Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. announced March 7 that it would spend $100 million over the next five years outfitting children’s hospitals around the world with Disney characters and fulfilling sick children’s wishes as part of a new philanthropic initiative.
The Burbank-based media behemoth announced Wednesday that it plans to “reinvent the patient and family experience” with interactive hospital room decor, on-campus theaters featuring the company’s movies and television shows and mobile carts featuring Disney-themed games and toys. Other proposed concepts include an electronic tag-based system through which children can choose their favorite Disney stories and characters to surround them during their stay, as well as “Disney customer-experience training” for physicians, nurses and staff. The firm plans to create a program specifically for healthcare workers through Disney Institute, its professional development arm.
“Disney stories and characters provide a shared vocabulary between our young patients and their medical team,” Dr. James Fahner, division chief of pediatric hematology and oncology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. and a member of a panel of health practitioners counseling Disney on the initiative, said in a statement. “The magic of Disney restores some childhood innocence during a very difficult time, and also allows us as caregivers to be at our very best.”
The rollout will take place over the next five years with the help of Disney’s so-called “Imagineers,” the same employees responsible for designing immersive experiences within its theme parks. Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the largest pediatric hospital in the country, will be the first to integrate Disney’s designs.
Lindsey Fox, a spokeswoman for Texas Children’s Hospital, said the hospital hadn’t decided which parts of Disney’s initiative it would implement, but that there wouldn’t be any cost for the hospital or patients to participate.
The Burbank company also plans to grant more wish requests from critically ill children by working with other organizations. It said that it granted more than 10,000 such wishes last year.
The company announced the initiative on March 7. Shares of Walt Disney Co. (DIS) closed on March 8 up 44 cents, or less than a percent, to $104.03 on the New York Stock Exchange.