Accommodations Fit for a King (but it's a Tight Fit)Prizes for the giveaway range from the not-so-dreamy (trading pins) to the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming (a worldwide tour of every Disney resort to lead a parade). One of the featured prizes is a night's stay at the new Cinderella Castle Suite, an actual hotel chamber inside the Magic Kingdom landmark. Designed by Disney Imagineers for the Million Dreams event, the suite is regally outfitted with stained glass windows, marble floors, and bejeweled ornaments, but also boasts posh amenities such as a TV monitor built into a tricked-out wall hanging and a whirlpool tub set into a mosaic-adorned alcove.
The Imagineers didn't have a lot of space in which to work their magic. While the suite can accommodate a winner and up to five guests, six larger people may develop cabin, er, castle fever if they spend a lot of time holed up there. There is a very small foyer--really an elevator landing--outside the entrance. The main room offers two queen beds, with little additional floor space. A small sitting room has a sofa that converts into a bed. And while it's generously appointed with two sinks, a tub, and a shower, the bathroom is rather small as well. By comparison, the Mickey Mouse Penthouse atop the Disneyland Hotel, one of the featured prizes for the California resort's version of the Disney Dreams Giveaway, offers plenty of room to luxuriate.
A stay at the Cinderella Castle Suite can't be purchased (a glance at the sweepstakes' rules, reveals it has a value of $587) during The Year of a Million Dreams. According to Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney's global alliance marketing, when the Dreams event ends, the suite will not turn back into a pumpkin--but it won't be available to well-heeled customers either. "We may use it philanthropically, to give to families visiting with terminally ill children for example," he says. "We might also use it as a giveaway for promotions or to raise funds for charitable causes."
See the Cinderella Castle Suite and other Disney World scenes in my Year of a Million Dreams Photo Gallery.
Want to Win the Giveaway? Keep Dreaming.Other prizes include exclusive Fastpasses that offer immediate access to popular attractions, special after-hours events at the parks, and Disney Cruise Line getaways. Between the Florida and California resorts, over one million prizes will be awarded.
So how can enterprising enthusiasts wrangle their way into the castle suite or score some of the other swag, er dreams, that Disney is giving away? It's a completely arbitrary process, and no amount of cajoling will land you in the royal hot tub. The Dream Squad, Disney employees who roam the resort and hand out the prizes, follow a strict set of guidelines. A computer program randomly chooses the prescribed days, times, and places to pick winners. If a person is in the right spot at the right time (and meets eligibility requirements), he or she wins a prize. If nobody is there, the prize defaults to the next randomly chosen winner. Contestants can enter the drawing by writing in as well. For more details, visit Disney's Dream Giveaway site.
The Royal TreatmentIf you (or your kids) have your heart set on being a Disney princess, a pirate of the Caribbean, or a cowboy, you don't need to win a sweepstakes or resort to cajoling to have your wish fulfilled. Each day during the Dreams event, the Magic Kingdom is presenting The Happily Ever After Party during which guests can participate in royalty training and meet Princess Aurora and Prince Philip. "Toy Story's" Woody leads a Cowboy Camp in Fronteirland, and would-be buccaneers can enjoy a hearty "yo ho" when Captain Jack Sparrow delivers a Pirate Tutorial in Adventureland. The group events are open to all.
Something Fishy Going On in Epcot and Disney's Animal KingdomThere are new attractions to discover during Walt Disney World's Year of a Million Dreams. In Epcot, guests boarding The Seas with Nemo and Friends can ride "clamobiles" with the plucky clownfish and his pals as they romp in their computer-animated undersea world. Remarkably, the animated creatures meld with the real creatures in the Epcot pavilion's saltwater tank during the attraction's finale. And at the Animal Kingdom, the lavish Finding Nemo- The Musical hits all the right notes with bravura performances, sophisticated puppetry, and catchy tunes. It is, in my estimation, the best stage show currently playing at any North American theme park.
A Laughing MatterAt the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club will open in the spring in the spot that used to house the Timekeeper Circlevision attraction. Using the interactive real-time animation technology pioneered in the wonderful Turtle Talk with Crush show, the Monsters Inc. attraction will use multiple characters to present an intergalactic, improvisational comedy show. I caught a sneak peek of the attraction, and, while it was ambitious and clever, it lacked the flow and charm of the Crush show. Keep in mind, this was a preview, and should be considered a work in progress. Developing a theme park attraction based on free-from comedy routines seems like a dangerous gamble, especially with unfamiliar characters. (Some of the show's animated comedians are new for the attraction.) Predictably, the jokes were hit or miss in the show I saw--with more misses.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.