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Finding Disney in the Parks’ Unique Historic Promotions

Extraordinary Magic in Everyday Life

Disney enjoys giving each new year (or two) a specific theme from time to time, incorporating the theme into its marketing efforts and attraction tie-ins. These do an excellent job at generating extra promotional buzz for the destinations, thus allowing more of us to find Disney in its recognition throughout the year. We see the ads on television, we spot the promos, and we become more excited because we know, whether in person or in spirit, we get to be part of the celebration. We already looked at celebrations associated with park anniversaries. Now here are some of the parks’ most memorable themes not attached to a birthday. It is in these that Disney has to get particularly creative, and over the years, there have been quite fun happenings.


Epcot Millennium Celebration - DisneyMillennium Celebration, 1999-2000: Marking the turn of not just the century but the millennium itself, Epcot became the host park for a year-long celebration marking the occasion. Imagineers attached a giant wand onto the side of Spaceship Earth, the tip of which sparked “2000” in red lettering. A new evening parade Tapestry of Dreams, marched through World Showcase as an inspiring procession honoring the concept of time and culture. Deviating from the usual style of Disney parades, it had no Disney characters. Millennium Village opened as an expo of other cultures not highlighted in World Showcase. Once 2001 rolled around, the “2000” lettering changed to read “Epcot” before the wand was dismantled in 2008. Tapestry of Dreams remained until 2003. Today, Millennium Village is known as World Showplace and is used for special events.

The Year of a Million Dreams, 2006-2008: As you can tell by its dates, this ended up really being two years of two million dreams. The premise involved Disneyland and Walt Disney World Cast Members awarding “dreams come true” to random guests. The grandeur level of these dreams varied; mine was winning a game of tick-tack-toe against an Epcot CM, while others’ luck went as high as receiving a night’s stay in the all-new Cinderella Castle Suite. During Year of a Million Dreams, the Magic Kingdom introduced several new entertainment options. Some celebrated the idea of dreams coming true, like the revamped Disney Dreams Come True Parade (now gone) and the all-new stage show Dream Along with Mickey (still performing today). Others focused on letting guests live out their dreams, whether that was to be a princess (in a small new performance with Aurora), a cowboy (in the street show Woody’s Cowboy Camp), or be in a parade (in the low-key, floatless, but still charming Main Street Family Fun Day Parade).

What Will You Celebrate - DisneyWhat Will You Celebrate?, 2009: 
Spotlighting the way guests come to Disney theme parks to commemorate special occasions of all kinds, What Will You Celebrate? carried the tagline “Celebrate You!” to encourage guests to party in the parks. In its final iteration, Disney Dreams Come True Parade became Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade with new music, and a new street party debuted: Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!, which was just last fall re-imagined into Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! This promotion is perhaps best remembered, though, for awarding guests free park admission on their birthday. An alternative option, which my family chose, was to receive a Birthday Fastpass, good for several of the parks’ top-priority attractions at any time during the day.

Let the Memories Begin!, 2011-2012: Drawing from a hoopla of entertainment options tied to an annual promotion, Let the Memories Begin! featured one such entity: The Magic, The Memories, & You!, a groundbreaking projection show onto Cinderella Castle in Florida and it’s a small world in California. It would be replaced by the current show, Celebrate the Magic!, in late 2012. This promotion’s focus was cherishing special life moments in the Disney theme parks, allowing the destinations to be multi-generational special moments shared together. Along with this theme, each night’s performance of MM&Y included guests’ park photos taken throughout the day.

Limited Time Magic Long Lost Friends - DisneyLimited Time Magic, 2013: 
Now this was really something. Each week in 2013, Disneyland and Walt Disney World offered a new, limited-time event. The spectrum of enticements ranged greatly. Some weeks would see something as little as a new cupcake, while others brought back characters not seen in years. It was tremendous fun waiting to see what each new week would bring. The events went back and forth between being actual new activities, or things that are already present every day at that time that just gained some more publicity for 2013. Either way, it made guests anxious to see what would be happening during their visit. Among the grandest events were a revival of The Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland and a multi-coast, 24-hour party on Memorial Day Weekend called the Monstrous All-Nighter.

Disney Side, 2014-???: Again deviating from attraction tie-ins, Disney Side exists as solely a marketing theme with its presence in the parks limited to signage and labeling. Prompted by the current surge of social media outlets, the campaign encouraged guests to “show their Disney side” whether they’re in the parks or at home with the hashtag #DisneySide. This could mean dressing up as a favorite character, watching a favorite movie, or enjoying an awesome day in the parks. It basically means anything that brings out that side of us that only Disney can. 2014 continued the Memorial Weekend tradition of a 24-hour party, this time called Rock Your Disney Side themed to heroes and villains. It has yet to be seen if 2015, which carried over the Disney Side promotion, will keep up a 24-hour event. However, based on the timeline of last year’s announcements, we should know yes or no very soon.


(Images © Disney.)

Blake studies Electronic Media and Film at Appalachian State University. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade in Frontierland and then sprint to Main Street in time to see it again. You can find him on Twitter @olddirtyblake or at BlakeOnline.com.