February 13, 2022, The Los Angeles Rams became Super Bowl Champions against a close game to the Cincinnati Bengals. Super Bowl LVI was hosted in the SoFi Stadium in California, and ESPN was broadcasting from Disneyland Resorts. After the successful Super Bowl victory, Quarterback Matthew Stafford, MVP Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald all answered the famous question, “What are you going to do next?” with the best answer possible- “I’m going to Disneyland!”
The Walt Disney World Company celebrates the Super Bowl champs with a parade down Main Street with our favorite Disney characters and the game’s MVP. This is a tradition that these players hold in their hearts. The team’s champions take their families to the most magical place on earth, after what we can only imagine is the most magical game of their life. Playing professional football places a ton of sacrifices on these families, and to celebrate the hard work played on the field, what better way is there than to put on some Mickey Ears and laugh with Goofy and Donald Duck.
The “I’m going to Disney World” tradition, like every Disney story has a once upon a time…
Michael Eisner (Disney CEO 1984-2005) and his wife, Jeana Eisner recall the birth of the famous slogan in a Sports Illustrated interview-
“In January 1987, we were launching Disneyland’s Star Tours, an attraction based on Star Wars. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, my wife, Jane, and I had dinner with George Lucas, as well as Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, who had just become the first people to fly around the world without stopping. It was late and the conversation hit a lull as we waited for our food. So I asked Dick and Jeana, ‘Well, now that you’ve accomplished the pinnacle of your aspirations, what could you possibly do next?’ Rutan responded, without hesitation, ‘I’m going to Disneyland.’ And of course I go, ‘Wow, that’s cool! You made the right choice.’ But my wife interjects: ‘You know, that’s a good slogan.’”
At the time, Super Bowl XXI was around the corner, where the New York Giants and Denver Broncos were set to play each other. Could there be a better time to air this commercial than after the Super Bowl? Disney realized quickly the pixie dust that was on this idea and reached out to both quarterbacks, Phil Simms and John Elway. Disney presented both quarterbacks with the same offer: $75k after the Super Bowl when asked “What you are going to do?” reply into a Disney camera with “I’m going to Disney World” and “I’m going to DisneyLand.” Both players would be asked to say it twice for airings on both sides of the coasts.
John Elway signed Disney’s contract right away, while Phil Simms was on the fence about it… until he caught wind that Elway eagerly signed the offer. It was a good thing that Phil Simms did, because he took the Giants to a Super Bowl victory defeating the Broncos 39-20. He was the first athlete in history to say, “I’m going to Disney!” This slogan is now used in response to huge victories from NBA MVP’s to American Idol winners. The famous commercial usually has the “When You Wish Upon a Star” song in the background, and an outline of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and can bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
As DVC members, we hold this belief; when in doubt, going to Disney. This is a tradition that has been going strong for 35 years now, and we don’t see it stopping anytime soon.