Give Kids the World Village is an amazing 70 acre resort hotel "village" located in Orlando Florida. It is centrally located to many of the major theme parks (Epcot, Disney World, Universal, Sea World).
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This resort village was opened in 1989 and is half hotel and half theme park. It is named Give Kids the World (GKTW) because that is the central mission. This village provides free accommodations and fun packed experiences to children with serious medical conditions and their families. Everything is indeed free, so I won't bother to mention it again in my review because that's not the point.
We visited GKTW in April 2010 which is a perfect time to be in Orlando. Upon arrival at the Orlando Airport,we were greeted by GKTW staff who walked us over to the rental car agency and ensured we got our car and maps to the resort. The hotel staff are gracious and hospitable in every conceivable way. They want each child and their family to feel special. They review with you the layout, and how everything works. Every detail in the hotel is centered from a child's perspective, all of the furniture is child sized, all of the rides are child sized, there is a movie house, a carousel, there is an ice cream pavilion, there is a train that zooms around, there is a life sized Candy Land game in the play ground. There are 140 attractions at the resort, just too many to mention.
But that's not all, they have a wonderful all access pool which allows kids of all abilities to get into the pool and play. Any kids with wheelchairs can just roll into the pool. There is a water park next to the pool which my kids loved. There were plenty of clean well stocked bathrooms all over the hotel which is a relief when you have small children. No hunting for the bathrooms!
The hotel and grounds were well staffed by volunteers from all ages - many teenagers and many elderly. It was very trouching to see so many people happily working to help sick kids have fun. All of the volunteers were incredibly friendly and helpful and doled out towels, and cookies and pizza at every opportunity.
The actual "rooms" are villas or duplex villas all decorated whimsically. Ours had a windmill on it - pretty neat. The villa had two bedrooms with two baths - the master bath was wheelchair equipped. The kitchen was stocked with dishes, a dishwasher and washer and dryer. They even provided the boxes of Tide Detergent. The refrigerator was stocked as well with soft drinks, cookies and other fresh items to make our stay more comfortable.
There are two restaurants on location, one is a Boston Market and the other is a cafeteria style full service restaurant. Again, all of the tables and chairs are kids sized, not so bad once you get used to it.
There is pizza and cookie delivery upon request and the hotel will send it over on a golf cart with a happy volunteer. There were also roving food trucks that had freshly baked brownies, cookies and lemonade just waiting to hand out.
There is entertainment provided nightly, mostly with the music, parades and characters from Disney. Of course Mickey and Minnie were big hits with everyone. Complimentary tickets to all of the theme parks are part of the experience as well.
How to stay at this resort? You can only stay if you are referred by the Make a Wish folks. Each state has their own Make A Wish organization. Generally, a child is referred by their health care team. Make A Wish is for any child that has undergone a life threatening illness. It is not limited to only terminal illness children.
This resort is truly magical and they go all out to ensure every child has a fun, memorable experience. I want to say that the essence of this good experience is not the resort itself (although that was really nice), but it was the attitude of the people working there. Every question was answered by "yes" by someone who truly understood the complex medical situations of these children, and the stress and burdens that the families live with. The goal of every staff member was to make the kids laugh and smile.
I simply can't say enough how wonderful this resort is.
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