Disney 2013 Promotion: “Limited Time Magic”

Walt Disney World’s and Disneyland’s 2013 promotional celebration was announced today, and it will feature 52 weeks of small celebrations dubbed “Limited Time Magic.” This “Limited Time Magic” campaign replaces “Let the Memories Begin,” which has been the loosely-utilized promotional campaign for the last two years that has really only featured a marketing campaign along with the introduction of The Magic, The Memories, and You!, a nighttime show on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and on ‘it’s a small world’ in Disneyland (this show will be plussed and reintroduced as Celebrate the Magic (click for information about and our reaction to the announcement of the show) in late 2012). Disney made the announcement in for “Limited Time Magic” in New York and followed with a blurb on the Disney Parks Blog offering additional information. A website has also been launched for the campaign.


“Limited Time Magic” continues Disney’s tradition in recent years of offering a yearly marketing-driven celebrations, but “Limited Time Magic” will undoubtedly offer more for guests in the way of entertainment than “Let the Memories Begin!” or several more recent offerings.

Disney has indicated that there will be a number of surprisings and special offerings rolled out throughout the year, with many of these surprises announced by the various forms of Disney social media. You can also follow along here on Disney Tourist Blog as we keep a running calendar of the goings on here.

Some examples of the 52 celebrations scheduled for 2013 include:

  • True Love: Celebrate romance throughout Valentine’s Week with offerings and entertainment focused on love. Cinderella Castle and Sleeping Beauty Castle will be bathed in hues of red and pink, while Disney Princes and Princesses meet guests in special settings. Special prix fixe menus will also be offered at select Disney restaurants and, of course, special collectibles will be sold for the week.
  • Independence Week: Expect a week of Patriotism as Walt Disney World and Disneyland salute all nations, but only America with a 4th of July Fireworks Party for an entire week and patriotic lighting on Cinderella Castle and Sleeping Beauty Castle. Mickey Mouse will meet guests in his patriotic finest and guests will find special USA shirts, Ear Hats and other limited-edition souvenirs.
  • ‘Long Lost Friends Week:‘ rare Disney characters will appear for meet and greets at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Photo opportunities with characters that could include Flik, Clarabelle Cow, Remy, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, among others. The appearances will at least partially be determined by an online fan vote .
  • Pirate Week: Disney will celebrate pirates (where is the love for Whalers?!) in this week long celebration focusing on the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Look for this “Pirate-palooza” to feature pirate bands, pirate meet-and-greets, and more.
  • Dapper Dans Sing Boy Bands: The Dapper Dans will add a special finale to their show, in an attempt to reclaim the title of the ‘Original Boy Band’ as they sing contemporary tunes from boy bands, such as One Direction, *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
  • Unleash the Villains: Friday the 13th in 2013 will be a special day, as Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will stay open until the “13th Hour” (1 am) as Disney Villains, such as  Maleficent, Capt. Hook, Jafar, and others host a dance party. Limited-edition collectibles and nighttime mischief will also be available on September 13.
  • Golden Horseshoe Revue: This popular Frontierland show of Yesterland returns to Disneyland for a limited one month run, bringing back the corny jokes and enduring songs that were enjoyed by Walt Disney when the show premiered at Disneyland.
 Our Reaction

As of my writing this post, approximately two hours after the announcement, there has already been a flurry of negativity surrounding this promotion on Twitter and, presumably (as Twitter is a microcosm of the online fan community as a whole) on Facebook and fan message boards as well.

Honestly, I don’t quite get this. Complaints range from celebrations/promotions becoming too frequent (in that there’s a celebration every year making them less special), to the name being lame, to not enough being done. While the old adage goes that ‘nothing is certain in life except death and taxes,’ in terms of Disney, the saying should be that ‘nothing is certain in life except a yearly celebration at Walt Disney World and Disneyland; also that said celebration will have a name incorporating the words magic and/or memories; also, that usually the celebration won’t have much to offer guests.’

This is to say, the fact that a year-long celebration is occurring, and that it has “magic” in the name should come as no surprise. This is not to say that complaints about these continued celebrations are baseless, but the sense of rampant indignation is a bit much. Really, what did you expect, naysayers? These campaigns exist for the sake of Disney marketing, and they’re unlikely to disappear anytime soon. So the best we can hope for is a good yearly celebration, all things considered.

Putting aside the name and the celebration’s mere existence, I think this is a good promotional celebration. First, because there’s some actual substance to it. Not every one of these 52 celebrations is going to appeal to everyone (the Dapper Dans singing boy band songs is downright saddening to me), but some of them do look appealing, and so far we only know a few of the celebrations that will occur. These celebrations are going to cost Disney more than putting a “Let the Memories Begin” banner in front of the Train Station and running a series of commercials without any corresponding additions to the park, and the fact that there are 52 micro-events that will each require their own planning, execution, and expenditures by the parks indicates to me more of a commitment to this promotional celebration.

Second, many of us have been vocal about the fact that Disney has been turning its back on locals and regulars for the past several years as it seeks to capture the dollars of once in a lifetime visitor’s, who are generally easier to please. Few people are going to plan their once in a lifetime visits around any of these micro-celebrations, and clearly these micro-celebrations are more aimed at regulars and locals who might make a day or weekend trip to the parks to see a unique experience. The once in a lifetime group is just as likely to be convinced that they should visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland by a vague and substantively-lacking promotion (like “Let the Memories Begin!”) because they don’t know any better. Disney would have had to do nothing to capture this group with its yearly promotion. Instead, the parks are doing small celebrations, which only the more dedicated fanbase is likely going to find sufficiently compelling to plan a visit around. Is this not what we’ve all wanted for the past several years? While we may not end up liking each individual (or a majority of the) micro-celebrations, I think it’s pretty clear that they’re geared more towards regulars than casual guests. That, alone, is a good thing in my book.

To be sure, Disney isn’t doing this out of some altruistic motive. The best of these events will likely be planned during slower times to draw out more locals or, in the case of the July 4th celebration, to spread out crowds during busy times. Additionally, a couple of the examples above mention special merchandise; I’d hazard a guess that merchandising will be a big component of these celebrations. However, the fact that Disney will profit off of its marketing campaign doesn’t invalid it, nor does it mean it will be any less enjoyable for guests. Disney has a profit motive in essentially all of its offerings, yet countless guests enjoy said offerings on a daily basis.

Ultimately, as far as the substance of each individual micro-celebration goes, the jury is obviously still out on most of these (with the exception of the Dapper Dans one, which is just a fatally flawed concept) until we have a chance to see their in-park execution. They could all be wonderful, they could all be terrible. My guess is in reality there will be some great ones and some duds–but we won’t know this until we have a chance to see or experience them, so there’s no point passing judgment there quite yet.

I know as a photographer, I’m personally excited about all of the unique photo ops (especially the unique Castle lighting), but that’s a personal thing unlikely to appeal to the general public so I don’t count that as reason to give the celebration my endorsement. As for the concept of the “Limited Time Magic” campaign in general, I’ll admit to being a fan. I may not be a fan of the name, but I’ve come to expect names like this over the years and really, a name is a pretty superficial thing, so I’m willing to forgive that if the micro-celebrations have some quality substance.

Where do you stand on the highly divisive “Limited Time Magic” promotional campaign? Or you excited, disappointed, or indifferent? Please share your thoughts in the comments and share this post with your friends!

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27 Responses to “Disney 2013 Promotion: “Limited Time Magic””

  1. Brian Skinner says:

    Overall I like that there is a new celebration for this year. Some of the offerings are really exciting but others not so much. The July 4th is a great idea to help spread the crowds over a week rathen than 2 nights for the special Fireworks (Guess Sorcery in the Sky is out)and celebration of America. Valentines will be a great addition for that season and seeing what they did with MM&Y this year, next year could be amazing. The Golden Horseshoe in DL will be a great throwback and I hope it is added to the WDW lineup. Long Lost Friends week is a so so event in my opinion. Many of the characters that as so far listed are not that rare and infact I have seen them all in the MK within the last year. The “Boy Band” one is just so wrong in so many ways I dont even consider it. Now for the part that im not so excited about, With the filming and expected release of the POTC movie this year this could turn into one huge advertisment for the movie release with nothing really exciting in the park, but it could also be a great event…we will have to wait and see. Now for one thing I noticed on many of the listed events….limited edition merchandise. With the sucess of the MK 40th and Epcot 30th merchandise selling it seems that they are trying to have “limited Edition” items for every event. I dont think this is completely bad but think they have seen the dollar signs and now want to capitalize on it.

  2. Laura says:

    I think I’m a littke confused. There’s going to be something new every week? Or is it just going to be the ones they have announced?

  3. @Laura, Sounds to me like every week will be something new (although I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them, like Dapper Dan Boy Band, get repeated more than one week, possibly every other month or so).

    As for the promotion, I’m not a big fan of the name, but I understand that it is meant to tie in with Disney’s newest line of advertisements. That being said, I think the concept is fantastic. It adds an ounce of extra magic for repeat visitors (like me) and for the local crowds. This, to me, is much better than Let the Memories Begin, because it feels more like an actual celebration. Just my $.02

    • Laura says:

      Thanks! I admit, I’m intrigued by this promotion. The name is pretty awful. It’s like they couldn’t think of anything better, or something. But the promotion itself seems fun.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

      • No problem! And to make a little more sense of the name, watch this (hope you don’t mind me posting a link, Tom. Feel free to remove it if its a problem!)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj6y5R0Zlro

      • Laura says:

        Yeah, I get that, and the commercial helps to bring that point home, but it’s the “limited time” part I take issue with (and really it’s not that big of an issue, the name isn’t really the most important part, but since we’re talking about it…). It just sounds more like a phrase you say in a commercial, not a name for something. But like I said, name aside, it sounds like a fun promotion!

  4. jcarwash says:

    Tom, you make a great point about this marketing campaign having some actual substance to it. Disney will have a marketing focus no matter what, so when the marketing program includes something besides the collateral is good for the fans. This kind of reminds me of the Year of Million Dreams as far as there being something “there” there — I didn’t mind getting surprise ear hats and Dream FastPasses. This program will include special events, and perhaps giveaways too.

  5. Katie says:

    I agree with you. I think this is not a “bad” promotion. I believe they may be expanding on the “Star Wars” weekends and using that sort of model to bring in crowds at these mini celebrations. Some of the celebrations will be better then others. But if they do them right it may be something we see year after year.

  6. mandapanda says:

    I’m so happy to have found a blog that doesn’t auto-jump on the naysayer bandwaggon. I personally love that there’s a new celebration every year- I really look forward to the announcements, and yes when it’s centered around a theme I like I get excited about planning a trip. Who cares what the name is? I think this sounds like a fun promotion and I’m looking forward to seeing what other themes they’re going to roll into it.

  7. Betsy says:

    Until I checked other websites, I thought you threw the Dapper Dans thing in as a joke to see if we were paying attention!

  8. Bob Rowan says:

    I can’t figure why anyone wouldn’t like this. People have been clamoring for seldom-seen characters and this brings in villains and other “long lost friends,” so that should make fans who seek out character meets happy. The other events sound like they’ll add to the atmosphere of the parks, so I only see that as a positive.

    Sure, Disney it sounds like Disney is trying to sell some more t-shirts and pins and is creating more mini-events to appeal to smaller subsets of their fanbase in hopes to fill the parks during traditionally less-crowded times (like Star Wars Weekends), but these events sound like fun. It’s also significant (as you note) that these target the regular visitor, giving them little new things to look forward to each trip without doing anything to hurt the experience of the once in a lifetime guest.

  9. Katie says:

    I wonder too if part of the logic behind this promotion was the tremendous response to the “One More Disney Day” event last year (especially in Disneyland)–it had special characters, throwback food items, and special hours. Anyway, it looks like a pretty cool idea to me (I don’t even mind the boy band Dapper
    Dans idea–there’s a certain playfulness there that appeals to me). And I’d rather buy event-specific merchandise rather than a generic ALL THE DISNEY PARKS EVER PLUS MICKEY t-shirt. It’s not like most of these things will have me traveling to either set of parks specifically to see it (although the return of the Golden Horseshoe Revue is really tempting…), but it seems like a series of nice plusses for people whose vacations line up with the events. If I lived within driving distance of Anaheim or Orlando, I would have an annual pass, and I would make an effort to go in for a number of these events.

    I might add that I coordinated my first visit to Disneyland with the “One More Disney Day” celebration and I was absolutely blown away by how much fun the event was. When I first heard about it, I thought “this will be cool” and booked the trip, then as it started getting closer, I started to get nervous that it would increase crowds to an uncomfortable point beyond any advantages of the day itself (as it turned out, the crowds were high), and then finally had a marvelous time when it actually happened.

  10. Michael says:

    I’ll say the same thing i said on WDWmagic… I honestly at first thought it was the rebranding of “Extra Magic Hours.” (Since it was cut recently..)

    After reading past the headline, I do think it’s good that they’re attempting something rather than nothing!

  11. David says:

    ‘Limited Time Magic’!?! Why would Disney want to put the word ‘limited’ anywhere near their promotional campaign!? Maybe it’s a legal thing, so that no one can sue them when they buy tickets and discover that the offerings are limited, as it was advertised!

  12. Randy Crane says:

    I think it’s a very good idea. As you said, Tom, they’re going to do something anyway, and this seems like a marketing idea that’s not “set it and forget it”. With doing something new so often, that’s a lot of commitment and investment. I probably won’t enjoy every single offering, but I don’t have to. Someone will enjoy each of them, and having such a wide range encompassed within a single promotion is a great way to provide something for everyone.

    I live near Disneyland, and I’ll definitely be making more trips than usual just for this. I also have a WDW trip planned for late June, and I’m already excited and curious to see what may coincide with that visit.

  13. Brittany DiCologero says:

    I don’t understand the name. “Limited Time Magic” … 52 weeks isn’t exactly a limited time. The name just sounds too much like a blatantly obvious marketing scheme. “Year of a Million Dreams” and “Let the Memories Begin!” sounded exciting, but “Limited Time Magic” makes me feel like I have to rush there right now to see whatever it is they’re doing, which is exactly what they want. It sounds like a nice concept (minus the Dapper Dans singing boy band songs), but someone in the marketing department definitely could have come up with a more subtle name for it.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      When you consider that their normal campaigns are a year (plus) long, and each of these mini-celebrations will be considerably shorter, the name is fitting. Remember, it’s not one 52 week long celebration, it’s multiple much shorter ones that you have a day/week/month to experience.

      The name is lame, but I think the “limited time” part is quite accurate.

  14. Jay says:

    I will admit, as someone who is NOT a regular … who is, in fact, planning a long-awaited trip, the first since her Disney honeymoon, next year … it makes the planner in me twitch. I purposely picked a usually slow time for my kids’ first trip. What if it’s a week where the event pulls in a ton of extra people?

    We can’t all be regulars. Even if we wish we could. ;) Some of us just get one chance. We hope we will be going back, but no guarantees in life …

    That said, I rather like the idea itself. I just wish I had more info to plan with! :D

  15. Lauren says:

    “Long long friends week”? Totally voting for Darkwing Duck :)

  16. Chronic Gin Deficiency says:

    As a semi-local who’s had an annual pass since before many of you were born, I’ll be making extra trips to see some of these events. I think the Dapper Dans thing will be funnier than most will expect, and the other weeks seem interesting enough. As for the name, I see it as in the same vein as G&S’s “Utopia, Limited,” though I’m sure I’m reading rather too much into that coincidence.

  17. Hakunamatata says:

    Although I do like the promotion and see it’s appeal to locals, I was disappointed with it in the aspect of planning. Personally, my son is obsessed with pirates so I viewed this as an opportunity to surprise him with a Disney trip that would mean a lot to him. I hope that as the year progresses, they will begin to announce dates ahead of time, allowing those who would like to be there over a certain date to do so.

  18. Deborah says:

    Anyone know what’s going on in Disney World mid to end June?

  19. Gael says:

    Disney has a website to announce the limited-time, magical events. I will be checking on a regular basis, and will be scheduling day trips based partly on the offerings. I think this is a brilliant promotion, and I WANT to hear the Dapper Dans sing something more current.

    I can’t fathom people complaining that Disney is selling merchandise and making money. That IS the point of being in business. Without profit, the Disney we know and love would not be able to employ the thousands of people it does, nor would they be able to invest in improvements like the Fantasyland expansion nor just be able to maintain the parks at the level to which we are accustomed. I am fine with Disney turning a profit. It keeps the parks open and interesting. I look forward to hearing their new theme each year. I liked the Disney marketing video featuring One Republic singing “Good Life”, and I was a bit disappointed not to hear that in the parks. I’d hoped it would be incorporated in a parade like they did the Miley Cyrus song.

  20. Deneen says:

    I am quite excited to hear the Dapper Dans sing “Boy Band” songs. I think it will expose the Dapper Dans to a whole new audience of young people who frequent the parks. A lot of us annual passholder’s at Disneyland know that most of the Disneyland Dapper Dans are professional singer’s and already know these songs anyway and sing them in there other professional gigs outside of Disneyland, (which some locals follow anyway. I think it will start a whole new Dapper Dan fandom in Disney parks.

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