When the last strain of "Happy Birthday to You" ends and you blow the candles out on your birthday cake, do you actually make a wish? If you wish upon a star, and you long to visit a Disney theme park, your dreams can come true--in 2009 anyway. As part of Disney's "What will you celebrate" event, the U.S. Disney parks are offering free admission for birthday boys and girls of all ages. If you're thinking of taking the Mouse up on its largesse, here's what you need to know.
What is Disney's Free Admission on Your Birthday?Simply stated, Disney is offering a one-day, one-park ticket to any of its six U.S. theme parks within the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts to any visitor on his or her birthday. Not so simply stated, there are a number of caveats, options, and other things to consider before you start booking your birthday celebration vacation.
How Can I Get a Free Ticket to a Disneyland or Walt Disney World Park on My Birthday?During 2009, arrive at a park on your birthday, show proper ID (according to Disney, a driver's license, government-issued photo ID, or a government-issued passport will do the trick. Guests under 18 without ID would need to show an original or certified copy of their birth certificates), fill out a form, and bibbidi bobbidi-boo, your freebie ticket will magically appear.
What's the Deal About Pre-Registering for Disney's Free Admission on Your Birthday?It's not required to get the free ticket, but pre-registering would save time retrieving the ticket at the park. Guests who do not pre-register will have to complete the paperwork at the park. Guests who pre-register online can print out the confirmation receipt at home to exchange for a free ticket at the park (but they shouldn't forget to bring proper ID as well). To pre-register, go to Disney's Free Admission on Your Birthday site.
What if You Already Have a Season Pass or You've Already Purchased Multi-Day Passes for an Upcoming Trip?You won't be able to get any money back for the dough you've already paid, but Disney still has some birthday treats for you. Bring valid ID (as outlined above) and you can choose one of the following:
- A one-day, one-park ticket to be used anytime before your next birthday. Note that the ticket is only good for the birthday celebrant and is not transferable.
- A birthday fun card valued at the same price as a one-day, one-park ticket (either an adult or children pass, depending on the age of the person celebrating the birthday). The fun card can be used to purchase merchandise at the parks, but it can't be used for food or beverages. While there are all kinds of other restrictions, this is a pretty sweet deal.
- A birthday Fastpass badge. Details are a bit sketchy on this, but Disney says that the pass will be good for the birthday celebrant and up to five additional guests in his or her group. It will work on select attractions. While I'm not certain, I believe that guests will be able to enter the Fastpass lines of designated attractions immediately by showing the Fastpass badge. According to Disney, availability for the birthday Fastpass badges will be limited, especially after 11 a.m., as they will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Depending on the details (such as how many attractions the special Fastpass includes) and the number of people with whom you'll be visiting, this could be a great incentive, particularly on high-season, busy days at the parks.
You CAN Apply Your Free Birthday Admission Pass to Another TicketIf you're planning to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World for more than one day, and you won't be purchasing your tickets in advance, you could upgrade your free birthday ticket and use it to purchase a multi-day, and/or multi-park ticket. Disney will apply the value of a one-day, one-park ticket (either an adult or children pass, depending on the age of the person celebrating the birthday) towards any other ticket purchase. For more info about Disney ticket prices, go to Walt Disney World's Magic Your Way Ticket Pricing or to the Disneyland Resort overview.
Is There More to Disney's "What Will You Celebrate" Event than Free Admission on Your Birthday?You betcha. Anticipating a captive horde of celebrants, Disney is offering all kinds of ways to celebrate. From special birthday balloons, to birthday-themed meals, all the way up to high-end add-ons such as specialty yacht cruises at Walt Disney World and exclusive spa treatments at Disneyland Resort, there will be no shortage of ways to keep the birthday wishes flowing. And while the free admission deal is for birthdays only, Disney is expanding its invitation list to include folks celebrating true love, triumphs, reunions, and first visits. The parks are offering tailored features as well as custom-designed options to help celebrants mark their special occasions.
Why is Disney Giving Away Free Admission to its Parks?Granted, a one-day, one-park ticket to a Disney theme park is not cheap. But the cost to enter a Disney park is only a fraction of the potential revenue that Disney can garner from its guests. Day guests generally drop a small fortune on meals and gifts in the parks, and overnight guests typically drop a huge fortune on hotels, lots of meals and gifts, and all kinds of other things that fatten the Mouse's coffers.
And, of course, what's a celebration if nobody's there to celebrate with you? Disney knows birthday boys and girls will be bringing along their birthday posse--and all of them will be paying full fare. Further, a theme park visit built around a celebration virtually guarantees that those celebrating will want to mark the occasion by planning something special--and potentially costly--at the park (see "Is There More to Disney's 'What Will You Celebrate' Event" above). And lots of guests who take Disney up on its free admission offer will probably feel giddy enough to loosen their inhibitions about splurging on extra goodies. All in all, what may appear to be an extravagant offer is likely a shrewd move on Disney's part, especially in these difficult economic times.