The iconic phrase “I’m going to Disney World” has been said by some of football’s most legendary players for the last 33 years, but many fans aren’t aware of where the famous phrase started. In fact, it was by accident.
As reported by ClickOrlando, It all started when former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and his wife Jane dined with Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, who piloted the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. When asked what they had in store for their next adventure, Rutan joked, “I’m going to Disneyland.” Jane commented on Rutan’s jape: “You know, that’s a good slogan.”
With Super Bowl XXI quickly approaching, Disney swiftly picked up the idea. They looked at both teams and tried to determine MVP candidates, eventually tapping two starting quarterbacks: the Giants’ Phil Simms and the Broncos’ John Elway. Reps from Disney informed them they would give the winning quarterback $75,000 to say “I’m going to Disneyland” as he walked off the field after the game. Simms’ team ultimately defeated the Broncos — as he jogged off the field in victory, a tap came on his shoulder. “Disney!”, the voice shouted. He almost forgot about it, because after 60 minutes of football and visions of championship glory dancing in your heads, a random ad spot is furthest from your mind. But he said the line, and created a tradition.
Every player signs a contract beforehand
The infamous post-game line (and paycheck) soon migrated into other sports and cultural events. Disney quickly realized the money-making potential of the catchphrase, and thereafter had every player sign a contract to say the line to ensure that the company gets the special phrase on camera every time.
It also helped The Mouse not use the Ravens’ Ray Lewis, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, who helped his team cruise to a 34-7 win over the Giants (but, due to his alleged role in a double murder the year before, Disney had no interest in pursuing the player). Quarterback Trent Dilfer instead was tapped to say the phrase.
And yes, all MVPs who say the magic phrase actually go to Disney World or Disneyland, where they are treated to a celebratory parade.
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