Just got back from GKTW

Discussion in 'The DIS Unplugged Podcast' started by mkb3, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. mkb3

    mkb3 Mouseketeer

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    So I was asked to write a review of our Make a Wish trip so here it is! I apologize in advance for the length and randomness.


    To help my daughter find the perfect wish the organization asks the child several questions. First one is wish to go, she replied going back to Disney World and HI, wish to meet she mentioned The President (she’s six so has no ideas about politics, she had just learned about presidents in school) and wish to be and she chose a mermaid and singer. We discussed with her the options she had and weighed the pros and cons of each. We informed her meeting the president would only last a few moments as they are super busy, we advised her HI sounds nice, but that is something Mom and Dad had planned to take her to no matter what as my wife’s brother lives there so that would happen wish or not. This wasn’t to discourage her from any wish, but we wanted to set expectations as she’s a huge dreamer. We went to Disney World 6 months prior to her getting cancer and she had a blast but didn’t like the lines, we informed her Wish kids get unlimited fast passes so this encouraged her more. We read up on Give Kids the World and saw every Wednesday they have “Village Idol” and she could sing there. So with a Disney World trip she could become a singer via Village Idol “meet” a president via Hall of Presidents, become a mermaid with an Ariel makeover at BBB and we could do dinner at the Poly for the HI wish. Basically she would get a portion of every wish in one and staying at Give Kids the World with a Genie Pass she was getting a wish money can’t buy. She was super excited and her wish granters agreed this would meet all her wishes in one.


    Make a wish provides a 7 day six night experience in Orlando staying at GKTW with a Disney 3 day park hopper, a Universal 2 day park hopper and a Sea World one day pass. Since my daughter was diagnosed with cancer last Christmas (I also lost my Grandfather during this time as well) we decided we wanted to go during the holidays to help make new positive memories. After reviewing crowd calendars we decided to go the week after Thanksgiving. Since we had time off from work for the Thanksgiving we asked MAW if we could pay out of pocket for a two day extension prior to the wish trip and that was allowed so we used Dreams to reserve Royal Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside. Upon arrival to Orlando we were greeted by a GKTW greeter who took us to our car where my daughter got to pick what car she wanted and then proceeded to Riverside. My wife and I wanted to try California Grill after seeing the reviews from The DIS crew. At check in we requested a window seat to view the fireworks and told they would try, but nothing guaranteed. When it came time to sit down we were guided to a table right at the windows super close to the observation decks which provided the perfect meal to start our trip, wife and daughter both cried with happiness when HEA started, worth every penny for the dinner!


    Saturday morning my daughter wanted to go to Chef Mickey’s again so we reluctantly went, but as soon as the characters came out our attitudes totally changed. The way the characters interacted with my daughter was unreal, she was on cloud nine, then Mickey came. I cannot put into words the experience we had, how that mouse managed to mime sympathy and compassion for my daughter and family without speaking a word is mind boggling. I couldn’t help it and started crying right there in the middle of the restaurant, this too was well worth the price of admission. Later that night we did Ohana, while the meal wasn’t horrible, we just didn’t get the hype, but my daughter did enjoy walking around the Poly though.


    Sunday we checked into GKTW and they rolled out the red carpet there as well. My daughter was greeted with presents and an amazing 2 bedroom villa. Pictures online do not do this place justice, it’s a gated community that looks like it was designed by kids. Like Ryno said in the video this isn’t a sad place, but a place of happiness and hope. The kids here are having the time of their lives as are their families. The volunteers could not be more nice as they bend over backwards to make sure we are enjoying ourselves and not doing anything but having fun. My daughter LOVED the spa where she got her nails done and I let her get some makeup as well. If Mom and Dad would have let her do that every day she would have. Wednesday rolled around fast and it was time for Village Idol. My six year old was excited to sing, but had never done so in front of a crowd. When discussing her anxiousness a volunteer asked her if she wanted to practice with her so she sang it once and the nerves flew away. After dinner we signed her up and she was the first one to go! After seeing my daughter fight cancer, I knew she was brave, but she totally blew me away when she walked up there first and sang her little heart out. I got a little teary eyed, but when she came off the stage bawling with happiness I lost it, by far the highlight of the trip for me.




    As for Disney our experience can only be described as living the impossible Disney Day they show in commercials, but in real life. With unlimited fast passes we got to do everything we wanted without a big line. Any meet and greet with a long line a cast member would grab us and take us straight to the front. While that was nice we sometimes felt guilty, only one time though did we think a family was put off by that, but we always made sure to thank those who were next in line. The Christmas party is not part of MAW but we wanted to experience it so we bought tickets and I’m so glad we did, this night was fantastic. We managed to see all the characters and just hung out and enjoyed the atmosphere. By the time the week was over we managed to ride every single ride we wanted to including 7 Dwarves 6 times, Slinky dog 3 times in a row and Alien Swirling Saucers twice. The girls weren’t as excited for FOP passage as I was, but I still did it twice!


    While Disney treated us VERY well Universal was on a whole other level. They gave us a Gold Pass and they go ALL OUT for wish families. While Disney gave us the Fast Pass line Universal made sure there were NO lines. They escorted us to the exits and put us on the next ride vehicle available. As for characters they would literally see us walking and come to us, we didn’t even have to get in a line, it was awesome. With this kind of access we were able to complete all we wanted to do at Universal and IOA in one day. I honestly didn’t realize I lived with two big Harry Potter fans. My wife and daughter had the time of their lives. It was nice to see them having fun together as my daughter is a bit of a Daddy’s girl so I knew my wife was loving the extra attention.


    The time at the parks and village was a much needed time for my family and I. I cannot convey enough the power of a wish can have on healing not only for your sick child, but as parents as well. When my daughter was at her worst in the hospital we would just tell her to focus on Disney and practice singing for Village Idol and that would always help take her mind off what is being done to her body. Each and every time she was getting her chemo port accessed we would think about how many times we were going to eat ice cream for breakfast or how many times she was going to ride 7 Dwarfs. I can’t thank The Dis Unplugged Team enough for bringing more attention to GKTW it really is a magical place. I just wish we had more time to enjoy it while on our trip, but there is just so much we wanted to do. Good news is as an Alum we can visit 4 days a year and we plan to go visit again next year!
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018 at 4:03 PM
  2. SorcererHeidi

    SorcererHeidi Sorcerer please cast forever love spell for me

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    Wow - thank you SO much for making GKTW personal for me! Can't even find the words right now to tell you how much it meant to me, reading something like this! I was in tears the whole time, but joyful ones, knowing that such a wonderful charity exists, that can set things up like this, and we've all just had a small part in helping stories like your family's come to life. And your daughter KILLED "Part of Your World", one of my FAVORITE Disney songs - tell her THANK YOU from me!!!

    My heart is overflowing right now (along with my eyes). HUGE, gentle hugs to your whole family, and especially your Little Ariel. :lovestruc:love:

    Hoping @WebmasterPete will see this, and know what a huge hand he (and the Team) has had in creating special memories for so many families like this!!
     
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  4. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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  5. safetymom

    safetymom Super Moderator

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    Thank you for sharing your experience. :) Your daughter was a great singer! Kathy from the Podcast
     
  6. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for sharing your story - and I am so glad you got this experience. I am glad you highlighted all the "side benefits" to you and your wife and how much it meant to you as well and how uplifting it can be to the parents, as these sorts of things can be hard on the entire family

    You have a strong and brave young girl (and quite a singer too!) and wish nothing but health for her future and as many more happy memories as you can get.
     
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  7. GAN

    GAN DIS Veteran

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    Wow ...that's quite amazing! Thank you for sharing that with us. I'm with Heidi, if that doesn't sum up the auction I don't know what does.
     
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  8. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. As a GKTW volunteer, I love reading the stories that families share about their experience during their wish trip. I'm so glad you were able to make such great memories.
     
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  9. DisneyCowgirl

    DisneyCowgirl DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for sharing!
     
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  10. BadgerGirl84

    BadgerGirl84 I used to have a tag...

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    I don't come to this board often, but gosh I'm glad I did to read this. Thank you so much for sharing. Your experience with Universal versus Disney was interesting! Way to go, Universal!

    Your daughter is a very good singer. She did a beautiful job on stage.
     
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