Disney and the Make-A-Wish Foundation go back more than 40 years.
The foundation tries to facilitate experiences for children battling critical illnesses, and has been working with Disney since its inception in 1980. In fact, the very first wish granted was at Disneyland, and the company has fulfilled more than 140,000 wishes globally, including one out of every two wishes granted by Make-A-Wish in the United States.
But the partnership between the two hit an unfortunate but understandable roadblock during the pandemic. Disney (DIS) parks largely shut down, and the company as a whole underwent the same safety protocols.
Even as the parks began to reopen last year, it was still a difficult time for Make-A-Wish, as sick children were obviously very vulnerable, especially as new covid variants continued to arise.
But Disney did what it could. Last year it introduced the Come True Blue collection of cloth face masks, made in collaboration with Spirit Jersey. Disney donated 10,000 of cloth face masks to Make-A-Wish to provide to wish kids across the United States, and also donated 5 percent of the purchase price, up to US $500,000, to Make-A-Wish.
Now that Disney has more or less fully reopened (with the exception of a handful of rides and experiences) the two parties are carefully getting back in the saddle together.
Make-A-Wish A Wish Is Cautiously Returning To Disney
Last month, the Disneyland Resort and Make-A-Wish fulfilled the first official in-park wish since the parks began reopening.
The initiatives return was kicked off at the first-ever Disney Junior Fun Fest, in which a family of Disney fans got to be guests of honor in the Disney Junior Fun Fest parade
“Seeing the wish kids back here in the park with their blue shirts and big smiles means everything,” said Kim Chips, Manager of Disneyland Resort Corporate Citizenship at the time. “We’ve been fulfilling wishes in collaboration with Make-A-Wish and dozens of other wish granting organizations for over 40 years, and it’s such a special moment when they walk into the park for the first time and our cast members bring that magical experience to life for them.”
That said, it’s still slow going, and no one is getting ahead of themselves, with Disney issuing a statement that “recent trends and guidance have provided opportunities for us to bring back some of our most beloved magic, such as wish granting. While not all wishes can be granted immediately, we are continuing to gradually ramp up our wish-granting efforts over the course of the coming months.”
But even though it’s still a time for caution, Disney did recently grant a very special wish for one of its biggest fans.
Disney Granted A Very Special Wish
Walt Disney Imagineering is a think tank personally created by Walt Disney, and the research and development facilitator has become an incubator of some of Disney’s parks most beloved rides. The hub includes more than 140 disciplines, from artists to architects, engineers, show producers, planners and project manager
The think tank was recently profiled on the Disney+ documentary "The Imagineering Story.” Bella, a child who was born in Walt’s home state of Missouri and has a heart condition, was inspired to want to visit Imagineering.
“I’ve always been very interested and passionate about Disney’s creative process,” Bella shared. “They’re at the forefront of a lot of technology that’s being created right now, but a lot of people don’t realize that.”
As noted by the Disney Parks Blog, tours of Imagineering are rare, but “Bella was invited to step in and meet the people who make the magic and take a peek at how they make dreams come true.”
Bella’s mom Shelly added that “My favorite part of the experience has been watching Bella smile. All the wonderful Imagineers have been so generous and kind with their information and stories.”
The week after Bella’s wish was granted, she received her first nametag and is now “earning her ears” as a Disney intern.