"Soooo ... What exactly is Disney doing down in Soho tomorrow night?"
That was the question that I kept getting asked yesterday afternoon. From reporters & Disneyana fans alike. Each of them interested in the super-secret soiree that the Walt Disney Company will be holding on Hudson Street later this evening.
"What is going to happen at this event? Is Disney going to announce some ambitious new parade or attraction?," they'd ask. "Or -- better yet -- a brand-new theme park! Is that why the Mouse invited all of these reporters & fans to come join them for cocktails in lower Manhattan tomorrow night? So that Disney could then dramatically reveal its plans for a brand-new resort?"
In your dreams, pal.
Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC
According to what I've been hearing, what Mickey will actually be announcing tonight won't be nearly as dramatic as all that. No new theme parks or resorts. No new rides, shows & attractions. But what will be unveiled is an innovative promotional campaign for the Disneyland & the Walt Disney World Resorts that will then be themed around a "Where Dreams Come True" contest.
"What's so innovative about the Walt Disney Company doing something that involves dreams coming true?," you query. Well, to be honest, the Mouse has never launched a global marketing initiative that so prominently featured a sweepstakes (I.E. The Disney Dream Giveaway) before.
And this contest ... The few prizes that have been mentioned so far for the Disney Dream Giveaway already have the hardcore dweebs salivating. I mean, the chance to spend the night in Cinderella Castle. Or -- better yet -- the ability to reign over the entire Magic Kingdom for a day.
"But why this? Why now?," you ask. The main reason that the Mouse is rolling out its "Year of a Million Dreams Celebration" in October is because the Walt Disney Company's 17-month-long celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary will soon be coming to a close. On September 30th, to be exact.
And once that celebration is over ... Well, Mickey needs to create a compelling new reason for people to return to Anaheim & Orlando. Which is going to be rather difficult to do. Given that tens of millions of people have just made special trips to the Disneyland Resort to take part in the "Happiest Homecoming on Earth" and/or flew down to Florida to get in on WDW's "Happiest Celebration on Earth." Which is why these folks might now be a tad reluctant to return to those resorts ... Unless, of course, Disney Parks & Resorts can provide the proper incentive.
This is just what the Mouse hopes that its new "Where Dreams Come True" contest / campaign will turn out to be. The very thing that compells tourists to once again buy tickets to its theme parks and/or return to its resorts. So that they can then get in on the "Year of a Million Dreams Celebration" ... as well as purchase plates, pins & plates that prominently feature that new castle-in-the-clouds logo.
The big question is ... Is this "Where Dreams Come True" sweepstakes-based idea really going to be a worthy follow-up to the "Happiest Celebration on Earth / Happiest Homecoming on Earth" campaign?
I'll say this much: Last year's Disneyland's-50th-anniversary-based promotional program for the parks proved to be hugely successful with the theme park-going public. It clearly touched a nerve with lots of baby boomers. Which is why the Anaheim resort saw a huge spike in attendance levels during 2005 & early 2006. And Orlando ... Well, while Walt Disney World didn't benefit from Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration nearly as much as the Anaheim resort did ... Over that same period of time, WDW did see a very healthy increase in its on-property room reservations & theme park ticket sales
But 50th anniversary celebrations don't come along every year, folks. (Disney World's golden anniversary festivities aren't due to get underway 'til October of 2021) ... Which is why Disney really struggled to come up with a new promotional angle for its parks that would be a suitable sequel to Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration. Something that could then (hopefully) generate the same level of excitement. More importantly, convince tourists to return to the Anaheim & Orlando resorts in late 2006 & 2007.
I mean, when you really think about it ... What possible reason could Disney Parks & Resorts actually give people (Who have just spent a fortune to go to Anaheim and/or Orlando to take part in the supposedly once-in-a-lifetime "Happiest Homecoming on Earth / Happiest Celebration on Earth" festivities) to now return to these very same resorts so soon after their last trip?
Well, this is where the Disney Dream Giveaway contest comes in. Giving people the chance to win a private audience with Cinderella and/or have Captain Jack Sparrow himself teach you the proper way to behave like a pirate. The opportunity to take part in truly unique events like this is going to be very tempting bait for a certain consumer segment. And it's this exact audience that Disney's Parks & Resorts division is now targeting with its "Year of a Million Dreams Celebration."
Which (admittedly) may seem a bit crass. Packaging & then marketing several very specific pieces of Disney magic so that they can then be offered as prizes in some silly sweepstakes. But -- at the same time -- the chance to win your very own Gold FastPass may prove to be a very powerful lure to some people. These folks may book trips to Disneyland & Walt Disney World just so they can then be sure to get in on the great Disney Dream Giveaway.
I'm sure that we'll be hearing lots more about the "Year of a Million Dreams Celebration" after tonight's press conference in NYC concludes. But -- for now -- if you'd really like to learn more about what's coming to the Disney Parks & Resorts this October, I suggest that you click on over to official "Where Dreams Come True" website and check it out