|The 'I'm going to Disney World!' ad campaign has been a Super Bowl tradition for 20 years.
For the first time, Disney will reveal the player or players who will utter the famous phrase by projecting their image onto the side of a skyscraper in Campus Martius Park in Detroit, host of Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5, immediately following the big game. Then, on Feb. 6, the 30-second spot will air nationwide.
“Historically, we haven’t talked about the commercial ahead of time,” said Michael Mendenhall, exec VP-global marketing for Disney Parks and Resorts. “We’ve had fun with the sense of anticipation and unpredictability, the guessing game as to whether we were [even] doing a spot. But this time, I can tell you now -- ahead of the Super Bowl -- that we are doing one.”
This will be the 36th TV spot that Disney has done in the 20-year campaign. Most of the “I’m going to Disney World!” spots have featured football players following the Super Bowl, but Disney has gone off the gridiron for special instances and has used basketball’s Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, baseball’s Barry Bonds, as well as 1988 Miss America Gretchen Carlson.
Disney usually contracts with at least a half-dozen players on each participating team prior to the Super Bowl, makes a selection near the end of the contest and then has its camera crew on the field when the final gun sounds, amid the chaos, to film the player saying the magical five words. The commercial, done in-house, is turned around in less than 12 hours for airing the following morning.
The commercial is generally always the same: Highlights of the player are shown as the Disney song “When you wish upon a star” is played. A voice-over then says, “Hey, [Player X], you just won the Super Bowl. What’s next?” The answer is “I’m going to Disney World!”
The first person to use the now-famous phrase was former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, who led his team to victory in Super Bowl XXI over the Denver Broncos.
“I couldn’t have imagined that I was starting something that people would still be repeating 20 years later,” said Mr. Simms, now a TV analyst for National Football League games on Viacom’s CBS.
Disney received some mild criticism in 2001 when it chose Baltimore Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer to utter the phrase instead of Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis, who had been implicated, but not charged, in the murder of two men a year earlier at the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta. But Disney had actually selected non-Super Bowl MVPs five times prior to the 2001 game.
In conjunction with the NFL, Disney will run a retrospective of the game’s heroes and of the 20-year “I’m going to Disney World!” campaign projected onto the same skyscraper in the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.