The Walt Disney Company UK & Ireland, Make-A-Wish UK and The Kentown Wizard Foundation have come together to create a unique, first of its kind Disney Wish experience in the UK. For three weeks in September, the Elvetham Hotel in Hampshire has been transformed into an Enchanted Manor and plays host to 150 families for a magical three-day immersive experience for children who have had their Disney wish put on hold due to the pandemic and related travel restrictions.
Over the course of their stay, Make-A-Wish families can take part in a variety of incredible Disney activities, including a magical breakfast with Mickey and friends; a chance to perfect their web-slinging skills with Spider-Man himself; a Toy Story carnival with Buzz and Woody; Jedi training; story time with Belle, or even meet Anna, Elsa and Olaf, who are visiting from Arendelle.
Several celebrities are getting involved in the Disney Wish experience and lending their support to the wish families by volunteering at the event. Keen to get in on the action, TV presenters Emma Willis and Stephen Mulhern are among the stars spending time with the children and their families, hearing more about their stories and helping make sure they experience all the Mickey-magic and fairy-tale fun.
Ella Wheatley, eight, from Monmouth in Wales, who is living with a genetic condition called GLUT1 that requires a medically managed diet, is just one of the children who’s excited about her wish to meet the Fairy Godmother and enjoy all things Disney.
Her mum Emily said: “Ella is so excited! She has been making a wish to meet her Fairy Godmother by blowing on her eyelashes for almost three years now, as she believes she is Cinderella! After all, Ella does have long blonde hair and the same name! She will be there wearing one of her beautiful dresses and clippy-cloppy shoes, with her hair curled, and make-up on! For us, it’s all about creating memories and it’s a relief that we don’t have to travel or cart around all the extra medical bits and pieces Ella needs. I know it will be more magical for ALL of us not having to worry about all the extras involved in leaving the country.”
Deborah Armstrong, Senior Vice President and Country Manager, Disney UK & Ireland, said: “Through our long history of working with Make-A-Wish, we know the positive impact a Disney wish can have on a child, and that Disney’s storytelling and characters create positive experiences and memories, helping children cope when they most need it. So we are so grateful that our phenomenal collaboration with Make-A-Wish and Kentown Wizard means we can restart granting wishes right here in the UK. We couldn’t be more excited to share this experience with these wish families.”
Make-A-Wish Chief Executive, Jason Suckley, said: “We spoke to 500 of our wish families, who told us that the most important aspect of their child’s Disney wish was a character meet or themed entertainment while enjoying time together as a family. It got us thinking that perhaps we could create those experiences in the UK, and we are hugely grateful to Disney, The Kentown Wizard Foundation and a myriad of generous suppliers who have made this possible – bringing light and happiness to 150 families who would otherwise be waiting for a wish.”
Margaret Ingram, Chief Executive of The Kentown Wizard Foundation, which is funding some of the costs of the wish, said: “Sadly, COVID-19 temporarily derailed our ambitious four-year plan to fund all of the Disneyland Paris wishes being granted to children living in the UK. However, during these turbulent times we have been extremely impressed by Make-A-Wish UK’s determination to continue delivering transformational wishes. This is one of many reasons why we are extremely passionate about funding the UK Disney Wish experience. Our aim remains the same, to enable children living with serious, life-limiting conditions to receive their Disney Wish and we sincerely hope that these wishes will bring joy and strength to families at a time when they need it most."
Emma Willis said: “The coronavirus has taken so much from so many people, so I’m thrilled that Make-A-Wish children are finally able to experience the magic of Disney that they’ve dreamed of. I’m so happy to be involved, watching dreams become realities and experiencing the joy that this event is so clearly bringing to these families.”
Stephen Mulhern said: “If there is one thing I know about, it’s magic, so I’m over the moon to be able to get involved in the magical world of Disney today to help bring children’s wishes to life in a first of its kind event in the UK. It’s an absolutely spell-binding experience.”
For the past 40 years, Disney and Make-A-Wish have been providing magic to wish kids and their families, starting with the very first wish granted at Disneyland Resort in 1980. Disney is one of the largest wish granters for Make-A-Wish across the globe, having fulfilled more than 140,000 wishes globally. These experiences not only brighten lives for a special moment, but also help wish children and their families build emotional resilience and help replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.
In a recent study carried out by the New Economics Foundation, it was identified that in addition to creating a positive experience, well-known Disney characters actually help build trust for children in anxious circumstances. The research also identifies that, through the power of Disney’s storytelling and characters, it can inspire positive feelings, experiences and memories, creating Moments That Matter and helping children and young people to cope where and when they need it most.
Partners involved in the event include: A1 Limos, Agility Logistics, Blackout, Coca-Cola, Cleanzair, Direct Mobility, Disney+, Disneyland Paris, Disney Studios, eBuyer, EDC, Elvetham Hotel, Fairybricks, Front Page, GES, Hasbro, Headstart, Holdens Direct, JL Live, Kentown Wizard Foundation, MXW, P & G, Pocket Memories, Polaroid, Poundland, Premier Relocation, Rolla-ramp, Rhino, Rubies, Select Brands, ShopDisney UK, Tisserand, TDS, Unilever, Wearetricycle
The event, a collaboration from Make-A-Wish UK, The Walt Disney Company, The Kentown Wizard Foundation and the Elvetham Hotel in Hampshire, will operate within current UK pandemic restrictions.
To find out more about how wishes can help, visit make-a-wish.org.uk or follow the charity on social media @makeawishuk
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For further information, please contact:
Gaby Levy at Dundas Communications
020 7233 6425 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Disney’s Social Purpose
As well as being a responsible business, Disney is dedicated to providing comfort and inspiration to those in need and creating inspiration and opportunity for those who want to improve their world. Disney’s partnership with Make-A-Wish and other not-for-profit partners across Europe is an example of how, working with others, we help build emotional resilience. Together we bring the power of our brand, stories and characters to inspire and create Moments that Matter for children and young people when they need it the most. In 2020, we created over 39,000 life-changing moments across Europe. For more information on our programmes and our long-standing charitable partners, please click here.
About Make-A-Wish UK
Every day, the lives of 10 families in the UK are changed forever when a child is diagnosed with a serious illness. From that moment, childhood takes a backseat to medical appointments and worry. A wish helps to restore that childhood and puts worry on the backseat. It provides an opportunity to choose something positive to look forward to and the chance to be a child first and a patient second.
Make-A-Wish UK is a registered charity that was established in the UK in 1986 to support children and young people diagnosed with a serious illness or life-limiting condition, by granting them their dearest wish. The charity receives no Government funding - registered charity numbers: 295672 in England and Wales, SC037479 in Scotland.
ABOUT THE KENTOWN WIZARD FOUNDATION
The Kentown Wizard Foundation is based in Blackpool and was set up by philanthropist Kenneth Townsley in 2015. The foundation’s mission is to have a positive impact on the lives of children and young adults with serious, life-limiting conditions and disabilities. They do this, by making grants to UK registered charities whose aims, and values are closely aligned with their own and to date, have successfully gifted over £12,000,000.
Registered Charity Number - 1163956
NOTES TO EDITORS
• We do not use the phrase ‘terminally ill’ and ask that you follow suit because some poorly children and young people are not made aware of the exact nature of their diagnosis and we respect their family’s approach to their situation. Some also recover fully from their illness.
• Please refer to us as Make-A-Wish® UK in the first instance to distinguish us from affiliates in other countries and hyperlink to our website when you mention the charity online: www.make-a-wish.org.uk
• Please and hyperlink to the relevant websites when you mention the 3 way partnership online: