Disney has perfected the art of television advertising!
Disney’s commercials affect us on so many levels. At times they appeal to our logic with deals and special holiday savings. Other times the friendly, omniscient voiceover satisfies our ethics, relating the wholesome family fun we will experience with Disney. And, of course, the jingles, melodies, smiling faces, and lovable characters deeply touch our emotions. They remind us of childhood; of carefree days and warm memories. They remind us that even in times of trials and uncertainties, the beacon of hope that is Disney will always be there for us.
Here are ten of our favorite Disney commercials. Not coincidentally, most of these advertisements market the Disney Parks. This is because Disney Dorks (like us) are most at home in places like Disneyland Park and Epcot Center. Tom Sawyer Island is our clubhouse and Spaceship Earth is our classrooms. We check in at the Hollywood Tower of Terror and plunge straight into our briar patch at Splash Mountain!
See if you can guess which commercial takes first place in our eyes! Maybe you will see one or two of your favorite promotions here as well.
10) “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” | Disney Parks | 2013
One of the newest ads by Disney Yellow Shoes, Disney Parks and Resorts’ in-house advertising agency, this advertisement presents a return to traditional hand-drawn animation. It’s cute, it’s short, and who doesn’t enjoy seeing poor Donald Duck’s Christmas hijinks? Oh, and did you notice the clever hidden Mickey at the end?
9) The Cosbys at the Walt Disney World Resort| Disney Parks | 1988
America’s favorite family of the 80’s visited the Walt Disney World Resort in multiple jingle-filled commercials. This one featured Mrs. Huxtable, Theo, and Rudy singing and dancing to a Mary Poppins-themed number. Older, but never forgotten, this blast-from-the-past highlights the then called EPCOT Center and the now closed waterpark River Country.
8) “Good Life” | Disney Parks | 2011
OneRepublic’s “The Good Life” was the perfect anthem for Disney Parks. The Colorado-based rock group also performed this song at the Disneyland Christmas Parade in 2011. If you are like us, as soon as this commercial aired you wanted to drop everything and run, bounce, and fly to Disney to “Let the memories begin”!
7) Star Tours: Darth Vader Goes to Disneyland | Disney Parks | 2011
In 2011 Disney opened a revamped Star Tours in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, and Tokyo Disneyland. This commercial, correlating with the opening in June 2011 at Disneyland Park, features Lord Vader himself eagerly awaiting the opening of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The following year Disney announced it has acquired Lucasfilm, thus gaining the creative licensing for Star Wars and Indiana Jones. While we have yet to gain a real feel for Star Wars in the parks beyond Star Tours and Star Wars Weekends, Disney lovers and Star Wars lovers are optimistic for the future!
6) “Business Trip” | Magic Happens Campaign |2001
The “Magic Happens” campaign featured several commercials that tugged at the emotions of parent-age viewers. These commercials evoke a sense of nostalgia and magic that resonates in the Disney fan’s heart and soul. What is remarkable is that Disney is hardly mentioned in any of these commercials; no cruise ships, no costumed characters, and no castles! Yet the simplistic, everyday examples of magic is enough to bring tears to the eyes!
5) Walt Disney World Commercial | 2013
I regret to say I do not know what this promo is titled, but it premiered recently and my cast member buddies in Florida gave it great acclaim. We love this commercial as it focuses more on the cast members and the resorts that make up Walt Disney World. Often times we forget about those who work so hard to make magic for us 365 days a year. This pays homage to those who make our Disney vacations so memorable!
4) “Small World” | Disney Parks | 2009
Richard and Robert Sherman’s memorable “It’s a Small World” music is the soundtrack to this Christmas commercial. Imagine awakening to the sight of a flying pirate’s ship outside your bedroom window! Next, you join the crew for a grand trip to Disney Parks worldwide. Perhaps the most magical part is the curly haired boy staring at the snowing skies of Main Street USA in amazement.
3) “Year of a Million Dreams” | Disney Parks | 2006
Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams celebration lasted from 2006 until 2008. During this special promotion Disney parks guests won prizes at random. Prizes included FASTPASS tickets to attractions at the theme parks, overnight stays in Disneyland Dream Suite and Cinderella’s Castle, and Disney Vacation Club membership. The special grand prize included a 15-day excursion to each Disney Park on Earth. This Grand Marshal World Tour included plane tickets, hotel rooms, gift card prizes and even VIP tours. Talk about a dream! Hey Disney, how about another promotion like this for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary (1915) and Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary (2021)?
*P.S. the music featured in this commercial is “Flying” by James Newton Howard, written for the 2003 movie Peter Pan.
2) “I Am a Princess” | Disney | 2012
Disney wins our hearts in this cleverly designed and executed PSA. The images of Disney and princesses, such as Rapunzel, are salient, yet not overbearing. The true stars of the video are the average, every day, little girls, and not Mickey Mouse. Although aspiring to be a princess may sound cliché, Disney reminds us that the ball gown, the castle, and the charming prince does not make the princess. Rather, it is each little girl’s unique personable traits that make them all Cinderellas, Ariels, Tianas, and Meridas.
1) “Voice of Experience” | Disney Parks | 1995
Larry’s first trip to Walt Disney World wins first place in our hearts. This commercial was included on the VHS tape (whoa, way back!) of The Lion King. The real joy in this clip is the relationship between the older, more knowledgeable brother and the younger, less experienced brother. It might remind you of your childhood or your own children. In addition, the fact that the boys began packing three weeks prior to the vacation mimics our pre-Disney vacation anxiety! As big brother says to little brother, “You’re going to love this place Larry; it really brings out the kid in you!”
It sure was tough choosing only ten commercials! There are so many beautiful advertisements that we could not include but also deeply moved us.
Please let us know in the comments what your favorite Disney commercials are! And, as always, have a Zip-a-dee-doo-dah day!
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” – Walt Disney