Disney Parks in the U.S. are celebrating the launch of 2014's promotional campaign today. Called "Disney Side" (also presented in the social-media friendly "#DisneySide" format), the new campaign will replace 2013's #LimitedTimeMagic event as it fades out toward the end of the year.
Commercials already airing for the promotion across the U.S. show everyday people who suddenly express their "Disney Side." One follows a family who seems to have lost their mother in the local aquarium, only to find her swimming among the fish to the tune of The Little Mermaid's "Under the Sea." Another shows a father who imitates Darth Vader at a local supermarket.
Disney Side is at least partially a play on the "Dark Side" from the Star Wars film series, which Disney acquired through its purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012.
Today's kick-off event saw "social media" stars (with headlining guest "Grumpy Cat") descending on Disneyland in California where participants and the gathered crowd were told to take "selfies" and perform other interactive, social media tasks on Instagram and Twitter. Throughout October, Disney conducted a #DisneySide contest through the smartphone app Vine, through which participants were asked to record 6-second videos of their own Disney Side with the accompanying hashtag. Today, some of those Vines were displayed on the enormous tiered screen from Mickey and the Magical Map in the Fantasyland Theatre.
Disney Side follows 2013's #LimitedTimeMagic, which saw the parks of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort conducting mini-events, meet-and-greets with long-lost characters, and limited edition merchandise and food sales that lasted between a day and a few weeks. The event was met with lukewarm reception from Disney Parks fans.
Arguably Disney's most memorable promotion to date was "The Year of a Million Dreams," which took place between 2006 and 2009. The event had cast members randomly hand out ear hats, snacks, Fastpasses, international trips, and night-long stays in the parks' exclusive Dream Suites to guests throughout the park. 2010's "Give A Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion awarded a free one-day, one-park ticket to anyone who performed a day of community volunteer work at a Disney-approved organization. The promotion was so popular that it's quota of 1,000,000 free Disney Days were filled by March.
2011's "What Will You Celebrate?" campaign saw the introduction of new parades and nighttime shows at both resorts that projected photos of that day's guests onto the exterior of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom and "it's a small world" at Disneyland Park. 2012's "One More Disney Day" allowed Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom park to remain open for 24 hours straight on February 29 (Leap Day).
You can follow the hashtag #DisneySide to join the conversation on Twitter, Vine, and Instagram to get the latest on the events going on at the parks today. Our Twitter page will also keep you up to date on the latest news from the parks. Disney has also set up a main Disney Side page to chronicle the many branches of the promotion.