Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
March 4, 2015: The self-proclaimed and world-renowned Magic Kingdom is adding some soccer to its entertainment program, with Walt Disney World Resort signing a multi-year deal naming it a founding spinor for the Orlando City Soccer Club.
The expansion Orlando City club is scheduled to make its official Major League Soccer debut this weekend when MLS kicks off its 20th season, with Orlando host fellow expansion club New York City FC.
Under terms of the alliance, Walt Disney World Resort is now the official theme park and resort destination of Orlando City Soccer Club, Disney Cruise Line becomes the official cruise line of the team and Disney Vacation Club becomes the official vacation club.
Disney World plans to support with multi-layered marketing and activations, including signage in the Orlando Citrus Bowl (the team's home venue until it moves into a new downtown stadium now under construction, in 2016), in-game fan experiences, local press, Internet and social media.
Concurrently, the Orlando City Soccer Club will collaborate with Walt Disney World Resort "on a range of soccer events" at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Disney and Orlando City Soccer said the alliance would "help bolster Orlando’s and Walt Disney World Resort’s profile in key travel markets, such as Brazil (site of the 2016 Summer Olympics) and other Latin American countries."
“Over 60 million tourists visited Orlando last year . . . There’s a natural synergy here to showcase all the wonder that is the City Beautiful."
“Over 60 million tourists visited Orlando last year — with many coming from Brazil," Phil Rawlins, president and founder for Orlando City Soccer Club, said in a statement. "There’s a natural synergy here to showcase all the wonder that is the City Beautiful."
Other marketing partners for Orlando City include jersey sponsor Orlando Health, Heineken, Panasonic, Subway, Papa John's, Publix Super Markets and adidas.
According to Rawlins, "This collaboration further strengthens the existing bond between the two Orlandos – the one known around the world as Disney theme parks and the metropolitan, vibrant growing downtown represented by Purple Pride . . . We also look forward to jointly hosting additional high-profile soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney through this relationship to the benefit of our fans, our community and the region.”
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