Things everyone applying for or planning for a Wish Trip to Orlando, Florida, needs to know:
1) If your child has been in treatment for at least 6 months for a life-threatening or life altering illness (even if no longer in treatment) they are likely to qualify to have a one-time wish granted by a wish granting organization (I am only sure that this applies in the U.S. and Canada and am not aware of the policies in other countries).
*Ask your medical provider (physician, oncologist, etc.) to refer obtain an application for you for a wish granting organization in your area. In Washington State, where we live, we have Make a Wish
which has chapters in various states or provinces
and Wishing Star
. I have also heard of The Wishing Well
Give Kids the World Village has a great search tool
for U.S. residents to find a wish-granting organization in your state.
*You should be contacted by a representative of the organization to which you applied to determine if your child is elligible for a wish (some organizations grant wishes to adults with terminal illnesses as well).
*A representative will ask your child about their one great wish in life: Something they would most want to do or have or someplace they would most like to go. They will find out for your if this wish can be granted.
*Many children will choose to visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland with their family.
*Wish trips usually include the biological relatives who live in the same home, but there may be some exceptions.
2) Children going to Orlando to visit the theme parks there, may have the opportunity to stay, free of charge, at Give Kids the World Village, a resort exclusively for kids on Wish Trips to Orlando. But not all wish-granting organizations have agreements with Give Kids the World Village.
The village included 2-bedroom "Villas" (we call them duplexes in my neck of the woods), fantasy-themed buildings such as a Gingerbread House Cafeteria, a Castle of Miracles play building, and Ice Cream Palace/ parlour, and recreation such as miniature golf, swimming and water park, carousel and a train ride. Characters from theme parks often visit the Village to meet the children there. Lodging, meals and recreation are all free for kids and families staying at the village. Free tickets to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios parks and Sea World are included and some tickets are available for other area attractions. This wonderful place was created by Henry Landwirth, an amazing, compassionate visionary.
*Even a Wish Trip to Orlando can be specialized to the child's wish. A child's wish may be to meet a particular character or ride in a parade or visit a particular attraction. There is no limit to a child's imagination.
*A Wish Trip may be granted to stay at Give Kids the World Village (GKTW) or at a Disney Resort. At GKTW, the village will provide free lodging, meals on site (unlimited ice cream) and on-site recreation, as well as the theme park tickets mentioned above, travel expenses, a rental vehicle and spending money are usually provided by the wish-granting organization. A Disney Resort guest has free admission to all Walt Disney World attractions, but to no others. Meals, travel and spending money are usually provided by the wish-granting organization.
*Wish-trip kids are treated like royalty by Disney, Universal and Sea World staff and are allowed to bypass lines for attractions (with very few exceptions).
3) Ways to save money on your trip are presented here.
*If you stay at GKTW, eat breakfast there each day at 8:00. If you want an earlier start, you can have Continental breakfast a bit earlier or have a breakfast tray sent to your Villa. Eat dinner there as often as possible as well. Of course, on some theme park days, families may wish to eat at the park for lunch and dinner. There are counter service restaurants at each park that are WAY cheaper than full-service restaurants. Restaurants that feature meetings with characters are a lot more expensive yet. GKTW can provide sandwiches at lunch time if you are there.
*Buy some of your souvenirs at the Wal-Mart just down Bass Rd. from GKTW (at the first traffic light you come to). They have a very large section that has nothing but Disney shirts, stuffed animals and other collectibles. Be sure to buy a lanyard there for pins and buttons that you will receive. Great deals on souvenirs can also be found at the huge indoor Flea Market. Just turn right at the light by Wal-Mart and you will see the Flea Market on the north side of the road. Prices may be about half or less what you would pay in the theme park.
4) Don't be hesistant to take advantage of the help and services that are offered to you.
*Each theme park has a guest services office that can provide you with assistance and advice and will try to honor special requests to help grant the wishes of the wish kids. Magic Kingdom has a special lounge just for Wish Trip Families by the first aid station next to the Crystal Palace on Main Street.
*GKTW families get free strollers or wheelchairs (or often both) at theme parks.
*GKTW families get free, and preferred parking at theme parks.
*Cast members at Disney or team members at other parks, will assist you in bypassing lines for almost all rides, shows and character greets. Do not hesitate to take adavantage of this on your child's behalf. They have earned it, and so have you! It will MULTIPLY what you can experience at the parks and will greatly reduce the fatigue and stress on your child and family.
*Universal provides one free picture at each character-greeting kiosk and one general picture taken by a staff member while you are in other parts of the park. You have to pick this special picture up at the end of your day.
5) Don't overdo your trip.
*Scheduling too many character meals can be expensive and can take too much time from your park touring.
*In between rides, take in a sit-down show to rest and cool off in the shade or air conditioning. At Universal, we loved Shrek 4-D. At Magic Kingdom we loved Monster's Inc. comedy club. At Epcot we loved the rides were mostly relaxing anyway so we did not take in any shows, though there are plenty. At MGM we did Beauty and the Beast and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. At Animal Kingdom we loved the Festival of the Lion King. At Sea World we loved the Shamu "Believe" show that was playing when we were there.
*Plan shorter days between long ones. Our short days were at Sea World, Animal Kingdom and Universal Studios/ Islands of Adventure beacuse these parks close earlier. Our long days were at Magic Kingdom and Epcot/ MGM because these parks were open later. On shorter days, we spent the evening at GKTW doing the recreation there and eating ice cream.
*Allow at LEAST 2 hours at the airport to return your rental car, check your baggage and clear security before your flight is scheduled. I did not believe it, and we would have been in hot water if our flight was not delayed.
6) Keep your focus.
*The purpose of the trip is to fulfill the child's wish. Don't make the trip ALL about your or a sibling.
*Families pay a high price, year in and year out, when there is a child with a major illness, so make sure EVERYONE does some things that are special to them. We made a list for a few things at each park that our son wanted to do, and for Lin and I, and made the rest of the agenda for the wish trip girl.
*Again, you have may have spent a lot of time in clinics, treatments, surgeries and times when the sibling was left without Mom and/or Dad. Your family may have missed out on a lot of fun and special things that most families do. There may have been extra stresses and financial burdens on you. Medical costs and trip expenses for treatment may have kept you from having vacations and get aways like other families. Now is your chance to make up for some of that. So when you get to bypass lines and get special treatment, this is the parks way of helping make up for much of what you have missed. Remember too that they are doing this for your child because they want to make the trip as magical as possible. Just cooperate and go along for the ride. You will allow people to be blessed through blessing you.
7) Learn from others.
*Never hesistate to ask for advice from those who have gone where you are going. We all love to share and help. That is why we are on these boards. You can always find the Disney Wish Trip veterans at the ongoing Wish Trip thread
. Anyone on this site will be happy to answer your questions and make suggestions. You have a resource of experienced people there that can help be your trip planners and consultants. Best of all, its FREE!
8) Most important of all, enjoy your trip.
*As with any major excursion, expect unexpected setbacks and problems. They always happen, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot prevent them all.
*Rejoice in what does go right.
*Magical blessings will come to you that will more than make up for any setback.
*Live in, experience, and focus on the moment that you are living. Don't have your mind on the next day, or the next ride, and teach your kids to focus on the moment. Try to balance picture taking and filming with actually seeing what is going on. I got really sick doing too much video one day.
*ENJOY yourself and absolutely do not feel guilty doing so. Have a blast. Make memories. Live the magic.