A closer look at the phrase ‘I’m going to Disney World!’ at the Super Bowl

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Let’s take a closer look at the phrase ‘I’m going to Disney World!’ at the Super Bowl. The format for the commercials have pretty much remained unchanged. After a series of highlights set to “When You Wish upon a Star” from Pinocchio, the camera cuts to a player in all his glory of a Super Bowl win and a narrator asks the question, “_______, you’ve just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next?” The player looks into the camera and answers with the famous phrase. “I’m going to Disney World!” or “I’m going to Disneyland!”  Soon after, there is a commercial with an image of fireworks exploding over Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. The version of the commercial you see will depends on the area of the country that you live in.

So where did it all begin? Since 1987, the phrases have been used as part of Disney’s “What’s Next?” campaign. Phil Simms kicked off the tradition after the New York Giants beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. As much as we would like to believe that Simms was a true fan of Disney, it is said that this is not necessarily the case. Jane Eisner, the wife of Disney CEO Michael Eisner was supposedly the one who came up with the idea. Both Phil Simms and Broncos quarterback John Elway agreed to utter the famous line in exchange for $75,000 if they were victorious. The Giants won that year, and Phil Simms would be the first to go down in “I’m going to Disney World!” history.

The commercial has aired after every Super Bowl since 1987, except for one. In 2005, the commercial did not air, and no one is really sure why. Some have speculated that the NFL was still reeling from Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004, and may have been concerned about the use of advertising relying on anything appearing to be spontaneous. Another thought is that Disney may have felt that the campaign had lost some of it’s effectiveness after 19 years. The truth is still a mystery.

Another mystery is that there seems to be no formula for who gets to utter the phrase. If you are a quarterback or a Super Bowl MVP, your odds increase, though coaches, running backs and wide receivers have also been chosen to say it.  The same year Simms began the tradition in football, Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers (basketball) and Frank Viola of the Minnesota Twins (baseball) also uttered the phrases, though their performances didn’t have the same iconic hold.

Check out our list of Super Bowl and non Super Bowl folks who have had the honors:

Super Bowl participants:

Super Bowl XXI, 1987: Phil Simms, New York Giants
Super Bowl XXII, 1988: Doug Williams, Washington Redskins
Super Bowl XXIII, 1989: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XXIV, 1990: Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XXV, 1991: Ottis Anderson, New York Giants
Super Bowl XXVI, 1992: Mark Rypien, Washington Redskins
Super Bowl XXVII, 1993: Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl XXVIII, 1994: Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl XXIX, 1995: Jerry Rice and Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XXX, 1996: Emitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl XXXI, 1997: Desmond Howard, Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl XXXII, 1998: John Elway, Denver Broncos
Super Bowl XXXIII, 1999: Terrell Davis and John Elway, Denver Broncos
Super Bowl XXXIV, 2000: Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams
Super Bowl XXXV, 2001: Trent Dilfer, Baltimore Ravens
Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Super Bowl XXXVII, 2003: Jon Gruden and Brad Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004: Tom Brady New England Patriots
Super Bowl XXXIX, 2005: No commercial
Super Bowl XL, 2006: Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers
Super Bowl XLI, 2007: Tony Dungy and Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts
Super Bowl XLII, 2008: Eli Manning, New York Giants
Super Bowl XLIII, 2009: Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Super Bowl XLIV, 2010: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl XLV, 2011: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl XLVI, 2012: Eli Manning, New York Giants
Super Bowl XLVII, 2013: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Non-Super Bowl participants:

Dennis Conner, sailing, America’s Cup, 1987
Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Laker, NBA Finals, 1987
Frank Viola, Minnesota Twins, World Series, 1987
Gretchen Carlson, Miss America, 1988
Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles Dodgers, World Series, 1988
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals, 1988
Al MacInnis, Calgary Flames, Stanley Cup Finals, 1989
Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons, NBA Finals, 1989
Jim Thompson, Temple University, college graduation, 1990
Matt Kaldenberg, Simpson College, college graduation, 1990
Phyllis Kaldenberg, Simpson College, college graduation, 1990
Laura McEwen, Simpson College, college graduation, 1990
Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, NBA Finals, 1991
Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens, Stanley Cup Finals, 1993
Jeff Gordon, NASCAR, 1994 Brickyard 400, 1994
Nancy Kerrigan, U.S. figure skater, Winter Olympics, 1994
Santa Claus, Christmas, 1997
Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, MLB home run record, 1998
U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, FIFA Women’s World Cup, 1999
Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants, MLB home run record, 2001
Scot Spiezio, Anaheim Angels, World Series 2002
Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz; Boston Red Sox, World Series, 2004
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, NBA Finals, 2006
Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks, Stanley Cup Finals, 2007
David Cook, Season 7 “American Idol” winner, 2008
Kris Allen, Season 8 “American Idol” winner, 2009
Bruce Springsteen, The Boss, Super Bowl XLIII halftime, 2009
Lee DeWyze, Season 9 “American Idol” winner, 2010
Scotty McCreery, Season 10 “American Idol” winner, 2011

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