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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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Disney Cruise Line Crew Members Create Magical Holiday Moments

posted on December 23rd, 2015 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


Our Disney Cruise Line crew members – along with Mickey and Minnie – recently spent some time off the ships to create magical moments this holiday season for children in need at ports of calls in the Caribbean and United States.

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They helped inspire children’s love for reading at Albury Primary School in Nassau by donating 600 “Finding Nemo” Read-a-Long books, one for each student. Captain Mickey and crew members also paid a special visit to Shriners Hospital in Galveston, Texas to visit with children and their families. And, in the Ports of St. Thomas, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, crew members interacted with children from local schools and charitable organizations.

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There’s nothing quite like bringing a smile to a child’s face, especially this time of year, and we’re so grateful for the support of our dedicated crew members who help make moments like these possible.

The Disney Cruise Line annual holiday visits are part of our Disney VoluntEARS program, which provides opportunities for cast and crew members to volunteer their time to positively impact communities around the world.

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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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Neighbors Helping Neighbors – Unforgettable Reunion Captured by Good Morning America at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on November 28th, 2015 by Robert Hitchcock, Content Director


Neighbors helping neighbors – random acts of kindness going above and beyond to help someone. It’s something we have all experienced and are thankful when it happens. Sometimes those acts of kindness are small, and sometimes they are big. Air Force Lt. Colonel Jack Spencer from Georgia and his family experienced that unconditional kindness in a big way.

While deployed to Afghanistan, Spencer’s wife Mindi and his two daughters remained in Georgia going about their day-to-day lives. As difficult as it was, simple things were made easier with the help of their amazing neighbors, Jeff and Amy Campbell. From helping with lawn work, taking care of pets and taking the Spencer family to dinner, the support was significant. The most unforgettable impact came when one of the Spencer children was involved in a serious auto accident in Texas. The support the Campbells gave Mindi was the help and emotional bridge she needed until her husband could return home on emergency leave.

Jack and Mindi Spencer have searched for a way to thank Jeff and Amy Campbell, and with help from Walt Disney World Resort and ABC’s Good Morning America they finally had the opportunity by giving the Campbells a family trip to Walt Disney World. An unforgettable one-of-a-kind experience that played out on Good Morning America this morning.

With the cast of Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom performing the song Circle of Life as a backdrop, an emotional and tearful reunion played out. Together both families then enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast and a ride on Kilimanjaro Safari.

We salute the Spencer and Campbell families, all military personnel serving our country, and those everyday people who make a difference in our communities by lending a helping hand and being good neighbors.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Unforgettable Moment at Walt Disney World Resort Shared With the Nation on ‘Good Morning America’

posted on November 26th, 2015 by Robert Hitchcock, Content Director


It was a moment Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Patrick Thompson and his family had waited years for, the chance to thank a United States postal worker from Virginia who literally kept Thompson’s family connected while he served our country in Afghanistan.

During his deployment Thompson provided much needed medical attention to men, women and children who were sick or injured by the tragedies of war. While this Naval officer provided distinguished service, his wife Irene and daughter remained back home in Virginia trying to maintain life as normal as possible. Providing care packages to her husband became vital in an attempt to keep that normalcy. This is where a hometown hero entered their life and provided the bridge of support the family needed. Ron Johnson, a postal worker in Salem, VA, provided the shipping expertise and words of encouragement Irene needed to get through those tough days of deployment – every time she came to the post office

Working with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Walt Disney World Resort, Thompson and his family were able to thank Johnson in an amazing way with a trip to Walt Disney World Resort for him and his fiancé. A trip filled with one-of-a-kind surprises and an emotional reunion with the Thompson family. Unforgettable moments shared with the nation this morning on “Good Morning America“.

Following the reunion, both families were treated to a Thanksgiving feast and spent time together at Magic Kingdom Park. Unforgettable moments filled with tears of happiness, laughter and thankfulness.

We salute all the men and women in our armed services and the everyday people who make a difference in our communities by lending a helping hand.

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Disney Cruise Line Crew Members Give Back at Local Food Pantries

posted on November 25th, 2015 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, Disney Cruise Line crew members volunteered at local food pantries to help with Thanksgiving preparations in communities near our Florida homeports in Port Canaveral and Miami, and in Galveston, Texas.

Last Saturday, Disney VoluntEARS from the Disney Fantasy cruise ship in town for the day in Port Canaveral sorted and stocked more than 9,000 pounds of food at the Sharing Center of Central Brevard, an organization that provides emergency assistance to those in need.

Take a look at those crew members in action and hear why they wanted to support this great cause.

Over Thanksgiving, the Sharing Center is serving dinner and assisting 250 local families with meal baskets. Donated food is also distributed at the Sharing Center’s Emergency Food Pantry year round, which provides an estimated 8 tons of food monthly to residents living within Central Brevard County.

Crew members from both the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic also volunteered at local food banks in port communities surrounding Galveston, Texas and Miami, Florida last week. Throughout the year, our Disney Cruise Line cast and crew members contribute thousands of hours of their personal time to support great causes.

How do you and your family give back this time year?

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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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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Celebrates Family Volunteer Day

posted on November 24th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks


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Our parks and resorts around the world give families and loved ones opportunities to make lasting memories together, and that vision continues to drive our citizenship efforts. We are committed to nurture, inspire, and empower kids and families by bringing them together to make lasting change in the world. Last weekend, our VoluntEARS around the world celebrated Family Volunteer Day. Now in its 25th year, this coordinated effort is a national day of service organized by generationOn and sponsored by Disney Friends for Change.

At Disneyland Resort, guests and Disney VoluntEARS made more than 5,000 snack packs for the Orange County Food Bank, wrote postcards to service men and women and built butterfly garden kits for after-school programs. VoluntEARS also spent time assembling food boxes at the Orange County Food Bank.

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Walt Disney World guests, cast and their families created 500 Clean the World toiletry kits for Families in Transition in Osceola County. Participants also wrote postcards for Operation Uplift and greeting cards for local children’s hospitals to bring extra smiles for the holiday season. The Disney Kids and Family Zone also stopped by to provide some healthy snacks, fun games and a photo area for even more lasting memories.

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VoluntEARS and families from Hong Kong Disneyland refreshed a local campsite for the Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied Association (PHAB). This is the first campsite in Hong Kong to promote inclusiveness and socialization among visitors, and the work of the VoluntEARS will help even more people to enjoy the space.

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Tokyo Disney Resort cast members and their family joined hands with other community volunteers to clean the shoreline of their local Kasai Rinkai Park. VoluntEARS spent the day helping to preserve the park’s pristine nature for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you to all the resort guests and Disney VoluntEARS who joined together for Family Volunteer Day. This is just one of many ways Walt Disney Parks and Resorts VoluntEARS donate hundreds of thousands of hours every single year. Read more about how The Walt Disney Company participated in Family Volunteer Day on the Disney Post.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resort

Last Call to Submit Applications for First Class of Disneyland Resort Dreamers & Doers; Applications Due by November 20

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


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Are you an exemplary Orange County, Calif., high school student driving positive change in your home, school or community? Now is the time to be selected as part of the first class of Disneyland Resort Dreamers & Doers and have the opportunity to earn a $1,000 grant for your school, or be selected to receive a Disneyland Resort weekend package to enjoy!

A couple of months ago, I shared a video with you about a few students and what they DREAM about, and what they DO to make those dreams a reality. I know there are many young people out there with similar stories to tell about the great things they’ve accomplished, whether that be by conserving nature, inspiring others to be creative or live healthfully, or bringing hope and happiness to the community.

The application window is drawing to a close! If you or someone you know is making a difference in your community, apply by November 20 by submitting a completed application to your high school’s main office. We can’t wait to hear your stories!

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Make-A-Wish and Disney Celebrate 100,000 Wishes Together

posted on October 22nd, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks


During a special ceremony last night, Make-A-Wish celebrated the 100,000th Disney wish, marking a momentous milestone in the organization’s 35-year relationship with The Walt Disney Company. Together, Disney and Make-A-Wish bring comfort and smiles to wish kids and families when they need it most.

“It’s amazing to think that 35 years ago, Make-A-Wish granted its very first wish at the Disneyland Resort, which sparked a legacy of fulfilling wishes that has captured so many hearts,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “It’s wonderful to celebrate our 100,000th wish together, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing smiles and laughter to wish children and their families.”

On the giant water screens at Rivers of America, Make-A-Wish shared the story of seven-year-old Luke’s dream to visit Disneyland Resort with his entire family. Luke spent several fun-filled days visiting the parks – sharing magical moments with Lightning McQueen and Mater in Radiator Springs, meeting Anna and Elsa, and enjoying special viewings of World of Color – Celebrate!, the Paint the Night Parade and Disneyland Forever Fireworks Spectacular.

Nearly 8,000 Disney wishes are granted every year – including experiences at Disney Parks, voyages on Disney Cruise Line, and visits to TV and movie sets. We’re proud to lend our support to Make-A-Wish and help families make lasting memories together.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort