Give Kids the World Village is a special place. It is a non-profit organization that provides “weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations” to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Volunteers and donors play a huge role in the success of this special resort. Scroll to the bottom of this post for more information about how anyone can visit Give Kids the World.
Our family had the chance to stay at Give Kids the World for a week after my six-year-old son made a wish to visit Disney World through Make-a-Wish. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in November 2012. After two surgeries, six rounds of chemotherapy and many weeks in the hospital, he is cancer-free! His wish trip to Florida was a celebration for our family.
Here are our tips for making the most of your stay at Give Kids the World.
1. Review the GKTW website in advance
Here is a link to the vacation planning section of the GKTW website. It will give you more information about your arrival and stay at Give Kids the World. Our family especially enjoyed the pre-arrival videos.
If you want even more advance information, you can download a PDF of The Village Guide, which every family receives as a spiral-bound book in the orientation meeting.
2. Plan around the GKTW schedule
Give Kids the World hosts special events every day and reviewing the schedule before our trip helped us plan our theme park visits around our top priority events at Give Kids the World.
The pony rides were at the top of our kids’ list. We also had a great time at the Halloween party, which was attended by many of the characters from Universal Studios. The parties were great because they were fun, but not too crowded after a day in the theme parks. We also made sure to hit the morning character greetings at Give Kids the World because the lines were a lot shorter than in the parks.
3. Pack light
Each villa has a washer, dryer and laundry soap. I recommend 2-3 easy care outfits per person, plus what you wear on the plane. Don’t spend any more of your cash on airport luggage fees than you absolutely must, because…
4. Bring an extra suitcase
Between the surprises for our kids that were delivered to our villa every day and the souvenirs we purchased in the parks, we needed the largest suitcase we own to get them home.
If you have suitcases that fit inside each other, pack the smaller suitcase inside the larger one and fill the smaller bag with your clothing and personal items. That way, you won’t have to check an empty bag at the airport.
5. Save time to enjoy Give Kids the World
Give Kids the World will give you 3-Day park hopper passes to Walt Disney World, 2-day passes to Universal Orlando Resort and a one-day pass to Sea World at your orientation. You can swap those for passes to LEGOLAND, Gatorland, or many other attractions in the Orlando area.
With that many fun places to go, it would be easy to skip all the fun things going on at Give Kids the World. That will be a mistake. All the other guests are families who are there for the same reason. Our kids made friends everywhere at the resort. The volunteers went above and beyond to make our visit special. Everyone at Give Kids the World is happy.
Our strategy was to visit the theme parks during the day and return to Give Kids the World by dinner time each evening. That gave us time to relax and enjoy the pool, arcade, spa and parties.