The holidays are in full swing, and our friends at AdventHealth are helping ring in the joy and cheer this season across Walt Disney World Resort! With all the hustle and bustle surrounding this time of year, AdventHealth is making it easier than ever to ensure our health, happiness, and wellness are tended to – even while on vacation! Participating in family traditions, strolling to see lights and decorations, even listening to your favorite holiday music, are all ways we can lift our holiday spirits. As the Official Health Care Provider at Walt Disney World Resort, AdventHealth sponsors festive experiences across Walt Disney World to not only celebrate the season, but to be a part of the health and happiness of guests of all ages.
For instance, expand your knowledge of the world during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth. During this festival, 11 Storytellers share their cultures’ holiday traditions with guests around World Showcase through storytelling, performances, and delicious bites both sweet and savory. You may even end up heading home with something new from across the globe to share with your family and friends.
There’s merriment over at Disney Springs, too! The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll presented by AdventHealth encourages families to take a walk around the district and discover trees bejeweled and glowing with decorations inspired by some of our favorite Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Super Hero stories. Complimentary maps are available at select locations across Disney Springs, with stickers that mark such Disney favorites as “Encanto,” “Coco,” and “Moana.” Once you’ve found all 20 Christmas trees, bring your map to one of the locations listed for a special surprise!
AdventHealth sure knows how to bring the holiday spirit everywhere they go. Most recently, they hosted a live orchestra on the AdventHealth Waterside Stage, located at Disney Springs. And as if the beautiful harmonies of holiday music weren’t enough to bring goosebumps to the crowd, the entire orchestra was composed of their own health care professionals! We were able to chat with the Orchestra Director, Richard Hickam, about the creation of the orchestra and why he believes music plays such a vital role in our health and wellness.
What inspired the creation of the orchestra? When and why was it formed?
As director of music and the arts for AdventHealth, I had been toying with the idea of forming a team member orchestra for a while. During the pandemic, I realized the great need we all have for connection and the arts. It was a chance for members to heal and connect.
It’s such a wonderful concept that the orchestra is composed of medical professionals. How has the orchestra continued to serve its members as a form of relaxation?
Our orchestra includes so many different job titles – nurses, physicians, pharmacists, music and respiratory therapists, non-clinical team members and even a CEO! Playing gives them an outlet to do something different from the typical work they do all day. There is an unspoken connectedness and relaxation when we come together for rehearsals and accomplish something as a group.
What has been the most rewarding part of being the orchestra’s director?
I receive immense pleasure in helping people reconnect with a forgotten passion. I also enjoy creating new endeavors and, of course, working as a team to play incredible music. To be in front of an orchestra, directing great music and taking into consideration that these are all health care workers who have endured so much, is a very meaningful experience.
You all recently performed on the AdventHealth Waterside Stage in Disney Springs. How was that experience?
The experience was incredible. Just before we started, I told the orchestra to take a deep breath and try to slow down time for a moment. We spent so much time rehearsing, and to have the moment arrive was something very special. So many people came to see us play, and you could sense the anticipation. And then, the orchestra nailed it! I received a few messages afterward from orchestra members, cast members at Disney Springs, and even a former patient who was in the audience about how much the performance meant to them. When I receive comments like these, how can I not believe that I have the best job in the entire company! It truly was a magical experience!
Music plays an important role in one’s holistic health. How do you believe music can be healing?
Music is the most researched art form, and studies have long shown the wide-ranging health benefits from music for our brain health, reducing anxiety, fostering social connectedness, uniting people and creating joy.
AdventHealth plays a big part in celebrating the holiday season around Walt Disney World Resort, sponsoring both the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. What does the AdventHealth and Disney relationship mean to you personally?
I love that these two amazing companies work to bring joy and inspiration in our community. I remember growing up as a boy in Southern California and my parents taking me to Disneyland where I’d get a little packet of tickets for the attractions. Disney sparked my imagination then and I use my creativity now as an AdventHealth music professional. Pairing the two together to help inspire wholeness in Orlando is a dream come true!
As you can see, there are so many opportunities to have a happy holiday season filled with the people and experiences that bring us joy. Learn more about AdventHealth, the Official Health Care Provider at Walt Disney World Resort, and the “AdventHealth World of Wellness” vacation planning resources for Walt Disney World Resort guests here.