Often, stories found in the world of fiction are based on reality, rather than the other way round. But the real life story of Disney’s Mighty Ducks ice hockey team strangely mirrors its fictional counterpart.
In 1992, the Walt Disney Company released the first of a live action trilogy: “The Mighty Ducks”. The films followed the misadventures of an ice hockey team composed of perennial losers who finish at the bottom of their league year after year, before a new coach arrives, who inevitably leads the team to victorious glory.
Despite the predictable plots, the trilogy’s commercial success led to Disney founding a real life ice hockey team, based in Anaheim, California. Many hockey purists cringed at the idea of a team being founded by Disney Corp and named after a kids’ movie but, unlike its fictional namesake, the strength of the team surprised fans and the Ducks had an excellent first season, proving them to be more than just a movie spin off.
Disney later went on to make a further two Mighty Ducks films: “D2: The Mighty Ducks” (1994) and “D3: The Mighty Ducks” (1996) as well as 26 episodes of an animated series called “Mighty Ducks” that were loosely based on the films and the real life hockey team.
The founding of a real life team based on an established fictional concept was marketing genius. The Mighty Ducks team instantly appealed to young fans of both hockey and the Mighty Duck movies, proving the perfect opportunity for merchandising, with many toys, logos and characters already in existence.
The real life Duck’s team mascot, “Wild Wing”, is taken from a character in the Mighty Ducks cartoon series; he is the leader of the Ducks gang, both on and off the ice and plays as goal keeper in the cartoon team and regularly appears at the real life games.
Disney kept hold of the Ducks for 12 years, but in 2005 sold the franchise for $75 million. In 2006, the team were rebranded from the “Mighty Ducks of Anaheim” to simply the “Anaheim Ducks” and have continued to play a high standard of hockey, reaching the pinnacle of the game this year by winning the highly converted Stanley Cup in June 2007.
The Anaheim Ducks are based in Orange Country, California, and play their home games at the Honda Center. Fans of the wishing to see the Stanley Cup champions can chose from a number of movies based on Real life stories and, with Disneyland not for away, fans of the Mighty Ducks carton series can visit the ‘Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam’, an attraction based on the cartoon.
It’s impossible to tell what the future will bring to the Anaheim Ducks, but the story of this ice hockey team just goes to show that real life based on fiction, can be stranger than fiction itself.