The Origins of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings

Every year over 4,000 couples get married around the world at the Disney parks, resorts, and cruises. That is a massive number that averages out to nearly 11 wedding ceremonies a day, and it’s a number that’s on the rise. However weddings at the Disney resorts weren’t always commonplace. So how did it get started, and why is it so popular?

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🎥Additional Video Source: Disney’s Weddings and Honeymoons
✏️Script Sources
“Destination Disney” – Hotel F&B (6/3/13)
“Vintage Walt Disney World: Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Launches” – Disney Parks Blog (7/18/13)
“What’s it like getting married at Disney? It’s not always a fairy tale” – The Washington Post (5/4/17)
“A Fairy Tale Wedding” – The Orlando Sentinel (10/30/92)
“Wedding dreams come true on Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings” – The Santa Fe New Mexican (5/6/17)
“Parade of Betrothed Choose Fun of Destination Weddings” – The Star Press Sun (9/16/90)

According to Korri McFann, the marketing and sales strategy director for Disney Group Getaways, the idea to move into the wedding industry came from Eisner himself. As the story goes he was in Japan in the late 1980s while attending a wedding. It was there that he realized that so many people, like himself, just traveled from near and far to attend. So then, wouldn’t it make sense that people would also travel far and wide to Walt Disney World for a wedding? Beyond just the cost of setting up the wedding ceremony and reception that would mean more guests staying at Disney resorts, visiting Disney parks, eating Disney food, and buying Disney merchandise.

Today this revelation almost seems silly, but it’s important to remember that destination weddings in the late 80s were not nearly as popular or common as they are today. The idea of people traveling from afar to attend a wedding was actually still a novelty, but that wouldn’t be the case for long.

In September of 1991 the company introduced Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. At the time a wedding for 100 guests started at $17,500. Adjusted for inflation that would be nearly thirty-three thousand dollars today. The service was successful and within their first year of operation they had booked, planned, and held over 200 weddings. In 1995 they took the business to the next level by opening Disney’s Wedding Pavilion. Set along the coast of the Seven Seas Lagoon, the building can hold up to 300 guests and sports a 75 foot long aisle for the wedding party to walk down. Most importantly, the building offers everyone a perfectly framed view of Cinderella Castle across the water. By the time the pavilion opened that July, the first 200 weekends were already booked up with ceremonies.

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