Disney and Make-A-Wish celebrated World Wish Day on Saturday, April 29, 2023, a date that marks the anniversary of the wish that inspired the founding of Make-A-Wish in 1980. Since that first official wish was granted at Disneyland Resort, Disney and Make-A-Wish have worked together to help grant 150,000 wishes globally for wish kids and their families.
As part of this year’s World Wish Day celebration, Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and Make-A-Wish America Board Member, unveiled a special, first-of-its-kind Main Street, U.S.A. window dedicated to the Wish Kids of the world at Disneyland Park. Main Street, U.S.A. windows have historically been dedicated to people who have made significant contributions to Disney over the past century; by being the first one dedicated to a nonprofit, this window represents the special relationship Disney and Make-A-Wish have developed throughout the years. Leslie Motter, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish America, said, “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. 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 set is composed of three windows. The center window is dedicated to all the wish kids of the world; the one on the left honors Chris Greicius, the first-ever wish that inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish; and the one on the right is dedicated to Frank 'Bopsy' Salazar, both the first official wish granted by Make-A-Wish and the first Disney wish. The trio of windows are located above the redesigned and rededicated Wish Lounge, where wish families can rest during visits to the park. Walt Disney Imagineering worked with artists from Walt Disney Animation Studios to bring this wish lounge to life, inspired by the visual style and characters from Disney Animation’s upcoming animated film, Wish, releasing November 2023.
While hosting the window dedication ceremony in California, Disney announced 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 while spending the night in the Cinderella Castle Suite at Walt Disney World. She will return to the park later this year to fulfill her wish to perform on stage at Disney.
Over the past 43 years, Disney has become the biggest wish granter for Make-A-Wish, making thousands of wishes come true and bringing the life-changing impact of a wish to children and families facing critical illnesses. “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.”
Additional World Wish Day celebrations also happened in Disney Parks around the world. On Saturday, April 15, Shanghai Disney Resort hosted a charity concert that benefited its local Make-A-Wish chapter. Hong Kong Disneyland hosted a World Wish Day celebration party on April 30 where 10-year-old wish kid Javis got his wish to play the drums on stage, while Disneyland Paris hosted 80 wish kids and their families at the theme park for its Wish Weekend. Earlier in the week, three Make-A-Wish kids and their families attended the European Gala of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to fulfill their wishes of seeing the movie and meeting some of their favorite Super Hero stars. And still to come, Tokyo Disney Resort will celebrate two wish kids from Make-A-Wish Japan in honor of the park’s 40th anniversary.
Disney 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 long-standing relationship between Disney and Make-A-Wish, visit wish.org/Disney.