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.
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
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
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.