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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.”

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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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Disney Vacation Club Members Join Together to Spread Holiday Cheer

posted on December 16th, 2015 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially since we get to welcome home so many of our Disney Vacation Club Members to celebrate the holidays during our Merry Member Mixers.

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Between mingling with Mickey and rocking around the Christmas tree, we love that our Members also took the time to come together as one Disney Vacation Club family and bring some cheer to others in need.

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Hundreds of Members and their guests of all ages visited our Disney VoluntEARS stations where they helped make birthday cards for ill children, send well wishes to service men and women and paint special Disney murals that will be donated to children’s hospitals.

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We couldn’t ask for more dedicated Disney Vacation Club Members, and we’re so thankful that they joined us this time of year to support great causes and share in giving a little Disney magic. Together, we were able to create a brighter world.

There’s still one more Merry Member Mixer left this season and you can find out more details here.

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Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS Lend a Hand to Build a Boardwalk at the Pine Island Conservation Area

posted on October 16th, 2015 by Rebecca Peddie, Manager, Public Affairs


It’s no secret that our cast and crew members are amazing. Not only do they work to create magical moments for our guests each and every day at sea, but they donate thousands of hours of their personal time each year to benefit worthwhile causes in port communities around the world.

This past Saturday is a perfect example. Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS from the Disney Fantasy – in port for less than a day – gave back to their home port community of Brevard County. On their day off, they picked up hammers and nails to help build an ADA accessible boardwalk that leads to a brand new park pavilion.

The Pine Island Conservation Area boasts nearly 900-acres and is a great place for guests to observe and connect with nature. The new pavilion will provide shade and mosquito protection for park guests year round, even in Florida’s hottest months. Because of the hard work of our VoluntEARS, all guests will now have access to the pavilion and park experiences, ensuring that the conservation area can serve as a place for education for everyone.

Here’s a look at the team in action.

In collaboration with Disney, ESPN and ABC, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) supported this project through the NRPA’s Parks Build Community program, which provided 16 communities with resources to improve local parks, connect kids with nature, help kids and families live healthier, and increase kids’ access to sports. The Pine Island Conservation Area received a $20,000 grant for improvements.

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Disney VoluntEARS Become Superheroes for a Day during CANstruction Competition

posted on October 9th, 2015 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications


‘CAN’ you pick a favorite superhero?

The Incredibles” has always been a favorite movie of mine, so I was amazed when a team of 50 Disney VoluntEARS used more than 7,500 cans of food to create a structure of the family during the recent CANstruction Orlando competition. Over the course of a few hours, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, along with their kids, Violet and Dash, took shape from layers of mixed vegetables, tomato sauce, fruits and other canned food items.

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Disney VoluntEARS Become Superheroes for a Day during CANstruction Competition Disney VoluntEARS Become Superheroes for a Day during CANstruction Competition

The Orlando Chapter of CANstruction, whose mission is to feed and inspire the world, has organized an annual competition since 1994 to design and build sculptures made entirely out of canned goods. After the competition, all of the food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank, a local organization that supports thousands of families in need through programs like Kids Café, an after-school initiative that feeds more than 1,400 children a day.

Take a look at this video of Disney VoluntEARS at work to see how everything stacked up. And, you can get in on the action! View the dozens of entries and vote for your favorite on Facebook this week as part of the Patron’s Choice award.

The theme for this year’s event was “Hunger Heroes.” While the Incredibles may be the ones with superpowers, it’s all of the extraordinary volunteers who are the real superheroes for helping to create hope through hunger relief.

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Disneyland Resort Million Dollar Dazzle Crew Hits the Road, Surprises Next $60,000 Recipient

posted on August 27th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


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You may remember that on July 17 we announced a special philanthropic program in honor of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration called Million Dollar Dazzle. Once a month during the celebration, our Million Dollar Dazzle Crew is surprising local nonprofits with $60,000, amounting to more than $1 million.

Last weekend, the Million Dollar Dazzle Crew showed up to a regularly scheduled Disney VoluntEARS event at the Orange County Food Bank with the surprise $60,000 for the nonprofit that runs the food bank, Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC).

Disney VoluntEARS were in place packing food boxes when Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto and the Million Dollar Dazzle Crew came in and announced that our second Million Dollar Dazzle gift was to benefit CAPOC’s Family Resource Centers, offering services from homework assistance for children to free lunches for senior citizens.

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“We have a really difficult time fundraising for our Family Resource Centers,” said Buddy Ray, executive director of CAPOC. “It’s easier to raise funds for the food bank because everyone understands what that is. This makes a world of difference for our entire nonprofit. Families are getting quality services that make a difference in their lives.”

Disney VoluntEARS from the Disneyland Resort have supported CAPOC since the early 1990s with quarterly food packing events. This gift represents a new way in which the Disneyland Resort is supporting CAPOC. Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog to see which local nonprofit will be surprised next by our Million Dollar Dazzle Crew!

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Walt Disney World Resort Donates $866,000 Worth of School Supplies to Central Florida Students

posted on August 20th, 2015 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications


Being married to a high school algebra teacher, I completely understand how much work it takes to get ready for school. I also know that unfortunately, some of my husband’s students don’t have all the supplies they need. But some of my fellow cast members are doing what they can to help.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of Disney VoluntEARS have been picking up extra folders, pencils, pens, composition notebooks and more to help more than 100,000 Central Florida students begin the school year successfully.

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Through this Back-to-School Supply Drive, students will receive over $866,000 worth of school supplies, including more than 60,000 backpacks. All of the supplies will be distributed locally by A Gift For Teaching (AGFT), which is a nonprofit organization that provides free school supplies to local students to help their students in need.

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In addition to donating school supplies, hundreds of cast members spent countless hours sorting pens, crayons, notebooks and other school items at AGFT’s warehouse in South Orlando. They also answered phones during a telethon hosted by WKMG Local 6 to raise funds for the nonprofit’s supply efforts.

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All supplies donated will ensure students, families and teachers can focus on the same goal: a successful start to the 2015-2016 school year!

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Special Olympics World Games ‘Flame of Hope’ Journeys Through Disneyland Resort

posted on July 20th, 2015 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Last night, the Disneyland Resort hosted the “Flame of Hope,” currently making its way through 127 cities and communities in California en route to the Special Olympics World Games opening ceremonies in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 25. The torch shined brightly even in the rain, and I was encouraged to see so many guests brave the weather to watch Special Olympics athletes carry the torch down Main Street, U.S.A. to a ceremony at the Downtown Disney District.

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The Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the “Flame of Hope” represents the culmination of similar events around the world on its journey to the Special Olympics World Games. In May, the torch made its way to the Walt Disney World Resort during a Unified Relay Across America, going through Epcot and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

More than 30,000 volunteers, including Disney VoluntEARS, will support the Special Olympics World Games. ESPN is the official broadcast partner of the Games, and will be covering the Opening Ceremonies, plus sharing highlights throughout the event.

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VIDEO: World Oceans Day at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on June 11th, 2015 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa


“Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” – the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. This is our Hawai’i state motto, and it holds special meaning for all of us here in the 50th State. Through it, we have a glimpse of the importance that Hawaiians put on the land and environment. With our recent celebration of World Oceans Day at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, we wanted to share a little bit more about how we celebrate mauka to makai – from the mountains to the sea – perpetuating our environment. From guest activities to our VoluntEARS programs, caring for our island home remains a focal point in all that we do. Enjoy this video, and aloha!

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Team Disney VoluntEARS Raises More than $30,000 for Cancer Research and Runs Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort

posted on June 3rd, 2015 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director, Disneyland Resort


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Over the past few months, I’ve had the honor to join a group of Disneyland Resort cast members who have come together to accomplish a healthy goal while supporting a great cause. While training together for the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Team Disney VoluntEARS raised more than $30,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the organization’s Team in Training program.

Team in Training is an endurance sports training program that has raised more than $1.4 billion for blood cancer research since it began in 1988. This season marked the first corporate team at the Disneyland Resort to support this organization, and Team Disney VoluntEARS already has plans to continue its fundraising efforts while training for the upcoming 2015 Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon!

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Please join me in congratulating my amazing team and in wishing them the best as they continue their training and fundraising. Go Team!

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