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On October 16th, 2023, Disney will turn 100 years old. The entertainment giant chose Hyundai as its first and exclusive North American sponsor for its centennial celebrations—also known as Disney 100. The partnership means a year of special events, all-new content, merchandise, and advertising.

The genesis of the Disney and Hyundai partnership

A silver Hyundai parked in front of a large house as part of the Hyundai Disney partnership.
2022 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai Motor Company

Disney’s role in revolutionizing entertainment started with its greatest strength: storytelling. According to, Walt Disney and his brother Roy co-founded the company in 1923 and sold Alice in Wonderland. In 1928, Disney created Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie, and the brand became an eminent source of cherished stories.

Hyundai’s Chief Marketing Officer, Angela Zepeda, told Auto Evolution that Disney is a brand that strikes an emotional connection with every interaction. Hyundai values customer experiences and the stories people share. They want to tap into the emotion, magic, and inspiration Disney inspires. 

Hyundai and Disney have successfully partnered in the past. In 2021, they created a multi-series campaign including characters from ESPN, ABC, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series was for the 2022 Hyundai Tucson “Question Everything” campaign. Both brands were eager to collaborate again.

The “Magic in the Journey” for Disney’s 100-year anniversary

According to Variety, in their 2023 advertising alliance, the two brands ran a Hyundai commercial during the Oscars called “There’s Magic in the Journey.” The commercial blended real-life scenes, Disney characters, and Hyundai vehicles. Zepeda said the goal was to connect with audiences in a very emotional way. Hyundai wants to show its audience how it cares about them and how the brand can affect consumers in their day-to-day lives. 

Hyundai presented a wish list of Disney characters to use in the commercial, but the entertainment company had to negotiate each appearance. One reason was that the characters could be involved in other upcoming projects. Another was because Disney is quite strict with its intellectual property. However, the brand was willing to lend characters like Mickey, Donald Duck, and more. 

Each juxtaposition of a Disney scene and a Hyundai scene was symbolic. For example, a group of friends uses a projector from the Ioniq 5‘s Vehicle-to-Load two-way charger system to watch Steamboat Willie like a drive-through movie.

The Ioniq’s second generation arrived in 2021. It has a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive setup or a dual-motor version. For the dual-motor, there’s one electric motor on each axle and an all-wheel drive. The Ioniq 5 is fully electric and is more prominent in the commercial than the other vehicles.

A flash of Aladdin on his magic carpet is a metaphor for how smoothly the Tucson glides. The car has gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains with front-wheel and all-wheel drive.

The commercial also features the Santa Cruz. It’s a Sports Adventure Vehicle (SAV) with 2.5-liter L4 engines. It comes with or without a turbocharger, an eight-speed automatic Dutch-clutch transmission, and an all-wheel drive.

The Palisade represents how well it can blend families and people of different generations like Encanto. Hyundai updated the vehicle in 2022. It features an all-wheel drive and a 3.8-liter V6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

A momentous year for Disney and Hyundai

Hyundai’s 2023 vehicles have already earned significant accolades. featured five 2023 Hyundai vehicles on its “Best Value New Cars List”: the Kona SE, Elantra SE, Santa Cruz SE, Kona EV, and the Tucson PHEV (Plug-in Electric Vehicle) SEL. MotorTrend ranked the Elantra Hybrid No.1 on its Compact Hybrid Sedan list. 

Hyundai is also starting to release the 2024 Ioniq 6 in limited quantities. It is more battery-efficient than the Ioniq 5, and its interior styling differs. It has eco-friendly materials in its cabin, like recycled plastics, fishing net carpets, and leather dyed with flaxseed oil for comfort. Thanks to its new releases and partnership with Disney, 2023 will continue to be an exciting year for Hyundai.


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