, now when the grandkids visit they can watch them with me-ma. Someday I will pass them on to them — still in good condition. Jana

  11. I have also been mailing post cards daily. On 2 separte occasions I won the ears and the pins and lanyard. They also had the same card as described above. The pins were actually really cool. Now that I’ve won the low level prizes, I’m hoping for a high level prize next time :)

  12. I just got back from Disneyland, I went with my 2 girls, my husband and dad … it was a BLAST, the first day we took a short cut from fantasy land to frontier land and a CM was there and gave us each a coupon for one 5×7 photo each. And it just got fun from there, the next day we were getting off the Pooh Bear ride and were stopped by a CM wear a blue shirt and white vest with the YOMD logo on it and he started asking us questions, if we knew anyone who worked there and so on, than told us that we were potential winners, we needed to follow them to main street and answer more questions, they didn’t even know what we had won, but said it was one of the bigger prizes, we got in the building and read that we had won $500 shopping spree at the World of Disney Store — we were soooo excited, they told us that it is all pre-selected, and if no one was sitting in our seat than they would move on to the next prize and location … we had more fun also later that afternoon at Ariel’s Grotto, when we were announced the Royal Family of the day and we got to announce the arival of Ariel — this was truely our year of a million dreams!!

  13. I got the pin thing handed out to me at the exit of the pooh bear ride and i just thought that it was given to everybody, they were like “congratulations, you are so lucky” we were a little confused but happy none the less.

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