The Walt Disney Company and Make-A-Wish celebrated World Wish Day on Saturday, April 29, a date that marks the anniversary of the wish that inspired the founding of Make-A-Wish in 1980. Since the first official wish – which was granted at Disneyland® Resort – Disney and Make-A-Wish have worked together to help grant 150,000 wishes globally, delivering joy when it is needed most to wish kids and their families.
Over the past 43 years, Disney has become the biggest wish granter in the world for Make-A-Wish, bringing the life-changing impact of a wish to children facing critical illnesses and their families.
“Disney and Make-A-Wish are a perfect match – we’re both in the business of creating happiness,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks Experiences and Products, and Make-A-Wish America Board Member. “We also understand the transformative impact we can make on the lives of wish kids and their families. We’re thrilled to honor the history of Make-A-Wish and Disney together and look forward to creating special moments for many years to come.”
As part of this year’s World Wish Day celebration, Disney unveiled special, first-of-its-kind windows on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park, dedicated to Make-A-Wish and all the wish kids of the world.
Main Street, U.S.A. windows historically have been dedicated to people who have made significant contributions to Disney over the past century. The windows, the first ever dedicated to a nonprofit, represent the unique and special relationship Disney and Make-A-Wish have developed throughout the years. The three windows include a center window dedicated to Make-A-Wish and all the wish kids past, present and future; and side windows honoring Chris Greicius, whose wish inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish, and Frank ‘Bopsy’ Salazar, who made the first official wish granted by Make-A-Wish (and the first Disney wish).
“World Wish Day presents an opportunity to bring together the global community of supporters that makes wishes possible, and Disney has been one of our most committed and impactful supporters from the very beginning,” said Make-A-Wish America President and CEO, Leslie Motter. “It’s a testament to the passion and generosity of cast members past and present that we have reached the point where our wish families are being recognized with their very own, dedicated windows at Disneyland Resort.”
The three windows are located above the redesigned and rededicated Wish Lounge, where wish families can relax privately during their visit to Disneyland. Walt Disney Imagineering worked with story artists and animators at Walt Disney Animation Studios to bring to life this incredible wish lounge inspired by the artistic style and characters from Disney Animation’s upcoming animated film, “Wish.”
Disney also announced this weekend that Mikayla, a talented 16-year-old from Florida who ‘lives and breathes theater,’ will be Disney’s official 150,000th wish. Mikayla and her family were surprised with the news on World Wish Day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, where she was Grand Marshal of the Disney “Festival of Fantasy” Parade. After the parade, Disney had another surprise for Mikayla unique to this very special occasion marking this historic milestone of our 150,000th wish – an exclusive opportunity to stay in the famous Cinderella Castle Suite. She will return to the park later this year for a special celebration to fulfill her wish, which is to perform on stage at Disney.
Disney also celebrated World Wish Day around the world, with several other Disney Parks hosting wish kids and their families, reminding us that wishes do come true:
On Saturday, April 15, Shanghai Disney Resort hosted a charity concert that benefited its local Make-A-Wish affiliate.
Hong Kong Disneyland hosted a World Wish Day celebration party, where 10-year-old wish kid Javis’ wish to play the drums onstage was fulfilled.
Disneyland Paris held Wish Weekend, hosting 88 wish kids and their families at the theme park for a weekend full of wish granting.
Across The Walt Disney Company, there were more celebrations in honor of wish kids:
ESPN helped to enhance Kyle’s wish to announce the first-round draft pick for his favorite team – the New York Jets – at the NFL Draft in Kansas City. Kyle also was able to visit the sets of ESPN’s NFL Live and College GameDay shows.
In Los Angeles, four wish kids were welcomed to Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 World Premiere, walking the red carpet, meeting the stars and getting a first look at the eagerly awaited third film in the trilogy.
Pixar shared Addie’s wish on World Wish Day 2023. Addie’s wish to be a voice actor was granted with her visit to the Pixar campus.
The Walt Disney Company works with Make-A-Wish to grant wishes ranging from theme park and resort vacations, cruises, and shopping sprees, to studio visits, talent meet-and-greets, sports-themed experiences and more. Many Disney cast members are also wish-granting volunteers, parents of wish kids, or wish alumni themselves. To learn more about the longstanding relationship between Disney and Make-A-Wish, visit wish.org/Disney.