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Former Disney Park Performer Becomes Voice for Kids With Disabilities

Dahlia
Credit: Disney Wiki and Mickey Pasamonte via Flickr

Although the new Disney animation film Wish (2023) isn’t doing as well as Disney hoped at the theatres, the message of hope and Disney magic still reaches many. Wish isn’t just the story of Asha and her desire to help her community. The story also features a group of friends who help Asha throughout this journey. In one of those characters lies a deeper story of making wishes come true.

Jennifer Kumiyama

Credit: fontanaheraldnews

From Theme Park to Big Screen

Jennifer Kumiyama is a singer/actress who grew up in Fontana, California. Like most kids, Kumiyama got wrapped up in the Disney magic early on in life.

For 13 years, Kumiyama, now 43, performed in the beloved live-stage show “Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular.” The show occurred in Disney’s California Adventure, based on the beloved Aladdin (1992) movie.

From 2023 to 2016, the show took place throughout the day at the Hyperion Theatre in Hollywood Land, welcoming thousands of guests daily to the magic.

Kumiyama’s involvement with The Disney Company continued with the movie Wish. In the movie, Kumiyama voices Dahlia, Asha’s best friend, town baker, and leader of the friend group.

It is through this more recent role that Kumiyama continues to inspire all.

Dahlia

Credit: Disney Wiki and Mickey Pasamonte via Flickr

Bringing Inclusivity and Inspiration

Kumiyama has worked hard to achieve the dream of being on the big screen. Born with arthrogryposis and a wheelchair restricted for her mobility needs, Kumiyama is striving to help kids like her find representation.

“Growing up, kids like me with disabilities didn’t see themselves represented in any media. I get the distinct honor of being that representation for kids today. Representation really matters, and kids with disabilities need to see themselves in every aspect of media,” she said.

Not only was Kumiyama the first performer in a wheelchair to take any Disney stage, but she is also becoming the voice for those with disabilities.

In the movie Wish, Dahlia is seen walking with a cane throughout the film. This, along with Kumiyama’s portrayal of Dahlia, is all part of Disney’s commitment to showcasing diverse and exceptional talent in their films.

As Disney continues to focus on inclusivity, Kumiyama is thrilled to be providing kids with disabilities the chance to see themselves as stars on the big screen as well.

Disney Wish movie

Credit: Disney

Wish

The newest Walt Disney Animation film, Wish, opened in theatres for Thanksgiving. The story follows young Asha as she strives to become King Magnifico’s apprentice, the city’s founder and ruler.

Asha’s dreams drastically change once she gets closer to the king and realizes his dreams aren’t hers. The movie follows Asha’s fight against King Magnifico as she hopes to give back to citizens their wishes.

After a weekend at the box office, Wish is struggling to compete with other box office hits such as Napoleon (2023) and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023).

Even if it isn’t climbing the box office charts, the movie’s overall message is one that most can connect to.

Related: ‘Wish’ Doesn’t Disappoint, Critics Just Thrive on Disney Failing

 

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.