It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Aside from an exciting game, we look forward to the festivities, commercials, and…. for a winning player to say “I’m going to Disney World!” It has become a tradition for athletes to say this popular phrase after winning a big game, and also has become a part of pop culture. So, why Disney? We’ll give you a brief history!

The marketing campaign, known as the “What’s Next?” in reference to how the big line is presented, started back in 1987. According to Michael Eisner, it was his wife who came up with the idea, and said it would make a good campaign. And it did. During the spot, the chosen player from the winning team, gets asked by an unseen announcer (Mark Champion) what they are going to do next. The player answers “I’m going to Disney World” or for the west coast commercials, “I’m going to Disneyland!” The spot usually follows with fireworks, accompanied with the tune “When you wish upon a star.” It’s magical, like it should be. It makes us want to go too!

Disney launched the series following Super Bowl XXI on January 25, 1987 with a commercial featuring New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms. Simms was paid a reported $75,000 for his participation in the commercials. The company later aired three more ads that year with other athletes following major sports championships. Disney reportedly has offered $30,000 to athletes for participating in the ads, and around $75,000 if they participate in the Disney Parade at one of it’s parks the next day.

The ad works, people like it. Actually, I think people come to expect it. It’s not just football players that participate in this campaign, but it’s most commonly known to follow the Super Bowl. The previous Super Bowl Championship players who have done the spot are as follows:

  • Super Bowl XXI: Phil Simms, New York Giants
  • Super Bowl XXII: Doug Williams, Washington Redskins
  • Super Bowl XXIII: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
  • Super Bowl XXIV: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
  • Super Bowl XXV: Ottis Anderson, New York Giants
  • Super Bowl XXVI: Mark Rypien, Washington Redskins
  • Super Bowl XXVII: Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys
  • Super Bowl XXVIII: Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys
  • Super Bowl XXIX: Jerry Rice & Steve Young, San Fran 49ers
  • Super Bowl XXX: Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys
  • Super Bowl XXXI: Desmond Howard, Green Bay Packers
  • Super Bowl XXXII: John Elway, Denver Broncos
  • Super Bowl XXXIII: Terrell Davis & John Elway, Denver
  • Super Bowl XXXIV: Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams
  • Super Bowl XXXV: Trent Dilfer, Baltimore Ravens
  • Super Bowl XXXVI: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  • Super Bowl XXXVII: Jon Gruden & Brad Johnson, TB Bucs
  • Super Bowl XXXVIII: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  • Super Bowl XL: Jerome Bettis & Hines Ward, Pitt Steelers
  • Super Bowl XLI: Tony Dungy & Dominic Rhodes, Indy
  • Super Bowl XLII: Eli Manning, New York Giants
  • Super Bowl XLIII: Santonio Holmes/Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt
  • Super Bowl XLIV: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  • Super Bowl XLV: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  • Super Bowl XLVI: Eli Manning, New York Giants
  • Tonight, we get to add a new name to the list. A new football hero who will claim the he’s going to Disney World/Disneyland! Do you have any gut feeling on who it could be? We’ll find out soon!

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