- YouTube/Disney Parks
- Disney parks are the most magical places on Earth, and random acts of kindness happen there every day.
- These nine instances went viral, making us all believe in the magic.
- A man wore a shirt asking for a kidney transplant to Disney World, and within a few days, over 100 people had contacted him. He eventually found a match.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Sadly, Disney parks don’t always exactly live up to the hype. But every so often, a story of exceptional kindness will unfold and go viral, showing us all that magic still exists in the world, and people are still good at heart.
From Captain America learning sign language to two college students fundraising enough money for an entire family to visit Disney, these stories will have you weeping at your desk.
Here are nine viral acts of kindness that have taken place at Disney parks.
A man seeking a kidney transplant wore a shirt to Disney World asking for help. Five months later, he received a new kidney.
- YouTube/Inside Edition
Robert Leibovitz spent $35 screen-printing a custom t-shirt that read, “In Need Of Kidney” with his blood type and phone number. Did he get a return on his investment? If you consider successfully finding a match and receiving a new kidney a good return – then yes.
According to the Washington Post, Leibovitz wore the shirt to Disney World in August 2017 in the hopes another visitor would see it and potentially contact him. He thought, “maybe I’d get a little pixie dust.”
Instead, a photo of his shirt was posted to Facebook and shared 33,000 times in a single day, and over 90,000 times in a week. Best of all: A man contacted him who ended up being a match. The transplant successfully took place in January 2018.
“I had no clue that this thing would be so viral, so successful,” said Leibovitz.
A Disneyland visitor was visibly overjoyed when he realized that Captain America could communicate with him via sign language.
- Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Parks via Getty Images
An Instagram video uploaded in June 2016 made the internet smile. The video, which has over 27,000 views, shows a park visitor having a conversation with Captain America (not pictured) in American Sign Language. According to UpWorthy, the guest signed he’s from Boston, and the superhero responded by telling him he’s working on his ASL, but “he’s a bit of a slow learner.”
Making parks more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community has been part of their mission since 2010, according to Disney Parks.
After a 6-year-old boy donated his “vacation savings” to help victims of Hurricane Dorian, Disney organized a free trip for his seventh birthday.
- YouTube/Disney Parks
Jermaine Bell went viral in September for using his savings – which he had been planning to use on a trip to Disney World – to buy hot dogs, chips, and water for people displaced by Hurricane Dorian.
“I wanted to be generous and live to give,” the 6-year-old boy told local TV station WJBF. “When people were hungry, I wanted them to have something to eat.”
This sweet story got even better a few days later, when Disney surprised him with a free trip to the park for his seventh birthday. Mickey Mouse and other Disney favorites rolled up to his house in a charter bus decked out with Disney decorations and whisked him away on a special VIP trip to Disney World.
“Be strong, and if you do good things, you will be rewarded,” Bell said after receiving his surprise.
When a hardworking barista told two customers about her dream of taking her family to Disney World, they set out to raise enough money for the vacation.
- YouTube/Disney Parks
This beautiful story happened back in 2016. Kathryn Thomson has been an employee at Acorn, a coffee shop beloved by the students of Elon University, for 10 years. One evening, she happened to tell two customers and Elon students, Taylor Zisholtz and Lucy Smith-Williams, that she dreamed of taking her son, his wife, and her two grandchildren to Disney World.
The two students were so moved by Thomson’s story that they put the call out on social media to donate money for Thomson’s vacation. Within weeks, they had successfully raised enough money for Thomson and her family to go.
According to Disney Parks, the family “experienced all four theme parks, a special meet and greet with Mickey Mouse and with a little Disney magic, a surprise reunion with the two college students who worked to make this happen.”
A little girl visiting Disney World was given a heartbreaking gift by a couple commemorating their late daughter’s Make-a-Wish trip.
- YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images
In November 2019, Kara and Kyle Geiselman were prepared to apologize when their 4-year-old daughter Belle ran into two strangers – but instead, the strangers offered Belle a gift. The couple explained they were in Disney celebrating the anniversary of their late daughter’s Make-a-Wish trip.
The couple told the Geiselmans they had bought two golden Mickey Mouse rings on their trip: one for their daughter and one for another child who was “adorable like their little girl.”
As Kara explained in a Facebook post, it was all the more meaningful for the family because it was Belle’s first trip to the park “without needing a feeding tube for nourishment or an oxygen mask on the flight.” Belle was born prematurely, and she needed a feeding tube for the first 18 months of her life.
Instead of clamoring for an autograph from a Disney character, a 6-year-old boy only wanted the signature of an Orange County deputy.
In November 2015, 6-year-old Shayne Welch, his brothers, and their parents visited Disney World. On the last day of their trip, Shayne’s mom, Jennie, told Today, they decided to let their sons pick out autograph books to get some autographs from the Disney characters who wander the park.
However, Shayne decided he wanted an autograph from a real life hero: Orange County Master Deputy Keith Rogers.
“As soon as he saw Deputy Rogers, he asked if he could get his autograph. We walked over to Deputy Rogers, who immediately bent down to Shayne’s level and began a conversation with him,” Welch told Today. “When we were leaving, Shayne insisted on going out the exit near Deputy Rogers. When the deputy saw him, he yelled out, ‘Bye, Shayne!’ Shayne looked at me with a huge smile and said, ‘Mom, I’m gonna miss him.'”
After a mom was almost too claustrophobic to get on a ride with her daughter, a helpful Disney employee rode with her — and held her hand the whole time.
- Disney Parks
In September, a Facebook post by Jessica D. Thomas, which garnered over 73,000 likes, detailed the story of her first trip to Disney World with her 1-year-old and her 3-year-old.
Thomas wrote how she’s been claustrophobic for her entire life and experiences panic attacks if she is triggered – which she was right before she boarded a ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom based on “Avatar.”
So, she got off with her 1-year-old – but before she could exit, a friendly Disney cast member named Samantha took it upon herself to ask what was going on. After Thomas explained, Samantha offered to ride with her.
“She not only held my hand the entire time but she also pointed out every single exit to me, told me about the all the ways I was safe and how the cast members could come get me out if any of my worst fears came true. *Here is where she is an out right Godsend* [sic] While she was helping me through this, she simultaneously pointed out every detail of fun for my little girl and didn’t miss a beat,” wrote Thomas. “Today, I didn’t feel like less of a mom or less than at all. She made me feel…well.. just magical at Disney today.”
When a little boy with autism was overwhelmed by the crowds at Disney World, Snow White went above and beyond to help soothe him.
- Facebook/Laura Bergner
In August 2019, Lauren Bergner and her family traveled to Disney World. Her son Brody has autism and is nonverbal, so he became overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of the park and crowds when meeting Snow White. In Bergner’s words, he was “having [an] autism meltdown.”
But in response, Snow White “was amazing with him!! She kissed, hugged, and cuddled him,” and “held his hand, danced with him, took him over to a bench and sat with him. She went above and beyond,” Bergner wrote on Facebook. “She was a pure angel ! She was magical and my family is forever thankful and touched!”
Bergner’s heartwarming story quickly earned over 181,000 shares and 50,000 comments from well-wishers.
This Disneyland Cinderella took the time to greet this service dog, and now we’re all crying.
In January 2019, a video capturing the moment a service dog met Cinderella at Disneyland went viral. Who among us hasn’t wanted to give our favorite Disney princess a giant hug, just like Elijah the service dog-in-training did?