Skip to content

Disney Parks New Promotional Theme: Celebrations

Disney Parks has announced their new promotional campaign for 2009. The theme is ‘Celebrations’ and the tag line is “What Will You Celebrate?” The goal — get you and your family to book a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World to celebrate an event or occasion together.

The campaign website ( – Note there’s a video that starts automatically on this page with no way to pause or mute it. Bad form on Disney’s part.) is where you’ll find a contest where you can win a Disney Vacation, learn about fun ways to celebrate milestones in your life, and find out the schedule for a new promotional tour. Also highlighted are tools to plan your vacation with. Additionally, they’re promoting Disney Environmentality with a message not to release your ‘Mickey Balloon’ into the air. The biggest news would seem to be that you can register to get free admission to a Disney Theme Park on your birthday in 2009 (you must register first, and there are other treats available if you already have admission).

Without even reading the Disney Press Release on this. It would appear that Disney is hoping to capitalize on what is already a major trend in their customer base. Disney has known for years that since families tend to save for years to make the trip to the parks, they often do it around a special occasion. A few years ago the campaign was called “Magical Gatherings” and it was essentially the same thing where Disney would organize special events for you based on the occasion you were celebrating. Finally, the whole campaign ties into a vacation planning package that will walk you through hotel, dinner, and event registrations. It was obviously successful enough they want to try it again.

I hope this is a successful campaign for Disney and brings in hordes of guests. However, my initial response is to be a little underwhelmed. Disney is probably facing a significant drop in attendance and spending at its domestic parks for at least the next 12-18 months and this all they came up with to bolster the numbers?

What happened to the great promotions of the past where Parks, Films, and Parades were all tied together. Mickey Mania, Party Gras, The Lion King Celebration? Where’s the exciting Tagline? In the past we had “Where the Adventure Begins,” “Where the Magic Never Stops,” and “Where Dreams Come True.” Where we should have inspiration, instead we get a question. Where’s the announcement of the new parades, shows, and attractions that will encourage repeat visitors to return and send prospective new visitors to travel agencies to book. Instead we get a ‘Street Party’. What is that?

What disturbs me most about this promotion is how Disney is equating themselves with the local Chuck-e-Cheese. Little Johnny’s having his Birthday? Where do we want to celebrate? How about Chuck-e-Cheese? Or maybe Disneyland? That’s not an effective way to get people to drop their “staycation” and travel to Anaheim/Orlando instead. You have to offer excitement and value.

Disney isn’t in the same category as local options, and they shouldn’t act like it either. I’m not saying Disney should not offer Birthday and other Celebrations. But it should be part of the whole package, not the cornerstone of the big promotion for the year.

Okay. It’s the 3rd year in a row of less than exciting promotions for Disney Parks. So let chalk this one up to being an ‘off-year’. Due to the soft economy Disney isn’t expecting much to happen this year. They’ve planned no new shows, no new parades, and only one new attraction (American Idol at DHS) for 2009. Perhaps there is some fiscal merit to not going overboard with a major promotion. But then again, maybe they could have done something that would knock your socks off.

A promotional video and the full press release is below the cut:

In 2009, Come to A Disney Park On Your Birthday and Get In Free

Everyone who visits a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park on their birthday in 2009 can get in free, as Disney Parks embraces a newly identified family-travel trend called “celebration vacations.”

A June 2008 survey of approximately 4,600 adults conducted by Ypartnership reveals that vacationers are increasingly motivated by events of high “personal significance” — milestone anniversaries, and birthdays, weddings and honeymoons, graduations and reunions and more. Seventy percent of respondents revealed they have taken a vacation primarily to celebrate a special occasion.

In 2009, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts will lead this growing trend with new entertainment and services that allow guests to turn their personal milestones into magical Disney experiences.

And to kick it all off: a first-ever opportunity for guests to receive a free ticket to one of the Disney theme parks on their birthday in 2009.

“Birthdays are the one occasion that we all share every year,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at an announcement event today in New York. “We thought a free birthday ticket would be the icing on the cake as we extend this new ‘celebration vacation’ trend to Disney Parks.”

“The motivations revealed in this fascinating piece of work suggest that vacations are increasingly viewed as an appropriate way to either recognize or reward the participants for some event of great significance in their lives,” said Peter C. Yesawich, whose marketing services firm conducted the survey. “As such, we call them ‘celebration vacations’.”

Research showed that when families take that “celebration vacation” they are looking for destinations that provide activities for children and — better yet — activities that adults and children can enjoy together, Yesawich said.

“Given these findings, it’s not surprising that Disney Parks topped the list of destinations where families would most like to celebrate these special occasions,” he said.

Respondents rated these as the top destinations for a celebration: Disney theme parks (40% combined), Hawaii (18%), Florida {other than Walt Disney World Resort} (13%), Europe (13%) and the Caribbean (12%). Interestingly, respondents without children in their household mentioned Walt Disney World Resort as the preferred destination for a “celebration vacation” with a comparable frequency to those with children (33% versus 27% respectively). The same was true among respondents over 55 years of age versus those between 21 and 34 years of age (34% versus 29% respectively).

“We see our parks as the ideal setting for a personal celebration,” Rasulo said. “Guests can immerse themselves in their favorite stories and their favorite characters, creating a visit they’ll never forget.

“And when our cast members get involved, it feels as if the entire park is celebrating along with you.”

At Walt Disney World Resort, guests can add on to the fun, choosing from more than 200 experiences ranging from breathtaking (magical fireworks cruises, sunrise safaris, diving the depths with undersea creatures) to mirth-making (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, character dining, kids’ pirate adventures). At Disneyland Resort, celebrants can book more than 50 magical experiences including “My Disneyland Birthday Party” and guided tours that reveal Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disney Parks.

With all there is to do in Disney parks, guests can tailor their celebration with favorite attractions, favorite characters and special experiences. Maybe they have a “princess” day with themed meals, shows, attractions and perfectly princess merchandise at Disneyland. Or they turn Walt Disney World “wild” with trail riding, bass fishing and parasailing.

Thanks to new Web tools, guests can discover magical experiences, unique events, dining enhancements and more. The planning tool is accessible by way of

Disney Parks also is presenting park experiences with memory-making in mind, including street parties in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park, a Tomorrowland video dance party (Walt Disney World Resort), a celebration barbecue and festive birthday party (Disneyland Resort) and colorful park decor.

Disney parks are the ultimate setting for any celebration, turning a special occasion into a magical Disney experience. And with the opportunity of free admission to a Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort theme park on your birthday in 2009, it’s even more special. All it takes is a valid ID including proof of birth date. Guests can get more details and start the process by registering their birthdays at

Free theme park admission details:

To receive free admission to one of the Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks on your birthday in 2009, guests must bring valid ID including proof of birth date. Guests who already hold a valid multi-day ticket they will use on their birthday may choose from other birthday treats instead, however, no cash refunds or credits will be given. To register your birthday and find out more details, visit

5 thoughts on “Disney Parks New Promotional Theme: Celebrations”

  1. All our birthdays are during high traffic times of year, we try to go when we can, but as I replied on Twitter- the odds of us being there on an actual birthday are SLIM. I’d love one of those fastpasses- find a friend and go with them on their birthday since they can get up to 5 of those if you already have a year pass or multi-day pass.

  2. I think the birthday gifts (free admission, or merchandise, or fastpass) are a great idea, but not worth the hype they were using. Making a big announcement to the media in NYC? We expected bigger than this.

    I don’t see how it will be the tipping point for most people either. I can see people changing the dates of their vacation, but not actually making plans for a vacation where there was none.

    Bottom line: Nice perk- not a sales push.

  3. I think the free park day (or alternate gift) on your birthday is a nice freebie. I don’t think this will prove the tipping point, but I don’t believe the YOAMD really pushed that many to make plans for a vacation either. My only question is, what happens to the Cinderella suite?

  4. I dont know what ya’ll are complaining about. I think it’s a great way to CELEBRATE!!! It the whole
    “you just won the superbowl, what are you going to do next?” Im going to Disneyland.!!!! I am a huge disney fan, and the second I told my extended family of this concept (free on your birthday) I know many of them began to plan for a trip to Disney. So I will have to disagree with everyone and say it is one of the best ways to bring people in an economy not doing so well.

Comments are closed.