From all of us at Disney, happy holidays!
This year – our company’s 100th – was momentous. Together, we carried on our Disney legacy and found new ways to create magic, from openings of new lands and experiences to simply making a difference in people’s lives.
This spirit of innovation extended to the world of wish-granting. Not only did we hit a major milestone in our work with Make-A-Wish – the 150,000th Disney wish – we also challenged ourselves to find new and uniquely Disney ways to grant wishes through first-of-their-kind events at our parks and resorts across the globe.
Granting wishes and making magic are some of the most important work that we do – right at the core of who we are at Disney. We are the top wish granter in the world for Make-A-Wish. Kids want to come here and have their wishes granted, and we do not take that responsibility lightly.
Earlier this year, I joined the Make-A-Wish America Board of Directors to represent the thousands of Disney cast members who make wishes come true. It takes an average of 200 people to grant a wish, and their dedication – combined with the powerful stories and experiences that only Disney can deliver – led to unforgettable wish-granting moments in 2023. Take a look at a few of our favorites.
World Wish Day: Windows on Main Street, U.S.A.
The Disneyland Resort celebrated World Wish Day by unveiling three windows on Main Street, U.S.A. – the first time in park history we’ve dedicated a window to a non-profit. The center window honors wish kids of the world: past, present and future. The side windows are dedicated to Chris Greicius, whose wish inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish, and Frank “Bopsy” Salazar, the first official wish – which just so happened to be the first Disney wish. Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock and I were honored to share this day with Chris and Bopsy’s mothers, as well as Make-A-Wish America CEO Leslie Motter.
A Royal Ball: Once Upon A Wish Party at Walt Disney World Resort
During World Princess Week, we hosted a first-of-its-kind event at Walt Disney World, welcoming more than 50 wish kids and their families from wish organizations around the country. We treated them to a magical day complete with a royal ball.
Granting Our 150,000th Disney Wish
The royal ball was the perfect opportunity to grant our 150,000th wish – and it was a really special one. We invited seventeen-year-old Mikayla – our 150,000th Make-A-Wish kid – to perform for the nearly 300 guests. As part of her wish to perform at Disney, she received professional voice coaching and recorded a song in a Disney recording studio, got dressed up in a ball gown with the help of Disney Costuming, and met with a Disney Live Entertainment casting director to plan for her grand moment.
Wish Weekends at Disneyland Paris
Each month, we hosted hundreds of kids and families during our Wish Weekends at Disneyland Paris. To celebrate World Wish Day in April, we invited more than 80 Make-A-Wish kids from around the world to spend time together. A highlight of the festivities was a pre-parade where the children and their families joined our own Disney VoluntEARS and some of their favorite characters as they made their way through the park.
Halloween in Hawaii: Wish Week at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
This fall Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa joined forces with Make-A-Wish Hawaii to welcome 20 wish kids and their families for a spooktacular Halloween week full of Hawaiian tradition, delicious food, character meet and greets, and more.
For the First Time in Forever: Visiting World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
After discovering one child’s wish to learn how World of Frozen was created, our Hong Kong Disneyland team invited 11 wish kids and their families from Hong Kong and the larger region to experience this icy new wonderland. They enjoyed Frozen-themed attractions, shows, character greetings, and even a behind-the-scenes tour led by Disney Imagineers.
First Ever “Wishing Star Charity Concert” at Shanghai Disney Resort
To celebrate 100 wishes granted at Shanghai Disney Resort, a magical concert was held with the Shanghai International Youth Orchestra and Make-A-Wish Shanghai! Disney characters and dancers dazzled guests as part of the opening performance and guests were even treated to a special surprise appearance from the wish-granting Genie from “Aladdin!” Shanghai Disney Resort is closing the year with an incredible 100 wishes granted in 2023.
Pulling Back the Curtain: Meeting Imagineers, Riding Coasters
Every wish is a unique story, and we had some one-of-a-kind wishes this year, like 11-year-old Ross. After learning about our coasters from “Behind the Attraction” on Disney+, he wished to meet Disney Imagineers, learn how they design attractions, and to ride the Disneyland roller coasters. Ross and his family had an exclusive opportunity to tour Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, Calif., and Anaheim, Calif.
Our cast members are enormously proud of their role in helping to make wishes come true for kids and families everywhere. I can speak for everyone at Disney when I say that it makes all of us so happy, to make these wish kids so happy.
So to all who help make wishes come true, thank you. And to wish kids and families visiting us next year – see you real soon!