Disney puts California park on global pedestal for golden anniversary

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ORLANDO -- Even for a master marketer like Disney, the promotion of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Disneyland will be unlike any other.

Ads promoting the anniversary of the theme park in Anaheim, Calif., already have begun appearing on national TV networks and cable outlets, and will soon begin running overseas. The ads feature an array of Disney characters traveling across land and sea to get to the 18-month celebration, which kicks off May 5.

But thats only the beginning, according to Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

For the first time, Disney will be marketing an event globally because the anniversary celebration will be held at all of our destinations around the world, Rasulo said at a media event.

In preparation, Disneyland is being spruced up for what Disney is calling The Happiest Celebration on Earth. Even the parks landmark Sleeping Beauty Castle will be dressed up.

There also will be special events throughout the coming months.

Disneyland is unique in the Disney portfolio because it was the first park to purely reflect the vision of company founder Walt Disney. It has since inspired other theme parks and themed attractions ranging from retail stores to restaurants all over the world.

Rasulo didnt say exactly how much Disney is spending on the promotional effort, other than it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, including co-op advertising.

Eventually, every aspect of Disney, from its 11 theme parks to its cruise line, retail stores, hotels and golf courses will be part of the marketing effort.

Promotional ads also are running in theaters prior to Disney movies.

Disney is even launching a game on its Web site thats tied to the celebration.

Rasulo called it an unprecedented marketing campaign that also will encompass the Sept. 12 opening of Disneys latest theme park, Hong Kong Disneyland.

Rasulo said the global promotion of the Disneyland anniversary, along with the opening of the Hong Kong park, underscores another key theme of the marketing campaign: Our evolution from a single theme park to a global provider of magical vacations on land, on sea, at home and abroad, Rasulo said.

Rasulo said Disney will continue to market itself as a global entity as the entertainment giant enters the next phase of our growth as the leading provider of family vacation experiences.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

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