Give Kids the World Village – Disney, Universal & Make a Wish

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When you go to Disney World with Make-A-Wish you get to stay at the Give Kids the World Village. The Village is a magical place where you are made to feel as if you are at home…vacation style. From the food, the pools, the games, the parties, and the visits from Disney & Universal characters–there’s plenty to do if you’re too tired for a park visit that day. When you first arrive in the village, you immediately have no doubts this place was created for the kids and the kids alone. All the buildings are bright, colorful, and creatively designed. You aren’t welcomed in, you’re welcomed home. After a brief intro into the amenities you’re led to your own villa. Where you can settle in and get comfortable. And boy did we. On our first night we took full advantage of the large pool and splash pad. There’s a second, smaller and quieter pool down the road if you’re looking for just a little less noise. The kids favorite part of every day was breakfast at the Gingerbread house. I mean, who wouldn’t love a meal eaten on a table of peppermint candies? (No, really, look!! <—-) They had everything from eggs, to pancakes, to donuts and Belgian waffles. Even if what you wanted wasn’t on the menu, all you had to do was ask and they’d scare it up for you. The teen was all set to sign up for bacon at every single meal. Of course, another part that was super fun for everyone with a sweet tooth (so, everyone) was the ice cream shop–which is open for business all day long (and free, like all the food on site!). I mean, at GKTW you can have ice cream for breakfast! And yes, we might have done that on our last morning there. Our villa was amazing in itself. Somehow GKTW gave Kennedy her dream home. Her favorite colors are purple and orange…and so was our villa! Once again designed for the kids, the bathroom attached to their bedroom was HUGE. A giant walk-in shower, a Jacuzzi tub, two sinks and plenty of space. Meanwhile Erik and I had a dinky little bathroom we could hardly be in at the same time. Thankfully we got blessed with a huge, comfy king-sized bed, which was so welcoming at the end of every night. Every moment we were at the village felt like home. There was so much to do there, I almost feel guilty we didn’t spend more time there. It just seemed like in our week there, there was so much to see and do, we couldn’t possibly squeeze it all in. There are so many more magical things about the village, but I know they like to keep some things to surprise those coming home for a while. But, I will say that like everything on our trip, the Village itself was pure magic.   Read more »

The Beauty of Belle – Disney, Universal & Make a Wish

Our whole trip to Disney and Universal was a magical experience. There wasn’t one minute the whole week that we weren’t in awe, happier than ever, and closer than ever. We have so many tales of the fabulous magic that occurred that week. From our first day, and first stop, at Ollivander’s wand shop. There Kennedy (and her sister) were both chosen by Ollivander himself and received wands selected just for them. Kennedy wanted to ride every ride, and proved herself a little daredevil. We covered a lot of Universal that day, and rode everything in sight. Kennedy and her sister got pictures with all of their favorite superheros. Of course, at the Magic Kingdom there was even more magic to be had. We stopped for every photo opportunity, and the manipulations the Disney photographers manage was stellar. We started our day at the Magic Kingdom with Space Mountain and the rest of the day was just as exciting. There are so many moments we could talk about. So many ways the trip was made magical for us. There were so many things everyone did, from Make-A-Wish, to Give Kids the World, to Universal, and Disney, that have us still talking about our trip. Moments that brought all of us so much joy. There is one story in our week of magic that stands out above the rest. One twenty minute span of time that will be held up as the most magical and endearing of them all. When we went to Epcot we mistakenly didn’t expect to see any princesses. Call us naïve on the behavior of all the characters that roam all of the parks. Halfway through our day we stumbled upon the beautiful Aurora. While the girls were meeting with her, the photographer let us know about all the other princesses and when they’d show up. The photographer clued us in on an unscheduled appearance of Belle in her town clothes right outside of France. We killed some time, got some delicious French pastries (that our teen is still asking for to this day), and headed toward where Belle was said to appear. Before Belle arrived, her photographer did. The kind lady spoke to our girls for a while, and suggested that Kennedy ask a few questions of Belle. Namely: a) What is your favorite dessert? And b) What is your favorite book? Moments later Belle emerged from behind a building. The beautiful princess made a beeline for my princesses. In a gesture we hadn’t seen even through all the magic of our days, she took Kennedy by the hand and kept her close as they chatted. When Kennedy asked Belle’s favorite book, Belle leaned in and whispered in her ear. To this day, we still don’t know the answer ourselves—that is a secret held just between Kennedy and her new favorite Disney princess. After that, Belle continued holding Kennedy’s hand, and the stories became more animated. As she dove into Kennedy’s question about her favorite snack, Belle talked about a trick Mrs. Potts once played on Lumiere, all the while still holding Kennedy’s hand. For a good solid twenty minutes (give or take five minutes), Belle spoke with my girls. Her attention never wavering, and her hugs nice and tight. Somehow she even got our picture shy teenager in as their very own “Beast” for a few photographs. We saw many princesses, and some comic book heroes, but no other moment in time has stood out as much as this one. A moment in time that lingers with us, and most importantly, with Kennedy.   Read more »

by Sarah Cass

Multi-published author. Mom of 3 special needs kids. Wife to 1 good man.
Redefining Perfect every day.

Disney, Universal, & Make-A-Wish Magic (Part 1)

I can’t predict how many posts this is going to take over the next few months, so I’m not even going to try. Instead, I’m just going to let our story unfold. Some posts will be on one moment in time, a brief ten or twenty moments in time that impacted us too deeply to be buried with the other notes of our story. The story of how we ended up where we did was both long and then very short. Short of it is after not being approved two years ago we were contacted by Make-A-Wish in April, saying that Kennedy and Denver could both qualify now and to call them. After that it was a heartbeat later that the Wish volunteers were sitting in our living room getting the kids wishes. Kennedy wished for Disney/Universal. I don’t think any of us was prepared for the amazing that followed. The first step toward our trip involved a party. We got to invite some friends and met at a local restaurant. All three of the kids were treated to Disney delights. No child was left out in the preparations, and they all got gifts. The biggest one of all was, of course, for Kennedy. That big giant package was an elaborate Princess Anna costume for Kennedy (pictures to come in another post). We were able to sit and relax with friends, while the kids played with the bevy of toys they were given. The volunteers went over many things that my head couldn’t wrap around, and as I’ve said several times, we had no idea what we were in store for. The party went on for several hours, and then we all went home. Kennedy was an ecstatic mess, and even though we still had a couple of weeks before we left, the impatience for the trip was mounting. Of course, the kids were bouncing off the walls, and so was I, but I was also packing and planning and stressing (Oh but I didn’t need to…). Oh, and planning and packing and stressing a little more. Talking to other people I knew that had done Disney through Make-A-Wish who had glowing reports just like I do now after the fact. And so…we prepared to go. Left the dog with my parents, my hard drive w/ a neighbor for protection, got the fridge emptied and the laundry done. We were ready to take off! (Part 2 soon!)     Read more »