Unable to Travel, 4-Year-Old Gets Make-A-Wish Disney Surprise In Her Backyard

Makala Lynn Robyn is taking her own Disney Electrical Parade to the next level with a little help from Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth Olson - IMG_3825
Photo: Elizabeth Olson

For Makala Lynn Robyn, a Disney-obsessed 4-year-old in San Diego, California who was born with a heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where the left side of the heart does not form correctly, traveling to Disneyland—or Disney World, for that matter—is no easy feat. Homebound most of the time, the pandemic has made traveling even more difficult for Makala. That's why, when asked what she wanted by Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes for children with critical illnesses, Makala wished for Disney to come to her—with a Disney-themed backyard makeover, complete with a Minnie Mouse house.

From a love of Mickie, Minnie, Moana, Frozen, and Toy Story, Makala's Disney obsession knows no bounds. In fact, she often watches videos of the rides, parades, and shows online—even recreating her own Main Street Electrical Parade at home. According to her parents, "If Makala could take up residency at Disneyland she would." Last week, Make-A-Wish San Diego made Makala's wish come true.

First, Makala planted "magic seeds" in her backyard before heading off to spend the weekend with her grandparents. While she was away, Make-A-Wish volunteers got to work, filling the yard—which was mostly just dirt and rock to start—with a giant Minnie Mouse playhouse, a motorized car, "roads" for Makala to bring her parade outside, a movie theater featuring Disney+, and "Hidden Mickeys" throughout. When Makala returned on Sunday, she was overwhelmed with joy.

"When Makala's wish was revealed, the look of amazement and wonder just swept across her little face," said Makala's mom. "She couldn't get enough of her Disney backyard. A new adventure around every corner. At one point she ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug, looked at me, and shrieked with happiness. I knew this was everything she wanted and that her days would be filled with even more happy memories."

The backyard makeover will serve as a Disney retreat for the whole family. "Traveling can be hard on Makala's health and her brother's, who is a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic, so we don't do it often," explained Makala's mom. "Having this newly transformed backyard was something out of a book. We no longer have to rush home from the park or skip it entirely. She can rest when she is tired and play at her own pace."

Over the past 40 years, Disney has worked with Make-A-Wish to bring joy to more than 140,000 kids. For Makala, who has already had 47 surgeries and will soon undergo her third open heart surgery, her family hopes that this backyard makeover will serve as inspiration as she recovers.

"What an amazing charity," Makala's mom wrote on the Makala Journey Facebook page. "Our hearts are so overwhelmed with joy and we will have a special place for all of those involved in making Makala’s wish come true."

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