From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Cappy Surette
The Walt Disney Company has a long history of supporting our military personnel, their families and veterans dating back to our earliest years. We honor military service every day as we have the privilege of recognizing veterans at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and at Disneyland Resort in California during our daily Flag Retreat Ceremonies. And we are deeply honored to have hired thousands of veterans as part of our Heroes Work Here initiative since 2012.
In just the past few weeks, we’ve had several opportunities to thank members of the military community with Disney magic. As a veteran myself, I’m grateful to work for a company that supports our military heroes and their families. I am even more fortunate as my role allows me to be a part of some of these special moments. Here are a few highlights!
Taking military families to a galaxy far, far away
Before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened to guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we invited members of America’s armed forces and their families to a special preview of our newest land as a gesture of appreciation for their service. Five families, representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, were all surprised with this opportunity and hosted by Disney Parks, Experience and Consumer Products Chairman Bob Chapek.
Honoring a Medal of Honor recipient
At Disneyland Park, Army Sergeant David Bellavia was recently honored during a special flag retreat ceremony. A Medal of Honor recipient, Bellavia was recognized for his heroic actions by Disneyland Ambassador Rafa Barron and members of SALUTE. This is our veteran focused employee resource group at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort which is committed to enhancing the Disney experience for those Cast who have served in the military and those with a strong connection to it.
Honoring a veteran who continues to serve
We also welcomed Army veteran Jimmy Novak, who walked from his home state of Washington to the Walt Disney World Resort to raise awareness of the need for enhanced mental health support for veterans. After five months and more than 3,000 miles, we celebrated his journey – and his birthday – in the Magic Kingdom where we honored him as Veteran of the Day in recognition of his accomplishment…and his service.
Thanking those who support wounded veterans
And just last week, we presented a local nonprofit, McCormick Research Institute, with a $75,000 Disney Grant to support their unique equine-therapy programs that help empower veterans and individuals with special needs to continue healing emotionally and physically through compassion and therapy.
Today, we continue to salute those who serve with special offers on theme park tickets and accommodations for eligible current and retired U.S. military personnel at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Now available for travel dates in 2020, you can find more details on these offers at DisneyWorld.com and Disneyland.com.
To all of the members of the United States Armed Forces and their families, thank you for standing the watch and for your selfless service.