Disney announces new marketing campaign

t's every little girl's dream come true: Spending the night in Cinderella Castle.

Such sleepovers will be part of a "Year of a Million Dreams" national promotion that the Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday night.

Every day for a year, beginning on Oct. 1, a family will be picked to move into the "royal chambers" and spend the night at the Magic Kingdom castle.

The promotion, along with a worldwide advertising campaign called "Where Dreams Come True," is aimed at surprising visitors with previously unimagined experiences, Disney officials said.

"We'll be empowering our cast to basically deliver some once-in-a-lifetime experiences to some of our guests," said Jay Rasulo , chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Some people wandering the Disney property will be handed scrolls inviting them gala balls. Riders on Pirates of the Caribbean might find pirate characters taking the seats beside them. Others will be handed "Golden Fastpass" tickets that allow them to get into much shorter Fastpass lines at rides all day.

One family even will be picked in the next year to have Magic Kingdom to themselves for a few hours.

The campaigns also will involve a small handful of new attractions, including the previously announced "Finding Nemo: the Musical" show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and a new "The Seas with Nemo and Friends" ride through Living Seas at Epcot. A couple of other rides, such as Space Mountain, are going to get changes.

But the chance to spend the night at Cinderella Castle is sure to get the most attention from little girls and their parents.

"If we came here to Cinderella's Castle, you would meet her," said 7-year-old Adalina Harris of McAllen, Texas, who was visiting the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday with her parents and brother.

Disney lore has it that about 10 stories up from the castle moat, an apartment was built when the castle was opened in 1971. Whether it was initially intended to be Walt Disney's own apartment (he died in 1966) or his brother Roy's, the apartment was never finished and never lived in. Until now.

The winning visitors will be picked at random through a system being developed by consultants, a Disney spokesman said. They could be picked in the parks, in Disney hotels or even at Downtown Disney, where the general public can wander for free — just as long as they're on Disney property.

This new campaign comes immediately after Disney's "Happiest Celebration on Earth" promotion for Disneyland's 50th anniversary, which was credited with boosting attendance at both Disneyland and Disney World.

"Perhaps this campaign may yield good results as well," said Ady Milman, a business professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.

This year, Disney opened a major attraction — Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom — but no major attractions were announced for the coming year. Instead, Disney will focus on visitor experiences, such as the castle sleepovers.

But why stop with the castle, wondered Ron and Anita Dick of Witchita, Kansas. They were visiting Wednesday with their teenage grandchildren, who they said loved Tower of Terror.

"They need to put an apartment there. If they did Tower of Terror, that would interest the teenagers," she said.


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