A long-time Disney fan who eventually went to work for Disney and is now a cast member had the thrill of his life this week when another “wish” finally came true.
Walt Disney Animation never stops. The moment one dazzling animated film hits the box office, it’s on to the next one–and that “next one” has already been in production for months–maybe years–by that time. And the most recent film to be on deck for its theatrical release is Disney’s Wish.
Wish tells the story of Asha, who makes a heartfelt plea to the stars in the night sky during a time of great need for her and those she cares about. But Asha learns to be careful what she wishes for, as an actual star–named “Star”–falls to the earth in answer to her wish. Together, Asha and Star join forces to face the villain in the story, King Magnifico, so they can see a better future come to the kingdom in which Asha lives.
Disney’s Wish is slated for a theatrical release on November 22, but earlier this week, Disney hosted the red carpet premiere of its newest film at El Capitan Theater. The premiere was something special, as it included a night sky presentation made possible with colorful drones that danced in the skies over Hollywood. It was truly a magical event.
But for one Disney fan-turned-cast member, the evening was the culmination of years of fandom, hard work, and nostalgia.
During the premiere, Kachain Thongmanee stood next to his mother on the red carpet. Thongmanee had earned a spot on the red carpet as he had also contributed to Disney’s Wish, the studio’s 62nd animated feature film. For nearly two years, beginning in 2021, Thongmanee worked with the Visual Development team at Walt Disney Animation. While he was there, he helped manage a team of artists as he worked to ensure that the creative message of Disney’s newest film was carried out in the film’s animation.
Of all his accomplishments, Thongmanee is most proud of his team’s research that taught them about the regions and the cultures that served as the inspiration for the storyline, as well as the setting and the characters in Disney’s Wish.
“Having seen every character, piece of clothing, hairstyle, prop, and environment from its early concept to the final animated form is very gratifying and cathartic,” Thongmanee said. “I can’t help but feel blessed that I got to tag along for the journey, witnessing and being in awe of the amazing creativity and talent that surrounded me.”
Per Disney Parks Blog:
As a young boy, Kachain Thongmanee was enamored with Disney characters and stories, but never saw himself reflected in the films he cherished. Fast forward to the 2021 release of Disney Animation’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Kachain shared that seeing how parts of his Thai culture and the people and cultures of Southeast Asiainspired the film had a profound impact on him. Through his work on Disney Animation’s “Wish” he hopes he has been able to help create that feeling for others.
“One of the cool things I’ve been able to do is help our audiences see themselves in our stories,” Thongmanee explained. “It has been awesome being a part of that, and knowing that I’m changing for the world for the better and that we do has an impact on our guests and our audiences.”
He started his 17-year career with The Walt Disney Company at the Disney Store and later moved to the Disneyland Resort. He has worked a variety of roles at the resort including Attractions, Retail, Training and Recruitment. He spent two years working at Walt Disney Imagineering. Thongmanee’s success and opportunities within the company took more than just wishing for the next role. It was hard work, persistence and determination that led to his amazing career.
Thongmanee currently works at Disneyland Resort as a Park Operations Support associate coordinator, but there’s no doubt Disney’s newest film will always hold a special place in his heart.