Disney says 600,000 have already signed up to volunteer for free days


At a slam-bang press event at Epcot in Orlando, Disney Parks announced that just six weeks into its 2010 promotion to give free admission for a day to anyone who volunteers for a day, some 600,000 people have already volunteered or signed up for the job.

At this rate, the company's expressed goal for one million volunteers will be met within a month.

WalletPop was one of the first websites to tell you about the deal, announced last September. By signing up for an approved, one-day gig via the HandsOn Network, a voluntarism clearinghouse, volunteers get a free day of admission at one of Disney's six American theme parks. To sign up, you have to go through the Disney Parks homepage.

People have to be at least 6-years-old to participate (kids under 3 are free at Disney parks anyway), and although the company had originally intended to extend the offer to one million, it hasn't yet confirmed that it will extend the deal once those tickets are given away.

Anything to draw more families into the resorts, where they'll spend on hotels, food, and souvenirs, will be welcomed by Disney stockholders, especially in light of the fact that Disney's theme parks reported a revenue decline of 2% last quarter, and there are no big-ticket attraction openings announced until 2013.

It took effect January 1. Who can say if the runaway success of the program is a sign of the times -- fewer of us working full-time jobs, more of us have time to give -- or if it's a statement about Disney's industry-high prices of $79 for a one-day adult pass in Florida. Probably a bit of both, combined with the fact that unlike 2009's bygone free-on-your-birthday deal, this one is good anytime.

There was more than that revealed at the event. Check back on WalletPop later today for video of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Ty Pennington unveiling the world's largest sculpture made of 115,527 cans of food, which by the end of the day will be dismantled and sent to food banks across the Southeast. Surely that's a shameless publicity stunt anyone can get behind.