Partnership between Disneyland and Ducks still going strong after 30 years

Disney California Adventure Park hosted a special event for Anaheim Ducks fans.
Dec 27, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; A general view of the stage at Disney California Adventure prior to
Dec 27, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; A general view of the stage at Disney California Adventure prior to / Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Most hockey fans know that the “Anaheim Ducks” hockey team is based off of the “Mighty Ducks” movie and television franchise. The Walt Disney Company was awarded the expansion team, called them “The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim” in December 1992, and paid the $50 million expansion fee.

The team was to play in the then-new Anaheim Arena and share the city with the Disneyland resort and the Anaheim Angels of Major League Baseball. Disney sold the team to Henry and Susan Samueli in 2005, who rebranded the team with its current, Disney-less name, the Anaheim Ducks.

Even if they are no longer under the same corporate umbrella, the Ducks still have a close relationship with the happiest place on Earth. “Anaheim Ducks Days” returned to Disney California Adventure last week.

California Adventure is the second theme park of the Disneyland Resort which opened in 2001, after the more famous Disneyland which opened in 1955. This year’s event featured special merchandise, food, and photo experiences. 

The Anaheim Ducks are still very much involved with Disney in 2024

The Anaheim Ducks team did make it over to Disneyland Park for some photos. The Ducks February 25th game against the Nashville Predators was listed as being “presented by Disneyland Resort” according to the team promotional calendar. In full costume as a sports referee, Donald Duck was there for the ceremonial puck drop.

The two-day event featured an “Anaheim Ducks Cavalcade” with team players and alumni riding on parade floats and park vehicles. Disneyland Magic Key (their fancy word for “season pass holder”) members were given special rally towels for the event.

This year’s Anaheim Ducks Day specifically celebrated the 30th anniversary of the franchise. The then Mighty Ducks had a parade down Main Street U.S.A. at the original Disneyland Park before their franchise's first opening night in 1997.

An article from "The Hockey News" mentioning the parade also mentions then Disney CEO Michael Eisner as an early proponent of the shootout to settle games after overtime.

The first “Anaheim Ducks Day” took place in January 2019 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise. The Ducks returned the favor by having a “Ducks x Disney” night at the Honda Center during the 2022 season.

The actual Stanley Cup was in attendance on February 23rd to take pictures with fans. The Stanley Cup has made other appearances at Disneyland, including appearances at the “Downtown Disney” district before the playoffs on ESPN.

When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, the cup also made an appearance at Disneyland.

The “Disney style” was on full display as the Ducks wore their retro-inspired purple and green uniforms. The team had worn its current black and orange “duck foot” jerseys in prior “Anaheim Duck Days”.

Disney heavily leveraged their Disney Store during the franchise’s inception to make it the top seller in NHL team merchandise.

The Ducks were born out of Disney’s desire to expand into new territories with their corporate synergy.

The Ducks wouldn’t exist without Disney, and it’s hard to imagine that Anaheim and Orange County would be able to support a team without the economic development 65-plus years of being Disney’s neighbor has done.

Even if they no longer own the team, the Ducks will forever be a part of Disney, and Disneyland’s, history.