Who hasn't, at one time in their lives, felt like Cinderella? Surely we've all had to deal with our own versions of evil stepmothers and stepsisters and, likewise, also had our moments when we felt like the belle (or prince) of the ball—moments so outrageously fantastic, it seems only a fairy godmother could make it happen.
The latter was exactly how Jennifer Hill, a travel consultant with AAA in eastern PA, felt when she found out that she'd won a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite at Disney World's Magic Kingdom, part of the resort-wide Year of a Million Dreams 2007 sweepstakes, which recently was extended through 2008.
Since January, the campaign has awarded guests daily prizes ranging from FastPasses to a trip to every Disney park around the world. Soon after, Disney announced a special travel agent promotion: With each Disney booking, agents would be entered into a contest to win a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite, along with roundtrip coach airfare, four days at one of Disney World's deluxe resorts, $1,000 in spending money and "Magic Your Way" tickets with Park Hopper and water park options, in addition to a Disney dining plan for the duration of the trip.
A Lucky Chance
Hill was randomly selected from a drawing of more than 1,000 entries. Her fairy godmother took the form of a woman from Disney's prize center. "She left me a voicemail saying I had won and I had to pull a co-worker aside to listen to it, because I didn't believe it yet," Hill says, who is a Disney specialist.
(A second winner was also awarded a vacation for four to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, which included a two-night stay at the Disneyland Hotel and a one-night stay at the Mickey Mouse Penthouse, as well as roundtrip coach airfare, four-day park hopper tickets, dining coupons and $1,000 in spending money.)
"It was luck," Hill says of winning the coveted prize. That may be true, but the trip turned out to be a valuable learning experience. Although she had previously visited Disney World, this stay showed Hill a side of the resort she had never seen before, enabling her to make better-informed recommendations to clients about the park's amenities, hotels and dining and shopping options.
It was this "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity that has since helped Hill sell more of Disney's product, which any agent knows can be quite lucrative. "I experienced everything Disney had to offer and it's definitely something that helps me sell it," she adds, noting that she's made a few Disney sales since her trip in July. "It's definitely something that I will never forget."
While there, Hill and her friends shopped and managed to visit all the parks in four days, using Disney's FastPass to skip ride lines. They wrapped up their remaining nights at Disney's Polynesian Resort, Hill's first stay at a deluxe hotel there.
In the Magic Kingdom, a concierge—who clued Hill into some facts about Walt Disney World and offered up umbrellas when it started to rain—accompanied her and her friends. "She was almost like having a tour guide with us," Hill says. "She even went on some of the rides with us." (Hill's favorite—and now a must for her clients—is the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride).
The Cinderella Suite
For now, the Cinderella Suite, which sits four stories above the Magic Kingdom, is only available to select winners of the Year of a Million Dreams promotion and is not available for booking, a move that makes a stay there all the more special for guests who win. Originally built to house Walt and his family, the three-room suite was never used until Disney revamped the 650-square-foot space to make it replete with all the amenities of a luxury suite. Special touches include a mosaic-tiled bathroom and a fireplace featuring electronic fireworks. A Disney spokesperson says the company has not yet decided whether 2008's travel agent sweepstakes will be similar to this year's, but adds that Disney hopes to come to a decision by the end of the year, so stay tuned.
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