Why Super Bowl champions go to Disney World: A look at the tradition

Recent participants in the campaign include Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, Nick Foles and Peyton Manning

The Walt Disney Company has been a fixture during postgame Super Bowl celebrations for most of the last three decades – and it’s all due to five magic words.

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Since 1987, the entertainment giant has regularly tapped top performers from the winning Super Bowl team to declare “I’m going to Disney World!” after the win. Recent participants in the iconic campaign include New England Patriots stars Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, former Philadelphia Eagles star Nick Foles and former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

For Disney, the Super Bowl campaign provides access to the big game's live audience of approximately 100 million viewers. In addition to the players' use of the slogan on live television, Disney invites the Super Bowl champions for a parade at a nearby theme park within hours of the game’s conclusion. Disney confirmed earlier this week that the tradition would continue at Super Bowl LIV on Sunday.

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“For us here at Disney, the campaign goes to the heart of who we are – a company that strives every day to make magic and create lifelong memories for our guests,” Disney Parks said in a blog post about the tradition.

The Walt Disney Company did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the Super Bowl campaign’s financial specifics. Postgame Super Bowl commercials can sell for up to $3 million, according to The Street.

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Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms became the first Super Bowl champion to utter the phrase “I’m going to Disney World” in 1987. Simms told USA Today in 2014 that Disney paid him $50,000 for the spot, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to the park.

“It was a big deal," Simms told the newspaper. "I was the MVP of the Super Bowl and had more people asking me about the Disney commercial than how I played the game. When the commercial came out the next day, everybody just wanted to know all about it.”

The commercial has maintained a standard format over the years, with a voiceover asking the NFL star how he plans to celebrate his Super Bowl win. The classic Disney song “When You Wish Upon a Star” plays in the background.

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For this year’s edition of the tradition, the NFL held a contest that granted three winners the right to participate in the Disney parade and “meet a Super Bowl champion.”

Super Bowl LIV will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is about four hours away from Miami by car.

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