Today Disney is announcing their new marketing campaign for 2009, replacing the 26-month long "Year of a Million Dreams" that has been running since October 1, 2006. Coming in January, the question on everyone's (or at least Disney's) mind will be... What will you celebrate?
As any good marketing campaign needs a gimmick, Disney took the novel approach of celebrating the one thing that everyone in the world has: a birthday. Everyone who shows up at the park on his or her birthday gets in for FREE. That's right, Disney is actually giving away something worthwhile for nothing... or so it would seem.
As I always like to do, let's break down the numbers. Based on current reports (Disney generally keeps actual numbers a secret) the average daily attendance at Disneyland is 40,000 people. Assuming an even distribution of birthdays (~1:365.25 people having a birthday on any given day), on any given day at Disneyland about 110 people are celebrating their birthdays. Letting those 110 people into the park for free isn't so much of a cut into the bottom line, and the reality is, most of these people aren't going to be celebrating their birthday at the park alone. They'll bring their friends, their families, plenty of other admission-paying guests which should well make up the difference.
Furthermore, those who travel to Disney for a vacation are rarely going to be staying for just one day. They'll make a multi-day vacation out of it. So if the incentive of a free day in the park convinces people to take a family vacation to Disneyland who wouldn't have done so otherwise, Disney's making out like bandit on the deal!
Disney obviously thought it all out too, as the free One Day/One Park pass wouldn't be too appealing to people who are coming to buy a multi-day park hopper pass, and have alternatives available. Choose from a "Birthday Fun Card" which seems to be nothing more than a Disney Gift Card loaded with the cash value equivalent of a One Day/One Park ticket, which can be used anywhere in the park for merchandise or extra-cost activities (but not food or drink), OR instead choose a Birthday FASTPASS giving you and up to 5 guests a fastpass for up to 4 attractions in your day, OR a One Day/One Park pass usable only by you anytime until your next birthday.
All of these options seem to encourage more people to come to the parks, and for a longer time, which can't be a bad thing for Disney. But I definitely like the idea, we'll see how cheesy of commercials Disney's marketing folks can come up with.
Of course this begs the question, "What will I celebrate?" Seriously folks, have I ever needed a reason? :)