Disney offering free park admission on your birthday


I guess pipe dreams can come true, too. This afternoon, in a balloon-smothered luncheon at New York City's Times Square, Disney announced its big marketing push for 2009, and it has the Mouse doing something it almost never does. It's letting people into its parks for free.

The gist of its new ad campaign (mark your big anniversary or birthday with a "celebration vacation" at Walt Disney World or Disneyland) is nothing spectacular. But the centerpiece of the promotion is noteworthy: During 2009, you can get into its parks for free on your birthday.

And like Disney's previous push, the Year of a Million Dreams, implementing it won't cost the company much in the way of infrastructure. Next month at Disneyland, Disney property Miley Cyrus (pictured, with generous rodent) will have a 16th birthday party to help kick things off (she'll give the best present: the gift of P.R).

Mind you, this is a company that starts charging children the "adult" price at age 10, and at Walt Disney World in Florida, that freebie can mean a $75 savings on a one-day pass (Disneyland in California is $69). For kids under 10, the savings will be $63 in Florida and $59 in Anaheim. Disney's parks always did give a few extra gimmes to guests of all ages on their birthdays, including self-congratulatory buttons, balloons, and oozier-than-usual smiles from "cast members." But Disney's parks are notorious for rarely discounting tickets to the general public, and it almost never gives passes away. This economy, though, is seeing lots of stalwarts cave.