Are you planning to stay at Give Kids the World Village as part of a Make-A-Wish trip to Orlando?
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.
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.
Here are our tips for making the most of your stay at Give Kids the World.
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 in the orientation meeting.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Walmart is just down the street
You will have to drive past Walmart every time you come or go from Give Kids the World. It's a convenient place to pick up water bottles, snacks, band aids or anything else you need during your stay. This store has a large Disney section for bargain souvenir hunters.
Visit the Gallery of Hope
Find a quiet moment to walk through the Gallery of Hope, which tells the story of GKTW's founder, Henri Landwirth. Learn more about the children each venue is named after, salute the volunteer photos, and learn what plans are in the works for Give Kids the World.
Use GKTW's photo services
Volunteer photographers are on hand at character greetings and special events to take photos of your family. These photos will be burned to a disk before you leave the resort.
You can take your own SD photo card to the Welcome Center to have your personal photos burned to disk. You can also borrow a camera from the Welcome Center to use during your stay if you would like to.
Plan for your IAAPA World Passport for Kids
When you leave Give Kids the World Village, you will receive a World Passport for Kids from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. This passport entitles your wish child and immediate family complimentary single-day admission to any of the 200+ participating amusement parks throughout the world. The pass expires one year after your stay at Give Kids the World.
You will receive a list of participating parks and instructions on how to obtain admission. Two parks near our home were on the list. We also planned a Fall Break trip to San Diego so we could visit a couple more. We did not receive special treatment at these parks like we did during our Make-A-Wish trip. That was fine with us because we were just happy to be there.
Here are some of the destinations we have visited that participate in the IAAPA World Passport for Kids program:
- LEGOLAND California Resort – Carlsbad, California
- San Diego Zoo – San Diego, California
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park – Escondido, California
- Lagoon Amusement Park – Farmington, Utah
- Most or all Six Flags Amusement Parks
Consider giving back to Give Kids the World
Most of Give Kids the World is staffed by volunteers who made our stay that much better with their cheerful service. They served our food, cleaned our villa before and after our stay, and staffed the activities.
The beautiful villas and venues would not be possible without the donations of many. All of the food at Give Kids the World has been donated by Perkins and Boston Market.
Our family returned to volunteer at Give Kids the World in 2017. We completed a four-hour shift at the Candy Land party in the evening. Kids generally need to be over 12 years old to volunteer, but they'll make an exception for Wish kids if they are old enough to be helpful. My 10-year-old son was allowed to volunteer at the party.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the grounds, enjoying a meal and soaking up the spirit of Give Kids the World. Wish families are welcome to return periodically for a visit.
Learn more about donating here. You can find more information about volunteering here at the GKTW website, www.gktw.org.
Thank you to Give Kids the World Village, Make-a-Wish and many volunteers and donors who made our stay here a special experience!
Because we wanted to see lots of photos before we arrived, here are a few more photos of Give Kids the World Village:
Fabulous information! I wrote a few tips for another family I knew: We LOVED universal! My kids ranged in age from 3 to 14 so we had a variety of interests and were able to fulfill them all. First of all I am SO glad we brought our own double stroller. You can rent them for free at the parks but the rentals are hard plastic and don’t have much room for extra stuff and it is quite a trek to get from your car to the park at universal and disney. At the airport you can check your stroller at the gate when you get on the plane and it will be waiting for you at the gate when you get back off, that was quite handy. We took snacks (apples and jerky and trail mix) and water bottles and we are so glad we did. They have drinking fountains but they are kind of sparse and hard to find. They don’t allow coolers but they do allow backpacks and every bag gets searched on your way into every park.
Universal/Islands of Adventure: has a huge rope playground and a small splash place at Jurassic park. They also have a really fun water zone at Curious George land and a really cool ball factory. All of my kids loved the ball factory. In the Feivel playground there is a water slide that my 5 and 3 year old loved. Universal does not have very many rides that little kids can ride except for Dr. Seuss land. The most awesome thing about Universal is the pass from GKTW gets you escorted to the front of every line. We split up and played at the playgrounds while the big kids/one adult went on the big rides with the special pass. Go to Harry Potter world first thing in the morning, it fills up fast. When you go to the ride in the castle bring all of your kids in with you, they have a child swap room so one adult sits with the kids while the other rides. If you like HP at all do not miss that ride. My 5 year old (wish kid) LOVED the hipogriff ride, we did that one several times.
Disney: The GKTW pass to disney is still awesome, but it just gets you in the fast pass line so sometimes you wait a little bit. The longest line we waited in was to see the three main princesses inside a big building. Cinderella, Aurora, and Rapunzel were together in there and the normal line was over 2 hours! Our line was about 1/2 hour cause it was fast pass. If I went again I would go find those princesses first thing while everyone is rushing to the rides (at magic kingdom). All of the other princesses and characters you don’t have to wait in line to see, you just show the person in the blue shirt your GKTW badge and they bring you right up. That part is AWESOME!! Put your photopass card inside your GKTW pass pouch so it is always handy, we got over 200 photos from that thing. Some of the rides will let you put the ride photos on that too. Magic Kingdom has a lot more rides that you can all ride together than Universal does.
Epcot: we went to Epcot by default on Saturday afternoon cause the magic Kingdom parking lot was full. We were surprised to find a few princesses at Epcot. And we LOVED the Finding Nemo aquarium and talking to Crush. Do not miss that it is so funny! You could easily do Epcot in half a day, it is more sight-seeing and character greetings than rides. Epcot has a tram to Magic Kingdom. If you want to go to Hollywood or Animal Kingdom from one of the other parks (without driving and parking again) you have to ride a bus, we did that to Hollywood, but we weren’t sure if it saved us any time.
Hollywood Studios: We weren’t that impressed with this one, we only stayed a couple of hours, long enough to do the hotel ride that drops you, my five year old liked that one, the rockin rollercoaster, and the toy story mania which was totally fun!!
Oh and don’t forget to take a large empty suitcase. We took an empty suitcase and backpack and still stuffed everybody’s suitcases to the max. You get SO MUCH STUFF!
Don’t forget sunscreen and umbrellas and/or ponchos. The weather is kind of unpredictable but if you are prepared you can continue to have fun while everyone else runs for the exit. We also took a big beach towel with us that doubled as a blanket– it was so handy for the rides/playgrounds that get you wet. We were glad we brought swim suits for the littles cause they had dry clothes to put back on after curious george water playland.
You can see our trip at http://www.tysonsbravebattalion.blogspot.com/2013/02/make-wish.html
Thanks for the tips, Amy! From our experience, they are spot on. I’m planning to write some additional posts for Disney, Universal, etc. and I hope you won’t mind if I refer back to your tips when I do.
Feel free to use any of it any time or even move the whole comment if it works better in a different post.
Is there passes available for typhoon lagoon?
Typhoon Lagoon is not listed in the current Give Kids the World Guide. Aquatica and Wet n Wild are on the list.
What a beautiful experience for you and your family. Looks like everyone’s Disney dreams came true!
What an incredible, giving place. I love this.
Colleen Lanin (@TravelMamas)
Do you know if kids can volunteer there too, Allison? I’d love to volunteer at Give Kids The World as a family during our next visit to Orlando!
I don’t know if there is a lower age limit, but we saw kids scooping ice cream and helping refill drinks and carry trays in the dining room with their families. Contact Give Kids the World directly for more information.
One more thing for volunteers. I heard (not from an official source) that there is a waiting list for volunteers, so check with GKTW early if you’d like to add a volunteer day to your Orlando vacation. Thanks, all!
Hi Everyone. We (my wife and son) are going to GKTW on the 28th Feb 13 thanks to the fantastic people at Make A Wish as 5yr old son suffers with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. We are traveling from the United Kingdom , 9hr flight to what looks like a simply magical place!!
Thank you for such and informative reviews. An empty case was something I didn’t think about! Virgin Atlantic charge £65 ($40) for an additional case so I will travel light!
Any other advice for Non-US citizens you can think we will need to know?
Yes, GKTW is magical and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time! I don’t have any advice specific to non-US visitors , but I welcome tips and comments from other readers who may have some. Enjoy your trip and I wish your son the best with his treatment.
I have a quick question. We will be traveling to Give kids the world in April. We are thinking of extending our trip a few days. Do you know if the tickets to the theme parks can be used for a few days after your week at Give Kids the World?
The tickets from Disney World, Sea World, and Universal all expire two weeks after they are given to you. Give Kids the World also offers free tickets to other area attractions such as Gator Land and Busch Gardens if you ask them.
Hello. We are planning our make a wish trip. I recently heard that Disney had made some changes in their ‘fast passes’ and that wish kids may not get to go to the front of the line for rides. Do you know if that is the case? Wether or not they get a pass to the front of the line will make a huge difference in wether it not my kids can tolerate the wait/heat. Thank you!
The most recent Give Kids the World Village Guide, printed in October 2013, says that Make-A-Wish families can present their pass at the Fast Pass or Handicap line of any ride for immediate entry to the shorter line. Make-A-Wish families cannot go to the front of the Fast Pass or Handicap lines, but the wait is usually short and protected from the weather.
Disney has made changes to its Fast Pass system, which limits the number of Fast Passes that most visitors can get. They have recently made changes to their Guest Assistance program too, which affects many visitors with disabilities. I don’t think these changes affect Make-A-Wish families because they get their special passes at Give Kids the World Village, not at the park. If you have any further questions or concerns, I encourage you to call Give Kids the World for current information.
We are planning a GKTW make a wish trip at the end of April/beginning of May. We are trying to hit many of the attractions, since I don’t know if we will ever make it back to Florida. Just curious, did the GKTW badge save you hours of time at the parks? I’m wondering if we could see all the attractions at Magic Kingdom (no charater waiting, basic lunch) and still make it back to the Village for the evening entertainment.
Yes, our GKTW badge saved us hours of waiting every day. We didn’t have time to do everything, but we enjoyed all our priority attractions, and then some, and still made it back to GKTW by dinnertime. To make the most of your time, I recommend:
* Review my post about Disney World and/or the GKTW Village Guide so you know what your badge gets you. All rides are included, character greetings are (officially) not. Both links are included in this post.
* Purchase or borrow Disney World guidebooks so you can be familiar with the park map and attractions and identify your priorities. I like The Unofficial Guide to Disney World.
* Arrive at the park before the gates open in the morning. Keep in mind that you have to ride a tram and a monorail from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom entrance. Lighter morning crowds means that you can navigate the park and get through FastPASS lines even faster.
* Pack a lunch. You do not get front of line privileges at lunch counters, and lines can be long. Disney is pretty good at getting people through, but you’ll save time and spending money by picking up provisions from Walmart the night before.
Heavy pre-planning and early morning arrivals may not work for every family, but it worked for us. We don’t know if we will get back to Florida either and these tips helped us make the most of our time. KJ, I’m sure you will have a great trip!
Your information was so helpful! Thank you! We are going to GKTW in May for our son’s Make a Wish trip. I’m sure I will refer back to this site a ton in the coming weeks. First question off hand- Did you rent a car or was transportation taken care of?
Thank you, Annie! I am sure that you will have an unforgettable trip. A rental car was provided for us. A GKTW volunteer met us at the airport and helped get us to the rental desk, where the car had already been reserved and paid for. We extended our trip and were able to use the same car for three extra days. We made arrangements through our local MAW chapter to pay for that portion of the rental with our own money.
Going to gktw on April 4th and I would like to extend our stay and stay a few extra days, maybe three extra days just so we could see a little more and get a chance to use all of our park tickets and the extra water park tickets for Aquatica. To extend this day, do I book with another hotel and transfer or do I just call Give Kids the World? I know I would have to pay out-of-pocket to Extended our stay and that is absolutely fine with me but I just don’t understand if extending our stay in Disney World would mean staying at give the kids the world or if we would have to go would mean staying at give the kids the world or if we would have to go to a different Resort or hotel. If anyone could help I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so very much 🙂 I also have a question Allison, you said that you extended your stay, what did you do about your flight? our flight is already booked for round trip so how would I change the flight plan to fly home of from Florida to Pennsylvania? Any answers would be greatly appreciated. We are leaving in a few days so hope to hear back from you all soon. Thank you again so very much in advance and Happy Easter to you all
If you extend at your own expense, you will be responsible to find your own lodging, transportation, etc. Give Kids the World has such limited space that they cannot accommodate families beyond the week. We worked with our Make-a-Wish contacts to keep the rental car, but pay for the extra time ourselves. We decided to extend before our flights were booked, so our Make-a-Wish chapter was able to book them on the dates we chose. With such short notice, they may not be able to accommodate and change, and you will almost certainly be responsible for any change fees.
Your Make-A-Wish contacts are the people you need to contact about extensions. At this late date, their ability to accommodate this change of plans may be limited. Not all chapters allow extensions at all. Talk to your wish grantors, and I’m sure they will be able to give you more information. Good luck and Happy Easter to you too! No matter what happens, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful trip!
Thanks so much for taking the time to post such informative information. We’ve just submitted our MAW trip and are looking to go in October. I wouldn’t have thought of half of this stuff on my own!
Thank you Meagan. I hope your family has a wonderful trip!
We have been to GKTW as a guest with a returning family and were blown away. As a result, we recently purchased a vacation rental home along Bass Rd (Waterford Way) with GKTW in mind, and we’d love to be able to offer it for rent to returning families. It is our hope that we will be able to give back to the community and to volunteer at GKTW in the upcoming years. We are a two minute (or less) drive or a ten minute walk from the front gates.
Here is the info for our property.
That’s wonderful! I’m sure that returning families and relatives of wish families will be interested in this information.
Does it vary by chapter/MAW state.. Or do you know if the spending and food money is given on a prepaid card? And do you have a set time to use it? Like, I know the park passes can only be used during your visit (it is my understanding that even if we extend our trip a couple days, the park passes will expire and are only good the week we are staying at GKTW), but if we have spending/food money left can we use it, say for lunch on our layover on the way home? Or for lunch when we extend our vacation? Thanks so much for your website! It is helping me tremendously in planning our upcoming trip!
Every state/region has its own Make-A-Wish chapter, so the amount of spending money given to wish families or other details may vary. We received our spending money in a check before the trip and were told that if we had any left over after the trip, it was ours to keep. You may want to check with GKTW on the expiration of park passes. They do have an expiration date, but you may still be able to use them for a short time after your week at GKTW has ended. Happy planning!
Hi my nephew just received his make a wish to go to Disney World. While he and his family will be at Give Kids the World, I was wondering where my family should stay. We don’t want to miss this experience with him. Should we stay at Disney World or is there a place near GKTW that we should stay to be close to them. Great website ! Thanks you.
Thank you! A past wish family has purchased a vacation home near Give Kids the World and would like to rent it to extended wish families. Look for a comment and link from Esther in the comments above. I have not seen the property or stayed there, but you may want to look into it.
I’m sure that the Disney properties would be very nice. They are about 20 minutes away from Give Kids the World. I’m sorry that I am not familiar with other lodging near GKTW, but to help you find properties nearby, the address is 210 South Bass Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746.
We went in April of this year for my daughter’s Make a Wish trip. My parents came also and stayed at a Disney Hotel. We would just meet them in the parks each day. I did go pick them up and bring them to Give Kids the World one day. It was so much fun to show them around! They were able to get a free meal and have some ice cream with us!
Something I wish that we had known: when you arrive at GKTW, the wish child is given a special tag to wear at the amusement parks (that allows you to go in the fast pass lines). It has the number of people in your family on the card. We later learned that we could add my parents onto the tag (as complimentary family members). That way they were also allowed to go into the fast pass lines with us. We didn’t do this ahead of time, so it took some phone calls to get it taken care of. If you get it taken care of before the trip, it would save time.
That’s a good tip. Thanks, Emily!
We are going to Disney World through Make-A-Wish Wisconsin over the New Years break. We have been told many times that the parks are very busy. We want to set up some fastpass stuff early to make sure that our son gets to the top things that he will want to see but we cant set these up with out have purchased a ticket. Do you know what we can do? I am thinking it would be cool to have a character dinner thing (at least one) for him also, do you have any recommendations. Do you recommend us using a rental car or just going by the transportation through GKTW?
Hi Cathy. I have also heard that Disney Parks are crazy crowded during the holidays, but that there are lots of special holiday celebrations going on as well. Your GKTW badge and wish pass will get you to the front of the line for every ride and show without advance planning. I would definitely call for reservations for character meals ASAP. It may already be too late, but they may help you out if you mention it’s for a Wish child.
To navigate the crowds, I would get a guidebook to help you become familiar with each park and its attractions and plan your route through each park. I like The Unofficial Guide to Disney World, which includes Universal. They have pre-planned routes through the parks that work well. It will also review the park restaurants. I would recommend arriving at the park 30 minutes before opening every day. There will be lines even then, but with a plan and a Wish pass, I bet you’ll still be able to fly through your priority attractions in the morning before many visitors get out of bed. That will free up your afternoon and evening for parades, shopping, shows and less-crowded rides.
I would definitely use the rental car. It will allow you to come and go on your own schedule and parking is paid for. GKTW has a shuttle, but it is only for families who do not have a rental car. It makes one round trip to each park each day, on a schedule.
What do you do with your backpack if you all go on a ride together? Can you take it? Are there a lockers around? My 10 year old son is going to GKTW 2015, just got the clear from the doctors- he had a bone marrow transplant in sept 2013. Thank you:)
At Disney, your pack can ride in your lap or at your feet for every ride. At Universal, the thrill rides do not accommodate bags. Universal has lockers near those rides that are free for the time they estimate it will take you to ride. I didn’t like using the lockers because it was often so crowded and they slowed us down between attractions. However, if you want to carry a pack into Universal, it’s the only option. So glad to hear that you’ve been cleared to go. Enjoy your wish trip!
We are going to Disney World through MAW this November and also staying a few extra days on the Disney property. GKTW offers plenty of meals throughout the day, although I was wondering what restaurants are favorites throughout the Disney property. We love trying new places! Thank you!
Michelle Dotson Dill
Thanks for the tips! …. my son was just approved to have a wish granted
Were you able to use your Give Kids the World Passport at Sea World San Diego? I didn’t see it a contact on the list.
We did not use our IAAPA passport at SeaWorld San Diego. I don’t see it on the list either. We did use it successfully at the San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND California.
We are going to GKTW this New Year’s Eve. I was wondering if there is any kind of shuttle service to the parks from GKTW? Or, is it a better idea to rent a car?
Wish families are provided with a rental car and free parking at the parks when they arrive in Orlando. GKTW has a shuttle, but it has a limited schedule and must be reserved in advance. Most families are expected to use the rental car.
Grizel R. Campos
I have planned a trip for my daughter’s birthday to Disney,October 14.I recently got into a motor vehicle accident and I can barely walk and now disabled.My MRI reveals multiple level disc herniations.I suffer from sciatica and lumbar sacral dysfunction.Prolonged standing exacerbates my condition, therefore I need assistance for walking and I cannot stand on lines to long.I do not want to disappoint my daughter.Is it possible to receive a Make a Wish pass for the rides.To fulfill my daughter’s first trip to Disney.
Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World are specifically for children with life-threatening conditions and there is a long verification and planning process to grant a wish to go to Disney World. However, Walt Disney World attempts to accommodate all types of disabilities all the time. Visit Guest Relations inside the park gates when you arrive and they will probably be able to help you. Here is more information about the Disability Access Program: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/disney-parks-disability-access-service-card-fact-sheet/
Thank you so much for all this useful information. My family is going to Disney through MAW in Feb & we are so excited ! Your tips will really help.
Hi were going to GKTW but me or my partner won’t drive over there are there any transport that takes you to the parks
Driving a rental car is the most convenient way to get to and from the parks on your own schedule, but GKTW has a shuttle for families who need it. I recommend that you contact your wish coordinator or GKTW to get more details about your shuttle options. Have a great trip!
We are in the beginning stages of planning son’s wish to Disney, can we extend trip?
Ask your Make A Wish team about extending. Different chapters have different policies about this. In Utah, it was no problem for us to extend our trip in 2013, but I’ve heard that our chapter has since changed that policy.
Were you able to use your GKTW pass for meet and greets or just to ride the rides?
When we were there in 2013, the pass could not officially be used to skip the lines for character greetings. However, we met a family who did show their pass to at the character lines and were let to the front. So, it might depend on your luck with Disney employees. GKTW schedules character greetings at the resorts every morning, and there were short or no lines for those. Characters also made appearances at some of the evening GKTW parties. So, we didn’t take a lot of character photos in the parks, but we still came home with plenty of character photos.
Hi everyone! This is such a fantastic post with awesome information, thanks to everyone who has contributed! We go to Disney World in May for our MAW trip and could not be more excited. Family members who found out about our trip purchased our family a set of Magic Bands, does anyone know if those can be used with the passes we’ll receive at GKTW, or will the kids just have to wear them for decoration? (I don’t think they can be returned.) Thanks!!
What a kind gift! I have not been to WDW since Magic Bands were introduced, but it looks like you could still use them for some things – you just won’t need them for tickets or FastPass+. It looks like they may still be handy for keeping restaurant reservations, your show schedule, your PhotoPass account, etc. I would sign up through the My Disney Experience link. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/ I bet that somebody at GKTW or Disney guest services could offer more tips for making the most of the Magic Bands. If other Wish families have experience with this, please share!
We were able to use our GKTW pass to meet characters, that was a couple of years ago though. We just showed our pass to the character helper and they brought us to the character. Sometimes we still waited a little bit, but we never had to get in line. On a side note, the lines for characters were much smaller at Epcot center than at magic kingdom. I’m not sure if we were just lucky or if that is a trend.
Thank you SO much! We leave tomorrow and all of the options were beginning to become overwhelming but your tips have helped me decide!
Your comment made my day. Have a great trip!
I my Family will be going on our make a wish trip this November has anyone on here gone during that time of the year? I was wondering about the weather so we know what kind of clothing would be best…
The weather should be beautiful in November, with averages in the high 70’s (F). I would pack jackets or hoodies and rain ponchos just in case, but you should be visiting at one of the best times of the year.
My wish kid will be 17 by the time our trip to WDW gets here and his brother is 18. I’ve looked at the GKTW site and, although absolutely wonderful, it looks geared to little children. For those of you who have been there, would a 17 year old boy feel totally out of place here? I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but thinking a WDW property would be a better fit for our family. Thanks in advance for the reply and also for your wonderful website!!
It’s true that most of the activities and events at GKTW are geared toward younger children. I’m not familiar with the accommodations you might be given at a Disney property, but if it’s not a two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen, living area and laundry, that is one advantage GKTW might have for families with older kids. My teen always loves any “alone time” she can get when we travel.
I would discuss these concerns and what options you have with your Wish team. I’m sure you can have a good experience at GKTW, but a Disney property will be more convenient to the parks. I hope you have a wonderful trip!
Hello your site is a Godsend and I’m so thankful to have found it. I am a caregiver to a wish recipient and will accompany her to WDW. I have 2 questions. 1) does MAW cover airfare to WDW ? Also I plan to pay to take my 2 daughters as well …has anyone else done this… any tips on how to work with local MAW contact to include my 2 children would be great thanks
Hi Sonya. Thanks so much for your comment! Make-A-Wish typically covers airfare for these trips. Wish families do not need to pay anything out of pocket. I know several families who have brought grandparents or others on these trips at their own expense. This is definitely a conversation for your Wish Grantor at Make-A-Wish. They will be most familiar with their own local policies and procedures on handling extra guests.
I am really happy that I found this site! We are going to GKTW in January of 2019. I am not sure what the weather will be like, so I am not sure what to pack. Also I was wondering should we still pack an extra suit case? I saw that they give out surprises while we are there. Also, last thing and I am not sure if you will be able to answer. My daughter was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma last year and her eye was removed. She has a prosthetic eye. I was wondering if that will hinder her on going on certain rides?
Hi Stephanie! I haven’t visited Orlando in January, but I understand that the weather is generally perfect for theme parks. 70 degrees and less rainy than the summer. I would pack comfortable clothes for warm weather and throw in long pants and a jacket for layering up, just in case. Check the forecast just before you leave and pack accordingly.
Assuming that nothing has changed since our visit, you will want an extra bag or suitcase to bring home your gifts from GKTW and other souvenirs you may pick up in the parks.
I would consult your doctor about ride restrictions. Walt Disney World posts accessibility information for every attraction on this page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/. It won’t specifically cover your situation, but you can get an idea of which rides feature high speed or other motion that might be a concern.
We too are staying at give kids the world in October through a cancer charity after my son was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma last September we are now 5 months in remission – it was really helpful to read a bit more about give kids the world and to hear about the pass that you get to enable you to go on rides using the fast past system is it a little card that you get? Or is it a badge? We are coming over from the UK and can’t wait to stay at give kids the world and get to explore Disney and universal I want my son to have the most amazing time
Hi Bev! At the time of our visit, it was both a badge and a card. The card was the same size as a credit card, but was good for every ride, all the time. Walt Disney World has since moved to a digital system with Magic Bands. According to the current GKTW Village Guide, it looks like Wish families will still use a physical pass at the entrance to each ride to receive priority boarding at both WDW and Universal. It looks like your child will also receive a badge, which will get you extra privileges at SeaWorld.
I’m so glad to hear that your son has successfully completed treatment! This trip should be a celebration for your family, and I wish you all many years of good health and happiness.
We are going in December thru MAW-Hawaii Chapter for my 5 yo daughter who got a bone marrow transplant after she relapse with AML. I was wondering if extra magic hours were included if not can we purchase them? Thank you for such awesome tips and answering questions!! We can’t wait to go!
Hi Lisa! We did not use Extra Magic Hours on our Wish trip, and this option is not mentioned anywhere in the current GKTW Village Guide. Extra Magic Hours are typically reserved for guests staying in Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, and I don’t think that Give Kids the World would qualify. I am also not aware of any option to purchase this privilege. You can contact GKTW directly for more information. Also, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Walt Disney World gave you Magic Hours privileges in the evenings with your Wish pass, even if it’s not officially included.
Normally, my family plans a Disney trip around Magic Hours because the lines are so much shorter. We didn’t worry about them on our Wish trip because our special pass was so helpful at ensuring short lines all day long. We also wanted to use our mornings and evenings to enjoy the activities at Give Kids the World.
I hope that you and your family have a wonderful trip, and I wish your daughter the best with her treatment!