‘Black-ish’ Heads to Disney World

by Cate Lecuyer  |  09.20.2016

An ABC family sitcom, it seems, isn’t complete without a trip to a Disney theme park, and black-ish is about to check that box.

The cast headed to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to film the show’s season three premiere, which airs Wednesday, September 21. In the episode Dre (Anthony Anderson) gives his family the magical, VIP vacation he never had as a kid.

Black-ish joins a long list of ABC series to shoot at either Disney World or Disneyland, both before and after Disney purchased the network in 1996. Shows that made the rite of passage include The Middle in 2014; Modern Family in 2012; and Roseanne, Family Matters, Full House, Boy Meets World, Step by Step and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in the ‘90s. 

The black-ish partnership isn’t an official integration with the theme park or a mandate from Disney, but rather an idea that stemmed from Sydnee Rimes, director of current programming at Disney/ABC Television Group, thinking “wouldn’t it be cool?,” according to Adweek.

However, the season does include an official integration with Microsoft, and last season included a partnership with State Farm. With Anderson’s character working as an advertising executive, black-ish is able to organically work in such integrations. Although ABC considered a plot where Dre’s agency worked on a campaign for the theme park, they decided to make it more personal instead, said Executive Producer Jonathan Groff, who also wrote the Disney episode.

“We made it a little bit of a story, as we often do, between him and Pops, Laurence Fishburne’s character, where Dre had gone to Disneyland as a little kid, but they had to eat tuna sandwiches out of a brown paper bag because they were scrimping and saving to go to this place,” he told Adweek.

ABC originally planned to shoot at the Disneyland location in Anaheim, Calif, with Groff scouting it out in 2015, but “then I think Disney’s priorities as a corporation switched,” he said. So ABC began planning a more ambitious trip to the Florida location. In the episode the Johnson’s make it to three out of four parks, skipping Hollywood Studios.

“It’s a good partnership,” Groff said. “We’re getting to go to this fantastic location with this unbelievable access, and they get to show this American family having a great time at their park. It was surprisingly smooth. Every time I thought, we’re going to get into an argument here, we never did.”


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