Tips for visiting Walt Disney World through Make-a-Wish

Disney World Make-a-Wish

Have you ever wondered which wish the Make-a-Wish organization grants most often? Over 40% of wishes granted by Make-a-Wish are Disney related. Many of these, including my own son’s wish, are to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

For kids like my son, Disney World has it all – Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, animals, and the undeniable Disney magic. My son’s Disney World wish includes a week-long stay for our entire family at a special resort called Give Kids the World Village, transportation, spending money, and admission to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.

We had a lot of questions before our June 2013 Make-a-Wish trip. Here are a few of the things we wanted to know:

So many parks, so little time

You will receive passes to the four parks of Walt Disney World, the two parks of Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. That’s seven parks in seven days, and you’ll be traveling on two of those days.

We had never visited Orlando before, so we purchased The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It gave us a lot of great information about both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando that helped us to decide which attractions were most important to our family. We also ordered the free vacation planning DVD from the Disney website.

Our strategy was to head for the parks early and return by dinner time each evening. This helped us beat the crowds and left us a few evening hours to enjoy the parties and amenities at Give Kids the World.

You will receive 3-Day Park Hopper passes to Walt Disney World, meaning that you have three days to visit four parks. If you want to see all four Disney parks in three days, we decided that Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were the easiest parks to visit on the same day.

Disney World Make-a-Wish

What your VIP pass includes

  • Free 3-Day Park Hopper passes to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

The Park Hopper feature means that you can visit more than one park on the same day. You can use the passes on any of the days of your trip.  Your passes do not include water parks like Blizzard Beach.

  • Free parking 

Show one of your park passes to the parking attendant as you enter the lot. If you plan to visit two separate parks on the same day, drive your car from one to the other. Each Disney park has a separate parking lot and they are not close to one another.

  • Free stroller or wheelchair rental

Amy, another Make-a-Wish mom, recommends bringing your own stroller instead of using the rental. The rental strollers are made of hard plastic and don’t have much storage space. She also points out that the trek from your car to the front gate of the park can be a long one without a stroller. Read more about Amy’s Make-a-Wish tips at her blog:

Disney World Make-a-Wish

  • Front-of-line passes for rides

This is the BEST, once-in-a-lifetime benefit of the trip. Your Guest Assistance pass allows you to use the FAST PASS line at every ride that has one and the Handicap entrance for rides that don’t have FAST PASS. So, you may have to wait 10-15 minutes in the FAST PASS line for some rides.

We visited during peak season and our Guest Assistance Pass saved us hours of standing in line and chasing for FAST PASSES. On the Small World ride, the Handicap line was long too, and the ride attendant walked us to a different entrance and put us right on the ride.

Carry your Guest Assistance Pass in the lanyard provided by Give Kids the World. You’ll need to show it to every ride attendant. Have your child wear his/her Give Kids the World button. You may want to dress him/her in a Make-a-Wish t-shirt too, but it’s not essential.

  • Free PhotoPass service

You’ll receive a PhotoPass card with your passes at Give Kids the World. Give it to every photographer you see in the Disney parks to collect great family photos of your trip. Also use it after riding attractions that take photos.

After your trip, follow the instructions on the back of the card to download all of those photos for free.

Disney World Make-a-Wish

Wish Lounge in Magic Kingdom

  • Entrance to VIP lounges

Wish families will receive passes and instructions to enter special lounges in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. We visited the Wish Lounge in Magic Kingdom and it was a nice, quiet place to take a break for a few minutes. The lounges close early, so watch the time if you want to see them.

NEXT PAGE >> What Your VIP Pass DOES NOT include


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  • We have a family member who is 34years old and is suffering with lou gehrig s disease. He has 3 small children. How can we make a wish for he and his young children to go to disney befor he passes? Where can we get the help for his family?

    • I am so sorry to hear about your family member. That must be a difficult situation for all of you. Unfortunately, Make-a-Wish only grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. I have thought that it would be nice if there was such an organization for adults, but I am not aware of the resources that might be available for this situation. I do know that Disney World will give guest assistance passes to anyone of any age who have health problems that need special consideration. You just need to visit Guest Services upon arrival at the park. Even if there is not a formal organization that grants wishes like this for adults, you may find that there are many individuals and businesses who will contribute funds to help this family to go to Disney World if you organize a fundraiser. Good luck!

  • My family will be in Disney World for my daughters Make-A-Wish. I was wondering about how much spending money will I need for this trip??? Any advice??????

    • It may vary from state to state, but we received a check from Make-a-Wish to cover expenses for souvenirs, food (outside of Give Kids the World), baggage fees, tolls, etc. The amount is calculated per person. We spent little, if any, of our own money. Enjoy your trip!

  • We are leaving for a wish in a few days. What were the rules to getting on rides that your wish child is not able to ride? I have two older teenage sons that might want to ride the fast rides, but my younger son who the for will not be able to ride those rides. We will all travel together as a family and not split up. Thanks for the info.

    • I don’t know if Disney has an official policy on this. We only did this on one coaster that my Wish child didn’t want to ride. My daughter and I used the button and guest assistance pass to access the Fastpass line while my husband and son waited. It allowed us to get through the line quickly and move on to attractions the whole family enjoyed. If you do split up, the group without the pass (and the Wish child) would not have special line privileges.

  • We would like to extend our trip – how does it work with the plane tickets and rental cars?

    • Work directly with your wish granting organization to extend, and let them know early in the process if you are extending. They may not be able to make changes after the trip is booked, and different wish granting organizations may have different policies about extensions. Make-a-Wish Utah made it easy for us. They just booked our return flight for the date we requested and had me send in a couple of forms to arrange our portion of the payment with the rental car agency. We were able to keep the same car.

      • Did you continue to stay at Give Kids the World when you extended or did you get your own hotel? Also if transportation is covered why did you get a rental car?

        • No, we had to find different lodging at our own expense. Staying at Give Kids the World was not an option. Unless you require special arrangements, your family will be provided with a rental car during your stay at Give Kids the World. Give Kids the World has a shuttle, but having your own transportation is the most convenient way to get to the parks and wherever else you would like to go on your wish trip.

  • My family will be going to Walt Disney World for my daughters Make-A-Wish. I was wondering when did you find out the details of your trip. All we know is how long we get to stay and the date. We leave in a month. Thank you Lisa

    • I assume that timetables for different MAW chapters vary, but we didn’t find out the details and receive our travel documents until a week or two before our trip. We had scoured the internet so obsessively for information about this popular Make-a-Wish trip that by that time, we knew more than our volunteer wish granters about what to expect. How much you need to know before that meeting is personal preference. Research and pre-planning worked well for us, but the trade-off was that there were fewer delightful surprises. If you’re a planner, I recommend that you check out the links in my post about Give Kids the World Village. There are some fun planning videos from the GKTW website, and a link to the Village Guide, which you will receive just after arrival. It is chock full of helpful information for your trip.

  • My grandson and family have been granted a Make a Wish trip to Disney World and stay at Give the Kids the World Resort. As a grandparent, I have been welcome to stay at the resort free of charge and pay for my own flight, park pass, etc. Will I be able to get a Fastpass at Disney World?

  • Linda, I am a grandmother that went on my grandson’s MAW trip. I paid my airfare, and purchased tickets into the parks, but I stayed with the family at GKTW… The button/pass the wish child is given at GKTW is good for the entire party… it is different than the normal fast pass… you do not have to schedule what time to be at what ride, the group is just placed into the fast pass lane when you show the button/pass.

  • Hi we are leaving for Disney at 7-14 ho much pining money do they give u…??

    • The amount will vary from family to family and may vary from Wish chapter to Wish chapter. Give Kids the World suggests about $45 per person per day to cover off-site meals, beverages, snacks, fuel, souvenirs, tolls, baggage fees, tips and emergency funds. That’s about what we received in a check from our wish grantors a week or two before our trip.

  • My grandson is going to Disney for his make a wish, both sets of grandparents and his aunt and cousin are going along, so staying is not an option, any suggestions on how to do this? Are there shuttles to their resort for visitors? Best place to stay? Any tips would be great! Thanks!

    • That sounds like it will be a wonderful trip for your family! Give Kids the World welcomes visitors until 11 p.m each evening. I recommend that the extended family rent a car. The wish family will be provided with a rental car at the airport and there is no courtesy shuttle for visitors. At this time, I do not have hotel recommendations, though there are many hotels in Kissimmee and Orlando to choose from. Give Kids the World is located at 210 S Bass Road in Kissimmee, just off of Bronson Memorial Highway (Hwy 192).

  • Jason M. Sakowski

    My wife and I have 4 children, our 2 youngest are 2 1/2 year old identical twins who have both been recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My wife and I would love to take them to Disney, however managing they’re diabetes is scary and extremely difficult. I don’t feel the need to ask the Make a Wish foundation for help financially, but my family could really use the benefits provided, such as fast pass and private lounges throughout the park to check sugar levels and administer insulin. Do you thing I’d be able to apply for those privileges for my children without any type of financial aid? Who could I contact?

    • Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) Card is available to anyone who needs special accommodations in a Disney park, every time they visit. It can be obtained through Guest Services just inside the park gates. It is not the same as a Wish Pass, but it does allow guests with disabilities “to receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. Guest Relations at the front of each park will continue to assist Guests and provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.”

      The DAS Card program was revised a few months ago, due to abuse of the old program. Here is a link to the updated information:

      Make-A-Wish is more than a financial aid program. Their goal is simply to grant wishes to children with life threatening illnesses, regardless of the family’s finances. Wish kids are thoroughly vetted by the organization and the Disney World wish experience is something that money can’t buy. If your children qualify for Make-A-Wish, I encourage you to look into this great organization further. Regardless, I hope that your family has a magical Disney trip!

  • from the first phone call from Make a Wish, to leaving to go on the trip, how long did the process take? Were they willing to work around your family’s schedules, or did they already have a specific date that you had to go?

    • It was about 6 months from the time we contacted Make-A-Wish to the time we left on our trip. My son made his wish in February, a few weeks after we contacted the organization. We chose the dates for our trip, which was in early June. We might have liked to go during Spring Break in early April, but our MAW chapter was not able to put the trip together that quickly.

      Policies may vary from MAW chapter to MAW chapter. Much of the work is done by volunteers and every wish family’s experience and situation may differ somewhat.

  • I have loved reading through all of the comments on here! My family met with our local Make-A-Wish committee today, my 3 year old little boy is battling leukemia, his wish of visiting Disney World will be granted sometime around May 2015…our family also includes a 2 year old and an 11 year old…the little ones are AVID animal lovers…I’m just wondering if there were any must-do activities you would recommend for kids of this age? I’m already feeling the stress of trying to make the most/see the most/experience the most of our week long trip!! :)

    • I’m sorry to hear about your son’s diagnosis. I hope that his treatment goes as smoothly as possible and that you’ll all enjoy planning your Make-A-Wish trip. For your animal lovers, you’ll want to spend some time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and Sea World. Animal Kingdom has a safari “ride” with lots of real African animals. You can feed dolphins and enjoy all the shows and aquarium exhibits and SeaWorld. Both parks have some fun thrill rides for your older child. We only spent half a day in each of these parks, but they were a lot of fun!

      Readers, if you have any “must” activities for animal lovers on a Make-A-Wish trip, please add your own comments and suggestions!

  • Can the make a wish have someone travel by car from Kentucky other than plane?

  • I filled out the nomination form online yesterday and I got a call from Make-A-Wish today. We are waiting to see what the doctor’s say, I love the Blog and the questions and answers. My daughter has no interest in Sea World or Universal, she only wants to go to Disney the whole time if she is approved, I wonder if that is possible? I am wondering how far the GKTW resort is from WDW? Thank you for this wonderul Blog.

    • The Disney tickets you’ll receive are three-day park hopper tickets. You may need to pay for additional Disney days on your own, but it never hurts to ask your wish grantors. Give Kids the World can swap the Universal and SeaWorld tickets for many other parks and attractions in the Orlando area. Give Kids the World Village is a wonderful place to spend your time if you don’t want to go to a theme park. You could also drive to the beach.

      Give Kids the World is located about 20 minutes from the Disney parks, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld by car. You’ll find detailed driving directions in the GKTW Village Guide that you’ll receive when you arrive.

  • Hi there! How long after the first meet with the wish granters did it take to hear back about anything? They came about 2 1/2 months ago to ask my daughter what her wish was ( disney of course! ) and told us we should here from them in a few weeks and we’ve heard nothing so far?

    • I don’t recall exactly how long it was, but it seems that we heard from them fairly soon after the wish to make travel arrangements. The timing of your trip may be different from ours. I’m sure that your wish grantors will be happy to take your call anytime you have questions or want to check on plans for your trip.

  • We are leaving for our daughters Make A Wish trip in about 50 days. We have been wonderful if there is a site that we can look at a park map to plan what attractions to go to and What not to go to. Our little girl has Cystic Fibrosis, and she going to Disney World for her 4th Birthday. At times she has a limited amount of energy especially in the heat. Please any ideas will help.. Thanks

  • Love reading all the questions and responses on here! We got the call that my daughter was approved for a wish last week. Just anxiously waiting for the call to set up meeting with the wish volunteers so she can tell them her wish, which is to see Disney World decorated for Christmas. Hopefully we get to that call for a meeting soon (the waiting is not easy haha!) but I’m very excited and grateful she gets this opportunity!

  • My 2 year old son had/has (won’t know until November for sure) an an extremely rare inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor. It was removed in two stages and was the size of a football. He was nominated end of April and we leave for our MAW trip on saturday!! I also have a 6 year old and I haven’t told either of the kids where we’re going. I’m gonna wait until we get to the airport. Is there anyway we can give back the sea world pass? I think after walking around the parks for 4 days they would like a relaxing day at the beach before we go home.

    • You don’t need to use any of the park passes you don’t want. There are plenty of good reasons to spend your time relaxing at the beach or Give Kids the World instead. We just spent a few hours at Sea World – long enough to feed the dolphins and see the whale show. This will be such a fun surprise for your kids after all you’ve been through.

      • We are also traveling this Saturday to GKTW for our sons wish trip. Amanda, maybe we will see you there.

  • We are going down for our sons wish trip on Saturday, 7-26-14, and I was wondering, with our wish button and GKTW button, are we allowed early entrance to the park, or just regular time?

    • The Give Kids the World Village Guide does not mention early entry or Extra Magic Hours. We usually encourage arriving at the gates before the park opens, but it didn’t make as much sense on our Make-A-Wish trip because breakfast is not served until 7:30 or 8:00 a.m., and character photos begin at 8:00 or 8:30. We always left right after that, and with our GKTW button, we still had time to do everything we wanted in the parks before dinnertime. You’ll avoid hours of standing in line with your GKTW button.

      The Unofficial Guide to Disney World encourages visitors to avoid whichever park is offering Extra Magic Hours because that park is usually extra crowded for the rest of the day, and that’s what we did. I wouldn’t be surprised if GKTW guests are admitted for Extra Magic Hours, and this is a great question for the GKTW orientation. Please share the answer here if you find out!

  • Hi how much do a family of 6 get for spending money for souvenirs & food as well as gas? I’m curious because I leave for Disney in a week. I was told I didn’t have to spend a dime, it will be all covered.

    • Give Kids the World recommends about $45 per person per day. The actual amount may vary between Make-a-Wish organizations. They want you to have a great trip without having to spend any of your own money. The money should cover souvenirs, food, baggage fees, tolls, etc. We did not pay for gas because we were told to return the car with an empty tank. Meals and activities at Give Kids the World cost nothing, and my children received gifts every day from GKTW, so you can be selective about the souvenirs and meals you purchase in the parks.

  • Hi
    How i can contact make-a-wish organization?

  • I live I’m mass do you know how much money I need at park we going to Disney and that car rental can you go pass Orlando

    • Your theme park passes and parking will be provided by the parks. You will need to pay for food and souvenirs inside the the parks from the spending money provided by Make-a-Wish. Orlando does not use Go Pass for its toll roads. It uses SunPass. There are two toll stops on SR-417 for the short drive from the airport to Give Kids the World and back again. The total toll is about $2.50 each way. Take some quarters for when exact change is required. The directions provided by Give Kids the World to the theme parks do not include toll roads.

  • My daughter was granted her wish to go to Disney World in December. Her cousins and some other family members are planning to surprise her at Disney World to share this magical time with her. However, they aren’t able to make arrangements yet because we have not heard of the official dates we will be at disney. How long did it take until you found out your official traveling dates? Because of all the “special treatment/perks” our wish family will be getting (from what I read in your blog) do you think it’ll be harder for the rest of our extended family to make arrangements with us as far as riding rides, character meetings etc?

    • We did not have to wait long before getting our dates, though the process may vary between Make-A-Wish organizations. I would call your wish grantors or Make-A-Wish office and explain your situation. I bet that they will be helpful in nailing down your dates.

      We did not travel with extended family. However, many wish families do and I think that it is a great opportunity to share this special experience. It is my understanding that the button and pass you’ll receive at Give Kids the World will include your whole party, so it is likely that your extended family will be able to enjoy the front-of-line privileges with you. If there are families following this thread who traveled with extended family, please share your experiences.

  • hi my son is make a wish a kid and they just approve us to make a wish can wish for 2 weeks to Disney world or its just a week ? and can you ask for Universal too ? and can you pick the time you wont to go ?

    • I believe that the standard wish trip to Disney World is one week, but if two weeks is your son’s wish, it never hurts to ask. Funds and availability are limited, so Make-A-Wish probably has to give all Disney World wish families the same amount of time. Two-day park hopper tickets to Universal Orlando and one day at SeaWorld are included with Disney World. If you prefer to visit a different Orlando area park like LEGOLAND, you can get tickets to just about any of them through Give Kids the World.

      You should be involved in choosing your dates. Obviously, it will need to be a time that is convenient for your family, but availability at Give Kids the World will also be a factor. We extended our trip at our own expense and Make-A-Wish helped by scheduling our return flight and rental car accordingly. We could not stay at Give Kids the World during the extension. If you would like to extend, be sure to discuss it with your wish grantors early in the process. Extension policies may vary between Make-A-Wish chapters.

  • I read in the earlier comments that granparents were welcome to stay for free at the resort. Instead of a grandparent, do you think they will allow 2 of my daughters Aunts to stay with our family of 3?

    • We are going next month and were allowed to bring my daughters grandmother her 2 aunts and her uncle.. And were a family of 4… They have to pay their own way for everything but they can stay at GKTW for free !

      • Yes, thank you for sharing your experience!

        • Hi. Thank you for all of the great info! We will be headed for my daughters wish in March. My sister and her daughter will be staying with us at gktwv which is awesome. She is planning out her budget so I am trying to figure out if their food is included at the village or do they pay for their food? Thank you

          • Thanks Jen! That’s great that you will be able to enjoy the trip with extended family! I have been told by another Wish parent that visitors of Wish families are welcome and can purchase meal cards for $5 per meal. Since your sister and niece are staying at GKTW with you, I’m not sure if they would need to pay for meals or not. I would contact Give Kids the World directly to confirm their policy on this. Have a great trip!

  • Thank you Tracy!! Have fun on your trip next month!

  • All your comments are VERY helpful and informative. Our sons MAW trip will be in the fall of 2015. We would also like to extend our trip if we could. We are big Disney lovers and were thinking, if possible having a few extra days there. I was wondering if we could stay on the Disney property instead of at GKTW. That way we wouldn’t have to move everything at the end of our stay with MAW. Also, I know you didn’t make any reservations with character meals, but can you do that if you don’t have a dining plan? We do love Chef Mickey’s! Thanks for your help!

    • I know of some families who stayed on the Disney property when there was limited availability at GKTW, and still had access to all of the activities and amenities at GKTW. I don’t know if this is available upon request, but I always figure that it never hurts to ask.

      I believe that you can reserve character meals without a dining plan. My co-writer Katie recommended a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s from their recent family trip to Disney World in this post. They did not have a dining plan.

      Thank you, and happy planning!

  • We finally found out our dates and I’m wondering if I can book character dining reservations now? I’m not sure if we need additional info to book the doing reservations? I’m hoping someone has some experience or tips with this.

    • Meaning, do I need to go through my make a wish grantors to do this? Or can I book these dining reservations on my own?

      • You do not go through your wish grantors to reserve character meals. Meals are included at Give Kids the World, but you pay for them on your own in the parks. I understand that character meals can fill fast, so I do recommend making reservations as soon as you know your dates. You will need to attend an orientation at Give Kids the World on your first morning or evening there, but other than that, all your time there is yours to schedule however you like. You may wish to look at the GKTW weekly schedule to make sure you save time for favorite activities, like Christmas. Here is the link to the schedule:

  • So glad to have found this site! Our trip is tentatively set for February or March ….I have so many questions. First, if my wish kid doesn’t want to go on a certain ride but my older daughter does, do we need fast passes for that? And second, how long does it take to drive to the parks from the Village? Thanks!

    • Thanks! You can transfer the wish pass and GKTW button to your daughter or an adult who rides with her while the wish child waits. We only did this on one ride, and felt a little guilty about skipping the line without our wish child, but felt that if we could get through the line quickly, we could sooner return to rides that the whole family could enjoy together. If your family splits up to accommodate different interests, only the group with the wish child will have the front-of-line pass.

      It takes 20 minutes, give or take, to reach each of the parks from Give Kids the World. SeaWorld is a little closer, Universal is a little farther, and Disney World is in between. The directions in the Village Guide are easy to follow and we didn’t have much trouble with traffic.

  • Allison, you’re blog has been so helpful! We are going to GKTW/Disney over the Thanksgiving break! I think you have answered almost everything I had a question about. Our MAW coordinator confirmed the dates with me and is sending the info/details by mail. Hoping to get it soon! Only question I still have is, you said they cover baggage fees. What exactly does that mean? Are you talking about our baggage on the flights?

    • Yes, baggage on flights. We paid $25 per checked bag on Delta. For those less familiar with these fees, you can usually avoid them by packing light and using carry-on luggage.

      It sounds like you’re ready to go. Have a great trip!

      • Do we get to plan what days we want to go to which park? Or does MAW have it scheduled for us?

        • You just need to attend orientation soon as possible after arrival to get your tickets and check out on time at the end of the week. The rest of the time is yours to use however you like. The 3-Day Disney passes and 2-Day Universal passes do not need to be used on consecutive days. Our itinerary was SeaWorld, Disney, Universal, Disney, Disney, Universal, based on our own priorities and special events at the parks and at GKTW.

  • How many days does make a wish give you? Do they give u vouchers to eat and cash? How are the hotel rooms they give?do we beef extra blankets?can we leave and go to the beach?

  • We are about to leave with make a wish village. My daughter is the wish child. My parents and my sister and her family are also coming. Will we all be able to enjoy the no waiting in lines at rides ? Can they eat at the kids village ? If so, how much? Is there transportation from a Disney resort to the kids village ?
    I have been wanting to reserve a time at the bippity bippity boutique for my daughter and can’t seem to get a reservation. Do you have any suggestions?
    I think make a wish does the memory maker picture package ?? Can we link all of our families magic band to this package so the grandparents and everything get to use this also? Thanks !

    • That’s wonderful that your extended family will be able to enjoy this trip with you. We did not travel with extended family, so I will share what I have heard from others.

      I understand that your entire party will be able to use the front of line privileges as long as you are together. If you split up, the group without the wish child will not have the pass and badge that get you to the front of the line. We were provided with a rental car for our transportation and parking costs were covered. Your extended family will need to take care of their own transportation and parking costs at the theme parks. I believe that guests are welcome at GKTW, but I recommend that you contact GKTW directly to find out about meal expenses, if any.

      Yes, we received the photo package at Disney and it was great. I’m not sure how it would work if you have multiple cards, but I would definitely ask GKTW or Disney about it. I’m sorry that I don’t have any tips for getting in to Bippity Boppity Boutique. It’s not my daughter’s thing, though she loved the “spa” at GKTW. If other families have tips, please share them here!

    • Hi! We just left there yesterday! It was the most amazing experiance! Yes your family can eat at give kids for free as long as they are on the reservation .. And yes they also dont have to wait in line as long as one of you has the special pass… There is no transpertation to the parks.. Make a wish rented us a van … As for the boutique i had the same issue as well.. Most people book like months and months in advanced but i called the reservation number and explianed we were going with make a wish and they made my daughter a special ” in house reservation” even though they didnt have a spot so i would call them back and run that by them maybe they will do the same for you! Hope you all have an amazing time! Our trip was magical!

  • Hi! My 7 year old daughter had her wish granted to WDW and we will be leaving in about 17 days..I’ve done as much research as I can but I do have a few lingering questions. #1) if we go to WDW , Universal and Sea World…can we still get tickets to iFly or the Kennedy space center or do we need to purchase those on our own? #2) when do they stop serving dinner at GKTW? We would like to stay at the park late enough to see the fireworks and would like to make it back in time for dinner. #3) did you dine at any restaurants at WDW? If so which do you recommend and are they expensive? Also is it well worth the portion served?. Thank you in advance for the help!!! :)

    • Hello! Here is what I know. I hope that other wish families will share their experience as well.

      #1: I know that GKTW can provide tickets to many attractions in the Orlando area. I am not sure if that can be in addition to the “Big 3” or must be in exchange, but I would contact GKTW or your wish grantors with that question. There are seven parks within Disney, Universal and SeaWorld combined, and that kept us plenty busy for the entire week. We did extend our trip, but just wanted to lay on the beach at that point.

      #2: The Gingerbread House dining room closes at 8 pm, but you can get take-out from Katie’s Kitchen until 10 pm or in-house pizza delivery until 10:30 p.m. You do have a full kitchen in your villa. You could get pizza or Boston Market style take-out from Katie’s Kitchen earlier in the day or the night before and re-heat it when you return late if you don’t want to pick up something outside of GKTW.

      #3 We ate in the parks for lunch, but we stuck with the quick and less-expensive counter service options. I think that Disney’s food is OK, but overpriced. Expect big crowds at lunch time. We liked the French market in Epcot. If you don’t consider Disney dining to be part of the fun, I would recommend picking up a few picnic supplies at Walmart and packing them into the park.

      I understand that making a reservation for a character breakfast or full-service restaurant experience is an essential part of the Disney experience for many families. It’s a good way to relax, refuel and get some character photo ops in a fun setting. You need to make reservations ASAP if you’d like to do that. If other wish families have dining recommendations, please share!

  • Thank you so much for your quick response! :) Did you all have time to enjoy the events going on at give kids the world in addition to attending all 3 big parks? Also we would like to stay late at the Disney park to watch the you know around what time they usually have it or how late and what area do you recommend watching them from?

    • There is so much to do in both the parks and at GKTW that it would be impossible to do everything, but we felt that we were able to enjoy all our priority attractions, and then some. On a typical day, we would rise early, eat breakfast at GKTW and stay long enough for the character photo ops at GKTW if needed. We returned in time for dinner at GKTW each evening, and were able to attend the parties and enjoy the facilities at GKTW. The front-of-line pass makes it easy to see the parks in record time, so we didn’t have much unfinished business on that schedule. We cut our day at SeaWorld short because it was our first day at GKTW and our kids really wanted to do the GKTW pony rides and check out the other activities.

      We didn’t do the fireworks, so I’m sorry that I don’t have any advice on that. If other wish families can share their experience with the Disney fireworks, please do!

      • What are the best places to watch fireworks? I asked my family travel blogging community and here are some recommendations:

        * By Gaston’s Tavern in the new Fantasyland. The castle is on your left and the tavern on the right and the fireworks explode all around you!
        * If you go in front of the castle there is a section sealed off for the fast pass parade people. As soon as the parade ends the ropes are lifted and you can sit there for fireworks. It fills in quick but its an amazing view.
        * We love watching them from the ferry boat dock at the transportation and ticketing center, they play the music through the speakers and you get to see the full effects of the fireworks over the castle, plus when they are done you don’t have to fight the crowds to get out of the park.
        * Have a late dinner at Mickey’s Hoop Dee Doo, which is near Fort Wilderness, and then wait for the fireworks.
        * Take a fireworks cruise. This was especially recommended for families with special needs. Here is more information from

        The fireworks last about 15 minutes. Right now, the Wishes fireworks in the Magic Kingdom start at 10:00 pm, but that may change seasonally. Check the daily schedule here:

  • Thank you, Allison, for your wonderful Blog! We just got our son’s Make-a-Wish dates today (HURRAY!), and we are so looking forward to our trip! I have learned a ton from reading here :). Currently, we are waiting to hear whether or not we will be able to extend our trip a few extra days (at our expense, of course). Does anyone know if you are able to use any of the Make-a-Wish tickets past your stay at GKTW? How about the Wish button line privileges? I have read and heard several different things, I thought I would try to get some clarification as it will help us with planning, our son tires easily :).

    • Thank you, Katie! I’m excited for your family and am sure you’ll have a great trip!

      We extended, but didn’t visit any parks after our last day at GKTW. I recall that at least some of our park passes may have had a 14-day expiration date, which would give you a little extra time. However, your button and VIP passes have an expiration date that correlates closely with your stay at GKTW. You could look into Disney’s Disability Access program for accommodation after your stay at GKTW. Here is the official information from the GKTW FAQ page at

      We did not use all of our theme park tickets. Can we use them when we return?
      The theme park tickets provided during your Give Kids The World vacation are intended for your dates of stay only. They are not valid any other date and will expire. Unused tickets should be returned to Give Kids The World staff at check-out.

      Can we use our Give Kids The World button if we return to the parks at a later date?
      The button has printed dates of stay on it and is only intended for the Give Kids The World vacation. All theme parks provide different levels of guest assistance passes based upon the abilities of those in the visiting party. Guests can coordinate with parks directly.

  • I’m so bummed, our Make a wish team told us we couldn’t extend our trip. Did you have trouble making that happen?

  • Thank you for your Blog. My 4 yr old son was just diagnosed with Leukemia and was told he can be apart of the Make a Wish opportunity which was a complete surprise to me and our family. His wish is to go to Disney World but his wish wont be granted until July of 2015. I just wanted to thank you in advance for your help.

    • We felt the same way. We understood that Make-A-Wish is not just for kids with terminal illnesses, but processing the reality that your child qualifies can take time. You have lots of time to plan and look forward to this special experience. That’s part of the fun.

  • Thanks Allison, thought I was the only mom that thought Make a wish was for only terminally ill children. so when the DR told me he was eligible I was not ok with it. You r right, it is taking me some time to process all of this. He was only diagnosed on Nov 1st.

  • Hi Allison,
    Just wanted to say I am very thankful for your blog! My 3yr old son’s wish was approved and we will be heading to Disney World Dec.11-17! I am beyond excited. I have some questions and please forgive if you have already answered them:
    (1) It was said that MAW provides you with a check for baggage, meals, etc. Does that check arrive prior to your departure? Do you cash prior to your departure for baggage, etc.?
    (2) Is gas also included for the rental?
    (3) Did you go out and buy things to take to the park (e.g. water bottles, ponchos)?
    (4) I am a bit confused about the Park Hopper Passes?

    • Hello, and welcome! Here are some answers to your questions:

      1 – You should receive the check from your wish grantors shortly before the trip. Cash it before you leave. Be sure to get some small bills and quarters for tolls and other small cash needs.
      2 – Yes, gas is included. If you just drive to and from the parks during the week, you won’t need to refill the tank from your own funds. We were told to return the car with an empty tank.
      3 – I recommend buying a few supplies for the parks such as ponchos, water bottles and snacks. You can buy all those in the parks, but they will be more expensive. Walmart is just a couple of blocks from Give Kids the World, so its easy to pick up whatever you need.
      4 – You will receive a 3-Day Park Hopper Pass for Walt Disney World. That means that you can visit more than one park on the same day. You have to drive from one park to another and deal with parking, and every park is big enough to spend the whole day, so I wouldn’t park hop any more than you must. Since there are four parks and you have a three day pass, spend a full day each at your two favorites and spend a half day each at the other two. We combined Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom on the same day. You do not have to use your Disney passes three days in a row. You can use them any days of your trip.

      Hope that helps. Happy planning!

  • We just came back from our GKTW trip! We got to cut to the front of the line for all character visits. We didn’t ask, as we heard it wasn’t a perk, but they saw us and pulled us to the front so we then started asking and we were moved to the front of all lines. Even got the best seats for shows~ amazing!!

    One big question— we have the photo pass.. but I can’t figure out how to download the images… it says to put in the photo pass code in the promo code area to get it for free but I don’t even see a promo code spot..? Please help! Thanks!

    • I am so glad to hear that you had a great trip and that you received some extra privileges at the character greetings. How fun!

      I’m sorry that I can’t help much with the photo pass. I just checked the photo pass site and it appears to have changed, and it’s been awhile since I did my own. It appears that they may have changed the site very recently. If you continue to have problems, I recommend that you contact customer service for PhotoPass. I’m sure they can help. If others have recent experience with this, please share!

  • Hi Allison!

    Thank you so much for continuing to reply to Make-A-Wish questions! I have been reading and reviewing your tips since January as we were originally set to travel in April for our son’s trip. He suffered 2 more bleeds on his brain and we found out the week before we were to leave. He was cleared to travel and we are set to leave this Saturday and couldn’t be more excited! I know you mentioned that the nearby Walmart has a Disney section, but I was wondering if you bought an autograph book either from Disney or Walmart. I had wanted to order the books from the Disney Store to bring along, but managed to forget to last week and now I’d have to pay for expedited shipping. I’m thinking of just waiting to purchase at Disney, but wanted to make sure we could get a book at any of the parks as we are planning to start at Animal Kingdom. Also, I thought I saw that you mentioned that GKTW will provide the lanyard and sleeve to hold your park tickets, passes, etc., but wanted to make sure I didn’t need to buy 1 in advance.

    Thanks again for keeping us all informed!

    • Hi Tara! I am glad that your family will finally be able to enjoy your wish trip and I wish your entire family good health. I am sorry, but I do not remember if there are autograph books at Walmart. I remember lots of t-shirts, pins and a variety of other items, and it is possible that you’ll find an autograph book. You can certainly purchase one in the park. On a previous Disney trip, we purchased a book online and lost it on our first ride. It was easy to purchase another book and pen in the park, though not at Walmart prices. However, it has been nearly five years and my daughter still enjoys looking at the autographs and the photos we added to the book after the trip.

      Yes, you should receive a lanyard and sleeve for your park passes from Give Kids the World. It is definitely the easiest way to keep passes safe and handy when you need them. Your wish child will have a button. My son broke his button by the third day, and after GKTW replaced it, I wore it on the lanyard from then on.

      Happy travels!

  • As I read – you will get a 3 day pass into Disney World and a day at Universal and a day at SeaWorld. Is it possible to exchange the Universal pass for another Disney World day? We will be arriving the 15th of December. We have not received our packet with all the info in it yet. Also – in parking at Disney – is there any extra assistance for my make a wish child (daughter) to get to the gate as I have heard the parking lots are VERY LARGE and a great distance from the gates?

    • We were give a 3 day park hopper to disney, 2 day to universal, 1 day to seaworld and there are many other tickets available if you ask (legoland, gatorland, etc). I do not think you can trade universal for more disney~ but you can ask at orientation, or even call GKTW and ask.
      Yes, the parking lots are HUGE. If you have a disabled parking card take it with you and you’ll be able to use it there. Though without it universal still sent us to the closer parking lot because we were with MAW.

    • It’s 3 days at Disney, 2 days at Universal and one day at Sea World. I think we asked about a 4th day at Disney before our trip and that was not possible. However, we loved both Universal parks. They have Harry Potter and Dr. Suess, and Universal does a good job of rolling out the red carpet for wish families. Give Kids the World can provide you with tickets to other parks like LEGOLAND, Busch Gardens or Gatorland if you’d prefer to spend your time at another local theme park.

      The parking lots are really large at Disney and Universal. Handicap parking is available for those who qualify. Magic Kingdom has parking lot shuttles that will take you to the Monorail, which takes you to the front gate. We arrived early (or in the afternoon) at the other three Disney parks and didn’t have trouble finding a regular parking space within a reasonable walk of the gate. Since you’ll be there during the busy holiday season, I would arrive extra early in the morning if a good parking space is a priority. If any of the children in your family use a stroller, you may want to bring your own instead of using your free rental at the gate to make getting through the parking lot easier.

      Your trip will be here soon. Have a great time!

  • I love this blog and been reading it since August!! So helpful!! Thank you!! We will be going to Orlando March 17-23. I have had all my questions answered but i do have one more… my daughter will be using a stoller (we are bringing our own since i read the rentals are not that great) but when we go to a ride.. do they let you leave the stroller with the workers at the front?

    • We didn’t use a stroller on our MAW trip, but we had one at Disneyland when our kids were younger. Disney Parks have stroller parking zones near many of the family rides. If you have a special situation and need to take it farther, I’m sure that the employees will accommodate you. Disney is usually great about that.

      • My sister-in-law just took a trip with her family in November and said that Disney World had great stroller parking zones at most rides and they even had attendants that look over the area and move/consolidate the strollers around as people come and go. She said it was very easy and convenient and she just took the precaution of not leaving any valuables in the stroller. Hope that helps! (We are planning for our son’s MAW trip this upcoming May! Hooray!!! Am loving the info on this blog.)

  • Thank you both!!

  • Hi we are going to Disney and staying at GTKW. We do not drive and wondering how easy it is to get to the parks.

    • Give Kids the World contracts with Mears Motor Shuttle for families who will not be driving themselves. Information on Mears is under Transportation in the GKTW handbook: All the parks are about 15-25 minutes from GKTW. It looks like you’ll need to make arrangements through your wish grantor or with GKTW to use the shuttle because it is by reservation only. The shuttle leaves at set times each morning and will pick you up at the end of the day when you call. If you want to park hop, you can easily do that on foot at Universal. At Disney, I understand that transportation is available between parks, but they are farther apart, so it takes time. There is plenty to do in every park, so we only park hopped once – to see Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios on the same day.

  • I wish my three kids have this blessing they always tell me mom went can we go to olando florida and they broke my heart I tell them I don’t have money to take you to that spacial place like a mothervi want my three kids and my husband and me have this blessing gift with all my heart this stuff make me cry….

  • Does anyone typically know when MAW children leave for a trip to Disney?? Is there a certain day out of the week that they choose?

    • I believe that is determined between the family and wish grantors, and based on availability at GKTW. We left on a Friday, on the date we requested. Orientation is held twice daily at GKTW, so new guests must arrive every day.

  • My daughter is 7 and for three years in June she has been fighting absent seizures. She has them and doesn’t know where she is when she has them or who is with her when she comes out of them. She lossed a year of her life last year not knowing how she was going to come out of them and repeated kindergarten twice! Can make a wish help us do something like a trip ? And she also wants to participate in dance , also and is so expensive when u have medical issues and pay for medical all the time! Thanks for your help !

    • It is really difficult to do a lot of “normal” family things when you have to deal with medical challenges and bills. You can refer yourself to Make-A-Wish to find out if your daughter’s condition fits their criteria. Best wishes to your family.

      • Hi, how strict is height measurement for wish kids.
        My son wants to go on bigger 40in rides but with shoes is 38.5in. Do we cancel the trip until he grows? Or will he be ok?

        • I do not have experience with this, and I recommend that you contact Give Kids the World or Disney’s customer service with this question. Other readers may also be able to share their experience. I expect that they will be strict about the height requirement, because if the child is too small for the ride it could be a safety problem and Disney would not want to risk injury or liability. You’re smart for considering details like this in advance. I hope it all works out, and am sure that it will be a wonderful trip either way.

  • Help! My daughter just revived word that her wish was granted for Disney Florida. However she wanted to stay in a hotel in Lake Buenavista that we stayed in before. We obviously are getting all the perks however my parents are meeting us there for a couple of days & I was wondering when we go on the rides will my parents be able to stay with us on the fast line?

    • We did not have extra family with us, but I’ve heard from several families that your Give Kids the World pass will get your entire group to the front of the line, as long as you are all together. Have fun!

  • My family leave in June for Disney world. do you have any advice on what to pack

    • I recommend packing about 3 outfits per person. You will have free laundry facilities at Give Kids the World. Everyone should have 1-2 pairs of good walking shoes. I also recommend preparing for both sun and rain. We packed sun hats, sunscreen and rain ponchos and used them all at Disney World in June.

  • Hi! My 11 year old son’s Wish trip was just granted last week and we should be heading to Orlando in October! (we haven’t received our definite dates yet). I came across your blog a few weeks ago when we first started the referral process and it has been SO helpful!
    I was surprised to find out about the Passport that families get for the year following their trip~ what an awesome surprise! We are an amusement park-obsessed family and are making our rounds over the East coast! My question is in regards to the Passpor (all of my other trip questions have been answered here!) I saw the current list of participating parks. Do you know if it is good for ONE admission per park, or is it unlimited? Or perhaps it varies based on the parks? We are already planning trips to a Six Flags next summer, and Hershey Park, and we have two local amusement parks that are on the list. Just curious if you know how that works~ I couldn’t find the info on the GKTW Alumni site where it mentions the passport. At first I thought you got admission to one park total (which would’ve alone been great) and didn’t know you could use it to get to all of them. Now I just wonder if it’s one day per park.
    Thank you (and anyone else who chimes in) for any info! And thank you for this blog!

    • The IAAPA/GKTW World Passport for Kids “entitles the GKTW wish child, and his/her immediate family members only, to complimentary, single day admission to each of the participating IAAPA member theme parks and attractions.” It “may be used for admission only once at each participating location.” We used our passport for four parks, and they were all great to work with. Just remember that each park has its own procedures and timelines, so plan ahead and be sure to follow the instructions for each park.

      I’m so glad we could help you plan your trip, and beyond. Have a great time!

      • Hi we are leaving for Sea World in 5 days and I haven’t received any info. Numerous emails have went back and forth but still nothing. MAW Program Manager almost seems irritated when I send very nice email asking for update. Should I assume this isn’t going to happen? I know NO details at all. Any one else experience last minute details being sent out. I am getting way nervous thinking that I will have to tell my son that it isn’t happening. Also what is a wish party? Thanks so much :)

        • This sounds really frustrating. It’s difficult for me to give advice because I know very little about your specific situation, and even families from the same area have varying experiences because each family and each wish granting team is different. Also, much of the work of planning these trips is done by volunteers, and some are better at it than others. However, once you get on your way, it should all be wonderful!

          I would assume the trip is still on, until somebody with authority tells you it isn’t. I would call my wish grantors or the Make-A-Wish chapter and talk to whoever is in charge of your wish. I would be very calm and respectful while I explained my situation and how I was feeling. I would then ask if they could help me resolve my concerns. If that person can’t help you, ask who can and ask to be transferred to that person. Stick with it – always with a kind and appreciative attitude – until you get the answers you need. Chances are, there has been a misunderstanding, and someone at your Make-A-Wish office should be able to tell you what is going on. Wish grantors often like to keep many of the details a surprise until the last minute, but if you need to know some things sooner, you should be able to call and ask for that information.

          We were given the opportunity to invite family and friends to attend a celebration at our MAW offices either before our after our trip. Our volunteer wish grantors planned the party. There was cake and some special surprises for my son. We chose to have the party after our trip so that we could share memories and photos of the trip with our guests. I know that the details of this celebration vary even among families in the same MAW chapter, so yours may be different from ours.

          Good luck!

  • Hi… We are leaving for my sons MAW to Walt Disney World in 21 days. This trip couldn’t have happened at a better time because my son has been in the hospital for the last 2 weeks and is supposed to be discharged tomorrow. I am enjoying your blog and reading all the questions and answers that have been posted. I am also a planner and hate not getting details until last minute, like flight info and hotel info but I am learning to be patient.

    thank you again for your blog.


  • My son was just granted a wish and of course its to Disneyworld. We will be at GKTW and I was wondering can extended family stay there as well, since the whole point of my sons wish is for everyone to be there together. I read where a grandma and 2 aunts and an uncle were allowed to stay at GKTW with the wish child and their family. But my family is more like another 15 people (as I am 1 of 13 children) on top of my household family size of 7. That might be asking for too much…….lol :). If someone tells me it wouldn’t hurt to ask, then I just might

    • It never hurts to ask, but GKTW may draw the line at a certain number of extended family members. A single-family suite has beds for about 6-7, and I suspect that they will be hesitant to make a second suite available if it is not for the child’s immediate family. They can probably recommend other lodging nearby where extended family can stay at their own expense. Visitors are welcome at Give Kids the World. If other families have personal experience with this, please share!

  • Thanks for getting back so quickly, I also meant to ask about the spending money MAW gives for the trip, for expenses and suverniers etc. I read your earlier posts and replies. Is the amount the same for this year. The coordinator that I spoke with said that the wish child gets 150 dollars and everyone else gets 45 dollars. But she didn’t state that it was per day. And she said we would get a “card”. Is this something new. Has anyone else got a “card”. I’m assuming that she meant a prepaid credit card. But you know what they say about assuming lol

  • Did anyone get the surprise party from MAW. Where they put together something for the wish child to tell them that their wish has been granted. If so, please share some experiences. (I’m trying to figure out what to expect) Thanks

    • That is likely to be unique for each child, but you might get the best idea of what to expect from other wish families in your area. My son is a Star Wars fan, and our wish grantors tried to get Darth Vader to come to tell him that his wish had been granted, but it didn’t work out. That meeting right before our trip was pretty uneventful, and it was OK. However, they pulled out all the stops and we got the entire cast of characters at my son’s Star Raising party after the trip.

  • Can you tell me more about a Star Raising party and also try to answer that first question about a “card”. Thank you

  • I’m so excited for my son Tyler. We started working with Make-A-Wish in May and everyone was so helpful the doctors filled out all of the paperwork and on the 20th of this month me and my husband and my four kids will be flying out to Disney World for my son Tyler wish. I do have one concern I know that the organization is saying that they will give us a check for food,souvenirs, parking and tollways I guess I’m afraid that with a family of 6 we might run out of money. So do you think it’s wise for us to bring extra money from our own pocket just in case because as of now no one has said how much they will be given us in a check and we leave in 12 days I just want to be prepared ahead of time or do anyone know how much they give a person a day that way I can kind of calculate how much we think we might receive #TheCountDownBegins #TeamTyler #WaltDisneyWorld

    • Last I checked, Give Kids the World recommended an allowance of about $45 per person per day. This amount may vary between Make-A-Wish chapters, but it’s about what our family received. Keep in mind that there is no charge for meals at Give Kids the World, and you’ll find new souvenirs for your children when you return to your villa every night. You will not need to pay for parking at the theme parks and I think we paid less than $10 in tolls. The check you’ll receive before your trip is intended to be enough for your family to enjoy the trip without having to spend any of your own money. I hope it’s a great trip!

    • I would not worry at all. We received about $2800.00 for a trip to San Diego for 6 days, and there were 6 of us. You won’t have to spend any of your own money. Have a great time!

  • AnnaMarie Bradley

    My 12 year old son was diagnose with Crohn’s disease in March 2015. He was put on a feeding tube for 5 months during the night. After the nurse from Chop in Philadelphia to put the tube it, she informed us to apply to make a wish. After she left we pulled out the ipad and applied to make a wish, After filling out the paper work, we were excepted in April. We went to the make a wish headquarters in May to begin the wish process. His wish was to take the underground tour of Magic kingdom, His was was granted an it is our private 5 hour tour. We leave on October 30 for 1 week. We are all excited to be part of make a wish. I never once thought that having Crohns would make a wish come true.

  • That sounds awesome! We just got back from my son’s Orlando Wish Trip a week ago. It was amazing! He didn’t ask for it, but our Wish volunteers set it up where our Wish Chapter contacted the chapter down there and we were contacted by Universal Studios. A A few members of the Universal Creative Team (basically like the Disney Imagineers) hung out with us for almost 2 hours. They talked to my son about their jobs (he is OBSESSED with amusement parks, especially coasters, and dreams of designing his own) and then took us behind the scenes of Rip Ride Rocket. Our entire week was incredible, but this little two hour segment of it left a HUGE impression on my son and he hasn’t stopped talking about the great people we met!
    Enjoy your trip. It’ truly is magical! If you’re staying at Give Kids The World, you will love it~ they spoil you! Take advantage of everything you can. And don’t hesitate to venture outside of Disney, Universal and Sea World. We also took a trip to Busch Gardens and it has awesome coasters! 😉 Have fun!

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