Special Olympic Athletes Star in Magical Parade Ahead of USA Games

Filed in: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Magic Kingdom Park, Professional Sports, Recreation, Walt Disney World Resort, WDW 50th Anniversary

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (June 3, 2022) – Several Special Olympics USA Games athletes experienced the “I’m Going to Disney World” treatment ahead of the 2022 Games as they starred front and center in a magical parade at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort on Friday after appearing in a TV commercial airing on ESPN and on social media earlier this week. 

Disney brought a new spin to the popular “I’m Going to Disney World” Super Bowl campaign as the Special Olympics USA Games athletes served as the honorary grand marshals in a celebratory parade in Magic Kingdom. The colorful parade featured the athletes surrounded by popular Disney characters, confetti and magical entertainment and served as the final leg of the official Special Olympics USA Games Law Enforcement Torch Run that began in Chicago and ended Friday at Exploria Stadium in downtown Orlando. The festive scene was reminiscent of past Disney sports championship celebrations that regularly feature some of the biggest names in sports history.  

The parade created yet another magical moment among many for the Special Olympics USA Games athletes leading up to the start of the USA Games. The athletes smiled and waved as they traveled down Main Street U.S.A. surrounded by their favorite Disney characters as fans cheered them on from the crowd.  

Earlier in the week, several of the Special Olympics USA Games athletes were featured in a national commercial by ESPN and Walt Disney World Resort where they brought the “I’m Going to Disney World” style to ESPN viewers and social media users nationwide. The heart-warming video features the simple tagline “I’m Going” as well as footage of several Special Olympic USA Games athletes including golfer Amy Bockerstette, football player Ryan Gronowski, softball player Rafael “Tripp” Trinidad and swimmer Yoli Shields. The featured athletes are seen playing their sports before shouting “I’m Going to Disney World” in the spot. 

The super-sized celebration of the Special Olympics USA Games adds to Walt Disney World Resort’s long history of supporting the Special Olympics, which has staged various events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex year after year. The 2022 Games will be primarily staged at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort as well as other Central Florida sites. This year’s competitions include basketball, cheerleading, volleyball and soccer among other sports. Disney Live Entertainment is producing the Special Olympics Games Opening Ceremony which will air live on ABC stations nationwide at 12 p.m. EST this Sunday.