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Making Wishes Come True at the Disneyland Resort

posted on February 4th, 2016 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Recently, The Walt Disney Company celebrated making 100,000 wishes come true with Make-A-Wish. In celebration of this special relationship, we asked our cast members for some of their favorite memories fulfilling wishes:

Tiffany Granato recalls a visit Buzz Lightyear had with 4-year-old Caden, who was battling cancer. When Buzz hugged him goodbye, Caden said, “Mom! He’s giving me Lightyear powers! I can feel it.” Caden’s parents stayed in touch and reported back that Caden is now in remission. Tiffany says, “I’m sure the Lightyear powers had everything to do with it, too.”

Making Wishes Come True at the Disneyland Resort Making Wishes Come True at the Disneyland Resort

Sandy Doerr volunteered with Make-a-Wish and met a 5-year-old girl who wanted to meet the Little Mermaid. After hosting the girl at Disneyland Resort, Sandy became close with the family but eventually lost touch. A few years ago, while VoluntEARing at the MS150 bike ride, a woman approached her and asked if she volunteered for Make-A-Wish. “I realized it was Meghan, my wish child from years ago,” Sandy says, “all grown up, healthy, working at Disneyland Resort and volunteering at the same event!”

Jenna Baranek felt fortunate to host “Queen” Abigail as she visited the Disneyland Resort for her wish. After a full day the parks, the team was able to help Abigail with her transformation into her favorite queen, Elsa, at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique — just in time for Halloween later that night. “It was a magical day taking this family around and helping make this little girl’s dreams come true,” Jenna says.

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Eric Olsen was piloting one of the “Fantasmic!” barges on the Rivers of America during the 100,000 Make-A-Wish celebration in October. “It was an honor looking out of my barge and seeing all the kids enjoying the show,” Eric said.

Danny Chase remembers several years ago when Buzz Lightyear visited his attraction, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, with a young wish child, defeating the Emperor Zurg. As Danny says, “What makes it so memorable to me is that the experience was truly a team effort between the family and all cast members involved. Everyone rallied behind this child and gave him a truly unique and special experience, and I’m sure the family will continue to cherish that memory forever – I know I will.”

Half of all wish requests are for Disney wishes — and the experience is truly memorable for everyone who touches it!

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RECAP: Real-Life Hero Behind Disney’s ‘The Finest Hours’ Saluted at Disneyland Resort Flag Retreat Ceremony

posted on January 29th, 2016 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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Sixty-four years ago, a group of four men went out to sea in a U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat, battling waves 60 feet high, making their way to the wrecked SS Pendleton. One of the men aboard the ship, Engineman Third Class Andy Fitzgerald, was honored Sunday at Disneyland Resort in recognition of his role in helping save 32 men in the midst of the turbulent storm. The rescue mission is considered the most daring small-boat rescue in U.S. history, and inspired Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” which debuts in theaters today.

During the flag retreat ceremony, Andy joined servicemen and women gathered around the Town Square flag pole while the Disneyland Band and Dapper Dans performed patriotic tunes in honor of their service. After the Disneyland Resort Color Guard lowered the American flag, Andy was presented with a certificate naming him an Honorary Citizen of Disneyland Resort by Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto. Take a look back at the ceremony in this video!

Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” is the unforgettable story of the Coast Guard’s courageous mission, which is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars: Chris Pine; Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee Casey Affleck; Ben Foster; Holliday Grainger; John Ortiz; and Eric Bana. Produced by Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero, the screenplay is by Oscar® nominee Scott Silver and Oscar nominees Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson based on the acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. Doug Merrifield serves as executive producer. “The Finest Hours” storms into U.S. theaters on January 29, 2016 in Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D.

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Every Role a Starring Role – Walt Disney Travel Company Reservation Agent for the Disneyland Resort

posted on January 26th, 2016 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


In this “Every Role a Starring Role,” cast member John Gassman helps guests and travel agents book vacation packages to the Disneyland Resort. As the first visually impaired cast member at the Walt Disney Travel Company, John’s method of booking reservations and helping guests with their vacation needs truly amazed me. Check it out for yourself!

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Retired U.S. Coast Guard Engineer Andy Fitzgerald to be Saluted at Disneyland Resort Flag Retreat Ceremony January 24

posted on January 21st, 2016 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


This Sunday, January 24, we will extend a special thank you during the daily flag retreat ceremony at Disneyland park to Andy Fitzgerald, one of four U.S. Coast Guardsmen who went out to sea to rescue the crew of the SS Pendleton in 1952. The historic rescue, the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, is the focus of the Walt Disney Studios upcoming heroic action-thriller “The Finest Hours.”

Join us at 3:45 p.m. as we celebrate Andy and all our servicemen and women in Town Square. “The Finest Hours” debuts in U.S. theaters on January 29. Check out the film’s latest featurette with Andy and the cast.

Disney’s “The Finest Hours” is the unforgettable story of the Coast Guard’s courageous mission, which is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars: Chris Pine; Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee Casey Affleck; Ben Foster; Holliday Grainger; John Ortiz; and Eric Bana. Produced by Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero, the screenplay is by Oscar® nominee Scott Silver and Oscar nominees Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson based on the acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. Doug Merrifield serves as executive producer. “The Finest Hours” storms into U.S. theaters on January 29, 2016 in Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D.

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Disneyland Resort Cast Members VoluntEAR for 60 Days in a Row to Celebrate Resort’s 60th Anniversary

posted on December 24th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Resort cast members VoluntEARed for 60 days in a row, from October 6 – December 5, in honor of the Diamond Celebration. In 60 days, cast members raised $389,000 and VoluntEARed more than 1,000 hours by biking in the MS Bay to Bay Tour, walking in the CHOC Walk, donating items to Goodwill, packing military care packages, collecting canned food – and that’s just the start!

This video highlights the impact our cast members made over the last two months through “60 Days of Giving.”

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Guest Talent Coordinator for Special Events Such as Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

posted on December 22nd, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Guest Talent Coordinator Danny Gaitan hosts guest performers at the Disneyland Resort during special events such as runDisney race weekends and holiday celebrations. Danny says he creates magic not only for our guests who experience the performances, but also for the performers who get the opportunity to entertain on a world-class stage.

Danny currently supports Disney ¡Viva Navidad! in Disney California Adventure park. The celebration of Latino culture and holiday traditions is one of my favorite holiday offerings at the Disneyland Resort, and I especially enjoy watching the dancers that Danny brings in for the event. I hope you will enjoy meeting Danny and learning about his role in this “Every Role a Starring Role!

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U.S. Marine, Five-Year-Old Daughter Reunited with Help of Santa Claus at the Disneyland Resort

posted on December 15th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Yesterday, I was honored to witness what the holidays are all about, right here at Disneyland park! After a seven-month deployment, U.S. Marine Brian Demo was reunited with his five-year-old daughter, Abigail, whose one and only wish was to have her daddy home in time for Christmas.

Abigail brought a letter to Santa sharing her special wish. Santa asked Abigail to close her eyes and ring a magic bell. He said that if her heart was true, then her wish just might come true.

It is moments like these that make the Disneyland Resort the Happiest Place on Earth. Watch their heartfelt reunion!

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Every Role a Starring Role – Disney Ambassador at the Disneyland Resort, a 50-Year Tradition

posted on December 3rd, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Disney Ambassadors Allie Kawamoto and Jessica Bernard recently sat down with me to discuss what it’s like to be an Ambassador of the Disneyland Resort, a tradition dating back to 1965. Fifty years later, Allie and Jessica carry forward Walt Disney’s vision of an official representative for the Disneyland Resort and our 29,000 cast members.

Disney Ambassadors are selected among current cast members who apply. I was interested to learn that Allie worked in guest services at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa before helping to manage Carnation Cafe, Refreshment Corner and other locations on Main Street, U.S.A.

Jessica worked as a vocalist at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Most recently, she performed in “Mickey and the Magical Map” at Disneyland park and various special events throughout the resort. Learn more about this “Diamond Duo” in this “Every Role a Starring Role!”

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Share the Joy of the Holidays During Annual Toys for Tots Toy Drive at the Disneyland Resort

posted on December 1st, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


In honor of Giving Tuesday, our Disney VoluntEARS would like you to join us in sharing the spirit of the season! Now through December 12, we are hosting the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots toy drive at locations throughout the Downtown Disney District and inside the lobbies of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort.

On December 5 and 12, you also can join in some fun music and dancing at the Downtown Disney Main Stage from noon to 6 p.m., where the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Anaheim Fire & Rescue and Disney VoluntEARS will help collect your toys.

By providing a new and unwrapped toy with a suggested value of $10 or more, you can make the holiday season brighter for kids in Orange County, Calif. Some Downtown Disney District stores feature a recommended toy to purchase if you are not sure which gift to buy.

Participating locations are:

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‘Stock Up’ on Good Cheer and Do Good at the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort

posted on November 25th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


You know that feeling you get on Christmas morning when you discover your stocking filled with goodies? What if you could give that gift to someone AND make a difference for the children of Anaheim?

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I stopped by The Stocking Project chalet in the Downtown Disney Winter Village and had that same feeling when I saw their handcrafted stockings, filled to the brim with gifts from Downtown Disney District businesses! As John mentioned last week, Working to Give is selling these one-of-a-kind gifts, stitched by local artisans. The best part is that all net proceeds from your $99 stocking purchase will benefit ACT Anaheim, which supports much-needed youth programs in our community.

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The Downtown Disney Winter Village is open Monday–Thursday, 3–6 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 2–11 p.m.; and Sunday, 2–10 p.m.

Don’t miss this opportunity to create some holiday magic … and give a gift that gives back to our community!

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