Update: The promotion is no longer going on. The Cinderella Castle Suite remains in the center of the Magic Kingdom. Disney occasionally runs contests with partners giving away a stay in the suite, although they're harder to find lately. A surer bet is to book a room like the Royal Rooms in Disney's Port Orleans for your little prince or princess. While the location may not have the same cache, many of the magical touches from the Castle Suite are in the rooms. And you can sleep a little later if you choose.
You can still take a peek inside.
The original promotion:How Do You Win?
Every morning, a Disney computer chooses a random time and location. For example, it could be the person passing through the 7th turnstile leading into Epcot at 11:51 AM. The location could be anywhere on Walt Disney World property. The time is generally early in the day, before noon. The Disney Dream Team goes to that location. If the person chosen is eligible to win, and accepts the prize, the fun begins.
What Exactly Do You Win?
The person (and their family) who wins is in for some serious VIP treatment, Disney style. First, they pack an overnight bag for the castle.
Once back at the Magic Kingdom, they have a royal photo session, and are escorted ceremoniously down Main Street to the castle. There, the concierge checks them in to the suite and gives them a tour. They are given some time to enjoy the suite before being called on to serve as grand marshals of the "Disney Dreams Come True" parade in the Magic Kingdom.
Later that night, the winners are treated to dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, including an audience with Cinderella herself. After dinner, the winners enjoy VIP viewing of the SpectroMagic parade and the Wishes fireworks show.
After the Magic Kingdom closes, the winning family will have private access to the park for up to two hours. They'll have a VIP guide, and can participate in modified tours like "Keys to the Kingdom."
Upon returning to the castle suite, they will find the room transformed by the royal turndown service, which includes sweets on the bed and snacks and drinks in the room. The concierge is downstairs in case they have any special requests.
The wake-up call the next morning is from Cinderella herself. Then, it's back to reality - or as close as you get to reality when you're vacationing at Disney World.
What's the Castle Suite Like?
The castle suite, on the fourth floor of Cinderella's Castle in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, is decorated as a 17th-century chamber. Two queen beds and a pull-out sofa sleep up to six people.
"Magic" mirrors in the suite (one in the bedroom, one in the parlor) double as flat-screen televisions. The suite has a fireplace with fireworks effects, and a parlor. The suite's bathroom has a garden bathtub, a shower and special amenities fit for royalty.
Do you have to be at Disney World to win?
Yes and no. You can mail in an entry and win. Since the prize is for a stay that night, if you are selected via mail-in entry, you'll receive a "prize of comparable value," which according to the rules is about $587. NOTE: This contest has ended. Stay tuned with what Disney will do with this beautiful suite next!
On January 25, 2007, the Fouch family of DeWitt, Michigan became the first family to be selected by Disney to spend the night in Cinderella's Castle. Sixteen-year-old Brad was in the right place at the right time. In this case, it was Row 2, Seat 8 in Simulator 4 of the Star Tours attraction at Disney-MGM Studios at 10:00 AM.
What's Going to Happen to the Suite After the Contest?
Disney hasn't announced it officially, but it doesn't look like the suite will ever be rented out to high-rolling guests. Disney officials have mentioned that stays in the castle may be auctioned off for charities, or it may be used philanthropically (for families of terminally ill children visiting Disney World, for example). Look for more word on this as the Year of a Million Dreams wraps up in 2008.