The Walt Disney Company and the Make-A-Wish Foundation have had a long-standing partnership. The first Disney wish was granted in 1981 and, in 2015, Make-A-Wish and Disney granted their 100,000th wish together, with Make-A-Wish reporting that about 8,000 Disney Wishes are granted per year throughout the organization. Now, in honor of the Disney Company’s 90th birthday, Disney and Make-A-Wish are once again teaming up for the #ShareYourEars campaign from Nov. 4 through Nov. 17. This campaign gives Disney fans a chance to post photos of themselves with their beloved Disney ears for a good cause, whether they are in the parks or not. For each public Mickey-eared post containing the hashtag, #ShareYourEars, Disney will donate $5, totaling up to 2 million dollars, to Make-A-Wish.
People claim that the Disney company doesn’t care about the cause, only the money they will get from this campaign because, yes, Disney will most likely profit as it will act as free advertisement. This campaign will get Disney into social media feeds across the country, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people seeing others, happy, in pictures with Mickey ears and start to plan their next Disney trip, buy some Disney merchandise in stores or online, or even follow Disney on social media and do these same things later on. It will also get the Disney name into both digital and print news, giving them positive publicity with the same results that could very well earn them back the $2 million they are spending, with surplus.
But why should you look down on Disney for this? Yes, Disney is a business and businesses need to make money, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. Throughout their facilities, Disney has amazing resources in place to ensure that everyone can enjoy their Disney experience, despite any medical or mental illnesses, without costing others theirs. Safe spaces, medical stations, quiet rooms; Disney does not legally have to have all of these to the extent they do in their parks. There are certain codes they need to follow, people they can’t legally turn away, but instead of just going along with it and “dealing,” they push and make sure that anyone and everyone with any issue or problem or difficulty has a chance to have the fullest Disney park and resort experience. The company spends extra money, money that they are in absolutely no way legally obligated to spend for these purposes, to maintain these facilities and ensure that every single person possible has an opportunity to experience Disney magic.
I interned at Make-A-Wish and am part of a Disney family. I’ve seen people of all ages from all different backgrounds with all different medical and mental needs enjoying and loving Disney. Completely soaked in the magic of meeting a favorite character, the exhilaration of riding an attraction — even after a 40 minute wait— the awe of seeing fireworks light up a sky as a dragon fight plays out over Cinderella’s castle. I’ve also experienced, directly and indirectly, moments of Disney magic that have taken strained families and given them a chance to re-connect and, for a few minutes, hope that things will turn out alright — just this once.
Disney is a company trying to make money. They will make money from the #ShareYourEars campaign, but I don’t believe for a moment that this means that Disney doesn’t care, or that this means people shouldn’t apologize. Go #ShareYourEars, I know I will.