Disney announces new promotional campaign for 2011 - starring theme park visitors

September 23, 2010, 9:45 AM · Disney announced today its new promotional campaign for 2011: "Let the Memories Begin."

The in-park highlight of the campaign will be a nightly musical presentation at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, where Disney will project photos of park guests onto Cinderella's Castle (in Florida) and it's a small world (in California).

Photos = memories. Get it? :-)

The details, from Disney's press release:

In both locations, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture guests caught up in the Disney experience – a memory in the making – and as many as 500 photos will be used in each location every day, producers estimate.

The nighttime show will use the latest in high-intensity projection technology to create vivid visuals that seem to defy the architecture of the building. A new song commissioned for the show will provide an emotional context for these images of the Disney guest experience.

No word yet on schedules for the shows, though Disney says they will begin in January.

Disney also is asking fans to submit photos and videos of their Disney theme park visits for possible use in Disney's TV and online campaigns. The website to submit and view the photos and video will be www.DisneyParks.com/Memories.

If that part of the campaign sounds familiar, SeaWorld did something similar a few years back to collect visitor photos for use on SeaWorld's website. SeaWorld, though, offered free tickets and other goodies to visitors whose photos where selected for use online. I've heard no word yet from Disney whether the folks whose videos or photos are used prominently within this campaign will get anything in return from the company, other than some pretty sweet bragging rights.

That said, from an initial glance it appears that Disney's campaign is much more aggressive in scope on the Web side of things than SeaWorld's. Instead of collecting a few photos for illustrating the main Disney theme park websites, Disney looks to be creating a sort of "Disney Facebook Lite," where people can publish photos and videos for all other Disney fans to see (once Disney approves them, of course). So it'll become a huge archive of in-park media, rather than a handful of promo photos.

Replies (34)

September 23, 2010 at 9:59 AM · This is the best they could come up with? Sounds pretty pointless to me.
September 23, 2010 at 10:04 AM · Maybe now they'll remove the Mickey-balloon window stickers from the monorail. They give me a headache.

As for an actual opinion, meh- I'll give it a chance before passing judgment, but it doesn't fill me with the anticipation that Year(s) of a Million Dreams did.

September 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM · "Year of a Million Dreams": Disney gives park visitors free prizes.

"Let the Memories Begin": Park visitors give Disney free photos and video.

About sums it up, doesn't it?

September 23, 2010 at 10:38 AM · I expected at least ONE new attraction... instead we get a 30 minute presentation about submitting pictures and video for disney to use in their adverts!? A great comeback to Harry Potter! So much for WDW's 40th!
September 23, 2010 at 10:40 AM · It seems to me that Disney typically doesn't make new attraction or show announcements when it does these promotional reveals.
September 23, 2010 at 10:40 AM · You'd think it would be the best time to do this!
September 23, 2010 at 10:45 AM · Seems like "insiders" are giving it a negative response (In part to the mini hype up it got). I wonder how the average guest will look at this promotion? I know I think it would be pretty cool to see the family photo get projected on to the castle.
September 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM · So this is also an attempt to get visitors to stay later with the chance that you might see your picture on the side of the Castle or on It's A Small World. Guests that stay in the park tend to spend money.
September 23, 2010 at 11:07 AM · Sounds good to me. There are always negative people about everything.
September 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM · "There are always negative people about everything."

Are we all just supposed to love everything Disney does? When Disney delivers a new high quality ride, show, restaurant, etc., I'll give them praise. When they deliver a half-baked promotion that doesn't go beyond projecting pictures onto the castle, I'll criticize them.

September 23, 2010 at 11:42 AM · Let's also not forget that this promotion is designed to encourage more people to say "yes" to those PhotoPass photographers when they offer to take your picture inside the park. That'll be the only way to get on the castle, after all.

And if you see that great picture of you on the castle (or Small World), aren't you going to be pretty darn certain to go order a copy of that photo, even if you'd never intended to when the photog snapped your picture?

This is a brilliant in-park marketing strategy for PhotoPass, in my opinion. I don't know that the website isn't anything more than a way for Disney to capture Web traffic from some of its fan sites, but the photo presentation within the park should help increase PhotoPass traffic and sales substantially. Smart move by Disney. Look for it to be copied throughout the industry, swiftly.

September 23, 2010 at 11:58 AM · Plus...if Disney can figure out a way to capture the picture of the photo on the side of the Castle/Small World and link it to the original photo...think about the possibilities for additional revenue. Pretty smart thinking! I know it was always fun to see my picture on the jumbo-trons at the ballparks. Hmmmm.
September 23, 2010 at 12:27 PM · Lame! Bring back the "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion for another multi-year run.

You could project my photo on the moon, I'm still not buying it at the end of the day, especially for what Disney charges.

You can always have the Disney Photographer take a picture of you with your camera after he snaps one with his own, so if your picture is used, you'll essentially have the same one at about the same moment. Don't be afraid to ask them to do this, they never say no, trust me.

September 23, 2010 at 12:34 PM · I think this a great business move for Disney for all the fore mentioned reasons. I think it will go one step further. When the promotion ends, they will begin charging to have your picture displayed on the castle. Birthday wishes, other special occassion, maybe guest of the day to kick off the nightly fireworks... The options are endless, couple the showing of the picture with a photo package of the castle displaying your picture, oh yea, many people will pay for this experience.
September 23, 2010 at 1:17 PM · Sounds like the scoreboard at sporting events.

Thought that just made me shudder:

The Disney Kiss Cam.

September 23, 2010 at 1:32 PM · Great marketing idea for Disney. But I really don't want to see a show of other guest photos. Zzzzzzzzzz. I've already seen them throughout the park, probably agitating my day.

"Oh hey look it's the guy who stopped in the middle of the path"

"There's the family that pushes a stroller and makes the kids walk"

and of course

"oh look, the sunburned tourists"

September 23, 2010 at 2:16 PM · As an in park feature and addition to the Disney online experience, the idea is kind of neat.

As the so called "Highlight", of a yearlong promotional campaign....weak.

September 23, 2010 at 2:46 PM · I have found that Disney lately has come up with promotional ideas that are actually is not costing them much at all.

I was, at first, apprehensive about "Celebrate Today", but with some fake balloons, some buttons, and guest participation, they were able to create something Magical that everybody, even the guests, could chip in and help!

I am reminded of the "Making Memories" song on the Disneyland Sing A Longs from the 90s. Weird, I know.

Also, Photopass is an excellent and underrated item in the parks. Professional Pictures that, if you do the math, come out cheaper than the ride photos. Its not a bad idea to get one and they actually sent my family one to start registering though!

September 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM · Further proof that Disney has lost its' way creatively. It has clearly become more of a business now. Universal has, IMHO, taken the forefront in innovative theme park ideas. I had my hopes up since Iger and Lasseter took over for the failed final years of the Eisner era, but so far I have seen nothing different. Ten years ago, if you were to tell me that I would plan a trip to Orlando and NOT visit Disney, I would have said you were crazy. Alas, that is exactly what I'm doing next week.
September 23, 2010 at 4:12 PM · This would have been better off as a surprise once guests are inside of the park, instead of the focal point of a promotion. Imagine just sitting or standing there and watching your picture come on the castle or "it's a small world" and being pleasantly delighted because you didn't know Disney was doing this. Instead you will probably get dissapointed when your picture doesn't come out, and then you'll ask yourself the question "I'm I to ugly for Disney?". From what I've read people aren't all that excited for this, even dissapointed, and I don't blame them.

Personally this doesn't bother me, i never go to the parks because of the promotions. As for this little picture show, I'd rather be on Space Mountain or Dumbo than watch this.

September 23, 2010 at 4:54 PM · I Have to really agree that I would never plan a trip to the park to see other peoples photos on the castle. I love Disney but this might backfire. if someone submits a photo and is told it won't be used (and we all know there is no way to show every photo submitted) then those people might be truned off from visiting the park at all. They would never do what they should, which would be ot offer free park admission to those people whose photos they show on that particular day...that might cost them too much money and we know that would never happen. It does seem that lately Disney is falling behind in the theme park updates, but I still love them and will go again this year as soon as I can.
September 23, 2010 at 5:06 PM · I'm sure that will be a thrill...for those whose pics are chosen. For the rest of us, I'm not sure it will be so exciting to see stranger's Disney pics projected every night.
September 23, 2010 at 5:38 PM · Sounds to me like Disney is making a giant billboard out of the side of the castle and small world. I see enough of them along the highway. I could care less if they put my picture up there.

Bobby, formally known as Bob & Robert!!!!!!!

September 23, 2010 at 5:51 PM · Wow so much negativity. Why don't you wait until it happens before you decide to rip it apart?
September 23, 2010 at 9:36 PM · Plus, I highly doubt people really are thinking "oh, I am not going to Disney World now because their promo theme stinks". People are going to show up regardless. Why not have a photo theme. Remember, "Celebrate You" seems a little out there too and it seemed to gel nicely with it all!

And I still do not understand what this has to do with Universal's WWOHP. If you are looking for a Disney response, the New Fantasyland might be something comparable to WWOHP and grade them on that. This has nothing to do with new rides, but rather Disney figuring out after the 25th anniversary of WDW that they should have year long celebrations.

September 24, 2010 at 8:18 AM · Well, there was a mini litmus test in my lecture class today. A Disney Exec was a guest speaker, and he showed a 3 minute you tube clip of different families surprising their kids with trips to Disney. On a Friday morning class of 500 college kids, half of them probably hung over, there wasnt a single person who didnt ohhh and ahhh and how cute with the kids reactions.

Even if the moments are not yours, I think that there will be connections with the photos that are made that bring up your own moments at the park.

September 24, 2010 at 12:24 PM · I think people forget that the Disney parks hold a lot of nostalgia for a lot of people. Why do people get so darn negative about an idea that has yet to be seen? The parks hold a lot of memories for me. This theme celebrates those memories.

Not every year can be the year (2yrs?) of a million dreams. That was as popular as it gets.

Fan boys can be the worse fans sometimes.

September 24, 2010 at 3:40 PM · I'm guessing this idea spawned from the neat World of Color road show. If the show is as cool as that, then I'm looking forward to it. If it just a simple PowerPoint presentation (which it won't be) then the hate here would be valid.
September 24, 2010 at 6:29 PM · Z-z-z-z-z-zzzzzzz....
September 25, 2010 at 8:39 AM · I agree, if it wasn't Disney doing the show, it would be boring. But knowing that they will add some good music, a little pixie dust and some elbow grease, it probably will be pretty good. If we know one thing about Disney is that they've become cheap enough to only spend money on what will be pretty good. I wasn't sure about the current theme when I first heard about it, but it turned out to work well. I also agree, the theme doesn't make or break the parks. All it is is promotion, and now it is very interactive promotion to go along with the generations used to such personalization and interaction.

I'm comfused when people say Disney is falling behind on things, or because there's no new ride. None of that has to do with Disney's advertising theme. Disney really is the only ones who run campaign themes like this, and it is in it's own category. Not rides, or firework shows etc. It's just a little campaign.

September 25, 2010 at 10:25 AM · I didn't even realize that this was for the 40th anniversary. That makes it even more disappointing. The 25th was a terrific event. Great parade. Beautiful overlay for the castle. New attractions. Announcements for coming rides. A new park being built. Disney was running on all cylinders. Today? A "celebration" that is designed to cynically make guests promote the parks while pushing visitors to buy in-park photos.
September 25, 2010 at 11:14 AM · Much like Disneyland, I think the big guns and big budgets are going to be saved for the 50th. 40 years is awesome but not a big date. Of course who says that 40 years is not part of the "Memories"?
September 25, 2010 at 11:33 AM · I think that it's kinda odd they got rid of Kodak at Epcot but are basing this years theme on ....... pictures? Maybe they should have held on to Kodak for one more year.
September 27, 2010 at 1:52 PM · It's a neat idea, but not enough for a 40th promo. If this was coupled with an additional promo, then great. On its own, it's somewhat lacking.

I do agree with Robert, though, in that it's brilliant for marketing purposes.

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