Every March, Disney fans are greeted with a friendly coast-to-coast showdown of magic proportions, as sports teams inspired by various Disneyland and Walt Disney World Parks vie for supremacy in the March Magic Tournament. Fans can go online to vote for their favorite teams, and just like March Madness, the teams are whittled down as the brackets continue. (This sees face-offs like the Kali River Rapids Rafters against the Haunted Mansion Holiday.) And, most exciting of all, is the merchandise for March Magic. Starting next week, you’ll be able to get original tees and posters based on all the teams from the Disney Store. As competition progresses, you’ll only be able to get merchandise for the teams still in the mix. So if you wait, you might not be able to show your support for your favorite team. However, we’ve been promised that there will be some surprises in the weeks ahead, including exciting new merchandise that’s never been offered before.
We talked to Tim Whalen, Senior Graphic Designer at the Disney Design Group and the man responsible for overseeing March Magic, about what makes this year different. “There’s new teams and a couple of surprises,” Whalen said about a pair of wildcard teams that will enter the bracket but won’t be a part of the competition. “We brainstormed different names and the whole idea was to keep them eclectic, but they all fit together. So we used similar elements in the designs so they’re all cohesive.”
You can see the cohesiveness in the designs, the names of the teams are weighted a little bit heavier; they’re larger and more pronounced than in some actual sports teams but create a singularly striking design aesthetic. Whalen said they’re, generally speaking, based on old timey baseball logos, and that kind of charming quality can definitely be felt in the designs.
And there’s a new design element to the teams this year. “What we did this year was added numbers to the back to correlate with the year the attraction opened. That’s an added touch,” Whalen said. “It was to give it more of a feeling of a team.” (Although this isn’t always the case–The Haunted Mansion Ghouls’ number is 999, while the Hollywood Tower Hotel Bellhops are 13. Get it?) Plus, every team logo has been redesigned, even if they’ve appeared in March Magic before. So expect a fresh spin on old favorites. We’re also incredibly excited to exclusively debut four March Magic teams right here–two from each park.
The Future World Phoenicians (“One of my favorites to work on,” according to Whalen) come from Walt Disney World’s Epcot, and specifically the bit of narration that Judi Dench gives towards the beginning of Spaceship Earth, when discussing a unified alphabet.
The second Walt Disney World team is the Progress City Gears, which Whalen says, is, “a nod to Walt Disney’s dream for an experimental prototype community of tomorrow,” and also points towards the Carousel of Progress, the groundbreaking attraction Walt Disney originally developed for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Queens, that is still exhibited at Walt Disney World today. (You can see a bit of Walt’s Progress City model when you ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover attraction and Whalen said that the design for the Progress City Gears “ties together” with the Tomorrowland Movers design.
Next, on the opposite coast, we have the Nemo Voyagers, based on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland. Whalen said the team really loves this addition, in part because it’s based on “one of Disney•Pixar’s most popular movies.”
Another favorite, Whalen says, is the Big Thunder Mountain Goats, because everyone loves the Big Thunder Mountain goat.
You’ll be able to see the entire lineup of March Magic teams tomorrow and can begin voting for your favorite teams (on Walt Disney World Facebook, Walt Disney World Twitter, Disneyland Facebook, and Disneyland Twitter) next week. And be sure to check the March Magic store at the Disney Store for all of your March Magic needs.