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Get into Disney free on your birthday

By Robert Niles
Published: September 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM
As part of its 2009 "Celebration" promotion campaign (replacing the "Year of Million Dreams" that lasted two years), Disney announced today that it will offer free admission to visitors on their birthdays next year.

Here are the details, from the press release:

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 www.disneyparks.com.

So there's no one-day credit on your multi-day pass if you want to use it on your birthday. (So... if you have a no-expire option on a WDW ticket, just leave it in your pocket and pretend you don't have it, okay? Save the extra day for another time.) I see this being a bigger deal in Anaheim, though, where people can pop over to the park easily on their B-day.

The upside for Disney? Who wants to go to Disneyland by themselves on their birthday? Celebrants likely will bring along the family, who'll pay to get in. Plus, they'll net the cash spent in the park on food, souvenirs, etc.

Still... a free Disneyland ticket. That's a sweet deal.

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on September 18, 2008 at 1:29 PM
This change seems like a nice perk for visitors in the nearby vicinity of WDW or DLR (or for families with quintuplets). In fact, Disney probably should have been doing something like this "celebration" already.

However, I will not be planning a trip to WDW/DLR just to get free admission to one park for one day.

As a Midwesterner, I am somewhat underwhelmed by this "Big Announcement."

From Diane Graebner on September 18, 2008 at 1:55 PM
According to the website, AP holders or those who already hold admission to the parks may choose from the following instead of the ticket on their birthday:

A birthday fun card in an amount equal to the price of a 1-day Magic Your Way base ticket* for you to use on your birthday for merchandise, recreation or fun activities at select participating locations at Walt Disney World® Resort

A special birthday FASTPASS® badge+ for certain attractions at the Theme Park you visit on your birthday

A 1-day Magic Your Way base ticket for you to use any time until your next birthday.

So it seems that they have nicely covered that contengency.

From Iris Hernandez on September 18, 2008 at 2:21 PM
Freakin awesome news! I have a lot of friends who like to go to parks solo and this is GREAT thing for them! I actually never thought Disney would a thing like this, kudos....
From Tim W on September 18, 2008 at 2:37 PM
ok this sounds awesome. i will def go on my bday now!
From Anthony Murphy on September 18, 2008 at 2:45 PM
Now thats an offer that people should take advantage of!


Something tells me this will really benefit the "townies" which tend to not go as much!

Still, its pretty decient.

From Gareth H on September 18, 2008 at 2:50 PM
Sweet, Roll on Feb 21st.

Just out of curiosity, does this only apply to US Citizens, or International visitors too?

From Gareth H on September 18, 2008 at 2:58 PM
OK, I worked it out.

International guests just need to take a passport to the ticket counter to receive free entry.
No registration is required.

BUT, is this a parkhopper, or one park, one day?

From Raul Araoz on September 18, 2008 at 3:43 PM
This is a great piece of propaganda on Disney's part. People who live near the parks probably have annual passes already and it is practically useless for tourists traveling in. Disney could have done something nice and given Birthday goers a day of free Disney Dining. THAT would be a nice gift. This is a Trojan Horse there to trick you into coming another day.
From Gareth H on September 18, 2008 at 4:32 PM
Actually, most locals in Fl would have annual passes to the other parks. Disney don't have a Flex Pay option like other local parks. If they did they AP holders would triple quickly. I'd be one!!

I had an AP to all other parks because of the Flex Pay options!

From Joshua Counsil on September 18, 2008 at 5:52 PM
I think it's great - sure, it's a disguised money-maker, but still - it feels like they're doing something nice.

Kudos, Disney.

From Brian Emery on September 18, 2008 at 6:43 PM
Anything free is great. Now if they would just give out Free Beer…..
From Corey Romberg on September 19, 2008 at 12:04 AM
it is very generous, and maybe is a bit of bragging about the profits...but in the end, its another shrewd money-making move by Disney in disguise

A) they will benefit from more locals in Anaheim and Orlando going on their birthdays, and Jay Rasulo pointed out that local tourism is very important with gas and airline prices and the overall crappy economy and B) people arent going to celebrate their birthday alone, so they will bring family and friends with them who WILL pay, which Rasulo also pointed out, and of course, you still have to pay for food and merchandise, and this celebration should attract people to go on their BDay and spend this money

From TH Creative on September 19, 2008 at 3:21 AM
A flat out BRILLIANT idea!

Will other Orlando parks (Universal, Sea World) foillow Disney's lead?

From Diane Graebner on September 19, 2008 at 8:56 AM
Raul, if you actually read what I wrote previously, Disney IS giving those who already hold passes something to use - a gift card for goods or services that's equal to the price of a one-day ticket. That's a $75 value card to use on merchandise. I'm sure there'll be limitations, but for the most part this is NOT an empty offer, but a really smart marketing plan. Those who were looking for something to do on their birthday may actually decide to plan their yearly vacation around it and do a Disney trip. Those who are local may decide to go into the parks on their birthday instead of other activities. Those who live close by may decide to do a quick day trip to take advantage of the offer. And those people will most likely pay for admission for friends or family, will buy food and merch, may have pictures taken to celebrate the special day, and may even stay in a resort to take advantage of the offer. It's really a smart plan!
From Ted Heumann on September 19, 2008 at 9:33 AM
To Gareth H.
I heard that Disney was offering flex pay now for APs? I know that someone on a different board said that they were offering that specifically for Disneyland, but I don't know about Florida.
Has anyone else heard this?
From Ray Schroeder on September 19, 2008 at 10:11 AM
This is great for College kids with fake ID's. They can go multiple times a year :)
From Iris Hernandez on September 19, 2008 at 10:29 AM
I forgot to mention that this is a golden opportunity for families that have twins, triplets, etc....Unless one twin was born before midnight and the other one after (which is pretty rare anyways). Families with multiples can save A LOT of money here. Its awesome to have only 2 parents pay and the sextuplets get to go for free. My sister has twins and she is loving this chance to go!
From LJ Warner on September 19, 2008 at 10:53 AM
I just went to the disney site to register and had a little trouble with confriming the information I put in, it might be me or my computer, but I worked it out.
Anyway as for the offer, I think it is a great marketing tool. I might even get my mom to go since she doesn't go to "crowded" places anymore, but with the free offer she just might go. Since they are provideing a way for passholders to benefit as well it doesn't come across as a useless offer. And families with twins, etc. it would be a great way for them to take the family and keep down the expense - Jon & Kate Plus Eight does Disney - again.
From Barry Wallace on September 19, 2008 at 10:54 AM
Can someone tell what exactly is a FASTPASS® badge+, and how does it differ from a regular walk-up-to-the-kiosk individual Fastpass for each attraction?

Is this similar to the Year of a Million Dreams Fastpass badge? Can you use them in multiple parks in one day?

From Mike West on September 19, 2008 at 3:31 PM
Its a great idea! Parks should give away more free's than they do.
Just from what they make on concessions. Especially at parks like discovery kingdom, where the parking lot is an epic distance, and they have a captive audience(few tailgaters).
We had season passes to Cedar Fair & 6F this year. You know which parks got tons more visits & concession dollars? The company which offered the bring a friend optiions. Even though the Cedar Fair park was closer.
Doing anything special for your birthday means you won't likely be doing it alone, this means being a pied piper for the park on that day. Remember when Denny's used to give you a free meal on your birthday? It was just about the only time we would eat there. THAT's motivation!
From Corey Romberg on September 19, 2008 at 5:52 PM
An interesting note that has yet to be brought up as we get ready to transisition from "The Two and Half Years of Two Million Dreams" to "What Will You Celebrate?" is what happens to the numerous members of the Dream Squad?? Are they going to have a new version of the Dream Squad for this new celebration? Will they all go back to the roles they had prior to Dream Squad? Will they be able to look for new roles? I have a couple friends on Dream Squad right now so it should be an interesting development to watch for come January...hundreds of PI Cast Members are already having to find new locations at the end of this month
From Andy Guinigundo on September 19, 2008 at 8:43 PM
There's nothing wrong with this promotion. What really did the Year of a Million Dreams do for me? I never was granted any dreams - nor did I really care. And yet I've been pleased with "feel" of the promotion overall.

I think that people do go to the parks as a "celebration" whether it's a family vacation, anniversary, birthday, etc. So to run a Disney-ized promotion to highlight this - it's nice. It's based on market research. It'll be a hit....

From Jeff Nielson on September 19, 2008 at 9:02 PM
Great for Southern California Residents - who do not already have an Annual Pass. Good luck with that!
From Corey Romberg on September 19, 2008 at 10:04 PM
AP holders can still get a fun card equal to the value of the ticket to spend in the park or a FASTPASS badge, so that is incentive, especially if you already live in SoCal
From LJ Warner on September 20, 2008 at 8:25 AM
Remember if you have a So Cal Pass and your brithday falls in the blackout times you get the free day. You might be able to get the Brithday Fun Card if you opt for the blackout up charge and you are still ahead value wise using the Fun card for merchandise. So it can still benefit the passholder.
From Bo Pedersen on September 20, 2008 at 8:43 AM
I think its a smashing offer.
its really nice, and would make Birthday Children feel even more special on their day.

Of course familites budgetting for a trip will then be able to do something extra for the kids.

As for older people its a free pass woohoo we know we love it.

my problem is all my family's birthdays are in the winter when school/college/university is in full swing. So the time constraints for us are not so good, but you can't detract from a great offer, instead if we visited during December we would have two people get free entry in the same 2 week vacation (from the UK see :) )

Hats off to Disney for a great offer

From Robert Miller on September 20, 2008 at 10:07 AM
This may be a great deal for those who live close enough, but I'm not about to spend $350 to drive down to Disney World from Pennsylvania, just to get a free ticket. Not to mention the price of a motel and food. No thanks Disney!
From TH Creative on September 21, 2008 at 4:40 AM
Note to Mr. Miller: I'm sure several people share your opinion. But clearly this is a regional marketing strategy designed to drawn in guests from nearby Tampa, Jacksonville, Daytona and even Miami. Out west the whole of Southern California will be drawn back to those parks.

The real risk of this strategy is that other parks will follow Disney's lead. If Universal and Sea World do the same thing then a family might choose to visit one of those parks over Disney. Of course when families bring the birthday kid (old or young kid:o) ) to the park they will still drop some cash -- not only on food and gifts but also gas, parking, etc.)

The thing is if the other parks match the offer these families may only be able to budget for one trip a year -- and that trip might end up being to a park other than Disney.

But I am nit-picking ... and I still think it is a BRILLIANT idea! And Disney thought of it first so they can claim the brand.

From Mark Hollamon on September 21, 2008 at 5:33 AM
There is no doubt we locals will benefit from it more than tourists. I don't mean to sound smug, but I think locals are more deserving of such a perk as we support the parks all year round, especially those of us that purchase annual passes every year.

I really dont think Disney expects anybody to plan a vacation just to get the birthday perk, BUT it is a "feel good" offer that is pretty substantial.

As an annual Preferred Passholder I have longed for Disney to design a loyalty program that rewards passholders for continuous years of purchasing them. I think that would be a great way to show thanks. This is a great start to that!

KUDOS DISNEY!!! The post Eisner era just keeps getting better!

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