By Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of External Affairs, Walt Disney World Resort
This weekend, Disney Parks around the world celebrated the transformative power of a wish on World Wish Day. It was a particularly memorable celebration for us here at Walt Disney World as we teamed up with our friends at Make-A-Wish America to help grant the 150,000th Disney-inspired wish to 16-year-old Mikayla from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida who began her battle fighting cancer three years ago. Check out how the magic happened on Good Morning America!
“This is an incredible milestone moment in our more than 40-year relationship with Disney,” said Leslie Motter, Make-A-Wish America President and CEO. “We know that wishes have the transformative power to renew hope, uplift spirits and unite families. When you pair that with Disney stories, characters and experiences, lives are forever changed thanks to the unmatched joy that’s delivered when it’s needed most.”
Mikayla and her family were first surprised with being Grand Marshals during the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom Park; but they didn’t just roll down Main Street, U.S.A. in the usual vehicle – they were treated to their very own coach.
Guests enjoying the parade may have also noticed a shiny new license plate affixed to the coach. With the limited-edition, 50th Anniversary celebration specialty plate design going away soon, we couldn’t think of a better way to reveal the fresh new design featuring Cinderella Castle.
More than $1.5 million has been raised for our local Make-A-Wish chapter through purchases of our specialty plate, and just like before, proceeds will continue to go directly to Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida. Be sure to stay tuned for more information on when the new plate will go on sale, which we’ll share an update on a bit later.
After enjoying the parade and seeing some of our most iconic Disney princesses and heroines, we shared an extra surprise with Mikayla – something unique to her that we would only offer on a very special occasion like this one. To mark this historic milestone, Mikayla and her family were given the exclusive opportunity to enjoy an overnight stay in the famous Cinderella Castle Suite! As many Disney fans know, a stay in the suite is not typical, even for Make-A-Wish families, but we just had to make sure our 150,000th wish was, well … pretty suite.
“We are so thrilled that Mikayla is able to have this opportunity to celebrate the journey that she’s been on,” said Mikayla’s mom. “You never anticipate they [your children] are going to experience a life-threatening situation, but it’s been amazing to see how much good can come from something bad. We get to create these wonderful new memories together and not focus on the ones that maybe weren’t so pretty.”
With a milestone like this, we just had to throw in an extra dose of pixie dust! We learned that Mikayla, who is an aspiring singer, dreams of one day performing at Disney, so we’re planning a royal performance later this summer that will top off this 150,000th wish in an unforgettable way. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to capture the magic and bring you all along for the ride!
To read more about some of the other ways we’re making a difference for the people and places around us in Florida and beyond, be sure to visit DisneyFlorida.com. And to learn more about Disney’s longstanding relationship with Make-A-Wish, visit Wish.org/Disney. We can’t wait to share more heartwarming stories just like this one all month long!