Make-A-Wish Meets the Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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After “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” helped five-year-old Cora get through hospital stays while battling coronary heart disease, there was no hesitation on where she wanted to visit. So, alongside our friends at Make-A-Wish, we planned a special day for Cora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom filled with all the wild wonders of the park! 

At just four days old, Cora had her first procedure. When she was one, she had her first open-heart surgery before doctors decided she would need a heart transplant. To help take her mind off everything, Cora’s family started watching “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” on Disney+.

“We started watching the show at the hospital, and it gave Cora an escape,” her mom said. “She was watching the animals go through some of the same things she was going through during treatments, and it calmed her fears. It means the world to now see her wish come true and enjoy being a kid with the people most special to her.”

Cora Meets Corra

When planning for the big day, our elephant keepers at Walt Disney World had someone very special they wanted Cora to meet … baby elephant Corra! Corra made her savanna debut at the park two months ago and was the first animal Wish Kid Cora asked to see. The meet and greet was the beginning of what would turn into a day where wishes came true and memories were made!

“I’ve been on the team for 16 years, and this is an extra special experience,” elephant keeper Michelle said. “It’s really meaningful to do something that turns into someone’s wish.”

Despite spending much of her young life in the hospital, Cora doesn’t let anything hold her back. She has big dreams for her future which includes becoming a doctor some day. After spending time with her favorite cast on the show, veterinarians Dr. Jen and Dr. Geoff, she’s more inspired than ever before to help others. Even more so now after practicing with her very own stethoscope!  

More “Wild” Wishes During Earth Month

We go big here at Disney, so not only did Animals, Science and Environment cast help grant Cora’s wish, but they helped grant the wishes of three other children from across the country. The “wild” wishes included an exclusive safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, an up-close encounter with cotton-top tamarins and lemurs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a private visit with cast and a few furry friends at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and more.

“This is what it’s all about for me,” said animal operations manager Sam. “Being able to share my passion for animals and conservation with guests, and Make-A-Wish families in particular, is something I’ve always dreamed of. To be able to see the smiles and joy on their faces … I love it.”

More than 50 cast members worked together to make each wish an unforgettable experience. The week finished out with a group party alongside our favorite Wilderness Explorer, Russell, and his four-legged friend, Dug!

155,000 Wishes Granted with Disney … and Counting

Disney cast members are the best storytellers and creators on the planet, all united around a shared purpose to create happiness for our guests, including Make-A-Wish families

Wish trips have the power to renew hope and uplift spirits for children facing critical illnesses and their families. When you pair that with our stories, characters and unmatched experiences like this, wishes help deliver joy when it’s needed most.

For over four decades, we have granted more than 155,000 Disney wishes with Make-A-Wish. This makes us the largest wish-granter in the world for the organization! At Walt Disney World alone, cast members help grant thousands of wishes each year.

Upcoming Wishes with Disney Experiences

Today is World Wish Day, and it’s just the beginning of what’s to come over the next few weeks. Disney Experiences around the world are working with Make-A-Wish to bring more than 100 other wishes to life as part of the celebration. No spoilers here, though … you’ll have to stay tuned to see the wishes unfold!