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In 2009, Come to a Disney Park on Your Birthday and Get In Free!

NEW YORK (Sept. 18, 2008) – Everyone who visits a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park on their birthday in 2009 can get in free, as Disney Parks embraces a newly identified family-travel trend called “celebration vacations.”

A June 2008 survey of approximately 4,600 adults conducted by Ypartnership reveals that vacationers are increasingly motivated by events of high “personal significance” – milestone anniversaries, and birthdays, weddings and honeymoons, graduations and reunions and more. Seventy percent of respondents revealed they have taken a vacation primarily to celebrate a special occasion.

In 2009, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts will lead this growing trend with new entertainment and services that allow guests to turn their personal milestones into magical Disney experiences.

And to kick it all off: a first-ever opportunity for guests to receive a free ticket to one of the Disney theme parks on their birthday in 2009.

“Birthdays are the one occasion that we all share every year,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at an announcement event today in New York. “We thought a free birthday ticket would be the icing on the cake as we extend this new ‘celebration vacation’ trend to Disney Parks.”

“The motivations revealed in this fascinating piece of work suggest that vacations are increasingly viewed as an appropriate way to either recognize or reward the participants for some event of great significance in their lives,” said Peter C. Yesawich, whose marketing services firm conducted the survey. “As such, we call them ‘celebration vacations’.”

Research showed that when families take that “celebration vacation” they are looking for destinations that provide activities for children and – better yet – activities that adults and children can enjoy together, Yesawich said.

“Given these findings, it’s not surprising that Disney Parks topped the list of destinations where families would most like to celebrate these special occasions,” he said.

Respondents rated these as the top destinations for a celebration: Disney theme parks (40% combined), Hawaii (18%), Florida {other than Walt Disney World Resort} (13%), Europe (13%) and the Caribbean (12%). Interestingly, respondents without children in their household mentioned Walt Disney World Resort as the preferred destination for a “celebration vacation” with a comparable frequency to those with children (33% versus 27% respectively). The same was true among respondents over 55 years of age versus those between 21 and 34 years of age (34% versus 29% respectively).

“We see our parks as the ideal setting for a personal celebration,” Rasulo said. “Guests can immerse themselves in their favorite stories and their favorite characters, creating a visit they’ll never forget.

“And when our cast members get involved, it feels as if the entire park is celebrating along with you.”

At Walt Disney World Resort, guests can add on to the fun, choosing from more than 200 experiences ranging from breathtaking (magical fireworks cruises, sunrise safaris, diving the depths with undersea creatures) to mirth-making (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, character dining, kids’ pirate adventures). At Disneyland Resort, celebrants can book more than 50 magical experiences including “My Disneyland Birthday Party” and guided tours that reveal Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disney Parks.

With all there is to do in Disney parks, guests can tailor their celebration with favorite attractions, favorite characters and special experiences. Maybe they have a “princess” day with themed meals, shows, attractions and perfectly princess merchandise at Disneyland. Or they turn Walt Disney World “wild” with trail riding, bass fishing and parasailing.

Thanks to new Web tools, guests can discover magical experiences, unique events, dining enhancements and more. The planning tool is accessible by way of www.disneyparks.com.

Disney Parks also is presenting park experiences with memory-making in mind, including street parties in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park, a Tomorrowland video dance party (Walt Disney World Resort), a celebration barbecue and festive birthday party (Disneyland Resort) and colorful park décor.

Disney parks are the ultimate setting for any celebration, turning a special occasion into a magical Disney experience. And with the opportunity of free admission to a Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort theme park on your birthday in 2009, it’s even more special. All it takes is a valid ID including proof of birth date. Guests can get more details and start the process by registering their birthdays at www.disneyparks.com.