Disney Makes History! Magic Kingdom Opens For Only One (Very Lucky) Family As Disney Parks Kick Off
For the first time in history, a family today had the Magic Kingdom all to themselves. They entered the park to a view never seen before by any Disney guest – Main Street, U.S.A. completely empty, no other guests, no Disney cast members, just a red carpet stretching out a welcome.
The family had their pick of favorite attractions. There were no lines. Because no one else was there.
This unprecedented moment in Disney history was all part of the launch of Disney's "The Year of a Million Dreams" celebration, during which literally millions of dreams will come true at Florida's Walt Disney World Resort and California's Disneyland Resort.
"The Year of a Million Dreams" is a first-of-its-kind event celebrating the individual dreams of Disney Park guests from around the world. So Disney made the Spangler family from Randolph, Ohio – winners of an online sweepstakes used to help kick off the celebration – the ultimate, one-of-a-kind Magic Kingdom VIPs. Disney Parks literally rolled out the red carpet for the Spanglers on Main Street, U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Resort.
But there were more surprises in store. As the Spanglers reached the center of Main Street, U.S.A., fanfare trumpeters broke the morning silence from atop the buildings lining the street and the familiar strains of "Be Our Guest" began to play – a signal for a whole lot of smiles. Appearing almost magically to form a receiving line fit for royalty were 1,500 Disney cast members and Disney characters, beaming and bubbly.
For the Spanglers, their morning was nothing short of incredible. In a park that hosts millions of guests each year, Magic Kingdom attendance was four as Ray and Tammy Spangler and their children, 13-year-old Derick and 11-year-old Ashley, walked toward Cinderella Castle between rows of smiles lining the red carpet. "It was amazing," said Ashley. Derick chimed in, "That was awesome!" With their Disney VIP host leading the way, they rode their favorite attractions, met their favorite Disney characters, appeared on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" and lived out a dream.
"This is beyond the dream," Ray said. "This is something that you can't even think of dreaming of, yet we have it."
As the lands of the park filled in behind them with other guests, the Spanglers dined with Disney royalty in Cinderella Castle during A Fairytale Lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table and were named grand marshals for the "Disney Dreams Come True" parade. They were to conclude the day with an "unbirthday party" inspired by the "Alice in Wonderland" story and then enjoy exclusive viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks spectacular "Wishes."
For Tammy Spangler, winning this most remarkable experience was a dream-come-true – but one she figured was probably a proverbial "pipedream" when she entered the sweepstakes.
"I hardly ever enter these things," she said, "but Disney's the most fun we've ever had on vacation, so when I discovered the contest when I was [online], I entered it. But I really didn't figure we'd win, not in a million years."
But this is "The Year of a Million Dreams" and the Spanglers won't be the only ones finding their dreams come true at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.
During "The Year of a Million Dreams" celebration, literally millions of dreams will come true.
"Our guests the world over have told us they believe a Disney Park is the place ‘where dreams come true' and that something magical happens when they walk through our gates," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "And that's never been more true than during ‘The Year of a Million Dreams' as we bring more magic to life than ever before."
Dreams to surprise and delight guests and unique experiences will be hallmarks of "The Year of a Million Dreams."
As part of the celebration, extra-special dreams will be awarded through a random process as part of the unique Disney Dreams Giveaway. With the sprinkle of a little pixie dust by day, a vacationing mom might be chosen to spend that night with her family in a new royal suite inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort, or at Disneyland, a lucky guest may be surrounded by All Things Mickey that night in a new Mickey Mouse Penthouse overlooking the Disney domain in California.
Disney Vacation Club memberships, traveling around the world as a parade grand marshal in each Disney theme park, sporting exclusive pins and Mouse ears – dreams from fun to fantastic will shower down on guests during the celebration. Other amazing dreams-come-true: magical Disney Cruise Line sailings; Adventures by Disney vacations; a private shopping spree for Disney merchandise; Dream FASTPASS badges to enjoy many popular park attractions; special park after-hour events; or a visit to Walt Disney's apartment at Disneyland including a dining experience.
For the overnight stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite, a Walt Disney World guest at the parks or Downtown Disney will be selected randomly by early in the afternoon almost every day beginning in late January. The guest and up to five members of their party will begin their dream-come-true night that evening at Cinderella's Royal Table, the popular restaurant located in Cinderella Castle.
Can't be in the parks? You may still have a dream-come-true through a mail-in entry (details at www.disneyparks.com/rules). For example, mail-in winners could win prizes such as the Disney Vacation Club membership, grand marshal of a Disney parade around the world, exclusive trading pins or Mickey Ear Hat. (Some prizes, such as the Castle and Mickey Mouse Penthouse stay, require same-day use so mail-in winners will receive a prize of comparable value.)
Dreams will be awarded every day at Disney parks and Downtown Disney in Florida and California. While workers complete the Cinderella Castle Suite (opening late January 2007) and Mickey Mouse Penthouse (opening December 2006), the other fantasies begin Oct. 1 as Disney launches enough dreams to make Tinker Bell blush.
And all it takes: a tap on the shoulder by Disney cast members on special assignment as the Dream Squad during the magical year.
Meanwhile, thousands more Disney cast members – famous for guest service every day of the year – will be creating an unprecedented number of Magical Moments during this magical year. They're taking Disney friendliness to new heights with personal interactions marked by special surprises.
Amazed guests might find themselves leading the countdown and sprinkling pixie dust to open a Disney park in the morning. Or they might join the performers on a float in "Mickey's Jammin' Jungle" parade. Or aboard Cinderella's Golden Carrousel they might suddenly find a Disney princess sidesaddle on the next horse.
More pixie-dusted Magical Moments: being selected to be guest of honor in daily park parades; getting a Tinseltown rush doing a celebrity-style handprint ceremony; being Official Wildlife Spotter on a Disney's Animal Kingdom safari.
"Disney cast members have a rich history of making this magic, treating guests to legendary service and special moments," Rasulo said. "During ‘The Year of a Million Dreams,' those moments go stratospheric as our cast members reinforce Disney parks as the place where dreams come true."
A first-of-its-kind Disney spectacular, "The Year of a Million Dreams" also includes a whole lineup of immersive entertainment that draws guests into the middle of the action.
Guests can enter into magical worlds, living the buccaneer life by being a pirate of the Caribbean, "getting royal" with a Disney prince or princess, or joining in the dancing and singing "High School Musical" pep rally. Guests at Walt Disney World Resort might be welcomed to saddle up cowboy-style with Woody and the Disney•Pixar gang.
As if thousands of dreams bestowed daily aren't enough, Disney guests will also be treated to major new attractions and shows debuting at Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts as part of "The Year of a Million Dreams."
On top of an already magical year, special entertainment and programs will be in place at the parks and resorts so guests can follow their dreams, whether it's a princess or pirate, adventurer or space explorer. Guests will be able to customize their visit to a Disney park to pursue the Dream Paths of their choice with online planning tools and technology to help them become the hero or princess they've always dreamed of being.
For more information about "The Year of a Million Dreams" celebration, guests may visit www.disneyparks.com. For more specific information about the Disney Dreams Giveaway, visit www.disneyparks.com/rules.