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Walt Disney World looks to steal Harry Potter's magic with deep summer discounts

Disney's Magic Kingdom castle image

Walt Disney World is looking to retain customers during the key summer period by offering deep discounts at its on-site hotels, in a move to stave off competition from Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Disney faces competing with Universal's $200 million Wizarding World this summer without any major new attractions of its own. Instead, it is looking to its Summer Nightastic! promotion (which will see the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade) to keep attendance ticking over until the opening of Star Tours 2 at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2011.

Universal has unleashed a marketing blitz for the opening of the Wizarding World, which is widely predicted to take place in May. It recently ran an advert featuring Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe during the Superbowl, and partnered with USA Today to feature an augmented reality map of the new land in the newspaper. Universal has also launched a new range of tickets (closely modelled on Disney's Magic Your Way options) designed to encourage longer stays at its two parks (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando).

In reponse, Walt Disney World is offering discounts ranging from 25% to 45% on accommodation at on-site hotels for travel through August 14 (excluding stays between March 28 and April 10). To take advantage of the discounts, bookings must be made by March 27, 2010. The size of the discount depends on the length of the visit and the category of hotel.

Tellingly, the most generous discounts are available during the period between June 4 and August 14. These only require a minimum stay of one night, with savings ranging from 25% for Value Resorts up to 40% for Deluxe Villa resorts. This comes despite CEO Bob Iger claiming late last year that Disney parks would phase out discounts as the economy recovered in 2010.

In addition to adding Star Tours 2, an update to the popular Star Wars-based attraction, Disney is planning a major expansion of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. Due to be completed by 2013, it will include new areas themed around famous Disney princesses, two new restaurants and a clone of the Little Mermaid underwater dark ride that is due to open at Disney's California Adventure in 2011.

More details on the Disney offer can be found here, and TPT's Special Offer Watch lists a range of offers and discounts available for Walt Disney World.


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