A good deed is returned by Disney: free admission just for being nice

There has been some grousing recently about Disney World's decision to quietly adulterate its all-beef hot dogs with cheaper chicken meat, but the company is still capable of great feats of magnanimity.

Disney will give a free day of admission in 2010 to 1 million people who complete a day of volunteer service. As with its free birthday promotion, which is in effect this year, people must register with the parks' Web site before embarking on their day of service, which must be handled and certified by the widely operating HandsOn Network.

HandsOn, which has 70,000 affiliates nationwide, hooks average people up with non-skilled positions at food banks, senior centers, Habitat for Humanity builds, and other one-day projects. After completion, it's a free ticket for you. And hopefully, you'll want to keep volunteering even when there isn't a carrot being dangled in front of you.

You can be one of the million who claim the freebie. The offer is for those aged 18 and older, but since you can't leave the kids home when you go to Disneyland, kids aged 6 to 17 can also get a free ticket for pitching in, too, as long as an adult is with them when they're volunteering. As long as you live in the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico, you can take advantage of the offer.

It's another smart move for the Mouse. Although 3.5 million people registered to visit Disney for free on their birthday this year, only about 30% of them actually claimed their tickets, giving the theme park giant a huge wave of publicity and not much of a financial downside. Even those people who attended usually brought with them family or friends who spent plenty of money in the parks. The same will be true of the volunteers.

Should you already have an annual pass for a Disney resort, you can receive a special Fastpass for up to six people instead, which will help you cut the lines on the most popular attractions. Or you can continue your kindness and donate your free pass to charity.

Good on ya, Disney. I know you've taken some grief for your $80 tickets, cheap-meat hot dogs, and interminable peak-season lines, but this one makes us feel all fuzzy inside, the way Disney's supposed to make us feel.
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