Just over 12 months since Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, announced a bold $100 million commitment to support children’s hospitals around the world, leaders from Disney and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, debuted a suite of experiences, murals and interactive art aimed at providing comfort and inspiration for children and families.
The initiative, called Disney Team of Heroes, builds on The Walt Disney Company’s long legacy of delivering comfort and inspiration to families with children facing serious illness. Disney Team of Heroes combines Disney’s beloved characters with the unparalleled creativity of its employees and cast members to bring classic stories to life in innovative ways that are designed to reduce the anxiety of a hospital stay.
“As the name ‘Team of Heroes’ implies, at Disney we know that if you want something to be timeless and touch the hearts of millions, it requires a talented team to bring it all to life. That is why we are so fortunate to have Texas Children’s Hospital and our advisory board help guide on this effort,” said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility. “We could not have done this without all the guidance, partnership and collaboration from doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, child life specialists, creative teams, tech leaders and also, importantly, parents.”
To reimagine the patient journey, Disney consulted a Panel of Experts that included physicians, caregivers and child life specialists who stated that the Company could make the greatest impact by focusing on moments of highest anxiety for children and families in hospitals, such as arrival and transitions to examination and operating rooms (including the “kissing zone,” in which patients and their families separate before the child undergoes surgery). Teams from every line of business across The Walt Disney Company came together to deliver solutions that are simple for hospitals to implement, sustain and scale.
The concepts unveiled at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) today are designed by many of Disney’s creative and technology experts, storytelling and experience experts, and the world-renowned Imagineers, who set out to bring a little bit of Disney magic to families during a challenging and uncertain time. The teams at Disney took a holistic approach to the program, which encompasses a range of experiences, from reimagined public spaces that create a warm and inspiring atmosphere for patients and families; to personal moments that empower patients and build connections to caregivers and hospital staff; and engaging content that will be accessed across a variety of platforms and transformative events. They also focused on opportunities to engage hospital staff, who are an integral part of these magic moments Disney has created for patients and their families.
In TCH’s public spaces, Imagineers today unveiled Magic Windows, which provide mesmerizing views into the active, living worlds found in the stories of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars; and Magic Portals, which engage patients and families with games and favorite characters from across the worlds of Disney.
Breathtaking murals, intended to draw one’s imagination into the vibrant environments of Disney’s classic stories, have been designed with a magical twist: The characters from each mural spark to life in stories and games that can be accessed via the Disney WOW app on mobile devices.
The Disney WOW app activates augmented reality experiences that help create a more personal journey for each patient—one of the program’s key objectives. A child can literally wear their favorite character, thanks to themed hospital gowns that feature costume style designs from Disney, Marvel and Star Wars. Newly designed wristbands, which debut today, help staff recognize the favorite character of a child and also serve as symbolic “tickets” to special experiences and spaces throughout the hospital. Patients select their wristband and their chosen character remains with them throughout their hospital journey via personal experiences that include care packages, and the delightfully charming Magic Art, which delivers fun, animated, inspirational messages to patients.
An array of colorful Disney-themed products featuring characters patients know and love are intended to make hospital rooms feel more like home and a patient’s stay more comfortable. Care packages come filled with toys, games, books and activities that entertain patients; while an array of themed room décor items—from tray liners to cups—also helps to bring color and familiarity to the patient’s room and brighten his or her stay.
Engaging content and events will provide welcome distractions for patients and create opportunities to spend time with family and friends. In addition to the Disney WOW app, patients can access stories, games and other entertainment offerings through the DisneyNOW app on mobile devices and enjoy them throughout the hospital or from the comfort of their room. A virtual reality headset, designed in partnership with Starlight Children’s Foundation specifically for children’s hospitals, immerses patients in a new realm of fantastic experiences—filled with beloved characters and delightful story worlds—that they can explore from their own hospital beds, and a Mobile Movie Theater makes it possible for patients to view favorite movies with family and friends in various gathering spaces throughout the hospital.
Disney has also created opportunities for hospital staff to connect with the program while forging deeper connections with their patients. Themed Staff Badges—each representing a favorite Disney character of the staff member who wears it—activate special and engaging moments for patients and family to enjoy throughout the hospital. Additionally, hospital leaders and staff will receive specialized training provided by Disney Institute to help them deliver an exceptional level of care, compassion, comfort and connection—along with a little Disney magic.
The TCH pilot will enable the Disney teams to learn more, adapt and continue to strengthen the initiative overall for the benefit of patients, families and hospital staff. Additional concepts will be added over time, including a Comfort Corridor, which incorporates artwork and music to provide comfort and distraction for patients and families prior to surgery; and one-of-a-kind, story-themed Playspaces where anyone can play, interact and make new friends. As the program rolls out in additional hospitals here in the U.S. and around the globe, teams at Disney will continue to collaborate with experts to measure the impact of the work and ensure the Company is delivering on its commitment to ease the stress of a hospital stay in ways only Disney can.
“The magic and joy we have all experienced at a Disney park is now apparent as you walk throughout our hospital, and I am looking forward to seeing how this special partnership enhances the patient and family experience at Texas Children’s,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, surgeon-in-chief, Texas Children’s Hospital.