As Most-Requested Wish in the World, Disney Marks Milestone Moment with Global Events and the First-of-its-kind Main Street, U.S.A. Windows Dedicated to Wish Kids of the World
BURBANK, Calif., May 1, 2023 – The Walt Disney Company and Make-A-Wish celebrated World Wish Day on Saturday, April 29, a date that marks the anniversary of the wish that inspired the founding of Make-A-Wish in 1980. Since the first official wish – which was granted at Disneyland® Resort – Disney and Make-A-Wish have worked together to help grant 150,000 wishes globally, delivering joy when it is needed most to wish kids and their families.
Over the past 43 years, Disney has become the biggest wish granter in the world for Make-A-Wish, bringing the life-changing impact of a wish to children facing critical illnesses and their families.
“Disney and Make-A-Wish are a perfect match – we’re both in the business of creating happiness,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks Experiences and Products, and Make-A-Wish America Board Member. “We also understand the transformative impact we can make on the lives of wish kids and their families. We’re thrilled to honor the history of Make-A-Wish and Disney together and look forward to creating special moments for many years to come.”
As part of this year’s World Wish Day celebration, Disney unveiled special, first-of-its-kind windows on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park, dedicated to Make-A-Wish and all the wish kids of the world.
Main Street, U.S.A. windows historically have been dedicated to people who have made significant contributions to Disney over the past century. The windows, the first ever dedicated to a nonprofit, represent the unique and special relationship Disney and Make-A-Wish have developed throughout the years. The three windows include a center window dedicated to Make-A-Wish and all the wish kids past, present and future; and side windows honoring Chris Greicius, whose wish inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish, and Frank ‘Bopsy’ Salazar, who made the first official wish granted by Make-A-Wish (and the first Disney wish).
“World Wish Day presents an opportunity to bring together the global community of supporters that makes wishes possible, and Disney has been one of our most committed and impactful supporters from the very beginning,” said Make-A-Wish America President and CEO, Leslie Motter. “It’s a testament to the passion and generosity of cast members past and present that we have reached the point where our wish families are being recognized with their very own, dedicated windows at Disneyland Resort.”
The three windows are located above the redesigned and rededicated Wish Lounge, where wish families can relax privately during their visit to Disneyland. Walt Disney Imagineering worked with story artists and animators at Walt Disney Animation Studios to bring to life this incredible wish lounge inspired by the artistic style and characters from Disney Animation’s upcoming animated film, “Wish.”
Disney also announced this weekend that Mikayla, a talented 16-year-old from Florida who ‘lives and breathes theater,’ will be Disney’s official 150,000th wish. Mikayla and her family were surprised with the news on World Wish Day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, where she was Grand Marshal of the Disney “Festival of Fantasy” Parade. After the parade, Disney had another surprise for Mikayla unique to this very special occasion marking this historic milestone of our 150,000th wish – an exclusive opportunity to stay in the famous Cinderella Castle Suite. She will return to the park later this year for a special celebration to fulfill her wish, which is to perform on stage at Disney.
Disney also celebrated World Wish Day around the world, with several other Disney Parks hosting wish kids and their families, reminding us that wishes do come true:
- On Saturday, April 15, Shanghai Disney Resort hosted a charity concert that benefited its local Make-A-Wish affiliate.
- Hong Kong Disneyland hosted a World Wish Day celebration party, where 10-year-old wish kid Javis’ wish to play the drums onstage was fulfilled.
- Disneyland Paris held Wish Weekend, hosting 88 wish kids and their families at the theme park for a weekend full of wish granting.
Across The Walt Disney Company, there were more celebrations in honor of wish kids:
- ESPN helped to enhance Kyle’s wish to announce the first-round draft pick for his favorite team – the New York Jets – at the NFL Draft in Kansas City. Kyle also was able to visit the sets of ESPN’s NFL Live and College GameDay shows.
- In Los Angeles, four wish kids were welcomed to Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 World Premiere, walking the red carpet, meeting the stars and getting a first look at the eagerly awaited third film in the trilogy.
- Pixar shared Addie’s wish on World Wish Day 2023. Addie’s wish to be a voice actor was granted with her visit to the Pixar campus.
The Walt Disney Company works with Make-A-Wish to grant wishes ranging from theme park and resort vacations, cruises, and shopping sprees, to studio visits, talent meet-and-greets, sports-themed experiences and more. Many Disney cast members are also wish-granting volunteers, parents of wish kids, or wish alumni themselves. To learn more about the longstanding relationship between Disney and Make-A-Wish, visit wish.org/Disney.
About Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products brings the magic of The Walt Disney Company’s powerful brands and franchises — including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN, Twentieth Century Studios and National Geographic — into the daily lives of families and fans around the world to create magical memories that last a lifetime.
When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955, he created a unique destination built around storytelling and immersive experiences, ushering in a new era of family entertainment. More than 60 years later, Disney has grown into one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences, with iconic businesses including six resort destinations with 12 theme parks and 53 resorts in the United States, Europe and Asia; a top-rated cruise line fleet of five ships with three more planned in the coming years; a luxurious family beach resort in Hawaii; a popular vacation ownership program; and two award-winning guided tour adventure businesses. Disney Imagineers are the creative force behind Disney theme parks, resort hotels and cruise ships globally.
Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing includes the world’s leading licensing business; one of the largest children’s publishing brands globally; one of the largest licensors of games across platforms worldwide; and consumer products at retail locations around the world.
Make-A-Wish creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Founded in Phoenix, Arizona, Make-A-Wish is the #1 most trusted nonprofit operating locally in all 50 states throughout the U.S. Together with generous donors, supporters, staff and more than 24,000 volunteers across the country, Make-A-Wish delivers hope and joy to children and their families when they need it most. Make-A-Wish aims to bring the power of wishing to every child with a critical illness because wish experiences can help improve emotional and physical health. Since 1980, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 550,000 wishes in 50 countries worldwide; more than 360,000 wishes in the U.S. and its territories alone. For more information about Make-A-Wish America, visit wish.org.
External Communications, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
External Communications, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products