It’s a small world, after all

(Photo by Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. When I was 10-years-old, my parents, brother, sister and I hit the road on a warm summer day and drove from our home in Oklahoma City to Anaheim, California. Throughout the two-day drive, I dreamed and fantasized about this magical place called Disneyland that I had only seen on TV. What would it look like in person? Would I enjoy the rides? Is it really the happiest place on Earth?

Our excitement was palpable as my dad drove up to the park. I was just about to jump out of my skin when we descended upon the iconic gates of the Magic Kingdom. I stood at the entrance with my family in awe and remember thinking this was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. I was so happy!

My experience walking through the Magic Kingdom was even better than I imagined. The park’s grounds were spotless, the cast members were impeccably dressed and so welcoming, and Disney’s attention to every single detail was unmatched. The rides were amazing, but none compared to “It’s a Small World.”

My brother, sister and I rode it countless times … we couldn’t get enough! Every time we were in the boat gliding through the iconic scenes, I noticed something different. But, what I noticed every time and thought was special, even at a young age, was the depiction of all of the different characters from various backgrounds, all with different gifts and attributes, who were all part of one awesome world. It was so beautiful!

Now, more than 50 years later, my childhood memories are coming to life at Texas Children’s as we gear up for the launch of the Disney Team of Heroes pilot on April 17. I am instantly reminded of the feeling I got when I was 10 years old, as I recognize how special it is that we are all from different backgrounds, all with different gifts, and all an integral part of our one amazing team.

The eye-catching murals you see going up around the hospital were designed by an incredibly talented artist named Joey Chou. If you look closely, you’ll recognize the design and color schemes of his work, inspired by my favorite ride and its artist, Mary Blair. It feels like my first trip to Disneyland has come full circle.

I am immensely proud Texas Children’s was chosen as Disney’s first partner in this exciting initiative. The company’s CEO, Bob Iger, recognized what I have always known to be true – Texas Children’s is not only the preeminent place for children to receive care, but our commitment to the patient family experience is incomparable. His focus is to bring the best of Disney’s storytelling and experiences to Texas Children’s in a way that delivers comfort and inspiration to our patients and their families. I know that by working together on this pilot, we will drive our expansion efforts across our system and in other children’s hospitals across the globe as well.

Like me, many of you have similar stories and memories about your visits to a Disney park and are thrilled to watch this partnership come to fruition. My hope is that even though some of our patients and families cannot experience an actual Disney park, we will be able to bring some of the Disney magic to them – and to all of you – here at Texas Children’s.

It really is a small world, after all.

Click here to read an FAQ about our partnership with Disney.

 

 

Mark H. Wallace

Category: Experience, Partnership

About Mark A. Wallace

Mark A. Wallace was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Texas Children’s Hospital in 1989 at the age of 36. Under his leadership, Texas Children’s has grown into one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive pediatric and women’s health care organizations, garnering more than 4.3 million patient encounters annually and achieving international recognition as a referral center.

35 thoughts on “It’s a small world, after all

  1. Jessica Fleischer says:

    Disney is indeed a magical place and I’m very excited for the Disney magic to come to Texas Children’s! Thank you for sharing these memories with us all!

  2. Katie Rushdi says:

    Thank you for sharing this personal story with all of us, Mr. Wallace. I am very excited to see what special experiences Texas Children’s is able to bring to our patients and families through this exciting partnership with Disney. All of the installations are looking great!

  3. Regina Wysocki says:

    I love the new mural by the Legacy Tower escalator! It is very exciting to be working at Texas Children’s right now with the Disney partnership starting. I look forward to seeing all of the Disney related features for our patients and families. Thank you for sharing your memories of Disneyland.

  4. Amanda Ward says:

    The Magic Windows are absolutely AMAZING!

  5. Sindy Mejia says:

    What an awesome childhood memory Mr. Wallace. Going to a Disney Park is an incredible experience. I am a die hard Mickey Mouse fanatic!! Disney is such an amazing company as well as TCH, so I’m excited to see the collaboration for our patients. This will be so comforting to our patients to recognize the characters, color schemes and Disney themes!!

  6. Christy Knowles says:

    I just returned two weeks ago from attending the AAP Practical Pediatrics Conference held at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club. It was a wonderful conference and always a MAGICAL experience at WDW. My children always loved going there when they were kids. It will be exciting to be in a partnership with the Disney company so we can bring some of that magic to our patients.

  7. Susan Romero says:

    Mr. Wallace, I am so delighted to read of your wonderful memories of Disneyland as well as your inspiration from It’s a Small World. It too is my favorite ride along (especially the original ride in California). I now share that passion for this ride with my seven year old daughter, Olivia! This ride is our favorite for the exact same reasons, it depicts the beauty and unity of the world for children and their families to share. I am very fortunate to work for an organization that the President and CEO shares those same values. Thank you-this is magnificent!

  8. Katie Kalenda-Daggett says:

    To be involved in something so unexpected is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not only will our workforce and patients and families be impacted by the comfort and whimsy of the Disney installations, but as the pilot institution, our input and on-going feedback will drive Disney’s efforts moving forward.

    Our willingness to say “yes!” and pilot this innovative partnership truly allows us all to touch the lives of countless families – not just here at TCH but in hospitals around the world (truly, no pun intended). Thank you, Mr. Wallace, for saying YES!

  9. Christopher Sturrock says:

    We are so lucky to have this opportunity to impact the patient experience at Texas Children’s Hospital in such an amazing way. I am very excited to have the magical Disney experience here for our patients and their families.

  10. Kenneth Martin says:

    We made a similar road trip when I was 10 as well. My uncle drove my cousins and me from Houston to Anaheim, stopping to see most every road-side attraction along the way. None of those stops compared to our arrival at Disneyland. What an impression it made! I’m excited to see the impact our partnership with Disney will have on the young lives in our care. Thank you, Mr. Wallace, for sharing your story and for your leadership in this journey!

  11. Kerry Sembera says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the magic spread throughout the hospital.

  12. Mary Tietjens says:

    Disney holds a special place in so many families’ memories. When I share stories of when I first took my two children to Disney World, I can still feel the joy 20 years later. It’s the same joy I feel when I tell people about the wonderful journey I’ve had at Texas Children’s and the care and compassion demonstrated each day. I believe that Texas Children’s has always had it’s own special type of magic and it’s a perfect partnership to bring the experts in magic to Texas Children’s! Looking forward to creating more amazing memories for our patients and families.

  13. Julia Sigren says:

    I too feel like childhood memories are coming to life at Texas Children’s Hospital! Watching the Disney Channel and Disney movies was such a huge part of my life growing-up and now getting to see the magic of Disney bloom at TCH for all of our wonderful patients is fantastic. This partnership will definitely inspire joy to those all around!

  14. Michelle Lawson says:

    This is such a great opportunity to connect with both our patients and families in a way that is non-medical. We can have conversations with them about the characters on the beautiful murals and digital windows that take the kids with their imaginations to a familiar world of animated friends. I love this new way to engage our patients about something we all hold so fondly!

  15. Rosemary Campo says:

    Thanks for sharing your moments at Disney and how the magic will begin a new era here at Texas Children’s Hospital and bring smiles to our children!!! Well said Mr. Wallace!!

  16. Shannon Holland says:

    Texas Children’s and The Walt Disney Company are my two favorite institutions for the same reason – they both create experiences no one else can. Disney chose Texas Children’s to be its pilot hospital for a reason – our One Amazing Team! The partnership between Texas Children’s and Disney is a natural fit and one that will allow us to take our patient, family, visitor, and team member experiences to the next level.

    Thank you for sharing your memories, Mr. Wallace. I too share very fond memories of going to Disney World with my family. But my favorite ride is Pirates of the Caribbean!

  17. Frank Stowell says:

    This partnership will bring great joy to our patients and their families. That makes all who support, volunteer, endorse and work for Texas Children’s happy.

    I read Walt Disney’s biography when I was in grade school. He overcame so many challenges and setbacks before achieving massive success. He did it with persistence, patience, positivity and professionalism. The same attributes held by Texas Children’s team members. So proud to be associated with this team.

  18. Sophia Bailey says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Mr. Wallace. I enjoy the murals, they make me feel as though I can just step into the scenery and go back to my childhood days for just a moment.
    I’m sure others share this sentiment as well.
    Thanks Disney, for sparking Joy here at TCH. :)

  19. Paola Alvarez-Malo says:

    We took our daughters to Disneyworld for Spring Break this year. The trip was magical – the girls loved every second of their adventure. I am so excited that our patients will get to share part of that magic during their visits to Texas Children’s. There is something so special about all the Disney characters that brings true joy to kids of all sizes…and joy is something all our patients deserve. What an amazing partnership!

  20. Sandra S. says:

    My first experience at Disney was with my husband and 2 year old son this past December. We decided to visit on the one year anniversary of our daughters passing. It had been a rough year for us, we desperately needed to take sometime for ourselves. We smiled, laughed and reconnected as a family. We came out stronger than ever……
    Disney is truly a magical place!
    I am excited to see the MAGIC come to life at TCH. It’ll bring so much joy to all!

  21. Carmen Watrin says:

    As I headed home last week, I noticed one of the PT team with a patient walking by the new mural, the joy of the art encouraged her to continue her therapy and brought great joy. What a pleasure to see our patients and their families find happiness and fun while being here. I am excited for the future with our friends from Disney.

  22. Deitra Brown says:

    This is a great opportunity for TCH; the partnership of two organizations known for excellence. Now our patients can continue to receive excellent care in a MAGICAL environment.

  23. Randal Lysack says:

    What a fun story, thanks for sharing! I also got to take my first trip to Disney when I was 10, and it was such a memorable family experience filled with magic and joy. It has been an exciting time at Texas Children’s Hospital as Disney integrates this magic and joy throughout the hospital!

  24. Alex Sardual says:

    What an exciting time to see the partnership of these two great institutions! I can’t wait to see the full fruit of this collaboration!

    Thank you Mr. Wallace for bringing home the Magic of Disney to TCH!

  25. Cecilia says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories of such special fun times . Thanks to you and the amazing team that will allow our patients and families to enjoy magical times during their stay at TCH. This fun time will have a positive effect on everyone!

  26. Courtney Prewitt says:

    Thank you Mr. Wallace for sharing your story. I’ve truly enjoyed the learning sessions for leaders on how to incorporate the Disney philosophy into a healthcare setting. It’s inspiring to see how things come full circle. Who would’ve thought that the 10 year old child at Disneyland would grow up to lead a top children’s hospital & be an integral part in bringing Disney to TCH? Thank you for your leadership, vision, innovation & belief in the value of bringing the magic of Disney to our patients, families, and staff at Texas Children’s.

  27. Amber L. Owens says:

    I joined Texas Children’s 5 years ago from Orlando, Being from central Florida, Disney has been a prevalent part of my life, from the thrill as a guest to how you need to ensure your organization lives up to the same standards as Disney because that is what your employees, guests, and patients expect.
    I learned about the magic here at Texas Children’s throughout the entire interview, onboarding process and every day since. From my flight here, where a group of college cheerleaders were returning from competition at Disney, found out why I was coming to Houston, and five of them shared their Texas Children’s stories with me. Every encounter I had then and now, when people learn I am connected to Texas Children’s respond to me in incredible ways. It humbles me and makes me so proud to be blessed to even play a small part in all the things that Texas Children’s accomplishes.
    I am so excited to see this wonderful partnership with Disney and that the Texas Children’s magic will continue to be amplified through the Disney storytelling and experience to provide comfort and inspiration.
    Thank you, Mr. Wallace, for leading the way and for your continued focus on our patients and families!
    Amber

  28. Kimberly Ceyanes says:

    Married at Disney many years ago, we return year after year to experience the magic. No doubt our experience will be absolutely incredible, and THAT is why we return. My kids grew up with Disney murals on their walls, begged for Disney vacations year after year, and spent High School Senior trips at the parks creating memories of a lifetime. What an opportunity to share the magic with our patients and TCH family through this partnership. Thank you Mr. Wallace

  29. Nell Jenkins says:

    I remember 20+ years ago when there were Mickey Mouse wall clocks in all the patient rooms in our Emergency Center. My best memory was interacting with the patients by telling time using Mickey’s hands on the numbers. This was such fun and now to see many years later that I can still interact with the patients with that same Disney magic is such a blessing. The Most Magical Place on Earth meets TCH, the best pediatric care on earth!!!

  30. Brooke Sutton says:

    I am so excited about this initiative! I love that we will be able to offer this experience to our patients and families. There is no other place like TCH or Disney, it’s the perfect combination!

  31. Karla Abela says:

    This is truly the ultimate partnership. I’m so excited that Texas Children’s has teamed up with the experts in bringing families joy and comfort. Thank you for bringing magic and wonder to our organization!

  32. Paris Jones says:

    I have never been to Disney World and i’ve always wanted to go. Hopefully one day my dream will come true.

  33. David Walding says:

    Mark,
    Thank you for keeping the imagination and dreams alive for so many kids through TCH & Disney partnership. Bless You !

  34. Jeanette and Jason McMullen says:

    We are going to Walt Disneyworld in less that 48 hours and are SOOOO excited. Much like you, my kids are salivating with anticipation of everything they’ve seen on TV. My husband has never been. We both envision TCH to be like Disney. While you are here, everything should be magical and uplifting. We both love our TCH kids and look forward to making them better and love even more that we get to go to Disney and bring some pixie dust back home for our patients.

  35. Radhika Iyer says:

    I really only experienced the magic of Disney as an adult. It makes me so proud to be part of Texas Children’s to bring a whiff of that magic to all our patients and their families!

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