ORLANDO, Fla., June 3, 2009 – Walt Disney Imagineers are putting the finishing touches on a collection of beloved Disney characters that will lend their magic to the three-story lobby of the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children.
Known for the support and protection they provided their dearest friends, characters including Timon and Pumba from “The Lion King,” Baloo from “The Jungle Book” and Sebastian and Flounder from “The Little Mermaid will have leading roles in the hospital’s interactive lobby.
“It is so rewarding to see the progress and development of this project, as we witness some of the stages of construction and see the elaborate characters that will soon grace the lobby,” said Marla Silliman, administrator of Florida Hospital for Children. “Both Florida Hospital and Disney share a dream of creating a special place for children, and today we are one step closer to making that dream a reality.”
Each character appears in its original, vibrant colors, as if stepping out of a classic Disney film. Designed by Imagineers, the life-size figures have a unique history of their own, with many of them first adorning Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom in 2005 during Disney’s Happiest Celebration on Earth, celebrating 50 years of Disney theme parks. Soon they will make their new home a place that has been caring for children for 100 years, offering them a warm and welcoming setting that will comfort even the smallest of patients.
“We wanted to create an immersive environment that reflects the kind of care and attention that will be given to children and families during their hospital visit,” said Imagineer Joni Van Buren, who helped sculpt several of the featured pieces. “We hope that these “faithful friends” will provide a sense of comfort to those who need it most.”
Construction and renovations are underway at Florida Hospital Orlando to accommodate the new “residents” and provide an immersive environment for pediatric patients and their families. The exterior shell of the facility is near completion and Walt Disney Imagineers are currently working on the interior to create the themed environments that will make the lobby come alive.
When the lobby is complete, children of all ages will be able to draw individual markings on a cave wall, generate jungle sounds on musical step pads, fish for virtual salmon or play in a magical world of popping bubbles and dancing sea horses. Each night as the sun sets, the lobby will transform into a celestial display, featuring constellations on the ceiling and a musical score created by the young patients. This captivating experience will allow children to use their imaginations to get lost in a world of magic and fantasy, ultimately evoking a healing environment and enhancing the patient experience.
The new dedicated lobby for the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children is expected to open in early 2010. Construction and renovations will continue throughout the year, and by 2011, new units will open, with concepts, colors, sounds and themes inspired from the lobby applied throughout the entire children’s hospital.
“While everyone comes in through the lobby, we also want the same calming and reassuring atmosphere reflected throughout every unit in the hospital,” said Tim Burrill, assistant administrator of Florida Hospital for Children. “When kids and families come to our hospital, they will experience something different, and with the help of Disney, we are able to create an environment that will hopefully help improve the healing process for all pediatric patients.”
This project is part of a $10 million contribution that Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Worldwide Outreach made to Florida Hospital in September 2007.