NEW YORK -- For the first time in Disney history, guests celebrating a birthday will get in free at a Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme park next year.
The idea to embrace "celebration vacations," identified by Disney as a new trend in family travel, was unveiled before an audience of travel agents, tour operators and media at a luncheon in New York on Thursday.
The "celebration vacation" trend is based on research conducted by Ypartnership, a marketing services firm. In a June survey of nearly 4,600 U.S. adults, Ypartnership found that 70% of leisure travelers have taken a vacation to mark a special occasion.
According to Peter Yesawich, CEO of Ypartnership, Disney parks topped the list of where families would most like to celebrate special occasions.
"Time does pass quickly, and there is a growing trend to slow down our frenetic lifestyles and stop to rejoice around the things that matter," said Yesawich. "Families on celebration vacations are looking to truly commemorate moments in their lives, in special places everyone can enjoy."
The crowd's response to the birthday initiative was instantly positive, with travel agents and operators murmuring about a good opportunity.
Starting Sept. 22, Disney will run a TV ad with new marketing slogan: "What will you celebrate?"