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HeatherN 06-10-2008 07:43 PM

When you wish upon a star..Hannah's make a wish trip
Hello all. I felt a bit silly starting a trip report this soon(one month and 22 days until our trip, but who is counting)But after becoming addicted to these boards I thought it might be a nice way to pass the time.I have been reading everything about Disney I can get my hands on and have been having a ball dreaming about it.
Cast of Characters:

me-My name is Heather. I am 37(did I really just type that??)I am Mom to two wonderful kids and married to a great guy for 12 years(this Sunday, Fathers day to be exact).Paul and I have been together since high school. :hug: I always seem to have an obsession of the moment and right now this trip is it.I love to scrapbook and have been enjoying getting crafty ideas from these boards.I am a stay at home Mom.

Husband-Paul. He will be 40 this October.He is a great guy, pretty easy going.He is a bit of an adreniline Junkie. He works for the state highway dept.On weekends he is a white water rafting guide and in the winter he is a snowboard instructor.

Hannah -nine years old. The wish girl and the light of my life.I will explain all about her a little later.Hannah has Down syndrome.She really is an amazing kid.She struggles with some things but really has quite a spirit about her.She makes me slow down and appreciate the important things.She is funny, silly, stubborn, hard working and a complete girly -girl.

Logan-five years old.Logan is the comedian of the family. He is a complete loose cannon. You never know what he is going to do or say.I often hold my breath in social situations when he is around.He is a ball of energy and a ton of love.He still isn't too old to let his mom smooch on him.He and Hannah are the best of friends.

So I guess I should start from the beginning. Hannah was born nine years ago.We found out after she was born that she had Down syndrome. She had a very difficult delivery and had to be resussitated after she was born. We had no idea but that soon took a back seat to learning that she had a heart defect. A pretty serious one. She had AV canal, a VSD and Mitral valve issues.Esentually that meant she had four HUGE holes between the chambers of her heart and a valve that didn't work correctly.She went home from the hospital after six days which was wonderful but immediately went into congestive heart failure.I won't go into all the details but that was a very difficult time for us.We worked hard to get her to eat and gain weight and to keep her healthy for surgery.In fact things got so bad at one point that I had to take Hannah and live with my parents for a while because Paul had a HORRIBLE virus.It was a good thing in the long run though as My parents really helped out a lot and in fact I credit my mom with saving her life during that time as she did CPR on Hannah when she stopped at seven weeks old it was determined that she could not wait for surgery any more and we went five hours away to Boston Childrens hospital (did I mention we are from upstate NY?) She underwent life saving surgery and it was deemed a complete sucess! Now nine years later her heart status is considered stable although she still does have some leakage from her mitral valve.Hannah deals with some other health issues too, but nothing that we can't handle. She has had chronic sinus infections for years but we did find a wonderful DR that did sinus surgery and helped her issues GREATLY.She has severe acid reflux that medication keeps to a dull roar. She also has sleep apnea and has to wear a CPAP mask to sleep. Paul has this too and I am often referred to lovingly as the "sleep nazi" as I prowl the house at night making sure everyone is sleeping with their CPAP's on and still breathing.Yeah, I need a new hobby.
So I never really considered Make a wish for Hannah. I though she is medically stable right now and never thought she would qualify. I had a lot of people ask over the years why not, but always brushed it off.Finally I had one of her DR's ask me and he told me that Make a Wish is is not just for kids that are terminal.Finally I emailed them on a whim and filled out the online application figuring I would never hear from them.A few days later I got a phone call from a person from Make a wish.She asked a few questions and explained that the criteria for the orginization had loosened up a bit and that the child must have or had have in the past a life threatening illness.She promised to send some paperwork to Hannah's cardiologist and see what they had to say. Two weeks later I got a thick envelope in the mail from Make a Wish. My heart was bursting out of my chest when I realized it said "congratulations, we are granting Hannah her wish".

Well it looks like we are heading for a bad thunderstorm, so at risk of electrocution I will end here for now.More to follow.....


DAY2-SEA WORLD Part 1 &2-
Day 3-FIRST CHARACTER MEET:Mickey, Minnie, Belle, Goofy, and Pluto!!!-
MAGIC KINGDOM PART 2-meeting Cinderella

HeatherN 06-11-2008 09:41 AM

Then next two weeks took forever. We were waiting to meet our "wish team". They finally called and set up a meeting with us.Dena and Chrissy came to meet us and gave the kids some gifts.Paul and I had worried that Logan was going to feel left out as he is not the wish child but my fears were soon put aside.I have since learned that this is all about the family and they seem to go out of their way to make everyone feel special.Dena and Chrissy spent some time with us filling out paperwork and talking with us and Hannah. Hannah does speak but is limited in her speech so I had worried if she would be able to convey what her wish was.Fortunately the wish granters were real good with her and got the feeling that Hannah is all about princesses , especially Cinderella.Her room is disney princess theme. Last year in art class Hannah had painted a picture of Cinderella and it says "my wish is to meet Cinderella". That has been on my refrig ever since and the girls picked up on that too.Hannah is also a serious Disney movie junkie.She will watch those movies over and over again and often likes to act out the scenes in the movies.She looses her mind when we go to any Disney store.I can hardly wait to see her reaction when we actually get there.The wish granters and Paul and I decided that Disney it was.They had to formally present it to their board but didn't see any issues with the wish. A week or so later Dena called to tell us her wish had been formally approved.Disney here we come!!!!! Did I mention that none of us had ever been before???? Paul had gone when he was very young and only went to Epcot.He really does not remember it at all.I have never been before although it has been in my dreams since I was a child.The kids have never even been on a plane before.We officially got our dates as August 2-8th.I am beyond thrilled. Years ago when I was in high school my parents had a trip to Disney planned.My favorite grandfather passed away unexpectedly right before that trip and it was cancelled.His birthday is August 2.I like to think that he has had a hand in this whole thing.I don't want to get all freaky on everyone but his presence has been felt before in certain situations with Hannah and I like to think of it as him watching over her from Heaven.

twinmum 06-11-2008 10:47 AM

Hello! Great start to your pre-report! It's fun to hear about the excitement...and we can all relate to receiving the big package! Hearing other people's stories makes me realize just how strong we are as parents - our love for our children helps us to overcome our own anxieties and do whatever we can for our children. Hannah sounds like a delightful young girl.

I'll admit to some envy of all the mothers of girls wishing to met the princesses. With my hubby and 2 boys, let's just say we give the princesses a wide berth...and fantasyland is a hard sell, can you believe it?!? What I went through to get 1 of the boys to go on It's a Small World! (And I'm still paying for it!).

We are waiting for our wish granter to tell us whether we can go to WDW for our preferred dates or not. It's hard not being able to plan for myself, really not my style as I am a big planner!

Looking forward to hearing more...

Bill_Lin 06-11-2008 11:28 AM

I am excited about your pre-trip report, Heather. From your description of your family, I bet this will be a great thread. I can only imagine the amazing and humorous things you will have to report.

If you haven't noticed by now, most of us who post on DISboards are a bit obsessive about our trips. That may be why we are posting here instead of playing golf or watching Oprah. In my humble opinion, Wish Trips to WDW are ideal for us obsessive types. You are going to have a LOT of fun doing this report and preparing for the trip.

Be prepared for the following:

Frustration- Some plans may unravel, some information you believe may turn out to be incorrect, some communication may not come when you think it should, something you "need" for the trip may not be available in your town, someone may get a cold or something like that, you may get all confused about something to do with the trip. Relax, all of this is normal and, yes, things WILL work out. At moments like this, breathe, relax, pray, take a sanity break to do something calming.

Increasing emotional intensity (yours) about the trip- As the one who is taking the bull by the horns with this trip (sometimes the Mom does this, in my case it was the Dad-Me) you will really get into it more and more. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, this is the trip of a lifetime in every way. This event deserves your whole-hearted investment. For another thing, we parents of kids with disabilities have seen our children go through so much and miss out on so much that we feel they deserve something to make up for some of that. We also get the mistaken idea that they need a "perfect" trip. Let me assure you, there is no such thing. Hannah and Logan, not to mention Mom and Dad, will have the time of their lives. As kids, they will not have expectations of how it "should go." They will compare the event to their ordinary day-to-day experiences and will be blown away and overwhelmed by Disney Magic (and Sea World/ Universal/ GKTW magic). The trip will be wonderful for them no matter what may go "wrong" from your point of view.

Your kids are NOT going to get as excited as you will, until the last minute. For young kids, things like next month, or even next week, have little meaning. The event will be something in the vague future for them until it is REALLY close to the time. Do not let this put a damper on your own excitement. Come here to the boards to let us feed your excitement.

Magic- Although some things invariably go "wrong" or do not work out as we planned for each wish trip, they are more than balanced by the magical, miraculous, wonderful and amazing surprises that you will have on the trip. Look forward to the unexpected blessing, for which you could not have planned.

You are all going to love this trip, although you might have more enthusiasm for the planning than the rest of the crew, that is okay. Enjoy the planning, the discovery and the adventure of learning about the opportunities and options. Let go of the desire for "perfection," it is only an illusion. Embrace the fun. Be willing to change plans as you go. Unexpected paths may open before you that will be better than your original idea. Do not get upset when something is blocked. A closed door signals a new door about to open in a different direction. As Bilbo Baggins said, "Adventures make one late for dinner," but they are well worth it. Part of the adventure lies in the unexpected and the unknown.

From what you wrote about Paul, he will probably enjoy the unexpected changes a lot more than you will. That is okay. Don't get annoyed. Let him be him. If you both were the same, it would not be good. The fact that you have one adventurous, adrenaline-based parent, and one over-planning DISboarder, will make for a great team. You will enjoy the preparation and the illusion that you have everything "almost figured out" but will be balanced by his relaxed, "everything will be okay, le'ts just enjoy it" attitude.

Fatigue- You may burn up a bit too much energy gettting ready for, obsessing about, and worrying about the trip. Find a way to get the rest and breaks from the planning that you will need. As we get tired, nerves can get on edge. The kids fatigue will not hit until you are actually in the parks on the trip. You may want to "keep going" to squeeze every last drop of experience out of the day for your kids. They will simply not have the energy for that. Surprise, surprise... when the kids get tired, they may get cranky. This DOES NOT mean that they are not having the time of their lives or that the trip is "spoiled" for them. The tears or anger of one afternoon or evening, will be replaced by the pure joy of the next day. Kids bounce back quick and will remember the good parts. You do the same!

Be willing to slow down when you or the kids need it. Accept from the start that you will NOT be able to do "everything." You WILL miss some rides, attractions or shows that you think are REALLY important. There simply is not enough time to do everything in the huge, wonderful world of the theme parks and GKTW. Do not grieve the things you did not do. The kids will not miss those things. They will focus on what you did do. Enjoy and focus on the things that you will get to do.

Good will come from bad- On every trip, something that we see as bad will happen. Be prepared for good to come of it. Let me give you two examples from our trip. Right before we left, my Princess' older adult brother who lives with us, had to cancel his participation in the trip due to his health. It had been iffy from the beginning due to his own disability. I wish I had felt better about it at the time. As it turned out, we were able to do more, and focus more on the Wish Girl, and her 13-year-old brother because of it. We did not realize it at the time, but we would have had a very difficult time meeting his needs and theirs. At Animal Kingdom, one the way to one of the rides I had decided the Princess needed to do (Triceratops Spin-a sort of primeval Dumbo ride) we hurried too fast to get there and she fell and skinned her knee. She saw blood and that was it. She melted down and wanted to go back to the villa. Even a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar did not cure the trouble. We had planned to go from that ride to see the Asian animals, but proposed a change. "How about if you ride in your stroller to the Lion King Festival, which is on the way to the car anyway. If you still feel like leaving we will skip it." She agreed to that, and calmed down enough be then to go into the show. When the Cast Members saw her GKTW and Make a Wish Buttons, they rolled out the red carpet. They had her help make our team sound for the pre-show, then invited her to join in the rhythm band that marched around during part of the show. She was actually in the show. We could never have planned that and did not even intend to take in the show originally. Instead, she had a very Magic Moment. One of the CMs gave her a special Tinkerbell Trading Pin. That was so wonderful.

Above all, honor Timon and Pumba's motto, "Hakuna Matata." Don't worry, be happy. Go with the flow. Enjoy the magic. And PLEASE, come to us here with all of your questions about travel, rental cars, GKTW reservations, where to visit each day, attractions, parades, shows and shopping.

We look forward to sharing the adventure with you.


Bill_Lin 06-11-2008 11:42 AM

A few thoughts
When you are at GKTW, there will be special surprises each day for each of the kids. Although the focus is on the Wish Child, there is an effort made to make siblings feel a part of it all.

We enjoyed the GKTW Christmas party which is held weekly in the evening. Check the GKTW web site for schedules. We also enjoyed meeting the theme park characters who came to GKTW to visit. It was much easier and quicker to see them there than at the parks. GKTW has a schedule for these visits. On 2 days, we left the village later than planned to be there for the characters. I believe we made up for the reduced time at the park by not having to take park time to meet these characters. At the village we met Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Minnie, Barnie, B.J, Baby Bop, Shamu and other Sea World characters (though not the Polar Bear).

We tried to spend as much time as possible all-together in a group, but we did split up (cell phones are wonderful) for some rides as the 13-year old wanted to do some rides for which the Princess was not big enough or brave enough. Then we got back together. This process can be confusing, because someone is going to end up waiting for someone, somewhere when they want to be riding rides. Encourage them to enjoy the break to sit down and have a snack or a drink in the shade.

If you want to do a character meal, make reservations as soon as you get your trip dates. Cinderella's Castle fills up amazingly fast. We only got in by having special magic from Jeff at Guest Services. Don't be hesitant to ask guest services if they can help in some special way. A "I'm sorry, no" won't really hurt you and a "yes" could be very magical.


HeatherN 06-11-2008 12:24 PM

Twinmum-Wow, you are going too! How exciting.Sorry about the princess thing for you...but boy stuff is pretty ok too!!!! I have to say I have the best of both worlds with my kids!

Bill- My goodness you are a wealth of info.I loved reading your trip report and hung on every word.I really did take your advice to heart.When I started planning I did get a bit obsessive about things-it had to be the perfect trip.I do admit that in the last few weeks I have let a few thigs go already and Paul and I have discussed that we will "go with the flow" . Every moment of this trip is a bonus no matter what happens, good and bad.We as the adults already realize there are a lot of things we wont do-My kids are on the conservative side as far as rides go so we know we won't do most of the big rides. There are a couple we may split up for.With Hannah you never know what kind of mood you are going to get.Sometimes she is very shy and quiet and afraid of new situations and sometimes she is right in there hamming it up.We have learned to change plans quickly! Logan is a ham but does tend to have some fears too. I think he may have some issues with some of the face characters, and that is ok.The fact that we are going at all is quite a dream come true.

I thought about making some ADR's and was really close to choosing Coral reef(the kids are HUGE fish freaks)After looking at the menu(PICKY kids) and thinking about it for a while we decided to just go with the flow and eat where and when we can.I really didn't want to be worrying all week about making reservations and having to be in certain parks at particular times.We do know that our wish graters have made at least one ADR for a princess type meal. I don't now which one yet-they are suprising us and I am ok with that.I think that in the beginning I had that "it has to be perfect mentality". Now I know that just being at Disney is going to blow the kids minds and anything we do there is going to be magical.I swear the kids could have fun in a paper bag so anything is ok with them!

lotferg 06-11-2008 12:44 PM

This is great! I can't wait to read more!

HeatherN 06-11-2008 12:47 PM

I thought you might like to see pics so you can put names with faces.I realized though the only family picture I have of us was a few years old.That is why I am excited about photo pass-we can actually get the whole family in the shot!
This is Logan is Hannah , Logan and myself at Finding Nemo on Ice. and Hannah clowning around. is the four of us, it is a few years old though! princess herself!

MRYPPNS 06-11-2008 12:59 PM

You have a very pretty princess! and that Logan's a cutie too! Looking forward to more information about your trip :3dglasses

mistymouse5001 06-11-2008 03:54 PM

party: CONGRATULATIONS! party:

Bill_Lin 06-11-2008 04:29 PM

Beautiful family
Heather, what a beautiful family you have, inside and out. Do you live by the water? If so, I am going to have to struggle with envy.

I like your idea about skipping character meals. We HAD to do the castle because of the nature of Lysi's wish, but when I have gone to DL before, I have avoided even sit down restaurants to keep things flexible.

I think your boys will LOVE Spiderman at Universal Islands of Adventure. I mean the character greet, not the ride. Every boy wants to be Spidey. You will get a free portrait at each character greet at Universal. The Spiderman one is printed as a comic book cover with your child and Spidey. We also loved the Donkey and Shrek character greet. Shrek is not all that exciting since he can't talk, but the Donkey is a total Kick (pun intended). He is something like a very sophisticated puppet sticking out of a stable door. He interacts and responds to your questions and comments with a voice and attitude that is totally authentic.

As far as mellow rides, the must sees are:

Magic Kingdom-
Pirates of the Caribbean (oh, oh, oh... and don't miss the Captain Jack character greet near Alladin. He is another must see for boys. The CM looks, talks and acts JUST like it was Johnny Depp playing the part.)
Winnie the Pooh
Peter Pan
Snow White
The Steamboat
Tom Sawyer Island
Jungle Cruise (although a bit of a let down after Animal Kingdom I am sure)
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
Toon Town Fair
Country Bear Jamboree
Tiki Hut
Car Driving place in Tomorrowland
Haunted Mansion (unless they get scared by it)
If you think they are up to a bit of a thrill, then Splash Mountain is GREAT

Animal Kingdom-
Safari Ride!!!!!!!!
All of the animal trails
Lion King Festival
Nemo Show
Train Ride
Bug's Life 3-D
Bone Yard
Triceratops Spin
For a bit more thrill, Kali River Rapids
Dinosaur is VERY intense as is Everest

The Seas with Nemo
Turtle Talk with Crush
Ellen's energy adventure (although there are dinosaurs, but not as scary)
Mexico Ride
Norway Ride
Journey into imagination with figment

Disney Hollywood Studios-
Star Tours
Great Movie Adventure
Indiana Jones Show
Lights, Motors, Action Show (kind of noisy to be sure, but very boy oriented)
Fantasmic Fireworks show
Bug's Life Playground

Shrek 4-D
Men in Black Alien Attack (I don't think the monsters are that scary)
Curious George Water play area

Islands of Adventure-
Spiderman ride (a bit of movement and such, but with cartoon style images)
Popeyes Boat
Cat in the Hat
One Fish Two Fish
Dudley Doo Right is a pretty steep water log-flume ride
Bilge Rat Barges (will get wet on raft ride)
Jurassic Park is a bit scary though not as intense as Dinosaur

Sea World-
Arctic Ride simulation
All the animal exhibits
Shamu show
Dolphin Show
Dolphin Feeding
Stingray Petting
Penguin exhibit
Atlantis ride is a log flume ride like Splash Mountain but longer and steeper. Lysi did not like it.


Bill_Lin 06-11-2008 04:39 PM

While at the Village:

Eat Ice Cream as often as possible
Use the whirlpool bath after every day at the theme parks
Have strawberry waffles for breakfast
Go to the Christmas Party
Do the Miniature Golf
Swim in the Pool
Take the train ride. The driver rides in the second car, so if your child sits in the "locomotive" car you can take a picture of them "driving" the train
Take a walk around the grounds at night when the lighting is so magically colorful
Visit the Chapel to see the stained glass windows
Borrow a Video Camera from the Caring Center
Play in the Castle of Miracles
Ride the Carousel

HeatherN 06-12-2008 07:03 PM

Wow! Great info Bill. Thanks for taking the time to write that all out.

We don't live directly on the water.We do however live in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains and even though I hate the winters here I have to say that summer is really nice here.Even though we don't live on the water ,my in -laws do, as well as Paul's brother's family ,and we live 10 minutes from them.It is really nice to have somewhere to cool off.My parents also own a vacation home in PA on a lake and it's nice spending time there too.That is usually the extent of our family vacations so it is pretty neat for us to be doing this trip.Paul and I have always said we wanted to go to Disney and we started saving all of our change for it.It's funny though, because he started hiding it from me because he knew I would dip into it! We do have a few hundred dollars saved and if we need to we will use it for extras and such. I am hoping not to use it and maybe it will be seed money for a second trip down the road.

I started a box of stuff to take with us. So far I have sunscreen, rain ponchos,flip flops,shampoo and all that stuff. I got the mister fans and bottle holders.This board has been fun for coming up with excuses to shop for stuff for the trip. I also am a big scrapbooker so I have been collecting disney stuff for the scrapbooks once I return.I even went to Home Depot to get the mickey head paint chips.

By the way, did I mention that Hannah decided to pack already?

twinmum 06-12-2008 07:40 PM

I'm glad you are having fun planning...and Hannah is having fun packing! We're are still eagerly waiting to hear from our wish granter and find out whether the absolute best days will work for us...or not. After some frustrating times re our renovations plans (to make our house more accessible for our wish kid who has cerebral palsy), things have really been on the upswing, so our fingers (and everything else!) are crossed!

OK, maybe I should be embarrassed by this Canadian's geography knowledge, but I'm curious. What qualifies as the foothills of the Adirondacks? We spend 5-6 days every summer with dear friends who have a cottage on Upper Saranac Lake...what beautiful, beautiful country it is! We've been sharing this time with them for over 20 years, since we were all new graduates, and over the years we have married, built careers, had children and now we all go with our families. Everyone helps us with our son's needs, and it has become such a special time for us.

Looking forward to a sunset on the lake...and to a Wish trip to WDW!!!

Bill_Lin 06-12-2008 07:53 PM

Hannah's Packing job
I am glad to see that Hannah has her priorties straight for packing what is important. However, I can assure her that she will find plenty of stuffed friends there. Keep up the good work on your TR.


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