Everyone has heard the famous phrase “I’m going to Disney World/Land” from a famous football player from the winning team of the Super Bowl, but have you ever wondered how it began? It began as a dinner conversation between Michael Eisner, his wife Jane, George Lucas, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. I’ll let Michael Eisner tell the story here;
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.”
So there you have it, a chance conversation during dinner that started an ad campaign that has lasted 30 years. Soon after those words were said on national television by Phil Simms after the Giants beat John Elway and the Broncos. Even though they seem spontaneous the players are asked before the game even starts whether they would agree to exclaim that they are going to Disney World or Disneyland. Phil Simms refused to do it when he was first asked and said no a few more times after that, but his manager finally convinced him to do it. Phil was uneasy about agreeing to the offer before the game was ever played. You can’t blame him, though. Seems like a good way to jinx yourself.
Disney decides who they are going to ask to answer the question far in advance and sweetens the deal with some cash for agreeing to play along. If they do win they get an all expenses paid trip with a private jet waiting for them.
The brilliant thing about this ad campaign is that Disney is able to make it seem spontaneous by taking advantage of the moment. Disney makes sure to have someone close to the player so they can catch them right after the win and ask them “You’ve just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next?”
If you just won the Super Bowl you’re going to be the happiest and most excited you’ve been your whole life so, of course you are going to answer enthusiastically! On the other end of it there’s you and I, watching this person who has just done something people dream of, but really get to accomplish and the first thing they say there are doing is going to Disney World. Well if this guy is celebrating there, maybe I should visit the place myself. And if you time it right you can go there the same time they do and see them in a parade or visiting the parks. So yes, they really do go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland.
The famous phrase has been said at every Super Bowl except 2005 for reasons unknown. The most recent to go to Disney World is James White from the New England Patriots. Although the phrase has been said by athletes from other sports and even winners from American Idol and Santa Claus none of them stick like the commercials for the Super Bowl. If your interested SBNation has a whole list here.
Why not make your own video saying the famous phrase before you go on your next Disney World vacation. Don’t forget to put it on youtube!