"I'm going to Disney World!" and "I'm going to Disneyland!" are advertising slogans used in a series of television commercials by the Walt Disney Company that began airing in 1987. Used to promote the company's theme park resorts in Florida and California, the commercials most often are broadcast following the Super Bowl and typically feature an NFL player shouting the phrase while celebrating the team's victory immediately after the championship game. These commercials have also promoted champions from other sports, and winners of non-sport competitions such as American Idol.
Disney refers to the campaign as "What's Next?" in reference to the commercial's usual format, which has the star appear to be answering a question posed by an unseen narrator—"What are you going to do next?"—after his or her moment of triumph. The narrator is Mark Champion, a veteran radio play-by-play announcer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, and Westwood One. Most ads feature the song "When You Wish upon a Star" (which is currently sung by David Cook) and end with a shot of fireworks over Cinderella Castle or Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Typically the star records two versions of the commercial—one for each phrase—so that the ads can be broadcast in different American media markets to strategically promote either the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or the Disneyland Resort in California. In most cases, Disney arranges for its star to appear in a parade at either Disneyland or one of the Walt Disney World theme parks the day immediately following the victory in order to fulfill the spoken promise in one version.
In his 1998 memoir Work in Progress, Disney CEO Michael Eisner credited his wife, Jane, with the idea for the campaign. According to Eisner, during the January 1987 grand opening for the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland, the couple dined with Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, who in December 1986 had piloted the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. After Jane Eisner asked what the pilots planned to do next, they replied, "Well, we're going to Disneyland." She later told her husband the phrase would make a great advertising campaign.
Weeks later, 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. The company later aired three more ads that year with other athletes following major sports championships.
In subsequent years, Disney reportedly has offered $30,000 to athletes and other stars for participating in the ads and appearing at one of its theme parks.
In 2006, the campaign resumed before Super Bowl XL as Disney projected scenes from the 20-year history of the campaign onto a Detroit skyscraper in the days before the game. During the television broadcast, Disney aired a commercial showing members of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks practicing how they would deliver the famous phrase while preparing for the game. The following day, the company began airing a traditional "What's Next" commercial featuring Steelers Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis.
Stars and celebrations
The commercials generally star a single NFL player immediately following the Super Bowl but the campaign also has featured athletes from other championship games and several non-celebrities.
- Phil Simms, New York Giants, Super Bowl XXI
- Dennis Conner, Stars & Stripes, America's Cup
- Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals
- Frank Viola, Minnesota Twins, World Series
- Doug Williams, Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII
- Gretchen Carlson, Miss Minnesota, Miss America
- Brian Boitano, U.S. figure skater, Winter Olympics
- Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles Dodgers, World Series
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals
- Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIII
- Al MacInnis, Calgary Flames, Stanley Cup Finals
- Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons, NBA Finals
- Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIV
- Jim Thompson of Temple University, and Matt Kaldenberg, Phyllis Kaldenberg and Laura McEwen of Simpson College, college graduation
- Ottis Anderson, New York Giants, Super Bowl XXV
- Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, NBA Finals
- Mark Rypien, Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXVI
- Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXVII
- Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens, Stanley Cup Finals
- Jeff Gordon, NASCAR Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevy, 1994 Brickyard 400 winner
- Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXVIII
- Nancy Kerrigan, U.S. figure skater, Winter Olympics
- While appearing in a subsequent parade at the Walt Disney World, Kerrigan was recorded saying "This is dumb. I hate it. This is the most corniest thing I have ever done." However, Kerrigan said her comments were taken out of context. She said that being in the parade was not corny, but wearing her Silver Medal during the parade was since her parents taught her never to brag or show off her accomplishments. Kerrigan also went on to say that she had nothing against the Disney Company or Mickey Mouse and said, "Whoever could find fault with Mickey Mouse? He's the greatest mouse I've ever known."
- Jerry Rice and Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
- Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXX
- Desmond Howard, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XXXI
- Santa Claus, Christmas
- John Elway, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXXII
- Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, Major League Baseball then-home run record
- Terrell Davis and John Elway, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXXIII
- U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, FIFA Women's World Cup
- Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXIV
- Trent Dilfer, Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XXXV
- Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball home run record
- Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVI
- Scott Spiezio, Anaheim Angels, World Series
- Jon Gruden and Brad Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl XXXVII
- Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVIII
- Curt Schilling, Pedro Martínez, and David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, World Series
- Dave Andreychuk, Tampa Bay Lightning, Stanley Cup Finals
- Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XL
- Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, NBA Finals
- Tony Dungy and Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts, Super Bowl XLI
- Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks, Stanley Cup Finals
- Eli Manning, New York Giants, Super Bowl XLII
- David Cook, Season 7 American Idol winner
- Santonio Holmes & Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XLIII
- Kris Allen, Season 8 American Idol winner
- Bruce Springsteen during the Super Bowl XLIII halftime show
- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV
- Lee DeWyze, Season 9 American Idol winner
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV
- Scotty McCreery, American Idol Season 10 champion, American Idol (Season 10)
- Eli Manning, New York Giants, Super Bowl XLVI
- Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XLVII
- Malcolm Smith, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVIII
- Malcolm Butler & Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX
- Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LII
- Tom Brady & Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LIII
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl LIV
In popular culture
Because of its iconic status, the "I'm going to..." phrase has been parodied or copied many times in films, TV shows and live interviews, including:
- In a Full House episode where Joey Gladstone supposedly won a $100,000 slot machine jackpot, Stephanie Tanner exclaims "I'm going to Disneyland!" but then quickly corrects herself saying that she was going to buy Disneyland.
- Bruce Springsteen ended his Super Bowl XLIII halftime performance by saying "I'm going to Disneyland!" to the camera.
- In the 1997 film Con Air, when asked what he intended to do next after having hi-jacked a prison plane, John Malkovich's character, Cyrus the Virus says, sardonically, "We're going to Disneyland."
- Near the end of the 1991 film Hot Shots!, fighter pilot Lt. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is cheered by his fellow pilots and carrier crew after completing a mission to bomb Iraq:
- Reporter: "Hey Topper Harley, now that you've killed the bad guy and made the world safe for democracy, what are you going to do to cash in on your newfound fame?"
Harley: "I'm going to Disneyland!" He then receives a large stack of cash and cheers loudly.
- The phrase appears in the Timbuk 3 song "Disneyland (Was Made For You & Me)" from their 1991 album Big Shot in the Dark, and the song "Dizz Knee Land", a 1993 hit by Dada.
- Midway through Disney's 1992 animated film Aladdin, Genie asks Aladdin, "You've just won the heart of the princess; what are you going to do next?" (as "When You Wish Upon a Star" swells in the background). Aladdin does not respond. While holding a script, Genie attempts to prompt him by saying, "Your line is 'I'm going to free the Genie.' " When Aladdin frees Genie at the end of the film, Genie has a Goofy hat on, implying he is going to Disneyworld or Disneyland.
- In the 1993 movie "The Thief and the Cobbler" the thief says the phrase while removing the third golden ball from the top of the minaret.
- In the Married...with Children season 8 episode "Luck of the Bundys", Jefferson Darcy shouts the phrase after a winning poker hand.
- In the 1997 television episode of Ellen in which Ellen DeGeneres' character came out as a lesbian, she quipped "I'm going to Disneyland" when asked by a psychologist what she planned to do next.
- Several episodes of The Simpsons, including:
- "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday": After winning the Super Bowl, a football player shouts, "Woo! I'm going to Disneyland!", to which a travel agent replies, "Really? You know, I'm a travel agent and I've heard nothing but bad things."
- In the 2007 comedy Balls of Fury, protagonist Randy Daytona says "I'm going to Disneyland" just before he collapses after tripping over a barrier in the Olympic ping-pong semifinals. This phrase comes back to haunt him when ping-pong patron Feng acknowledges Daytona with the question "How was Disneyland?"
- In the 2007 film The Game Plan, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson proclaims after winning the Super Bowl that he is "Going to.... take my daughter home," a spin off to the Disney World line.
- After winning UFC 1 Royce Gracie when asked on how he was going to spend the money he had won responded "I go to Disneyland".
- In one episode of the TV show series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", Will exclaims the phrase after winning his first basketball game.
- As Wichita and Little Rock pull up to Pacific Playland in Zombieland, Wichita asks her sister "You have just survived the zombie apocalypse and drove halfway across the country. Where are you going to go?", which Little Rock replies to with an exuberant "I'm going to Pacific Playland! Whoo!"
- In Animaniacs, a common running gag was that a character would be asked by a reporter (usually Mary Hartless), "What are you going to do next?" The character would then seem to be about to respond with the classic Disneyland phrase, but then change it at the last minute. For example, in Hurray for Slappy, Slappy Squirrel responds: "I'm going to...bed."
- At the end of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Buster at the Bat", Babs asks Buster what he's going to do next, to which Buster replies, "I'm going to build my own amusement park!"
- Disney itself spoofed the campaign with the actual song in a promo for The Wonderful World of Disney on ABC in 1997. In it, a kid is seen doing his homework. When he gets finished, his response to the narrator's question is "I'm going to the living room."
- TV Land lampooned the campaign in 1999 after Malcolm Bondon won the network's Ultimate Fan Search game show contest. A different narrator asks Bondon "You've just become TV Land's Ultimate Fan! What are you going to do next?", to which the latter responds "I'm going to TV Land! Wooooooo!"
- At the WWE payperview event, Night of Champions (2012), in a backstage segment, after Daniel Bryan and Kane attempt to reconcile after becoming WWE Tag Team Champions, Kane is asked if he has anything to say to Bryan. He walks off, but returns with a keg of Kool-Aid and dumps it over Bryan, exclaiming, "Do I have anything to say? I'm going to Disneyland!".
- An animated segment on Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse poked fun of Ray Lewis escaping away from character deaths from various Disney films, who was on trial at the time.
- In SML Movie: Bowser Junior Goes To Disney World, Bowser Junior says "We're going to Disney World! We found a knife!" to Chef Pee Pee. Watch the whole thing to hear him say this phrase by clicking here.
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