Disney World Vacation Planning Video

Ooooh, fancy!

Ooooh, fancy!

It’s exciting, it’s free, and it’s all in the comfort of your own home. The Disney World Vacation Planning Video is an epic masterpiece that would be award-winning… if there existed an award like that. The odds are good that you’ve already seen it, but there’s so much more to this video than meets the eye.

What Is It?
Disney sends out a DVD to interested consumers that shares information on a number of Disney vacations in an interactive environment with narrative video and guest testimonials. Viewers can select their specific Disney vacation whether they want to learn more about Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, or Adventure by Disney. Topics are further broken down at that point from theme parks to resorts and what’s new to advanced planning resources.

Research Marketing
You might be surprised at how well researched these videos are. When you order your video online, you are asked several questions. Aside from the obvious such as age and language, they want to know which Disney vacation you’re planning to take next and where you’ve visited previously, how many times you’ve visited and how recently, when you’re interested in visiting next and for how long, and who you might be traveling with. These questions are not set up to satisfy a survey requirement from Disney marketing – they are in fact set up to create you a tailor-made DVD. Disney has a series of video featurettes, each of which is tagged with specific interests and demographics. If one of your answers hits one of these tags, the appropriate featurette will be added to your very own personalized video. This way, they don’t overwhelm you with information you don’t care about or need (such as “new” attractions you’ve already seen), and they don’t scare away the teenagers by only showing kid stuff.

A Brief History
The video’s theme has changed significantly over the years. Disney early videos were sent out on VHS Cassette Tapes (remember those?) and they featured a simple analog narrative tour around Walt Disney World, hosted by the voice of the monorail. As technology improved, Disney began to send out a DVD/CD-ROM combo. The CD contained computer software and online links to help you plan your trip. The DVD was now more interactive in that you could select from a series of features to watch, including individual theme park videos, resort videos, and informational videos on planning ahead and Disney’s Fast Pass service. The videos were now hosted by a group of 4 individuals instead of a faceless host – one was the tour leader, one was responsible for reporting to thrill-seekers, one was geared toward families with children, and one (the comedian of the group) was in charge of relaxing. This series, although entertaining, didn’t test well and was short-lived.

In recent years, Disney has decided to set a new theme each year for its theme parks in order to give visitors more incentive to return. Such themes have included Walt Disney’s 100th Birthday, the year of “1 Million Dreams,” and they’re currently focusing on celebration. The latest set of planning videos has reflected each of these themes, each complete with their own animations and theme music. Instead of diving right into the magic, each video now begins with an introduction to that year’s theme – usually featuring vacationers talking to their kids in the clouds (think: Mary Poppins). It’s not exactly fitting for all ages, but they’ve stuck with it for quite a while now, so they must feel they’re doing something right. The transitional animations are really fantastic – each click flies you through the clouds (yes, again) to a new area filled with something new to learn. It may not always be a completely intuitive interface, but if you’re willing to dig, it allows you to discover something new each time you pop in the DVD (head over to the resorts section if you can find it- it’s a completely interactive map).

What’s Next?
Disney’s vacation planning video has been pretty successful at rolling with the times, and I’d imagine that it will continue to do so. Already, you can view the entire video online, and even “create your own” (really just clicking and dragging sections of the pre-established video). I imagine that Disney won’t be in a hurry to abandon DVDs in favor of a completely digital market because it gives up the ability to send a tangible object to our homes as well as a certain amount of control in holding our attention captive on our living room televisions. I personally order a new video every 6 months, just to see what they’ve done with it, and they’re generally up-to-date with featurettes on what’s new in the parks (give or take a few months).

Your Thoughts?
Have an opinion? Do you order the video as often as I do or have you never even seen it? Have you seen anything earlier than the VHS version and care to share your experience? Leave your comments below.

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